I remember a conversation I had with a couple of friends as we were driving from a wedding to its reception.
John: “What do you guys think of EDM?”
James: “What’s EDM? Is that that Skrillex shit?”
Me: “Anything that’s played on a fucking Yamaha keyboard.”
Now, what I said is a little disingenuous. My favorite music – hip-hop, especially G-Funk – often uses those funky synthesizer sounds from those old-school Yamaha keyboards. Still, the point is the same, my main beef with EDM has to do with its extremely simple cadence and overreliance on synthesized sounds. To me, it’s plasticized sound. There’s no “soul,” for a lack of a better, more tangible term.
But when I take a step back and analyze why I dislike EDM, I realize it’s based more on an unreasonable and illogical reaction that’s still as natural as hating cabbage.
I’m just getting older, crankier, and less tolerant of new things and way quicker to label them as bullshit.
On a structural level, there’s plenty to dislike in an EDM song. They bastardize whatever sounds they can get their hands on, put some pretty effects onto it (not unlike Instagramming a profile shot of you and the Eiffel Tower), the cadence rarely deviates from a simplistic 1-2, the vocals are airy and sometimes pumped with too much helium, and everything’s just…so…fucking happy.
It’s a synthetic offering that pushes happiness onto me. At age 26, it’s a bad joke for me to say that I’m old by any reasonable scale. Still, I know that I’m getting too old to be given something that tries to trick me into happiness without having any useful substance behind it.
It’s actually very close to my distaste for psychotropic and psychedelic drugs. I don’t feel the need to warp reality, not when I’ve spent the majority of my life subscribing to the creed of keeping it real.
To me, there’s nothing authentic about an EDM experience. It’s all the same sustained happiness I had as a child, a cotton candy mist that slowly lifts with each passing year. There’s no humanity, no breadth of emotion, nothing but a fleeting sense of ecstasy. It’s an escape, and the older I get, the less desire I have for escaping my reality without the help of whiskey and a clean pillow.
Or, I can just admit to myself that I’m turning into a traditionalist like my father. The one who gave me shit for blasting profanity-laden rap music throughout the house when I was 17 (his least favorite was Simon Says by Pharoahe Monch, understandably).
I should just wear my Kangol hat, put on my extra baggy jeans, get out my rake, and start shaking it all these candy coated young’ns blasting that damn EDM noise. Get off my lawn you neon-wearing hooligans, and stop driving down my property values!