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The Grammy Awards Still Don’t Get Dance Music

The worlds of pop, rock, R&B, rap, jazz, Latin and roots are all represented in at least four categories at the bloated ceremony that is the Grammys. And yet, despite becoming the dominant chart force of the decade, dance music acts are only specifically acknowledged under two awards, just one more than those competing for Best Regional Mexican Music Album or Best Album Notes.

Even more indicative of the voters’ lack of knowledge about the genre is the fact that in a year that saw the likes of Holy Other and Purity Ring reinvent the electronic R&B wheel, Grimes and Dan Deacon release brilliantly inventive LPs and Hot Chip and Jessie Ware prove dance & pop could co-exist without forsaking all intelligence, it was dubstep’s one-trick-pony Skrillex who walked away victorious in every category for which he was nominated.

Yes, although it sounds remarkably similar to every other bombastic robot-aping slab of bro-step he’s put his name to, “Bangarang” was considered to be a worthy winner of Best Dance Recording, while the seven-track E.P. of the same name was given the title of Best Dance/Electronica Album, despite the fact that it’s not really an album.

And while the absence of David Guetta in the former category was indeed heartening, the rest of the nominees weren’t much more encouraging. Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child,” Avicii’s “Levels” and Calvin Harris’ “Let’s Go” suggested that the panel had looked no further than the Top Five EDM floor-fillers of the year, whilst one of the night’s biggest curveballs, Al Walser’s “I Can’t Live Without You,” only appeared after the unknown Liechtenstein singer/DJ constantly lobbied the Grammy365 system for votes.

The Best Dance/Electronica Album list of nominees was arguably even more questionable. Kaskade’s Fire & Ice might have been a reasonable inclusion, but Steve Aoki’s Wonderland was a joyless attempt at a full-blown party affair which wasted its star-studded line-up of guest vocalists, The Chemical Brothers’ Don’t Think was a live album, whilst Deadmau5’s Album Title Goes Here was arguably the laziest full-length studio effort of 2012.

It’s also unfathomable as to how the hipster-haired DJ triumphed in the Best Remix category when the only notable change on his reworking of Nero’s UK number one, “Promises,” was the addition of his ubiquitous speaker-blasting bass wobbles.

Of course, the Grammy Awards have always been regarded as a case of style and commercial success over substance. But with Skrillex winning an astonishing six awards in just two years, it seems fair to say they’ve never got a field more wrong than that of dance/electronica.


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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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