A lot of people think electronic music sucks. And they’re right, at least occasionally. A lot of it does suck. Most of the time, people who are making a blanket statement about EDM are referring to a very specific UNTZ UNTZ kind of song, which is a) not for everyone, and b) an acquired taste.
The truth is that there is no sound that is common across all electronic music, because the term really just applies to music that comes from a computer instead of from instruments (though it can also include instruments, obviously, and many of my favorites do). “Electronic” does not mean solely techno or house music. It can be jazz or rock or pop or anything in between.
After spending the last few years listening to more electronic music than anything else, I wondered if I was still remotely in touch with what the rest of the world found to be “good” music. So I asked for some volunteers of people who don’t like EDM and sent them some songs to get feedback on. I chose mostly songs that I thought could appeal to an audience that wasn’t used to listening to electronic music, though I did throw in a few oddballs to test the waters. Here’s what happened:
1. GRiZ, “The Anthem”
I thought people would love this song. I got, “Anyone who doesn’t dance to this has no soul,” from my focus group, so obviously I agree.
2. Pretty Lights, “Up and Down I Go”
One of my favorite PL songs but I didn’t think it would be too well received. It’s a little weird and even I will admit it is WAY too long. Commenters largely agreed that it is about 4 minutes too long.
3. Big Gigantic ft. Cherub, “The Night Is Young”
I was surprised that people knew Cherub, but they did (one person even hung out with Cherub once, which is dope because they seem like fun guys). I didn’t even know Cherub before this song, so it’s nice to know that I’m still very much out of the loop, in some ways. I love this song and everyone loved this song and you love this song too and we all love this song together and even my mom liked this song when I played it for her a year ago before dashing off to see Big G at the Garden the moment Yom Kippur was over (hi Mom!).
4. Savoy, “Bizzy”
I suspected no one would like this but I got a range from, “This is trying way too hard,” to “I liked this one!” 2 people agreed it has no variation though, which is fair. Savoy is also best listened to live with their absolutely bonkers laser shows. I was actually present for this performance below and it was probably my favorite set of the entire festival (RIP Hudson Project).
5. Galantis, “You”
Galantis, who I sadly did not get to see at EZoo, is great. I got “pop-y and fun” and “this feels like it would be great live,” which were pretty high praise for this group. They found the cat masks polarizing, though. I personally love the cat masks, as evidenced here:
6. Gramatik, “Just Jammin”
This is a song you would be into if you like jazz and probably not if you don’t like jazz. That’s about as close to fact as possible. I really liked this comment from my group: “I like when I can tell what some of the instruments are, even if there’s some synth-y stuff also happening.” That’s not specific to this song, necessarily, but I think it’s pretty apt.
7. Break Science, “Brain Reaction”
I was probably most off base on this song, in that I thought people would like it but no one did. Comments included, “Felt like I was waiting for something exciting to happen, but it never did,” “Not my thing,” and “Overall I was not impressed with this despite my excitement about the rapping (Redman! I know him!).” I refuse to believe these comments because Break Science is SO GOOD.
8. Goldfish, “Get Busy Living”
I also thought this one was going to be a slam dunk, but it got mixed reviews. I have successfully converted a number of people to Goldfish fans this summer. Goldfish live is the BEST.
9. Bassnectar, “The Matrix”
Again, this was a test of how well I knew my audience because I was sure everyone would hate this. And while I did get, “I’d prefer your bass not be in my face. Thanks.” and “Oh dear, too dubstep-y” (accurate), I also got a “Loved this one!! Felt like I was at a rave? (Or what I think a rave is like),” (Also accurate!). So I suppose I just can’t predict anything.
10. Emancipator, “Maps”
Emancipator is mellow and smooth and beautiful and I thought it basically impossible to dislike something so…out of your face (technical term, opposite of “in your face,” obviously). Most everyone liked it but one person called it elevator music. I sort of agree with that actually, though I might call it “customer service hold music” instead.
Thank you to my many (3!) participants, this was fun!