Editorial Notebook

EDM, universal religion

EDM’s cultural influence compared to rock and roll

Electronic Dance Music, or EDM, is a phrase almost inescapable in today’s pop culture. More of a buzz word than an actual definition or description, many people use this phrase to embody the recent surge of electronic music, especially in the USA. But what does it actually mean? Electronic music in general has expanded and changed so much in recent years that it is almost impossible to nail down an exact definition. Is electronic music characterized by the club-centered, 4/4, drum machine, sub-genre known as house music? Or is it the bass-heavy, sound-stretching, heavy hitting music known as dubstep? The beauty of electronic music is that there is no definite answer to this question. There are a myriad of genres in today’s ever-changing electronic music scene, making it impossible to define or categorize them completely. Two different people with separate music tastes could both be hooked on electronic music but listen to completely different styles of music. One could enjoy the more ambient feels of downbeat and trance music, while the other could love the chest-pounding of club music, such as house and trap.

But why is electronic music so popular? What is making this genre so commercially successful that it can be the basis for huge music festivals and Billboard hits? The answer is timing. Every decade or two, a new genre of music is born and popularized. In the 1960s and 1970s, this genre was rock and roll. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was hip-hop and rap. Each of these waves of music, in time, became associated with a generation of listeners. Electronic music is the music of this generation, the millenials. It provides a new energy and a fresh sound for the youth of this time to call their own. In a time of instant gratification and an increase of computer and cell phone reliance, there is no better genre of music to fit the mold. For example, electronic music artists can stay active on the social media sites that millenials swear by, and can post their music directly from their computer to their online page. Also, the purely computerized production of music allows for more releases in a shorter time span. This keeps the brief attention span of today’s generation active and attentive. A combination of these things and more helps guarantee there is no dearth of interest at electronic music festivals and clubs in the USA and it shows on recent top Billboard hits.

What this means for the culture of the world and the USA in particular, is extremely relevant. Looking forward a few decades, there is a high likelihood that this electronic revolution will be looked back upon in similar ways to the rock upsurge of the mid twentieth century. This type of music will help define decades of music history. Music enthusiasts of all kinds have something to appreciate within this genre, providing something for people ranging from the club lover to the relaxed listener to the undecided. This surge could even prove to be an upward trend with no end in sight. The sky is the limit for this relatively new genre known as EDM.