Why I can't take "EDM" seriously

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Eric Gruneisen. Full slideshow.
At SnowBall, where you can dance if you want to, as long as you don't call it EDM.

I love electronic music. I love the sound, the artists, the parties, the people, the scene -- in fact, I'm into pretty much everything about this particular genre of music. But there's one thing about electronica that I'm really, really not into. At all.

It's the term "EDM." I hate it.

Some of this sentiment might be attributable to old-school sentimentality. I am yelling at the kids to get off my lawn. I acknowledge that.

But there are reasons for my dislike that transcend the fact that I'm a crotchety old raver. 1) It's inaccurate. 2) It's really only used in the United States. 3) It's used mostly by people outside the scene to describe music they don't really understand.

I started listening to electronic music in the late '90s. Back then, people used another blanket term for electronic music: techno. This wasn't a sustainable descriptor, mostly because techno is a specific sub-genre of electronic music -- it's kind of like referring to all rock music as "metal."

Those of us who were listening to it, though, typically didn't refer to it as "techno." We used the names for the specific sub-genres -- house, drum-and-bass, garage, trip-hop, etc. -- or we talked about music in the context of a specific event.

Sometimes, you'd hear people talk about "dance music" when discussing the rave scene during that point in time. This is how Europeans were referring to electronic music, and it was considered self-evident that the dance music in question was electronic -- what other kind of dance music was there, really? In Europe today, most people still use the term "dance music," and they consider the "EDM" term to be uniquely American (and, judging from how different European artists have used the term when I've talked to them about the scene, they also seem to think it's rather quaint).

Things changed as the genres gained popularity in the United States. A few years ago, around the mid-2000s, electronic music became much, much more popular, and a new blanket term to describe it was generated: EDM, which stands for "electronic dance music."

You might be wondering by now what my big issue with the term is. After all, EDM isn't that far removed from "dance music," and we have to call it something, right?


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63 comments
mfsflyer
mfsflyer

EDM is not pure Electronic music, it's dance, it will always be just dance.

bmack303
bmack303

I'm just blessed that I was @ ground zero for House & Techno in the USA....& catch it's infectious effect on the UK & Germany. Once the sounds of my inner city brother's/sister hit Europe the world had been changed.....After reading this I thought, how serious could I take this article written in a state which is still 7-10 years behind when it comes electronic dance music culture. It would be nice to see an article on The growth & acceptance of Dance music abroad vs. America....hmmmm  

Stan Salazar
Stan Salazar

As far as the acronym, I prefer to use it as Emotional Dance Music. Not this commercial crap ie. Electro Trash, Durpstep and anything else that is noise sold for the masses. EDM is not a genre. Electronic, House, Trance, Techno are genres. Sub genres are Tech-House, Progressive Trance, Minimal, and so on.

Kevin Juhasz
Kevin Juhasz

I have the same feeling about soccer - it's a term only used in the U.S., it's not an accurate description and I can't take it seriously.

Ryan Pineapple Scherer
Ryan Pineapple Scherer

Would bands such as bisco, sts9, new deal, etc be the reason why they call it edm instead of dance music? Edm is a retronym. It represents how the music is produced. Other countries don't use that term because they don't have livetronica bands.

ObviouslyOldNow
ObviouslyOldNow

I raved it up at the Limelight and NASA, but this article just seems really unimportant to me.

Candie Bernard
Candie Bernard

Why can't I take it seriously, Westword asks. Because it's not real music, I respond.

Chad Kay
Chad Kay

Comparing music played by actual musicians to "edm" is irrelevant, bands are like home cooking, "edm" is microwavable

Michael Rydel
Michael Rydel

People that use the acronym EDM are lazy poser kids, that apparently dont have the time to say "Electronic dance music" just like how they say "Cray" instead of just saying Crazy. Its not Cool to sound like an idiot..

Bill Keenan
Bill Keenan

Just when I thought the marketing geniuses couldn't come up with a stupider term than 'electronica,' they come up with 'edm.'

Frank Gruber
Frank Gruber

not a raver Dumbass and haven't been to a party since late 90s early 2000. So I DONT really vare about all of them. Got a lot friends that still spin too.

Jeff Bones
Jeff Bones

Alright Thizz head take a breather.

Steven M Palmer
Steven M Palmer

Raves were far cooler when they were held covertly and didn't attract a shitload of fucktard posers...

Jeremy Nix
Jeremy Nix

Genre labels are so OVER. Just call it music.

Oblivion Fringe
Oblivion Fringe

the girl wearing fake glasses at the bottom of the pic looks like she just sharted herself

Boone Riddle
Boone Riddle

Said every moron who had different taste.

