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Friday, October 31, 2008

Why Americans hate "electronic music"

If there's something you don't like about America(besides Iraq, Afghanistan, Israeli support & its hatred of soccer), is the fact that they hated electronic music. And it's very obvious. If you compared rock music of America with rock music from the UK, American rock music comprises only of guitars, drums & a vocalist, with the exceptions bands like Slipknot & Nine Inch Nails which totally endorses every electronic instruments. But in the UK, British rock music fully endorses electronic materials, starting from the birth of synthesizers, to the acid house drum machines & computers.

And here's another comparison: Give an American teenager a song from Tiesto or Sasha, and a reply would rather be like "Fuck this techno sounding shit". But give the same song to a Brit, and he'll reply "Woah mate, this is MASSIVE!"

So yeah, there is a difference in use of electronic music in both US & UK. But why? Why does Americans hate "techno? Why don't the majority of US rock bands use electronic instruments while the UK ones endorsed it?

Well, i've once tried to get some answers from folks at LowYat.net forums and there's no clear answer to it. But there is alot of reasons why. It all starts with "the soccer problem". America is the only nation that doesn't care about football aka soccer. Even if the US hosted the 1994 World Cup, America still doesn't give a shit. Why? Because football is not easy to follow. Baseball, American football and basketball have long since put down deep roots, claimed particular seasons of the year as their own (although they now overlap) and gained the allegiance of the sports-following public. One in particular of those three sports - basketball - poses a singular obstacle to the national acceptance of football. The two are too similar for them both to succeed. Each belongs to the family of games whose object is to put a ball (or similar object) in a goal. Because the two games are similar, they have the same kind of appeal. Both are easy to follow; you can immediately understand the point of each one. The rules and strategies of cricket, baseball, rugby and American football, by contrast, are less straightforward. The action of a basketball game and of a football match are easier to follow than that of other team sports as well because the ball is larger than in cricket and baseball and is never hidden in a tangle of bodies or a scrum, as it is in American football and rugby. And the same applies to electronic music. Rock music like Nirvana and ugh, the Jonas Brothers is easy to listen to, while trance, techno & House requires some melody, repetition & tranquility, three elements that is rare in American music culture.

The second reason is the disco-bashing culture. Americans, especially those folks outside Chicago & NY that hates disco. And it's true. There was a "Disco Sucks" movements which has faded the popularity of many disco entertainers like Larry Levan & Donna Summer. Why? Because disco is loved by the black, European, Asian & gay community, and these communities were despised by middle America. Also, blame it on the US radio conglomerates (Clear Channel, for example) that own and program almost ALL of the radio stations in the US. They don't play dance stuff anymore--except on certain Saturday night programs where they try to give a taste of club sounds to the folks at home or in their cars goin' to the clubs. So when an American listens to some nice house tracks from Hed Kandi or Pete Tong or David Guetta, there's a definitive chance that they'll hate it, since house was evolved from disco.

Another reason is because Americans are not raised with electronic music. If you look at the UK, they are completely raised with the electronic music culture. Shows like Doctor Who & Blake's 7 contains true electronic music soundtracks & theme songs, thanks to a lady named Delia Derbyshire(and using synthesizers are way cheaper than an fully-conducted orchestra). Britain introduced the world to synthesizers through musicians like Brian Eno. And when house DJs like Marshall Jefferson played at London & Manchester clubs, the British quickly endorsed the music, way faster than the Americans. Why? All thanks to Doctor Who & Brian Eno, since many Chicago house musicians used the same equipments by those in British electronic music. Only a small fraction of Americans were raised through electronic music, and this is because that they were either influenced by Doctor Who, or if they've grown up with synthesizers, drum machines & turntables. And it's kinda true. Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails admitted to liking Brian Eno, the Sex Pistols & Doctor Who, and so was Slipknot, Madonna and DJ BT.

I also find that Americans don't get used to a DJ or a synthesizer/drum machine player just standing there playing music & not moving his legs. If you compare a rave party hosted by Armin Van Buuren to a Miley Cyrus concert, many would rather go to a Miley Cyrus concert, because they liked to see a performer dancing & movies his/her legs. And most Americans can't dance, so they would rather see the singer & performer dancing rather than themselves.

And another reason is because of snobbery. Corporate snobbery. Corporate radio like Clear Channel despised disco & other forms of dance music because they believe it won't sell(The "Always Judge a Book by its Cover" mentality). And Gibson, a guitar company is one of the most popular guitar brands in the US, and they also the most snobbish. They quickly despised synthesizers & turntables, saying that both are "not real instruments". And since many American bands used Gibson guitars, many of them joined the bandwagon of hating Djs & synthesizer players. And that's a snobbish attitude presented in corporate America.

So how will Americans get into the electronic music thingy? Well, there's still some hope. In the late 90's, the Big Beat house movement comprising of DJs like Chemical Brothers, Junkie XL, Fatboy Slim & bands like Prodigy became totally popular, and influenced non-electronic bands like New Radicals, Linkin Park & Crazy Town. And this movement was popular due to its use of joining together guitars & DJing, as well as the rebirth of liberalisation thanks to Clinton & the Cool Britannia movement which exports Fatboy Slim & Paul Oakenfold to the US. And this is what America needs: Another electronic movement similar to the Big Beat movement. And it could be very possible. A new breed of electronic-oriented bands & DJs from the US, Australia & UK in the likes of Justice, Cobra Starship, Hot Chip, MGMT, Pendulum & Bloc Party are making waves in America, and this proves that electronic music is making a comeback to the US. So there is hope.

