EDM Annual Recap: The Best and Worst of 2014
2014 was a big year for the electronic dance music industry. It seems as though the number of DJ's has multiplied since around 2010 and this once underground culture has definitely grew to be very mainstream and popular among young adults across the world. Personally, the first songs that come to mind that are associated with this past year are: "Turn Down For What", "Get Low", "Selfie", and "Mosh Pit". They're certainly not my favorite songs but I think it's safe to say that they were probably played during the most sets at both shows and festivals this past year. A lot of great music came out but the quality compared to past years has dropped in my opinion. I always thought EDM carried a wide range of sub genres with all different kinds of sounds to please everyone's interests, but I feel as though this year has been so immersed in the advancement of trap and house music that various genres are often forgot about now.
Dubstep and trance shows are hard to come by now, but that's only because it's not what the crowd wants anymore. We are showing more interest and giving the most positive feedback in trap and house music, so naturally, venues are going to book DJ's of these genres to make more money and bring in more people. The industry is manipulative and cause music production to be a game of survival of the fittest. In order to stay relevant and advance in the EDM sector of the music industry, producers must conform to popular demand and often change their style of music to satisfy the new trends this year has brought about.
Genuine Producers? Or Crowd Pleasers...
There's a few telltale signs that listeners can pick up on if they care enough to realize their favorite artists might just be crowd pleasers as they get more and more popular. If you've ever stopped and thought, "hey, this isn't the DJ I fell in love with two years ago before he/she blew up..." then chances are, their motives have changed and they've morphed their once unique style into one similar to another successful artist. Unfortunately, the industry brainwashes artists into thinking that they won't be successful if they don't conform to the mainstream type of music that has already proven to be successful and popular among the dance music community. Here's a few ways you can tell a DJ is just trying replicate a style he or she knows is proven to please the crowd and turn to gold.
- Don't be surprised if your favorite DJ is starting to sound more like club music and those overplayed EDM one hit wonders on the radio. Unless it's trap or some kind of house music, consider every other sub-genre of EDM irrelevant at this point if you're trying to be a successful performing DJ.
- Merging two different genres in one song? Please, never attempt adding a hardstyle buildup into a trap drop. We get it, you want to be "diverse" by clashing two popular genres but ultimately you're confusing the basic ravers with your swift change in BPM's on top of the abrupt stop of that repetitive bassline they're all so used to.
- Dubstep? What's a dubstep... If you aren't accepting of the fact that the newbs in the scene are scared of dubstep music by now, then it's going to come as one harsh realization when you're forced out of denial as you notice the rarity of good, high-quality dirty dubstep shows across the country. House and trap have taken the forefront, which means the heavy bass music legacy is only alive through the rave veterans who were blessed enough to experience the insanity of an amazing dubstep performance, years ago.
- If you're the slightest bit savvy with musical theory, then you'll know what I mean when I say that producers have dumbed-down the general structure of their tracks. Intricate intros and outros mixed with a long, dramatic build up to highlight the beauty and power of that unforgettable drop are hard to come around these days. Now we're pretty much stuck with hearing some emotional Ellie Goulding or Lana Del Ray lyrics correspond with a simple, repetitive electro melody in the background that fades out for the saddest excuse for a buildup you could possibly think of, leading into the chorus. Yes, I don't even feel comfortable enough calling it an actual "drop" considering there's rarely any real genuine excitement involved in progressive house songs.
Big Name DJ's BUYING Facebook Fans?
Normally when people skim through a DJ's Facebook fan page, they're impressed by the large amount of fans they have but never really look at the fine print below. When multiple big name artists have "Mexico City" as the city where their fan base is most densely populated, some bells should go off in your head.
- Mexico City is pretty well associated with EDM but then that would mean that they have a wide variety of preferences as far as music, artists and genres go. So why would the majority of Excision's fans be located here? He's from Canada anyway...
- Now, not just one major artist has Mexico City as the city where their highest rate of fans reside. Skrillex, David Guetta, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, and Avicii also have Mexico City listed as shown in the picture below that was leaked from Mixmag.
- Although Mexico City has a high population density of about 21 million people, how can all six of these big name producers share the SAME city as their largest fan base?
At this point it's safe to say something was tampered with that allotted these artists to increase their fan count on their Facebook profiles, assuming that this may help get their name out or make their profiles look more impressive to the EDM community.
Controversies of 2014
DJ'ing has become as simple as pressing "sync" and "play" and getting paid for it:
- I don't quite know what was going through Deadmau5's head when he decided that it was okay to publicly accuse DJs such as Skrillex and David Guetta of playing pre-recorded sets, but it definitely wasn't taken lightly by other producers. Afrojack for example, was able to effectively counteract Deadmau5's accusations during an interview with Billboard.
