A Critical Thinker Tries Dubstep

Got it...but what else???

I consider myself to be a music enthusiast.  I’m sure some people think I’m a music snob, or a music nerd, but I don’t like those terms since I try not to reject one style over another, and I am happy to listen to music I don’t like or understand.  I love Outsider Music, I listen to the latest pop star and the latest alt-country act with equal excitement.

A year or two ago I went to see Ministry live, and opening for them was Meshuggah.  I have to admit…I loved the show!  I actually preferred Meshuggah over Ministry.  They opened my eyes to the complex nature of metal. I couldn’t understand it!  I couldn’t figure out how the musicians did it. That’s what drew me to the genre…it was complex, mysterious, and unique.

I get you, you scary scary men.

See…before that moment I didn’t ‘hate’ death metal but I also never really looked into it.

Fast forward to now…and for a  year I’ve been told that Dubstep is ‘now’ the best music out there…the future…is going to take over…blah blah blah.  I reacted the same way as I did with death metal…I asked a few people to send me links to ‘amazing’ Dubstep, you know, that song or artist that made them fall in love with the genre.  Song after song was sent my way with descriptors like “Sick!” “Amazing!” “Best song I’ve ever heard.”

Song after song bored the living fuck out of me.  Literally!  The ‘sickest’ song to me sounded like a track that was going somewhere…and then opted to go nowhere instead…and that choice is what people love!! It built me up to expect a payout but instead slowed down, turned up the bass, and often did little else.  I didn’t get it, but I also couldn’t see what people were talking about.

That was my problem…if I don’t understand but can see what people like about a genre, I give the genre credit.  But I could see no redeeming characteristics, and worse…no one could describe it for me!!

…requests for “What is it you like about these songs” were constantly met with the same notes I was given before…Sick! Amazing! Best song I’ve ever heard.


Dubstep Enthusiasts according to Google.

But WHY!?!?

I asked if you could dance to it…no response.

I asked if it was better to listen to if you were high…no response.

At this point I almost felt like dubstep was popular because…it was popular!  Like Zsa Zsa Gabor, famous for being famous.

A recent comment on my blog brought the subject back up, praising the music industry for catching on to the popularity of dubstep much faster than usual:  Britney Spears incorporates it, radio stations are even dropping in dubstep tracks, a ‘dubstep’ DJ (…though most of what I’ve heard has been drum and bass or other genres) graced the cover of Toronto’s free culture weekly, NOW, last week.

But no one has been able to explain it to me other than to reject me for not getting it naturally!  “Oh…it’s underground…you wouldn’t get it.”  Like I’m ‘not a kid today’ so I can’t get it.  I’m pretty kid like.  Ask anyone…I play with stuffed animals AND play my music loud!!

This past weekend I listened to CRAPLOADS of dubstep, I found a track or two I enjoyed for what it was, and tried to immerse  myself.  I still can’t see it as anything different than a passing musical fad – like happy hardcore, or grunge.  There are many salespeople and fans, but it’s almost like they’ve either sold their previous preferences to engage themselves ‘solely’ in the genre, or have been fans since it’s emergence five or six years ago and have rejected all other music as a result.

Which may be a reason I don’t get it…if you’re close-minded and only like a genre, you’ll defend it to the death but probably can’t explain it well to the uninitiated because there’s nothing to compare it to.

Correct me!  Educate me!  Don’t just push me aside and tell me that if I don’t get it now I probably never will.  I’m a music enthusiast, I want to get it and I know there’s a reason you like it.  I just need a fellow enthusiast to tell me how!


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6 Responses to “A Critical Thinker Tries Dubstep”

  1. protocollie Says:

    So, I totally get you. I get it. I get it. I get it.

    I really, honestly, sincerely think (and I feel like people are going to come at me as being elitist by saying this, or smug) that the reason dubstep is enjoying the acclaim it is now is because of how fast it went from underground to front and center, and how rarely there’s a genre shift this big in EDM where what essentially amounts to an entire new core genre bubbling up from the underground. It was a true underground movement in really recent history, and its bubbling up to the top was VERY fast. Literally, it was like a switch was flipped. There was no gradual rise.

