For the longest time a lot of critics are saying that electronic dance music doesn’t really rise to the level of artistic music. While you’re probably not going to come across some serious critic who is convinced that electronic dance music is not music, it’s also quite rare to find a critic who can be convinced that electronic music is serious.
There’s a kind of dichotomy here. On the one hand, critics are quick to conclude that electronic dance music is music. It does deserve respect to be studied as music.
However, the problem is that’s not enough. We are looking for something more. We are looking for this genre of music to be given the respect that it’s due. In other words, electronic dance music, for all its baggage and historical trappings and cultural adornment, is an art form, and it deserves to be treated as such.
This is where a lot of the debates come in because a lot of critics would say that it really doesn’t have much of a life outside of the dance floor. They point to the fact that regardless of which electronic music band or act you care to analyze, a lot of their older work simply falls flat when you compare it to today’s music. In fact, even heavyweights like Yaz are often made examples of how electronic dance music is historically flat, shallow and ultimately doesn’t really would stand the test of time.
While it is true that Depeche Mode and Yaz do have very bouncy and catchy rhythms and beats from the past, there’s quite a bit of a debate whether that is good enough. There is quite a bit of a disagreement whether that arises to the level of hardcore, pure art.
I think this really boils down to snobbishness. That’s really what it all boils down to. Just because people are dancing doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not enjoying art. Just because people take drugs on the dance floor so they can dance longer and have a great time doesn’t necessarily mean that what they’re engaged in is in any way less deserving of respect and critical analysis than higher forms of art like opera and going to the museum.
This really is a form of discrimination in terms of high art and low culture. We thought that a lot of this discrimination has been done away with. In large measure, we’re making great progress.
However, there are still pockets of resistance there and, believe me, electronic dance music and the critical snobbishness that it often encounters is one such example. It really is a reminder not all the walls separating, dissecting, slicing and dicing our culture have truly come down. There’s still quite a bit of work to do.