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The Hot Six #23 – The Mainstream-ization of Dance and Why it’s More Astonishing Than You Think

by Breakstone on November 30, 2011

The American Music Awards, created by slice-of-Americana icon Dick Clark, has a populist feel to it. Unlike the Grammys, which are awarded ostensibly for critical merit by members of the National Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences, the AMA awards are doled out based on sales, airplay, activity on social networks, and video viewing. While the Grammys give out awards like “Record,” “Song,” and “Album of the Year,” along with a myriad of other awards in categories that all begin with the superlative “Best” as in “Best Female Pop Vocal Performance,” the AMAs appeal to the country’s personal side, awarding arists and tracks in categories beginning with the word “Favorite,” not “Best,” as in “Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist.”

The AMAs, as it would seem, strike a more personal nerve. The Grammys are perhaps more apt to make bold choices in clammored-about categories such as Best New Artist of the Year. When Esperanza Spalding beat out Canadian rapper, Drake, and his pubescent pop compatriot, Bieber Fever, for the 2010 Best New Artist Award, message boards and keyboards were aflutter with Mean Girls threatening to kill – yes, kill – the budding jazz artist. Although, few could ignore the massive mainstream success of either Ontarian, the Grammys set out to make a point. Substance over form. Artistry over histrionics. Classic forms of music over pop and rap.

Disclaimer: I enjoy Drake’s music quite a bit, and I haven’t always changed the radio dial immediately when a Bieber track comes on. No hate for these homies from up north, okay? Eh.

The AMAs, by contrast, are generally immune from such upsets. Given that the platform is based on sales, in part, and popularity, in part, the unknown artist is hard-pressed to break through and claim a top spot over stadium-selling acts. In fact, the top AMA awardees are perennial unknowns – Michael Jackson, Alabama, and Whitney Houston. The award show even had a text-in award for a time. Like, American Idol. Seriously.

It is against this backdrop that we find, much to my personal astonishment, the last act of this past AMAs – an award show, again, that we’ve established as the one that aims to appeal to the general populace. Was it America’s sweetheart, Taylor Swift? Or, country juggernaut, Kenny Chesney? Hip hop impresario, Lil’ Wayne or pop icon, Lady Gaga? How about classic mainstay, Elton John or perhaps newcomers, Foster and the People? No, Hot Six fans. None of these artists. In fact, the closing act of the 2011 AMAs was none other than Miami-based, electronic duo, LMFAO.

What!?

No. I ain’t shi”in’ you. The producers of romantic lyrics like “The ladies love us / when we pour shots / they need an excuse / to suck our co*ks” and “I’m in Miami, Bit*h” saddled up on stage with dance music legend, David Hasselhoff, to show off their skivvies, and party rock all over a nationally televised stage.

We’ve come a long way since the early 90s when grunge rock was all the rage. Dear Nirvana, It ain’t cool to be unshowered and dirty, anymore – unless you’re Occupying a city – then it’s OK. Now, it’s cool to be sexy. Correction, it’s not even cool enough to be sexy. To be sufficiently sexy, you have to also know it.

I do. Thanks.

To think that a music act, that is essentially a dance music act, which has successfully crossed over, would close out the AMAs is mind-boggling. How far has dance music come in the U.S.? Look no further than the 2011 AMAs. With D Guetta in the audience, and a show-finishing performance by these guys, is there any more room for dance to cross over? No, ladies and gentleman. There’s not. It’s here, it’s arrived, it’s now. Dance music IS mainstream.

I don’t even need to get into the fact that there are more dance tracks played on maintsream radio than ever before, two dedicated satellite radio channels for upbeat dance music, festivals galore across the country for fans in the thousands to see their favorite DJs, dance music awards, a dance music iTunes, and blogs galore such as this dedicated to this platform. No, I don’t even need to introduce all of that into evidence, your honor. Just look at LMFAO closing out the AMAs.

No further questions.

And now, to the tracks…

Props to my boy Ashkan for recommending this track to me so early. If he hadn’t, then I would have had to live under a rock for me to not have heard it since then. It’s been everywhere including football stadiums, basketball arenas, and clubs. The crazy thing is that the underlying beat and melody come from Swedish DJ, Avicii, who, although famous himself in dance music circles, has not himself reached the pop status of Flo Rida. This song is everywhere, and Avicii gets as many props for it as Flo.

Good Feeling – Flo Rida

Exhibit A for dance music’s mainstream-ization. To purists, LMFAO is not to be revered. For the pragmatists, it’s important for the whole country to realize what we’ve known for ages. Dance music is more fun than whatever you’re listening to. So stop being so boring and start listening to our music.

Sexy and I Know It – LMFAO

We’ve seen an uptick in dance-oriented tracks from pop divas ranging from Brittney to Beyonce. Rihanna has been part of the surge, too.

We Found Love – Rihanna

It’s incredible how a band like Maroon 5 produces a club track, gets 60 million hits on YouTube and is getting their song played at the Big House before the Ohio State game. I never thought I would hear a song at a club in Boston one night and at the Big House in Ann Arbor on game day. Do you see how far we’ve come dance music fans?

Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5

Calvin Harris, probably one of the more pure dance music acts on the list today, jams out with this lovely.

Feel So Close – Calvin Harris

Ball So Hard. Need I say more?

Ni**as in Paris – Jay-Z and Kanye West

The Hot Six Playlist

All Tracks – One Button

As always, let me know what songs you’re listening to.

Keep it hot, and keep dancin’!

Breakstone

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