Ossama Hussein
Ossama Hussein

If I end up at another rave, I'm going to start a most unwanted unfriendly mosh pit

Maddog Mystique
Maddog Mystique

Roberta Shaver they were on the schedule to come over to Norad at 11. At 12:30 Norad was still charging $20 for the two dj's that were worth it, J. Philp and Option4. They did not show up, I got my money back and left at 12:45. My feelings on calling it EDM, I don't care. I experienced my first heartbreak when I saw a 'Pepsi Sponsored' sign at a rave at the NJ Expo Center in 1999. That was when I came to terms with the fact that 'our precious secret' had been exposed to daylight, to the mainstream, to the regular people, the non creative types, the ones that can't dance well, don't really FEEL the beat. I will always miss the days of the scene being highly selective about who was invited, let in the door, accepted....if you were wearing a button down shirt or looked like a bro dude you were not getting in, bimbos also excluded (clearly no longer the case). I adjusted to the fact that many record stores were mismanaging their House, Techno, DnB, Trance etc. collections by putting them in one generic sounding "Dance" category. Clearly I am an expert and should work as a consultant to the local record stores and help them get better organized....but really, I don't think they care, and that is okay. I am just thankful that I can find a record store that has a good collection, I don't care what they call it as long as it's there. There were a few years way back when where 'my scene' was hard to find for a while, practically disappeared. I am thankful that it is still here whether 'they' are calling it DANCE or EDM. The mainstream 'know nothings' stand out like a sore thumb regardless of what they call it. They just take their drugs, drink their beer and look goofy.

Maddog Mystique
Maddog Mystique

Roberta Shaver they were on the schedule to come over to Norad at 11. At 12:30 Norad was still charging $20 for the two dj's that were worth it, J. Philp and Option4. They did not show up, I got my money back and left at 12:45. My feelings on calling it EDM, I don't care. I experienced my first heartbreak when I saw a 'Pepsi Sponsored' sign at a rave at the NJ Expo Center in 1999. That was when I came to terms with the fact that 'our precious secret' has been exposed to daylight, to the mainstream, to the regular people, the non creative types, the ones that can't dance well, don't really FEEL the beat. I will always miss the days of the scene being highly selective about who was invited, let in the door, accepted....if you were wearing a button down shirt or looked like a bro dude you were not getting in, bimbos also excluded (clearly no longer the case). I adjusted to the fact that many record stores were mismanaging their House, Techno, DnB, Trance etc, collections by putting them in one generic sounding "Dance" category. Clearly I am an expert and should work as a consultant to the local record stores and help them get better organized....but really, I don't think they care, and that is okay. I am just thankful that I can find a record store that has a good collection, I don't care what they call it as long as it's there. There were a few years way back when where 'my scene' was hard to find for a while, practically disappeared. I am thankful that it is still here whether 'they' are calling it DANCE or EDM....The mainstream 'know nothings' stand out like a sore thumb regardless of what they call it. They just take their drugs, drink their beer and look goofy.

Troy William
Troy William

Ive been listening to dance music for as long as I can remember and I dont get offended by the term EDM. I know the difference between house, trance, DnB, dub, etc etc but sometimes its just easier to say I listen to EDM. Most people are going to get the gist of the music I enjoy.

Roberta Shaver
Roberta Shaver

Maddog Mystique thoughts? Maybe the Snowball were where the no snow DJ's were at on Saturday?

HubertJFarnsworth
HubertJFarnsworth

This is why I cant take The Westword seriously. This blog would have been interesting/informative to some people 5 years ago, but now? Who cares anymore.

Steven Anicrow Bigwood
Steven Anicrow Bigwood

Or complain about how Elitist in every Genre of music do nothing but complain about how people are ruining their genre.

Steven Anicrow Bigwood
Steven Anicrow Bigwood

Why should a loose classification/generalization strictly adhere to all the rules of the sub genres it's simplifying? Just fucking stupid. Worry about poverty or something ffs.

Steven Anicrow Bigwood
Steven Anicrow Bigwood

You should try reading my sarcastic secondary comment again. Genre > Sub classification > Sub Genre > Sub-Sub Genre. Welcome to the total and complete illusion that any song should be classified/adhere to anything other than the actual rules of music science. Fighting over Genres is stupid in general, affectionately hating a phrase for representing a bunch of things you're into though..wtf? What about the phrase IDM? At least peel back the layers all the way instead of repeating the same bull shit for 2 pages. This article doesn't even clearly make a justification other than "It doesn't fit all electronic music." well....no shit.

Frank Gruber
Frank Gruber

Fully agree. Problem is to many sub genres are new and most ppl DONT know all of them

Frank Gruber
Frank Gruber

Its not all music to dance too. That's the point. Like he said that's like labeling all rock music metal or rick and roll. Edm is a dumb term to generalized music that's different in many ways

Jadababy Jadababy
Jadababy Jadababy

But your blogs on "best EDM in Denver" have been quite helpful.

buckbart
buckbart

Short a page of ads this week?

seize
seize

What do you mean "other countries" "don't have livetronica bands"? Seriously?

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