10 comments:

Obefiend said...

bro

for some reason your BG is not compatible with my 22" wide display. maybe you set the table for your template to auto resize. this resulted in the text to overshoot the background u made. try setting the page width to stick to one resolution. not auto stretch

ksdascribe2 said...

Interesting!! I happen to be an American electro/house music fan and would-be house music artist, and it irks me no end that even when beats and electronics are used in US music, 1/2 the time it's used in the lamest, most soulless way in mainstream rap and R&B. Meanwhile the *real* soul singers (Sharon Jones et al.) or the freshest rap/electro types (old and new school!) are stuck on college radio, underground, or touring Europe. So I totally agree with you and appreciate your comment.

Had Matter said...

Some of your points are true, but I don't really think you fully understand the subject. America created and ORIGINATED beat-oriented electronic music, in Detroit, and then in Chicago, and later, New York (hip hop). We were the originators of it.

Yes, there were people like Kraftwerk, Vangelis, Giorgio Moroder, etc etc, all Europeans but none of them fully created a 'scene' of electronic music until some guys in Detroit decided to really make it a style of music.

I don't think you realize how many rock musicians back in the day used synthesizers, either. Silver Apples were from NY, they were the FIRST rock band to use synthesizers, not a British band.

I cannot definitively say why America has an aversion to synthesizer instrumental music, but it does. I think it largely has to do with the fact that MOST electronic music over here was created by black people in Detroit, and then the Chicago house scene was largely gay-influenced. Two groups of people who are hated and marginalized by a lot of ignorant people, so, really, you can put it down to bigotry as the reason why it never took off.

Also, America created rock n' roll, and whenever we create something we claim it and tend to be more loyal to it than 'newer' sounds.

Shane said...

i think you missed the point in your blog but some good ones too. Soccer isint as popular in part because its 90mins long, with only one break after 45mins

this gives no space for advertising throughout because at half time everyones just goin for a piss and not buying crap.

the scene in 93 when the prodigy came to america got screwed up by the media when it kicked off about the song "smack my bitch up" pissed alot of people off. so the media sided with the minorities which consist of right wing freaks. sadly this screwed up the prodigy for america hence why alot of americans are unaware of alot of their work afterwards.
its shocking the amount of american music critics that arent even fully aware of how many albums they have, let alone side projects and other stuff they ve done.

and by the sounds of it some of the tunes you guys are getting is just mainstream dance crap alot of people here just say they like outta ignorance, i mean there is sooo much better stuff out there if ur willing to expand ur intrests. i mean sash n tiesto ....gag! gimme some happy french tekno,gabba,d&b and dubstep anytime :).

but a good blog cos i ended up googling "why dont americans like electro" just outta intrest. and its pointless tracing back the roots of electro as a genre cos u'll end up as far back as 1934 (...no really)

and thats all i gotta say, sorry for the lame spellings i gave up halfway through and couldnt be arsed.

Keygen Kaotic - mountain king (youtube it for some wicked tekno)

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Daghead said...

I was also going to say something about your background. The article seemed interesting, but the color makes it a pain to read the text before it, so I didn't read it.

Juice09 said...

This was posted almost 3 years ago, holy shit have times changed. Electronic dance music is becoming quite popular in the U.S. now.

Mike B said...

Americans just know good music. America is a melting pot of the world if a style of music doesn't do well here it doesn't have that much of a chance elsewhere. I've been to a lot of shows in my life. More so than any above average person. When you flood a scene or style of music with a lot of bad writers. People tend to back off from it even if it was well written. 70% of electronic music is setting the dials. There isn't much left for writing. 93% of all sound setting in electronic music are of poor quality. Much like that of a child's toy. Keeping up on equipment is very expensive. So in order to keep sales up track dumping happens more often than not. Need I say more.

Keith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keith said...

This is tough, I think for the most part back when you wrote this I was living in East Asia, most of my friends were japanese, korean, european, african, etc. This got me into electronic music. I started hearing mainstream band names like LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip, Justice, etc. I started getting deep into a lot of different DJs. I got to see DJ Medhi before he tragically died in 2009.. It was an epic time of my life as an American. Due to the fact that outside of NYC, DC, Chicago, and Detroit it's a deadzone for electronic music. It's recently came here, but in the form of brostep. Americans just like big drops and epic sounds. It can be the trashiest thing imaginable and yes they will pay money for it.. Anyway I got into Mr. Oizo, I had a friend in Tokyo who would DJ at a club in Shibuya (Camelot) and would do Reggae Dubstep. Had another friend that was really into Dancehall & Break Beat. Then knew a few DJs that favored Jungle.. Mention any of these genres to the average American and they'll have no clue of what we are talking about. I know in the UK Grime has gotten popular with artists like Skepta and JME. I am curious what's the next new genre coming out the UK that's hot right now?

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