Beyonce and EDM [Editorial]

Beyonce is a prolific artist whose works began from humble beginnings with cameos and commercial plays for Disney Channel’s “Smart Guy”. She has a storied career that has taken her through many eras of music. Her huge swarth of fans encompass an ever expanding beehive that gains more and more power every year. Despite being one of the most “popular” artists of our time… this year at the Grammys, she has been placed in the dance music category.

This means a lot of different things. 

Firstly, that dance music is becoming more popular. In a bottom up fashion, the ticket sales and digital plays of traditionally underground or niche electronic music artists is becoming more and more prominent among casual listeners. Large record companies and radio stations have less of a say of the music we choose as streaming continues to dominate the industry. Intelligent music-biz folks, likely have seen this trend, and are championing Beyonce to cash in on the rising popularity of EDM. 

Beyonce’s Renaissance, is a musical triumph that will have influence on future works that range from dance to pop to rhythm and blues. When played from beginning to end, the album flows like a DJ set with micro-moments inside and between songs where it becomes difficult to know where one song ends and the other begins. Shit is smooth. Renaissance draws inspiration and samples from beloved works of historic house music and celebrated artists from the past. The work of Renaissance is certainly worthy of recognition. 

But this begs the question, what then is popular music? Beyonce, with her massive and broad appeal, is placed in the dance category… while Nikki Minaj, who by all means should be considered in rap, is continuously moved into pop and other genres where she will not likely win. And what then is the point of the Grammys? What constitutes best? If we are to give the dance award to the one who has access to the most resources and best team, then we give it to Beyonce. What about RUFUS and ODESZA? She will almost always outshine the lesser known artists who also deserve a share of the spotlight (unless you are Beck).

The “Best”

Music is something so deeply personal and subjective. It is colored by our life experiences, moods, and feelings. Who am I to say that someone is the best? I would even posit that when it comes to music, there is no objective “best”. Sure we can look at record sales, radio plays, and artist collaborations. But all the extraneous statistics don’t mean anything if that song doesn’t hit you in the heart and free you.

So if Beyonce’s team wants to dabble in Electronic Music, so be it. John Mayer released a country album Paradise Valley in 2013. And Taylor Swift was a country star until she decided she wasn’t. More and more the blurred lines of genre escape boundaries, and defy categorization. The important thing here is to allow space for new artists to enter the public consciousness while celebrating the veterans who have earned their keep. 

It’s all just music baby. In the face of all these awards, pomp, and circumstance, don’t forget you are the one who gets to press play.