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Is Dance Music Dead?

Thousands upon thousands of clubbers will tell you NO. The UK album charts are jammed full of dance music compilations so what’s this guy on about?


Well, September last year I attended the BPM Show at the N.E.C. in Birmingham (UK).

Strolling among the stands and checking out the DJs sets, I got to imagining that if I could close my eyes and be magically transported to the equivalent show in 1994, how different would it all have sounded?

Indeed, how different would all the latest DJ gear have seemed?

I was struck by the feeling that the answer to both these questions would be “Not Very”.

Comparison Tracks

Am I right? Well I did a bit of research and came up with the following dance hits from 1994 (or there abouts):

Track 1: Future Sound Of London – Papua New Guinea.

Track 2: OrbitalChime.

Track 3: Underworld – Dark Train.

Track 4: CJ Bolland – The Prophet.

And the following dance hits from 2014 (or there abouts):

Track 1: Dada Life – Feed the Dada

Track 2: Verano Sunset – The Wizard

Track 3: Joris Voorn – Ringo

Track 4: The Ravers – Freedom Knights

I’ve included a link to YouTube for each track so you can listen for yourself and see if you agree with me.

So, is dance music dead? Well, if not dead, possibly in a coma?

Don’t get me wrong – I like the four 2014 tracks and they’re all very well produced – probably better so than their 1994 equivalents. But where is the spark, where is dance music going – what’s new in the last 20 years?

Not Just Dance Music

And if you think I’m being particularly hard on dance music well the same seems to be true of all popular music. I would single out the indie scene for particular criticism for producing utterly derivative and generic music.

What is the problem?

Partly I think dance music has suffered what happens to all musical genres over time.

  • Innovators come up with ideas.

  • These ideas get consolidated into a style of music.

  • Someone sticks a label on it.

  • Lots of people then simply set out to produce music that conforms to that label.

Then, especially in the case of electronic music, equipment manufacturers start producing gear specifically for that genre and we are stuck in a cosy equilibrium – for 20 years.

Music matters

Throughout history one of the principle jobs of music has been to dance to.

I believe music matters. Therefore dance music matters. However, I believe that even dance music should be aimed, to some extent, at the head and the heart – not just the feet!

I believe it’s time for dance music to wake up.

So What’s The Solution

Here at Maverick, we are on a mission to try and revive electronic music. So how do we propose to do this? Well, if we want to work out where we want to go it helps to see where we’ve been. So first, I think, it would be useful to look at a quick history of electronic music.

The first part of this will be in the next blog post in this series. Also you might be interested in the accompanying blog series looking at the technology behind electronic music – How analogue is “analog”.

Is dance music dead? Long live dance music!