Electronic Dance Music (EDM)

Electronic Dance Music (EDM)

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Updated Jan 23, 2020 at 02:51AM EST by Y F.

Added Dec 29, 2016 at 05:04PM EST by C_Mill24.

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Electronic Dance Music (commonly abbreviated as EDM) is a term that represents a wide range of electronically produced music, whose genres are generally determined by percussion based instrumentals as opposed to vocals.[1] It is often performed live in clubs or at festivals by DJs, to masses of people who dance and/or rave to the mixes the DJs play. With a multitude of sub-genres, EDM has been a mainstay in popular culture over the years through pop radio stations and through internet meme culture, with multiple memes that have been spawned by the artists and fanbases attached to the music and its multitude of sub-genres.

Origin and History

EDM had its beginnings in the late 1970s with the advent of disco in pop music. Over the decades, the scene of electronic music grew, with new genres being pioneered, from Electro and House in the 1980s to Drum & Bass, Trance, and Hard Dance in the 1990s, to 21st century genres of Trap, Future Bass, and recently Vaporwave.

Giorgio Moroder's "Knight's in White Satin" is one of the earliest known examples of EDM in the form of Disco


EDM's staying power over the years has been shown through the ever-changing landscape of mainstream pop music and pop culture. With the rise of affordable music production software (i.e. Ableton and FL Studio) and the flexible nature of the sub-genres of EDM, pop music has often been impacted over the years by sub-genres of EDM including, but not limited to Dubstep, Trap, and House music.

Examples of modern pop music each utilizing a different sub genre of EDM.
Clockwise; Taylor Swift – I Knew You Were Trouble [Dubstep], Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars) [Nu Disco], Ne-Yo – Let Me Love You [House], and Mike Posner – I Took a Pill in Ibiza (SeeB Remix) [Tropical House]


Despite its growth and staying power in popular culture, much criticism has stemmed over the years for EDM due to the non-organic sound of the music tracks and the criticism of DJs as not being "real musicians" as live, they "only" have to press buttons for the music to play by itself. Much criticism from prominent DJs in the EDM scene is focused on its commercialization, which has been stated by DJs Joel "deadmau5" Zimmerman (who is known for his outspoken opinions on mainstream DJs over the years) and Tim "Avicii" Bergling (who incorporated more natural instruments in his music due to his criticisms of EDM lacking longevity).

deadmau5's criticism of commercialized EDM is exemplified in his "remix" of Martin Garrix's Big Room House track, "Animals."


EDM culture has also been parodied before in pop culture as well. An example of such parody comes from an SNL Digital Short "When Will the Bass Drop?" that parodies "fans" of EDM who wait for the DJ to enact the bass drop on his track, as he performs off task endeavors including playing video games, cooking food, and collecting money, before pressing a button that drops the bass of the track, causing the club goers' heads to explode from the heavy bass.


With the growth of internet culture and EDM over the years, many memes have spawned from music tracks, artists, and genres themselves.


Dubstep is a genre of electronic music originating from South London in the late nineties. Though difficult to define, it is generally characterized by a slow tempo, repetitive, low-key beats, heavy emphasis on “wobble” bass lines and hard hitting drum patterns. Dubstep's mainstream attention in pop culture is often credited to Skrillex, who helped pioneer the heavy hitting sub-genre of "Brostep" into the public eye and internet culture.


Trap Music is a music genre known for its use of 808 kick drums, multi-layered synthesizers, and generally dark hip-hop sound. Songs like Baauer's Harlem Shake and DJ Snake's Turn Down For What have been well recognized in meme culture with the former's dance craze and the latter's spastic music video and phrase of the song itself.


Vaporwave is a musical genre inspired by electronic dance music (EDM), New Age music and the indie dance genres chillwave and seapunk. Vaporwave is known for its use of Japanese characters in song titles, 80’s smooth jazz and Muzak samples that have been pitch shifted and time stretched with music editing software. The genre has often been described as a satire of corporate and consumerist culture and modern capitalism, specifically as a critique of mainstream EDM. One of the more prominent examples of Vaporwave utilized in internet culture includes Macintosh Plus' リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー off of his album Floral Shoppe (フローラルの専門店).


Trance is a musical genre found out of Germany in the 1990s that incorporates repeating melodies over a bpm that ranges from 125 to 150 bpm. Unlike traditional house, one of the aforementioned's influential genres, that has utilizes a drop in most songs, Trance places more emphasis on the emotion and atmosphere of the song itself, in a way similar to Progressive House. One of the more infamous examples of trance, especially in internet culture, is "Sandstorm;" a hard trance piece composed by Finnish producer Darude. Sandstorm has been a pump up song before games, most notably in the League of Legends scene of esports, and is ironically stated as a song name when the name of a particular song is requested in a video or stream.

Another example of trance in internet culture is 009 Sound System's track, "Dremscape." Dreamscape was the most common of many other 009 Sound System tracks that were used as the background music for videos on YouTube during the sites early years of use. Because of the common usage of the track in YouTube videos, it is sometimes stated as YouTube's National Anthem of sorts.

Big Room House

Big Room House is a sub genre of house music. Ranging in BPM from 126 to 132, Big Room House generally consists of a large, progressive build up that leads into a minimalist drop. Prominent examples of Big Room House include the tracks "Animals" by Martin Garrix and "Selfie" by The Chainsmokers; songs released at the height of Big Room House popularity, amassing 977 million and 489 million views respectively as of March 2017, and both peaking high on the Billboard Hot 100 charts (positions 21 and 16 respectively).

Hard Dance

Hard Dance is an umbrella term utilized to define EDM sub-genres ranging from 150-200+bpm in pace using hard-hitting kicks and basslines that accompany the beat. Common genres under Hard Dance include Happy Hardcore and Hardstyle, genres seen in meme culture such as NOMA – Brain Power, a track whose lyrics are used in twitch chat spamming when the song plays on stream in similar fashion to Darude – Sandstorm, and Krewella – Party Monster, a hardstyle/trap song that inspired a dance craze that swept through Japan.

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External References

[1] Wikipedia – EDM

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