Electro!

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Glyph

Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.

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  1. Avatar Chris
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    says:

    Neneh Cherry put out new music this year (in case you’re not the one who told me a few months ago):

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    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris
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      says:

      As one of the resident hip-hop heads around here, what’s yr take on electro? Is my “new wave of rap” analogy way off-base? Is it something true ‘heads enjoy (or at least accord respect, for its historical importance to the genre), or is electro like seeing embarrassing old high school photos, and thank goodness the scene went a different direction?

      I have to say, I called up Whodini when I fell down this YouTube electro wormhole yesterday, and it just didn’t hold up that well for me (though that was mostly just a factor of the simple beats/slow tempos they favored – I generally like the electro beats that’re faster and “choppier”).

      Though this still sounds pretty good:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYMkEMCHtJ4Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        Oh man, I feel like this is the sort of analogy that dissertations are written about. I mean, in both cases, you have continuums with overlapping middles, but I dunno how comparable the relationships are, mostly because I’m conflicted about the new wave:punk side. I mean, in a sense, electro, dance, and hip hop all came for the same purpose, with the same goal: to get people dancing in clubs and at parties. They all had pieces of disco, R&B, and to some extent funk and afrobeat. Their divergence (from each other and from disco/dance/R&B/etc.) probably had as much to do with where the clubs were as it did with any aesthetic considerations. And so did the success and sense of authenticity.

        Punk and new wave, on the other hand, definitely got played in different clubs for the most part, but I think the choice was more of an aesthetic one. Maybe I’m just not old enough to remember what it was like in the moment, though. Also, I think the overlap in origins is a bit smaller than it is with hip hop and electro. But it’s just not something I know as much about, so maybe I’m wrong.

        But I guess by the late 80s, they probably did have pretty similar relationships. Then electro and dance began to be more and more integrated with hip hop, to the point that much of the edm these days is basically lyric-less hip hop (and hip hop instrumentals — just the production of hip hop songs — often makes for great edm).

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      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        I guess the way I’m thinking of it is, if I take “Planet Rock” as ground zero for electro (it might not have been the “first” but it was certainly the biggest), and Kraftwerk begat “Planet Rock”, but also begat, say, Devo* and the Buggles (and Gary Numan and New Order and Depeche Mode and…) then…

        And I’m not QUITE old enough to have “been there” for the birth of punk and new wave (I was still in footie jammies) but by the time I was paying attention to it in the 80’s, for kids where I was, they were seen as twins that came from the same place but had different personalities, and clubs played both.

        New wave (tended towards) more positive energy and acceptance of technological progress (and comfort with artifice – you want to pretend to be a space alien or a robot, go for it), while punk (tended towards) more negative energy and distrust of technology and “reality” (which seems to map nicely with where rap went by the early ’90’s, when gritty gangster street tales were king and the beats were all G-Funk, “classicist”, easily-identifiable funk licks – sort of like punk’s “back to rock basics, get out those Chuck Berry licks” mode (and stuff like PE being basically the “Sex Pistols of rap”, though certainly the Bomb Squad used technology to its fullest).

        (Of course these are generalizations, and many ‘new wave’ acts employed technology ironically, to comment on its dehumanizing aspects).

        (And of course I also love that whole period when it was all one big post-punk mixed stew – I STILL love Lydon and Bambaataa on “Time Zone”, or “White Lines”‘ sampling of Liquid Liquid – basically, that feeling DFA was trying to resurrect, where punk and funk and dance were all one club thing.)

        * Ironically, it seems that Devo** weren’t really aware of Kraftwerk when they started, and when they learned of them, were worried they’d be seen as copycats; but Devo and Kraftwerk were approaching things from different angles (Devo truly came from punk, whereas Kraftwerk were trying to make a “new classical” wholly-European thing, devoid of American rock influence) even though they were both highly conceptual.

        **I also learned, to my suprise, that Devo is not well-known in Germany – my German friend who is very knowledgeable about music had never heard of them.

        I of course explained them by saying, “Well, they are kind of like the American Kraftwerk…”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        What’s interesting, though, is that during electro’s heyday in the 80s, rap was still really positive for the most part. I mean, it was telling stories about going to the store or getting your haircut or swinging on see saws . And while it had a very strong sense of what was “cool,” and a sense of its roots, it didn’t really develop its authenticity-insecurity and its extreme minimalism until the late 80s.

        Rap took itself out of the club and it became something different, something you do standing on a street corner with your friend beatboxing as your only production. Hell, I remember a time when it was not uncommon to run into people having a conversation in rap. At that point, it began to take on the mood of the places where it was being made in a way that it’s difficult for pretty much any music that requires significant production, or an electrical outlet even, to do. In a sense, rap became something more like the blues, old country, or old folk music, but it didn’t do so intentionally. It wasn’t a deliberate reversion like punk, it was a happy accident (or in some cases, a very, very unhappy accident).

        I suppose in a sense what happened to rap is what punk wanted to happen to rock ‘n’ roll. The search for authenticity and origin became fetish for punk, though, while it developed (more or less) organically in rap. Hell, even today, the rap I hear blaring from cars is so different from mainstream rap that I’m continually astounded. Where the hell do people get those records? It ain’t on the radio, that’s for sure.

        By the way, that reminds me of one of the problems I have with The Wire. The rap that’s playing on the corners is always the wrong rap: it’s always 50 Cent or Jay-Z or something I’m sure the producers heard on the radio, but if you go listen to what’s playing on the corners in reality, you’ll hear something much more raw, and much less universally palatable.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Dude, there are so many of these songs that have been stuck in my head just from looking at the title.

    For the record: Supersonic and Fergilicious are the same freaking song. I’m surprised someone didn’t get sued.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      “For the record: Supersonic and Fergilicious are the same freaking song. I’m surprised someone didn’t get sued.”

      If my wife could have figured out how to obtain standing, she would have been the one who sued. She had that same complaint, plus she HATES Fergie anyway.

      I forgot this electro tribute:

      And the kickdrum pattern on this is kinda too simple to be ‘electro’ (I axed the otherwise awesome “Situation” by Yaz for that reason, it’s closer to disco) but it’s pretty hilarious nonetheless:

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