The Year In Electronica Music
(For a complete list of 54th GRAMMY Awards nominees, click here.)
With dubstep artist Skrillex taking five GRAMMY nominations into his custody with his eerie, hair-raising samples and crushing bass lines, and superstar DJ Deadmau5 detaining three of his own, a slew of articles have hit the Internet with titles such as "2011, The Year Of Electronic Music" and Most Electronic Year Yet?" by journalists who, in my opinion, are a little late to the party (and no, I don't mean rave) in suggesting electronica music is having its moment. That isn't to say that 2011 wasn't an incredible year, just that it is the latest culmination of incredible advances and artistic brilliance in electronica and dance music — a stop on the road we've been on for years.
In 2011 we can point to chart-climbers such as Britney Spears, who infused an electro and reverberant drum pattern and bass line in "Till The World Ends," and Nicki Minaj, who created a storm of digital raindrops and super bass in "Super Bass." (Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez event made waves on YouTube when they were seen reciting the lyrics to "Super Bass," leading Minaj to make a cameo in concert with Swift.) Even though none of these women are technically electronica artists, they all successfully incorporated the genre into their own mainstream works.
But electronica music's presence wasn't just limited to a few pop and rap tracks — it was everywhere this year. The Black Eyed Peas' "The Time (Dirty Bit)," Flo Rida's "Good Feeling" and Rihanna's "We Found Love" featuring Calvin Harris are all good examples of what is supposed to be an EDM underground sound, but instead rises across mainstream airwaves with grime and two-step styles, demonstrating that not only is EDM no longer underground, it may very well be mainstream.
How else can one explain such widespread adoption of the genre, from Drake's collaboration with SBTRKT on "Wildfire" and Jamie xx's remixes of several Gil Scott-Heron songs, to David Lynch's electro pop track "Good Day Today" chosen as the lead single of a mostly rock and roll album? Or the naming of remixers and dance music legends Underworld as music directors for the London 2012 Olympic Games? To say nothing of the move business, where the Chemical Brothers scored Hanna, Trent Reznor did The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and Basement Jaxx took on Attack The Block. Even traditional EDM festivals hit new levels of national interest. Not only did the Electric Daisy Carnival pull in 250,000 attendees in Las Vegas in December 2011, but concert promoter Live Nation backed the Identity Festival, the first electronica music touring festival, for more than 20 successful stops.
It was truly an incredible year. One that brought not just the highlights mentioned above, but the culmination of the years of ever-greater adoption of and success by dance and electronica in the mainstream. With such a stucco-sturdy foundation, I think it's time for those who still hold a love-and-hate relationship with electronica music to admit that it pervades their MP3 players and playlists … and has, not just in the last year, but for decades. It just so happens that 2011 was an incredible latest stop for a journey we've been on for some time.