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I Just Wanna Dance

March 9, 2012

My interest in dance music started about 13 years ago when I started going to clubs with my college friends. At the time there seemed to be four major genres: house, techno, trance and electronica. Remixes of pop songs reigned supreme, but The Chemical Brothers, Tricky, and Darude were not quite household names. Living in a small rural town in the pre-iTunes days, my only option for acquiring this type of music was to purchase a Global Hits or Urbal Beats compilation at the nearest Best Buy (and by nearest, I mean a two-hour drive away).

Fast forward a decade, and the world is now my oyster. Amazon MP3, iTunes, and Sirius Satellite Radio (BPM Channel 51, holla!) make it easy to find any kind of electronic music you’d want. The problem now is that, instead of too few choices, there are too many. How does one sift through all the electronic music out there to find the good in all the bad?

Satellite radio has made the task much easier. I leave my radio tuned to BPM and keep my iPhone handy for some Shazam action. I come home each night with at least 5 new songs I want to download. There is so much overlap that you quickly start figuring out who the major players are and who are just one-off hit-makers.

LOLSkrillexSkrillex, of course, is king. He’s been getting much-deserved attention since his remix of Benny Benassi’s “Cinema” (turn your stereo way up just before the 1:19 mark). His second EP, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, reached 49 on the Billboard 200 and earned him 3 Grammys in 2012. Fellow Tweedster Paul the Geek has written of Skrillex’s awesomeness before, so I won’t rehash it here. But switch on any electronic music station and Skrillex will have his fingerprints on many of the songs you’ll hear. He even has his own program on Electric Area.

Tiesto has been an electronic music mainstay for years and there’s no sign of him slowing down. His music seems to get more aggressive as he gets older, but is still rock solid. Tracks like “C’Mon” with Diplo and “Maximal Crazy” beg to be played at top volume with the bass thumping.

Fairly new to the scene but quickly carving out their own niche are the Swedes. Avicii is almost as prolific as Skrillex and nearly as oft-played, while Eric Prydz is quickly gaining ground. But hands down, my favorite of the moment are the Swedish House Mafia. Their music has a pulsing, magnetic vibe; “Antidote” is blowing up the electronic charts right now and it makes me want to headbang every time I hear it.

A few honorable mentions: Steve Aoki (especially his collaboration with Wynter Gordon on “Ladi Dadi Part II”), Thomas Gold (whose remix of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” is getting constant radio airplay), and Bassnectar (who took a run-of-the-mill pop song by Ellie Goulding and turned it into something haunting). And anything featuring Nadia Ali: she’s the current queen of dance music and her voice adds a mesmerizing sound to any track she’s featured on.

My electronic musical cup runneth over, not that I’m complaining. As with any genre of music, it’s easy to find music, but you have to do your homework to find the really good stuff. Anybody can add some wub-wub-wub or untiss-untiss-untiss to a Lana Del Ray track, but it takes a truly great electronic artist to orchestrate something musical and memorable out of transformers having sexual intercourse.

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