The Calculated Dubstep Invasion

The music industry, at large, is trying to make Dubstep fetch for a wide audience in America. It's one of those dance genres that people know by sound because it's difficult to describe. Essentially, dubstep is layered dance tracks remixed to be highly syncopated. It typically uses big manipulated/processed bass lines and tiny little snippets of recognizable samples. The intended result, near as I can tell, is to get the listener to move. After the unexpected Best New Artist nomination for Skrillex, I had to start digging around. Sure enough, the calling card effects of dubstep are starting to be tossed at Top 40 club-friendly acts to make them more appealing.

Flo Rida's new single uses the digital processing typically reserved for bass manipulation on the vocal sample used as the hook. Skip ahead to 2:40 and you'll hear a full-blown dubstep breakdown replacing a bridge on the song.

Rihanna's new single is also pulling in some dubstep elements. Around the 2:30, you hear some strange syncopated synth rhythms start bouncing around an otherwise typical reggae-kissed Rihanna single.

Dubstep remixes are starting to get radio play during CHR/Top 40 shows where the DJ is allowed to mix the tracks. I've been hearing a lot of this "Till the World Ends" by Britney Spears feat. Nicki Minaj remix when stuck in traffic on a Friday night.

So what would be the ultimate end game for this attempt to push dubstep onto the masses? Actually promoting dubstep artists. It's all well and good to go touristing in another genre for that new sound. Remember the dance hall craze a few years ago? It's even better if a new trend can help the people who have made their careers in the genre.

Dubstep artists are in demand for remixes and have been for years. Britney Spears, La Roux, and a bunch of other artists get deconstructed and transformed into something new when official remixes come out. Shoot. I just wrote about the Remixed, Non-Classical category at the Grammy Awards and there's dubstep aplenty in there.

Is it possible for a dubstep song to take off as a standalone crossover single? I'm not sure. People like a hook to be able to sing along with and you don't get that in dubstep. What you do get is a very unique and recognizable mostly-instrumental track that could crossover to music video play on the mainstream networks. There is no reason why MTV2 or Fuse can't start sprinkling in dubstep videos into their playlists.

Well, there is a good reason. Dubstep artists rarely get music videos. They release their tracks and they perform live. That, combined with remixing and DJ gigs, is their source of income. Maybe labels will be willing to take a chance on promoting a dubstep artist for Top 40 crossover if this trend really takes off in a big way.

Thoughts? Love to hear them.

The Link Rally: 28 December 2011

The Glow of Midnight in Paris