Monday, 29 July 2013

The British Pop Renaissance

The constant preserve of the dance music pursit is to look down upon pop music in scorn, criticizing the dilution that comes from it's more commercial nature. I'll be the first to admit that an album such as Jay Sean's Neon, tastefully depicted in the Guardian's review as 'safe and inoffensive as it's namesake gas,' is far to banal for my tastes, lacking the edge that divides dance music from it's more mainstream cousin. Yet in amongst the endless, repetitive generalisations of 'living it up,' paaartaayyy's that don't stop until your bedtime and a bizzare fascination with the word 'YEAH!', has risen an elegant form of pop that deserves the attention of even the most resistant, techno fanatic.

Emerging from the ashes of 90's garage, pausing only to pick up some 2-step, deep house and electro along the way is a new breed of largely British electronic pop with a keen focus on the sophisticated heydays of dance music, brought bang up to date. Hints of this future trend have come through crossover records by producers such as Redlight, Toddla T, SBTRKT and Dark Sky, blending influences from across the dance music spectrum to create underground music with an infectious bite.

On mainstream radio, catchy singles by new talent such as Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Katy B cemented this development in amongst the established, more manufactured acts. This classy alternative to both the raucous, bass in your face development of pure dance music and the TV talent show boybands; (who are little more than a product of market research, hair gel and a megalithic support team) has finally established a firm foothold thanks to a string of new releases.

Disclosure's debut effort Settle showcases a keen appreciation of deep house and garage and draws on this in constructing a wealth of hit dance tracks, while another duo, AlunaGeorge reference a host of influences to craft their own soulful blend of pop, r&b and house. Taking the traditional verse, chorus and bridge structures of pop songs and twisting them for their own purposes, many of these new artists are shying aware from the constraints of genre and style, focusing simply on creating great music. However whilst the upsides of this fusion of pop, dance music and electronica are fairly obvious to see, with interest in the new hits trickling down to the roots and inspiration for these works, there are a couple of downsides.

Although cliched, the more 'pop' the artist, the dramatic increase in likelyhood of members gig crowd staring motionless through the lens of their smartphone ; as opposed to accepting the masses grooving around them and delighting in it. Regardless of the energy levels on stage and the quality of the performance, I've never found a poppy crowd to be quite as fun!Yet this is a flaw that is slowly improving and regular gig goers tend to accept that a crowd means movement. My major concern is that if I've spotted this trend, there's a fairly high chance that a certain ITV singing competition will have too and this could lead to the sustained toning down and bland imitation of these fantastic songs.

I'm not bemoaning the growth in popularity for this new breed, only hoping that the spreading love for this music doesn't lead to a pale set of watery carbon copies more recognisable for their artist's faces than their melodies. Pop music is king as far as record sales are concerned and if this continues to regenerate a stylish, refined version of electronic pop that's loved for being great music then that's absolutely fine by me!

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