We are living in the golden age of electronic music, given how widespread this diverse genre has become in modern times. In an era where a majority of music is now mixed or altered using computers and technology, it’s easy to see how electronic and EDM have made their way into a variety of media we regularly consume. The free-form nature of this type of music lends itself well to the society in which we currently live and the way we experience content through our second brain: the internet.
Early EDM Memories
I can remember the very first time I ever truly heard a dubstep song, and it blew my mind. Bassnectar’s “Bass Head” completely swung my awareness away from the mainstream and into a genre not many people had listened to in the early 2010s. It was different, tying together sounds and tempos from genres I was familiar with but that my mind could never have compiled. I had heard music similar to it before, but never as well-composed or hyped up.
This was my introduction to dubstep and the beginning of my lifelong love of electronic music. I think we all remember the day we first heard the song “Fireflies” by Owl City. For better or for worse, you either fondly remember that catchy tune or hate it for what it was. Their hit may have been one of the first commercial electronic releases everyone was aware of, and it definitely planted the electronic seed in my brain.
New Movies, New Vibes
As electronic became more popular, we started to encounter it in more and more media. Big movies around this time that featured soundtracks with EDM were The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift (2006), The Social Network (2010), and Tron: Legacy (2010), just to name a few. And can you believe Disney let Daft Punk score the music for Tron: Legacy? Really great stuff, Disney.
Some of these movies lend themselves better to the electronic genre than others, but its incorporation was evidence that it was gaining awareness. It’s fascinating to think that a movie about the birth of the social network was also assisting with the birth of a new generation of electronic music listeners. Also, a movie centered around software that’s underlined by electronic sounds produced mostly by computers are an excellent pair.
Artists Who Made an Impact
In the early twenty-teens, there were other artists breaking into the genre as well as plenty before them who were still making electronic music. But this is around the time that electronic was evolving from a group of looped sounds mixed together into a full-fledged art form. Bending sound and making distortion into a truly desired listening experience is how dubstep became a powerhouse. I would compare electronic music to dubstep as I’d compare classical guitar to the introduction of the whammy bar.
This is when electronic music began to slowly trickle into other genres and platforms. Artists such as Skrillex were definitely a driving force, and he injected our culture with a more palatable dose of dubstep and electronic music, which you can see scattered throughout other media today. His songs also circulated internet culture: The classic “Yes, oh my god!” from the cup stacking video we all remember is immortalized in his song “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.” Now, it’s fairly common to hear artists sampled in a well-known video or meme, but back then, it was just becoming a thing.
Electrifying Commercials and Games
From commercials to movie soundtracks to video games, electronic music has worked its way into our culture, and it doesn’t look like it’s leaving any time soon. Most advertisements nowadays will track either an indie band or an electronic melody to underscore their core content. I mean, when is the last time you saw an energy drink commercial without a drum and bass song? Mountain Dew is notorious for this type of advertising.
Video games have always been an easy way in for electronic music, too, since this target demographic seems to be more immersed in internet culture and digitally up to date. Anyone remember the scene in Far Cry 3 where you burn down a marijuana field using a flamethrower, jamming out to Skrillex’s “Make It Bun Dem”? If you haven’t had the honor of witnessing it firsthand, take a moment to enjoy it here. Even in a video game, this music makes its mark (admittedly when tied to a fairly outlandish act) and has a lasting effect on those who experienced it.
With electronic music’s current state, all other genres are fair game to mix with. There are artists like Headphone Activist and Klutch remixing music from Beethoven and Mozart, breathing new life into genres some would never venture into. Punk and rock were absorbed by the symbiotic electronic monster long ago with iconic bands like Linkin Park utilizing the soundboard in many of their hits. Rap is also a genre that goes well with electronic music, as the tempos of most songs are similar enough to simply make a fusion of the two. Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreak might be the best early example of the two music forms complementing each other nicely. One genre we now see getting sucked into the vortex of electronic is alternative — and as an alternative fan first, this excites me. Electronic music in general really lends itself well to intriguing vocals, either as a sample or as an original song. When these genres collide, they bring audiences together.
It’s becoming clearer how invasive and long-lasting electronic music’s influence is. Taking over movie soundtracks and high-intensity commercials, the style has exploded and stuck to everything it’s touched. If I had to bet, all music genres have a target on their heads with the clock ticking until one daring DJ shoots their shot and brings another version of electronic music to the table. Keep an ear out for these tracks; you never know exactly where you might hear one!