Have you heard of Skrillex? David Guetta? Deadmau5? Did you know that they have, like lots of fans? Well, today, the Associated Press finally caught up with you. Its report about the popularity of dance music on American shores is a carnival of unintentional hilarity dressed up as a long-expired music trend story. And not just for the knowing die-hards and snobs who were listening to this stuff long before your little sister started putting electrical tape on her nipples and trucking off to Rusko shows.
Published in today's SF Chronicle, the piece is but the latest in an glow-stick-tinted tide of stories seeking to understand the rise of mega DJ-producers like Skrillex in the U.S. Ever since SPIN put the Shaven One on its cover last fall -- and since the Kreayshawn and Lana Del Rey narratives kinda wore themselves out -- "the rise of electronic dance music" has been the go-to music trend story.
But today's AP piece, while it seeking accomplish the modest, worthy goal of keeping stodgy daily newspaper readers abreast of what their kids are into, comes off more like a lame joke than a timely news report. The bone-dry headline is "Shake your body: Dance sound takes over America." And here's the lede:
In the past, if you wanted to listen to a thumping, European-flavored dance jam on the radio, you waited for that Friday or Saturday night club mix.
Today, you can shake your body on that 7 a.m. drive to work.
Dance and electronic music, part of the fringe just a few years ago, now dominates Top 40 radio, and the culture continues to sprout at festivals as DJ-producers begin to take center stage.
Huh! Wow! Dance music?! In the morning? Is that even legal? And while you're at it, AP, can you tell us what this whole Facebook thing is about?
We'll give the writer and editors credit for using phrases like "now dominates" and "continues to sprout," which reveal that the AP knows it's way behind the times with this story.
But we still wonder why today -- on the heels of seemingly major news source -- did the AP decide to run a piece it seems to know is out of date? This story could have run in 2009, when the whole wide world was obsessed with the Eurotrash sounds of Lady Gaga. It could have run in 2010, when every other pop star was copying her. It could have run in 2011, when Rihanna's Calvin Harris-produced "We Found Love" was getting extremely comfortable at the top of the charts. It could even have run in early 2012, immediately before or after the Grammys, when informing Regular 'Mericans about the people twisting knobs on their TV screen might have actually been useful.
Today, though, the piece reads like a dusty trend story you'd find in your grandfather's old stack of TIME magazines (And although it's decently reported, it also strangely omits any mention the brief but still important flirtation U.S. audiences had with rave music in the mid-90's. You think that precedent would be important context.)
Yes, dance music is even bigger in 2012, but that's been the case for a while -- and there are signs that it's overstaying its welcome on the Top 40 charts. It's too early to say what's coming next, although the popularity of quirky, nebulous pop stars like Gotye and Fun. might offer one clue. But sadly, if you want to know what's on the bleeding edge of pop music in 2012, you'll have to wait until 2015 to hear about it from the AP.