I’m sure you’ve seen the hundreds of articles on Pitchfork or other music sites criticizing The Chainsmokers, David Guetta and Calvin Harris and any other charting EDM artist for being stale and untalented. I’m sure you’ve also seen the accusations of how edm’s “bubble burst” because, I kid you not, it has become more and more mainstream. Now as a big fan of EDM I have to admit , the placement of EDM as mainstream has rather a big influence on the community, the djs (oops, sorry, artists) and the music. But is it a positive effect or a negative?
A long, long time ago EDM was an underground, exclusively club music genre that was doomed to be forever underground by the rise of metal and rock. That all changed with the rise of Disco. nevertheless, Disco and EDM was never popular in US but rather it was an always a more European thing with the biggest artists still being european (Tiesto, Martin Garrix and Armin Van Buuren are all dutch). This all changed when the rave scene grew. Since that, techno/edm has forever has been associated with drugs. A second EDM wave came when american artist Skrillex brang dubstep and therefore edm to the mainstream. The response was obviously mixed. Some said it was the best music since Nirvana and The Beatles and other complained about the loudness, the lack of creativity and the fact that it was not made with real instruments. The reception did not matter, EDM will forever have a presence in the charts
The mainstream is a funny thing. It has the capacity to change an artist or even a genre for the better or the worse. First off, the mainstream is not evil and it certainly does not poison everything it touches (only some, if you hate hearing a song 500 times like me). Now, EDM has a rather important place in the charts, with Closer by the Chainsmokers featuring the blandest voice halsey has ever done, arguably being the song of 2016 but like a lot of EDM artist it has a formula: cut song about love+blandest beat ever+a drop+terrible singing by a normally talented singer. It’s the formula that David Guetta has perfected and it’s the formula that lead to the success of The Chainsmokers.
As I have said (or rather written) before, the mainstream has the capacity to change an artist. With EDM being in the mainstream comes the “mainstream” edm. By mainstream EDM I mean electro house and dubstep. Before House and Dubstep there was trance. Oh trance. perhaps the most recognizable trance song was quasi-meme Sandstorm by Darude but perhaps the most recognizable trance artist was Tiësto. Yes, that Tiësto. Yes that mainstream af house artist Tiësto. Heck, Tiësto was so trance he even remixed Adagio for Strings to a considerable success. But why doesn’t he make trance anymore? You ask. Well the mainstream does change a person(he looks more like a serial killer than anything). I guess Trance just doesn’t sell anymore in 2016.
But EDM in the mainstream does have positive effects: it is an excellent gateway genre to more underground acts. Allow me to tell you the story of how I fell in love with EDM. I was watching MTV Dance one day and I saw this weird music video involving odd music, girls and skeletons, it really affected me. That music video was the video for Hey Boy Hey Girl by The Chemical Brothers. the Chemical brothers was that one band (duo) that always got nominated for a Grammy but no one ever heard of. Anyway, I fell in love with big beat and rediscovered Fatboy Slim. My second introduction to EDM came through dubstep. Oh dubstep. I can assure you that i don’t like Skrillex anymore but Dubstep was such a different genre, it dragged me in. Through Dubstep i discovered Deadmau5 and Daft Punk, two artists I listen to even today. the fact remains that EDM is an excellent gateway genre.
In conclusion, EDM in the mainstream can have positive and negative effects. Basically artists shouldn’t sacrifice their creativity for a charting hit and they shouldn’t change for money. Modern EDM (electro house, dubstep etc.) can prove to be a great way to introduce a younger audience to different genres and different festivals (hopefully not drugs though).