Thursday, July 2, 2009

You Can't Stop The Music

I secretly love electronic music. I mean, not that trendy stuff. I'm talking about shitty house music, old Chemical Brothers, and the kind of remixed top-40 that gets played at the end of the night at really pedestrian "clubs." I went out with a little girl squad recently, and in between 8-dollar drinks and filthy tables, there was a delightful blend of really terrible, amazing music.

The most probable reason that people would like this type of music is because they've been ingesting MDMA and vodka-Redbulls all night long. Since Redbull gives me dry heaves and I'm not a pill-popper, my fondness for dance music remains a mystery, even to myself. One clue might rest on the fact that it's all designed to have sex to, in other words. On the other hand, if you call a genre "dance music" and then expect me not to love it, you'll be terrifically surprised.

The first time I really heard anything that could be classified as "electronic music" was when I was in the sixth grade, when I was way too young to be listening to Dig Your Own Hole. No matter! I'd listen to it on my Walkman, lying in bed at night, trying to figure out why the hell I was feeling jumpy and wide awake. Anyone who denies that music has powers
should be forced to repeatedly listen to what Dave Barry dubbed the worst song ever written, "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris. We can set it up Clockwork Orange-style, and the resulting Slurpee-ization of the doubter's brain will be more than enough to create a new comic book supervillain.

My most recent electroresurgence was prompted by "What Else Is There?" the gorgeous 2005 Royskopp song, which features (total babe) Karin Dreijer Andersson. KDA then led me to find The Knife and Fever Ray, acts that both feature her spooky vocals. I'm not going to lie: I can't name-drop dance music acts like her (equally babe-onic brother) Olof Andersson, who DJs around Europe and who I would totally make out with. But I got a tiny primer in high school from friends, and can at least recognize most of the major musical waves out there.

For example, what happens when you mix indie music with dance music? Why, Chromeo, of course! One tasty recipe calls for copious amounts of irony, like when folky hipsters cover chart-toppers (see "Straight Outta Compton" as performed by Nina Gordon; Weezer's version of "(Hit Me Baby) One More Time," etc.). Also delicious is the parody, as evidenced by Lonely Island or Flight of the Concords and their goofy-ass take on thugged-out hip-hop.

Hip, funny, serious, deathly, sexy...none of those mean much if I can't dance. Because the most important thing about dance music isn't if it's, like, performing CPR on its audience. Will it make me shake my ass? Will I sing along? Will I get an endorphin high from three hours of sustained joy? Then, and only then, has dance music done its job.

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