Opinion: Hey, hey, we’re the whomp whomps

Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer is a senior anthropology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

It’s been interesting to experience the evolution of music in the past decade. From the rise of party rap in the early 2000s (what is Lil’ Jon doing these days, anyway?) to the emo and screamo trend that still brings up painful memories for a lot of people — if there is one thing we have learned, it is that popular music genres have the ability to rapidly change in the age of the Internet.

For anyone with savvy eyes and ears, it should be no surprise that electronic dance music, or EDM, has been commercialized and integrated into the pop music repertoire. It seems like everyone and their mother is jazzed about that new Skrillex song or that Rihanna’s producer puts bass drops in most of her songs. As someone who has been on the electronic music train for the better part of the last decade, I find this very humorous.

Now, I hate to be that guy who claims to know more about a specific music genre than you, but I probably do. I remember when techno and happycore were the toast of EDM forums online. I was there when trance and Eurohouse hit the American shores. Finally, I witnessed the MacBook Pro completely change what it means to be a DJ, for better or worse.

Until recently, electronic dance music was an underground movement that was stereotyped by the mainstream as being for ravers, hackers and Eurotrash. Now, it’s hard to listen to the radio without hearing a pop song with a four-on-the-floor rhythm pattern or a house melody.

How did EDM ascend to mainstream popularity in such a short period of time? One word: dubstep. It’s hard to blame “bassheads” for their rampant and feverous love for electronic music’s bastard child. Anyone who has been drunk and at a party in the past few years can attest to the addictiveness of a good dubstep beat and a dirty bass drop. Perhaps it is dubstep’s ability to be highly conducive to a party situation that makes it so popular.

“Musicians” like Skrillex — who was in the screamo scene before he was the king of brostep — found that a lot of profits could be made from drunk college students. In that respect, he’s no different from corporate acts like The Monkees. From there, pop music artists adopted some of the tropes of electronic music and turned the genre into the backing track for the same terrible pop lyrics of the past.

The irony of all of this is that electronic music was founded on the principles of non-commercialization. Now that many in the genre have effectively sold out, the entire movement faces an existential crisis. Artists like Skrillex who jump on the popularity bandwagon in the pursuit of profit are killing a genre that I have followed my entire life. I feel like one of those cool cats from the 1950s that were into rock ‘n’ roll before Elvis had to go and ruin everything. I still love the genre, just not what it has become.

The only hope for EDM to reclaim its former glory is to experience a renaissance like rock music did in the 1960s. Who will be the Beatles that save the EDM genre and preserve its core tenets for generations to come?