NEW YORK (Reuters) - Electronic dance music with heavy bass, unknown vocalists and mixed by club disc jockeys regularly tops pop charts in Europe but in America such music has been an underground genre with little mainstream success.
While disc jockeys such as Moby, Fatboy Slim and Paul Oakenfold have had a string of mainstream hits in Britain, their success as artists in the United States has been limited to the dance chart, with rare appearances in the Billboard Hot 100 chart which ranks the most popular songs of all genres.
But French DJ David Guetta predicts that will change, saying U.S. hip-hop and pop stars featured on his new album “One Love”, which was released this week, so embraced the genre that they could boost its mainstream appeal in the United States.
“It’s my fourth album so I was looking for a new sound and a lot of people here in the hip-hop industry and in R&B are feeling a bit like they are going in circles and using the same recipe,” Guetta told Reuters in an interview.
“If all those big American acts are interested in this kind of sound I think it means it’s going to be really big in America in the next year,” said Guetta, who also helped produce the Black Eyed Peas current No. 1 U.S. hit “I Gotta Feeling.”
“There is a real American brand embracing it,” he said.
Guetta’s new album features stars such as Kelly Rowland, will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas, Akon and Ne-Yo and has already produced No. 1 hit singles in Britain, Australia, France and other European countries, and two singles that made it into the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 76.
“Guetta knows what he’s doing here. Bring America to the club? Nah. He’ll bring the club to America,” wrote Los Angeles music critic Mikael Wood.
Experts are split on why such dance music has failed to set the charts alight in the United States. Some say club music has been unable to compete with live music in the United States and others note American audiences find it hard to identify with an artist who mixes music but doesn’t sing.
In the United States dance music is classified as electronic and accounts for 1 percent of sales, according to The NPD Group, while in Britain dance music makes up 8 percent of sales, according to British music industry group BPI.
“In America it’s always difficult for ‘dance’ music to be popular in the mainstream,” said Keith Caulfield, a music analyst with Billboard. “Songs that are dance orientated have always been popular, it’s just that dance often has to be disguised in different kinds of ways for it to break through.”
“When I look at our current Hot 100 chart there’s a lot of songs that strike me as a dance song, but dance has taken different forms in order to reach the masses,” he said. U.S. singer “Lady Gaga has been so successful and to American ears she is pop dance music.”
He said DJs are more likely to have mainstream U.S. success teaming with well-known artists from other genres, which essentially “disguises” the dance music.
Music expert and author John Swenson said dance music has always been popular in various forms in the United States for the past few decades “when technology first enabled DJs to be the real stars of popular music.”
“At a time when live music is becoming less and less relevant in New York City clubs I guess you can say it’s more popular than ever,” he said. “The real reason club music took over outside of the United States is that the live musicians weren’t good enough to match it.”
Organizers of what claims to be New York’s first electronic music festival, to be held on Randall’s Island in the East River off Manhattan on September 5 and 6, said they had seen a growth in the popularity of dance music in the past few years.
“We have been inspired over the years by what happens in Europe each summer,” said Mike Bindra and Laura De Palma, organizers of the Electric Zoo festival. “The realization of this goal is another step forward for electronic music here.”
Editing by Mohammad Zargham