The dance music nominations were as pop as they've been in years, and some purists may not welcome Lady Gaga and Britney Spears in the Best Dance Recording category or LMFAO and the Pet Shop Boys in the Best Electronic/Dance Album slot. But dance music has had a huge year thanks in part to Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas and an electronic-minded Kanye West, so it's hard to ignore its pop aspirations. But nothing from dance music's core — DJ Tiësto, Deadmau5, Kaskade — was represented at the Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles Dec. 2. And none of its recent, edgy movements from the neon punk of "nu electro" (MSTRKRFT, et al) to the dark wave of techno and house (DJ Hell, Radio Slave, Dubfire) was present either.
The most genuine dance artists in the bunch included the Crystal Method, nominated for its solid long-player, Divided By Night in the Best Electronic Dance Album category. TCM is the one act with gravitas, heft and electronica roots. David Guetta, whose album One Love was nominated and who also got nods under the recording and remix headers, is a pop star in Europe, but he has verifiable dance-floor chops. As an aside, pretty much every remixer nominated is a product of the electronic dance music scene, particularly Trentemøller, Dennis Ferrer and Dave Audé.
Even the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am, speaking to press backstage, admitted the edgiest pop you'll hear today is "not on the radio...it's underground dance music." This year's group of GRAMMY finalists reflects the mainstream's infatuation with the trancey synths, up-tempo beats and disco-ball allure of clubland without diving into the after-hours headfirst. Guetta, a French DJ who produced music this year for the Black Eyed Peas and Kelly Rowland, said the floodgates will continue to open for core e-music, however. "Next year is going to be so big," he said, getting as much attention from reporters as Ringo Starr, who also appeared for press.
"It's in a massive way," Guetta said of dance music's explosion. "There's no more frontiers. It's all about good music and sharing passion. There's no more opposition."