The Beliebers are the Future of EDM
It is with a heavy heart that I must face the reality that one of my musical heroes has “collaborated” with Justin Bieber. There. I said it. It’s out there and I have to accept it. Jack Ü—the critically acclaimed and almost universally praised supergroup formed by Skrillex and Diplo like some kind of bass based Megatron—dropped the anticipated Justin Bieber collaboration (notice the lack of marketing buzzword “highly”).
In the wake of this devastating reality, all I have left is the ability to pick up the pieces of my shattered faith, the faith that my musical tastes were somehow superior to the plebeian sensibilities that would identify with Mr. Bieber (yes, I know it’s Skrillex, but we all have our opinions, don’t we? Plus, it’s not like I idolized Justin Bieb….wait), and move on.
But not all can be lost, can it?
After all, the CEO of this very blog informs us all that this song is “everything that is wrong with EDM.” Never before have I seen someone whose work I love so much pair with someone who embodies everything I cannot stand about the pop culture world. Usually, it’s pretty awesome experience, like that one time Linkin Park teamed up with Jay Z (BUT NOT WITH STEVE AOKI, EW), or Metallica got that orchestra. But this time, it just feels wrong and it makes me question everything I thought about Skrillz.
Let’s take a step back and look at the two parties I’m most concerned with (Diplo, I know you’re there, but I never really cared. Sorry). You have Sonny Moore who, despite suffering some of the worst criticism on the internet about his music, from the likes of James Blake to Facebook pages devoted to hating him, has not only never said a single negative word about his critics, he doesn’t seem to have anything negative to say about anybody (even Paris Hilton’s DJ career, which need I remind you, she gets paid more than deadmau5 to pursue). He continually supports music, creativity, and art in a way that others can only aspire to.
Bieber, on the other hand, is basically an international criminal and a whiny child. Not in the cool, maybe he’s a mob boss kinda
way, but in a sad, “I can’t actually crime right” kinda way. Reckless driving in Canada, vandalism charges in Brazil, egging his neighbor’s house in California (really you little shit?), and finally DUI and resisting arrest, for which he only received, a fine, anger management, probation, and community service. His own country doesn’t even want him, as he was named “2014’s Most Annoying Celebrity” by the Ottawa Sun. Long story short, while he might have the cherubic voice of a eunuch, he’s little more than that kid you knew in middle school who you were certain was going to be in jail in ten years. And on top of that, he’s a rude little asshole.
So why did Jack Ü decide to collaborate with this juvenile delinquent with the voice of a ladyboy? Exposure. Pure and simple. And this is not a bad thing if we’re all championing what we used to, namely the acceptance of electronic music in a broader cultural sense. Carl Cox comes to mind. With Bieber’s Facebook clocking in around 78 million likes and his twitter at 61 million followers, he dwarfs Skrillex’s nearly 20 million likes and Diplo’s 1.6 million. With this track, Jack Ü is gaining exposure to the tens of millions of empty minds that flock to the silly bullshit that is Justin Bieber.
And this is not necessarily a bad thing.
This is bringing a new generation (as I hope anyone with self respect above the age of 13 doesn’t actually listen to Bieber) into the fold of EDM much in the way Carl Cox believes EDM should be experienced. It is a gateway, after which you can decide which path you decide to take, no matter the genre or artist, and there is no better tastemaker (in my humble opinion) than Skrillex. While it does make me feel less unique (not as if “liking Skrillex” was a particularly unique, or even coveted, title), it gives me hope that now even more people will know Skrillex, Diplo, and their respective music, and more importantly, you won’t have even MORE of the self-righteous, “we play real music,” rock ‘n’ roll flag wavers than we had before. Rather, you have an entirely new group of people that, if even half of which enjoy Skrillex, will now begin a life as a fan of electronic music, just like I did when I heard Scary Monsters, Nice Sprites all those years ago.
While it is true this reads as a marketing ploy, shamelessly courting the tasteless Beliebers (I said it), what it might mean years from now is an entire generation of new producers, that would have otherwise been doomed to live in a musical world solely curated by the likes of Justin Bieber. Just as Zedd and whatever that girl’s name is he’s dating made that silly little song and brought whatever followers she might have into the fold, Jack Ü does the same with Bieber and his fans. It’s not about Bieber, or even this particular song really, it’s about influencing the musical tastes of future generations. By co-opting more and more pop culture, electronic music will insert itself into the musical pantheon and then live a longer, more successful life. I will hope that this is not just a short term popularity grab, but a calculated investment in the future of the industry. Only time will tell.
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