“I, seriously, have never seen anyone play a prerecorded set,” Afrojack said. “Most of the comments you see on the internet about prerecorded mixing are usually 12-year-old kids who don’t know s*** about DJing. I’ve been DJing for 11 years… everyone makes edits. Everyone has an edit of an edit of an edit — like a five-minute-long edit with three tracks in there… And then you have big shows with laser lights and all this stuff that’s synched. They play [that edit] from a laptop, but it’s only that part. After that they go back to DJing. I have yet to see a prerecorded mix DJ that was like, a big (name).” - Afrojack
Investigating the hidden identities of "ghost producers" within the industry:
- Ghost producers are said to be people who help big name artists with their music but refrain from obtaining any public credit or attention for doing so. I've heard so many different rumors about who produced this and who should be credited for that, but honestly... who cares? Yeah, it'd be cool to know that the person on stage in front of thousands of fans playing a song everyone loves, wasn't actually 100% produced by him but what exactly would it change? Nothing. The job of a ghost producer is to help out and add the extra man hours in to perfecting a song that the other producer needed help finishing. Sure they don't get public recognition, but it's not like they aren't getting paid for it. If that song ends up being a hit, the ghost producer receives a lump sum of the revenue acquired from the success of the track, so why be bothered by the nonsense from fan girls and publicity that follows the fame?
- Same concept goes for DJ's under fake mysterious aliases such as UZ and Zhu. They make kick ass music and also get to keep their personal lives private by wearing masks at shows, making them unrecognizable to the public. I think it's a smart decision on their end if they want to have the best of both worlds. I'm actually shocked that more DJ's don't follow in this trend to preserve their normal lives away from performing.
"The DJ Snake and Lil Jon hit "Turn Down For What" became the EDM's biggest crossover hit of 2014, largely launching DJ Snake from a relatively underground producer, to a massive dance music star. However, the Australian music news publication, Stoney Roads, is reporting that the future house pioneer Tchami co-produced and co-wrote the track. The fellow Parisian producer's credit pops up on multiple music website's listings of "Turn Down For What", attributing him by his real name, Martin Bresso..."
2014 Fashion Trends
I feel like elaborating on the fashion trends of the year is pointless since it's pretty much been the same for the past few years with the exception of the rising popularity in pasties and DIY rave bras. The bros will be bros, sporting their finest neon tank tops with some large obnoxious caption on the front that usually resembles the fact that they love to party, get drunk, and do drugs. The girls aren't much better with their abundance of glitter and face gems over layers upon layers of vibrant makeup. No matter what kind of physical condition these girls are in, most of them don't have any problem showing off a ridiculous amount of skin in tight, shiny, spandex "clothing". And how could we forget about groups who wear an unbelievable amount of kandi all over their bodies, they're usually the first people you see upon entering a venue or festival. Of course, you also have your heady boys walking around with no shoes decked out in tapestries and tie dye t-shirts, or the hippie chicks rocking long, colorful gypsie skirts and crochet shirts. But, unless you're at a jam band or Nectar show, chances are you'll probably be swarmed by more rave kids than hippie wannabes.
Best 2014 Festivals in the USA
Top 15 Music Festivals In The US
1. Paradiso – Washington
2. Snowglobe – California
3. Electric Daisy Carnival – Las Vegas
4. Tomorrowworld – Georgia
5. What the Festival – Oregon
6. Electric Forest – Michigan
7. Burning Man – Nevada
8. Coachella – California
9. Hard Day of the Dead – California
10. Lightning in a Bottle – California
11. Hard Summer - California
12. Decibel Festival - Washington
13. Outside Lands - California
14. Wakarusa - Arkansas
15. Bumbershoot - Washington
Paradiso After Movie 2014
15 Best Trap Songs of 2014
- "Tell Me" - RL Grime & What So Not
- "Clang" - Baauer
- "YALA" - MIA (Bro Safari & Valentino Khan Remix)
- "Recess" - Skrillex & Kill the Noise (Flux Pavilion Remix)
- "Wild" - SNAILS x Antiserum
- "Wylin" - Paper Diamond x LOUDPVCK
- "Get Low" - Dillon Francis & DJ Snake
- "Mosh Pit" - Flosstradamus (feat. Casino)
- "Maybe" - Carmada
- "Tony" - LOUDPVCK x Gladiator
- "Take Ü There" - Jack Ü
- "Scylla" - RL Grime
- "Hell of a Night" - Schoolboy Q (YOGI Remix)
- "Chimes" - Hudson Mohawke
- "Keep It 100" - Grandtheft & Keys N Krates
Artists to Watch in 2015
- Djemba Djemba
That pretty much sums up the drama throughout this past year so I'm hoping that next year, everyone will learn from the stupid accusations and events that were completely blown out of proportion this year. Maybe in 2015, artists will focus more on sticking to their own unique style and bringing back the originality that the electronic dance music scene once had before. Many record companies have leaked sneak previews of new music to be released within the next few months, giving fans hope that they certainly won't be disappointed. There were a ton of new, young DJ's who entered the game this year, so my prediction is that by the end of 2015 everyone and their moms will be producers (not saying they will all be good). I personally hope to see artists prove to their fans that they are performing and producing solely for their love and passion for the music and NOT the money. The electronic dance music is about an 8 billion dollar industry so I guess it's hard to not see past all the potential opportunities to make money if you're an aspiring DJ. There are still many artists whose dedication to their music is easily recognizable through their work and performances; so if I had one hope for the industry during the 2015 year, it would be to see everyone else prove their love for the music is stronger than any other motive they may have to succeed.