By Jeremy Quintin
Elm Staff Writer
One thing that didn’t become clear to me until recently is that electronic dance music has not been particularly popular in the public eye. I don’t mean to say that it isn’t appreciated, but it has not yet achieved a mass popularity in the United States. It’s not known like Lady Gaga, who pulls in an audience as big as her paycheck every time she performs.
The U.S. has been for some time a pop nation, and techno has only been a glimmer in the eye of most Americans, sitting at the periphery of the music industry. It seems mainly because rock and pop have had such large media coverage and producer backing that most electronic artists were glazed over due to their lack of mass support.
But that’s all changing now. Every day you hear more and more about huge Electronic Dance Music (or EDM) festivals, and venues selling out whenever Bassnectar or Skrillex come to perform. The culture from Europe that once only existed in the seedy underground world is now being played daily on popular British radio stations. Daft Punk and The Chemical Brothers were some of the first to bring EDM to mainstream media, and now Skrillex is appearing in the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun all the time. Big name figures like The Doors and Korn have shown their interest in electronic music, and many pop artists are and have been using synthesized sounds from the start of their careers. Simon Cowell is calling DJs “The new rock stars,” and is planning a new competition show along the lines of American Idol for DJs.
And now having reached this point in attention, a sudden chill comes over the entire EDM culture. An idol for DJs? There are plenty of people who are in an uproar over this. Floating around the internet are plenty of voices preaching the end of electronic music as we know it. One anonymous person on a DJ Tech Tools article announced, “Congratulations Simon Cowell. You’ve officially ruined all music.”
That’s a bit extreme. It doesn’t seem to me like an idol for DJs would destroy electronic culture, but it does seem like there are a number of issues which a show like this will have to narrowly avoid. For starters, calling it “DJ Idol” would be a terrible decision.
As Bassnectar has pointed out, it’s not so much about the DJ anymore as it is about creating those cool sounds, which is something more often done at the production level. That’s why VJ (virtual jockey) is becoming a more popular term as discs are a thing of the past. This show is going to have to be careful in showing people what the actual world of EDM is and has become, and that means getting judges who know what they’re talking about. In other words, not Simon Cowell.
Besides that, there aren’t too many more problems. The fact is, now everybody is going to be aware of EDM. It’s going to help this once small group of performers finally gain the recognition they deserve for all their hard work, and it’s going to help some new guys climb their way to the top as well. Yes, there will still be overshadowing of some people who have cool ideas and can’t get their work out.
What I say is, if you know about these people, you do everything in your power to help them to the top, not just complain about how they deserve more. If they deserve more, give them more. An idol is designed with that in mind. As a result, this is going to help the industry more than hurt it.