The 54th Grammy Awards: Electronic Music, Skrillex and the Re-Shaping of American Pop
This Sunday millions of music lovers will tune in to the 54th Grammy Awards, with Grammy host LL Cool J playing master of ceremonies for the evening. As is the case every year, the night will feature a slew of performances from both Grammy nominees and special guests. Confirmed performances include a rare appearance of the surviving members of The Beach Boys, as well as performances from Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, and a duet between Coldplay and Rihanna. But while many of these performances will register as per usual for many Grammy watchers, the Recording Academy just announced that there will be a special “tribute to electronic music” performance outside of the Staples Center from The Foo Fighters, David Guetta, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, and Deadmau5.
Deadmau5 – “Raise Your Weapon” (nominated for “Best Dance Recording”)
In the weeks leading up to the Grammys some New Yorkers may have noticed the award show’s advertising strewn about the city, the most prominent of which is a poster of the half-shaven, futuristic-looking producer Skrillex (see above.) Nominated for 5 Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist, Skrillex has amassed more Grammy Award nominations than any electronic musician in history. Though Skrillex isn’t listed as performing in the “tribute to electronic music,” it wouldn’t be surprising if Skrillex appears for his own surprise performance some time during Sunday’s show.
Skrillex – “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites” (nominated for “Best Dance Recording”)
Not only does Skrillex figure prominently at the Grammys this year, he graced the cover of Billboard magazine this month standing alongside A-Trak and Diplo, with the headline “Dance Dance Evolution: Winning At Live, Leading At A&R, Ready For Mainstream Global Domination.” And in other news, Simon Cowell announced his new DJ talent show that he’s producing alongside Will Smith (more on that from Dubspot later), all of this pointing to the fact that the recording industry is catching on to the rapidly increasing presence of electronic musicians in America.
Duck Sauce – “Barbara Streisand”(nominated for “Best Dance Recording”)
As many electronic music fans may know, the ebb and flow of electronic music in the pop realm seems to come as quickly as it goes, and the Grammys have been notoriously late on many things, most of all electronic music. It wasn’t until 2005 that the Recording Academy even created a Best Dance/Electronica Album category, and in 2 of those years the winners were Lady Gaga and Madonna. The year the category debuted seemed like the most sincere effort at representing the genre with nominations going to Basement Jaxx, The Crystal Method, Paul Oakenfold, The Prodigy, and Paul Van Dyke. Basement Jaxx won that year for Kish Kash, a well-deserved win for an album that will remain a classic for years to come. In other years winners include Daft Punk’s Alive 2007, a live album and possible retribution for missing Daft Punk classics pre-2005, La Roux’s self-titled debut, and 2 wins from The Chemical Brothers for We Are the Night and Push the Button.
David Guetta & Avicii – “Sunshine” (nominated for “Best Dance Recording”) This year the Best Dance/Electronica Album category features nominations for Skrillex, Deadmau5, David Guetta, Cut/Copy, and Robyn. Filled with a more straight-forward representation of the genre than in years past, it remains concerning that an artist like Robyn will likely never share a “Best Pop Album” category with the likes of Madonna and Gaga, despite the Swedish singer’s inarguable pop mastery. That said, this year’s electronic-dominated Grammys and the music industry news surrounding it points to the age-old question, what is pop? If a non-singing dubstep producer like Skrillex can share the Best New Artists category alongside Nicki Minaj and J. Cole, will drops be the new hooks? What is electronic music’s place in pop to you? Who would you have nominated in the Best Dance/Electronica category?