- Early electronic dance music in the United States
- Electronic dance music in the 1990s
- Electronic dance music in the 2000s
A look at the origins and history of electronic dance music in the United States, from its humble beginnings in the underground club scene to its present-day status as a global phenomenon.
Early electronic dance music in the United States
The electronic dance music scene in the United States has its roots in the disco and club scenes of the 1970s and 1980s. Early electronic dance music was often played in nightclubs and at dance parties. In the early 1990s, the rave scene began to develop in the United States.
1970s: Disco and the birth of electronic dance music
In the early 1970s, disco music emerged from the underground club scene in New York City and Philadelphia. Disc jockeys would play extended versions of popular songs, which listeners would dance to. These extended versions, or “disco mixes,” would often include elements of other genres, such as funk and soul. As disco became more popular, it began to influence other genres of music.
By the mid-1970s, electronic dance music had begun to take shape with the emergence of artists like Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer. Moroder’s song “I Feel Love” (1977) is widely considered to be the first electronic dance song. It featured a synthesizer melody that was repetitive and hypnotic, which became a hallmark of disco and dance music.
In the late 1970s, disco music became mainstream with the release of films like “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) and “Thank God It’s Friday” (1978). The popularity of disco led to a backlash in the early 1980s, when disco-influenced music was derisively dubbed “disco sucktitude.” Despite the negative reaction to disco, electronic dance music continued to evolve in the 1980s with the emergence of house music in Chicago and techno in Detroit.
1980s: The rise of house music
In the early 1980s, Chicago’s WBMX 102.7 and New York’s WKTU 92.3 began playing a new kind of music that would come to be known as house. This music, which was created by DJs such as Frankie Knuckles, Tyree Cooper, and Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, was a blend of disco, soul, and electronic music. House music quickly became popular in the clubs of Chicago and New York, and by the mid-1980s, it had spread to other cities such as Detroit, Los Angeles, and London.
In the late 1980s, house music began to evolve into two different subgenres: acid house and rave. Acid house is characterized by its use of the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer, which gives the music a distinctive squelching sound. Rave culture was born out of the acid house scene and is characterized by its use of illegal outdoor parties called “raves” or “free parties” at which people dance all night to electronic music. Rave culture reached its height in the early 1990s with the rise of Load Records in England and XL Recordings in America.
Electronic dance music in the 1990s
1990 was a big year for electronic dance music in the United States. It was the year that the first US rave happened, and also the year that techno music started to become popular. This was also the year that the first electronic dance music festivals began to happen.
The birth of rave culture
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the rave subculture in the United Kingdom rapidly expanded. The scene was initially associated with illegal warehouse parties held in abandoned factories and warehouses, but later evolved into legal club events held in professional venues. According to DJ Paul Oakenfold, “The sound of rave is pure energy. It’s the tribal drums, the huge basslines. It’s very simple music, but it just drives you.” The first rave in the United Kingdom took place at an outdoor event held at Merton Parkas recreation ground in London on 24 July 1988; it was organised by Paul Staines, who had previously promoted illegal acid house parties under the name of “The Underworld”. The party was attended by approximately 3,000 people and lasted 12 hours; it was described by one attendee as a “non-stop all-night warehouse party”.
In the early 1990s, raves began to expand from their underground Baadasssss! has been credited as being one of the firstmercial films to feature electronic dance music. Set in 1992, its story revolves around a group of friends who go to a warehouse rave and experience difficulties getting back home.
In 1996, Trainspotting was released; the film’s soundtrack featured various songs from electronic dance artists such as Leftfield and Underworld. The film helped to popularize techno and electronica outside of North America and Europe, particularly in Australia where it became an iconic film for young people.
The late 1990s saw a return to more commercialised forms of EDM with French house becoming popular globally thanks largely to Daft Punk’s 1997 album Homework which contained catchy hits such as “Around the World” and “Da Funk”. In 1998, American duo Justice released their debut album † which featured a mix of heavy metal guitar riffs with French house-style electronica. This mix became known as electro-metal or electroclash and was popularized by bands such as Fischerspooner and Peaches.
The popularity of techno and trance
In the early 1990s, techno and trance music began to gain popularity in the United States. This was in part due to the influence of European dance music, which had been popular in the clubs of Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands since the late 1980s. American DJs and producers began to experiment with these new styles, and they soon became popular in the underground club scene.
The popularity of techno and trance music grew throughout the decade, and by the end of the 1990s, these genres were some of the most popular genres of electronic dance music in the world. In the United States, techno and trance parties were often held in warehouses or other large spaces because of the need for large sound systems. These parties became known as “raves,” and they often featured illegal drug use and other illegal activities.
In spite of its popularity, electronic dance music was largely ignored by mainstream radio and television in the United States throughout much of the 1990s. It was not until 1998 that a commercial radio station in Los Angeles began regularly playing electronic dance music. This station, KROQ-FM, helped to increase the popularity of electronic dance music among young people in Southern California.
By the end of the 1990s, electronic dance music had become increasingly mainstream in America, thanks in part to its growing popularity on college radio stations and at nightclubs across the country.
Electronic dance music in the 2000s
Electronic dance music has its origins in the United States in the early 1970s. It was created by DJs and producers who were experimenting with new sounds and technologies. In the 1990s, electronic dance music became more popular in the mainstream music industry, and in the 2000s it became a global phenomenon.
The rise of EDM culture
electronic dance music in the United States saw a resurgence in popularity in the late 2000s and early 2010s. This was due in part to the popularity of electronic dance music festivals such as making noise and annual festivals like Coachella. The rise of EDM culture led to a new wave of electronic dance music producers and DJs, many of whom were influenced by the early pioneers of the genre.
The popularity of dubstep and trap
In the early 2010s, two subgenres of electronic dance music became popular in the United States: dubstep and trap. Dubstep is a type of electronic dance music that originated in the United Kingdom in the late 1990s. It is characterized by its heavy bass and syncopated rhythms. Trap is a type of hip-hop musical style that originated in the southeastern United States in the early 2000s. It is characterized by its use of 808 drum machines, synthesizers, and samples.
Both dubstep and trap became popular in American nightclubs and festivals in the 2010s. As these subgenres gained popularity, they began to influence other genres of music, including pop and hip-hop. In 2012, the song “Harlem Shake” by Baauer, an American DJ and producer, became a global viral hit. The song samples a famous trap song called “Hard in da Paint” by Waka Flocka Flame, a American rapper. In 2013, American singer Miley Cyrus released the song “We Can’t Stop,” which was heavily influenced by dubstep and trap.