    I feel like the attachment is in that there was a definite time when it was unclear whether dubstep was still underground or had shot into the mainstream. Caspa was releasing remixes on Mau5trap, major mainstream D&B artists were releasing dubstep remixes regularly and producing it on the side, and for all intents and purposes it was ‘out’, but people still didn’t know what the fuck it was and so there’s a lot of kids not really deep into the EDM scene who became attached to it as ‘their’ underground thing. They got in on the ground floor, they were here to see it rise to prominence, THEY have the right to be smug about the scene’s roots, HOW COOL IS THAT. Ten years from now, these folks totally want to be what junglists were in the late 90s/early 2000s when modern drum and bass was really starting to overtake the older jungle sound.

    Bottom line is it sounds like jacked up garage to me with a D&B influence (minus all the energy) and a reggae bassline. It’s alright, and I think the 2-step beat gives some opportunity to explore more musically because it’s dance music that’s not driven so much by the drums (which is pretty cool) but the bulk of the shit that people are caning to hell and back are all different iterations of the same lame wobble-bass and angry sounding leads formula that I know I’ve personally grown crazy sick of.

    The genre itself quickly fell into the same hole D&B’s been in for a while – people responded to a specific sound that was pretty unique, it got copied by almost everyone, the genre homogenized when folks who don’t quite ‘get it’ jumped on board because it was the fad at the time and now you have this submovement that’s really the primary face of dubstep of what draconum calls ‘youtube dubstep,’ basically thousands of tracks produced in fruity loops by 19-year-old frat boys who totally heard this AWESOME eastern jam track by chase & status and who TOTALLY like to listen to dubstep but also dabble in other stuff like Deadmau5 and Tiesto. Like any genre, there’s good and bad, but the signal to noise ratio in dubstep is so bad right now (like it was in electro house a year ago and still is and has been in progressive house for years) is so poor that most folks don’t have the time or willpower to sort through it all.

    • Roo Says:

      AWESOME reply dude 🙂 Thanks for the analysis AND history there that I only had about a 10% knowledge of.

      There is definitely an ownership to things like this, and to see your baby go from obscure to ‘pop-star single breakdown’ is pretty rare, especially in so short a time. I’m actually pleasantly surprised by the response I’ve seen (so far) in that it’s POSITIVE! Something that doesn’t happen online. Spears used dubstep…fans (that I’ve talked to) are ‘using’ that to describe what they like about dubstep.

      …I honestly expected a crapstorm to fly around…the mainstream has usurped the sound…but instead, it’s (so far) been a sense of “We’ve Made It!”

      I add all those clarifications because I expect there to be a bubble of negativity, not from non-fans but from fans. Because everyone who loves music knows the feeling of when they lose ownership over a sound or a band or a song and it moves into the public sphere.

      Thanks for yer insight!!! 😀

  2. Sol Says:

    That “dubstep” artist was skrillex and he does a lot of weird stuff, people continuously argue whether he is a dubstep artist or electro or something in between. As for the dubstep being strikingly similar to dnb that’s probably because that’s where it came from. As for the build up to nothing dubstep songs are notoriously bad for that, but what gets people going is that wobbling bass and the gritty noise. I will be the first to admit, dubstep is hard to dance to, and is difficult to appreciate. It’s one of those love it or hate it genres of music. The confusig thing right now is that’s dubstep is poorly defined.

    • Roo Says:

      Yah, I knew it was Skrillex…honestly, I was lazy and didn’t want to have to Wiki or YouTube link him so I left the name out 😉 Lazy Roo can be lazy.

      Dubstep sounds to me like slowed down DnB with more ‘synth’ bass and less ‘bass’ bass if that makes sense…or at least, the genre’s make a drastic shift after the build…essentially, the climaxes work in reverse. I like wobbling bass, I like gritting noise…but I can’t see how ‘groundbreaking’ that sound will be in 12 months time unless it shakes up a bit.

      I can appreciate the sonic qualities of dubstep…what I can’t figure out is the religious fanaticism by which devotees defend it…not even defend, ATTACK over any mention that is neutral or worse. Love it or hate it…it’s not bad…just it needs to work it’s way to the middle ground if it’s gonna be lasting at all 😉

      Thanks dude 🙂 Yer points are very much on point 🙂

      • Sol Says:

        I agree with you when you say “I can’t see how ‘groundbreaking’ that sound will be in 12 months” ive already seen dubstep beginning to decline in popularity, and i think it is doomed to be another one of those “proof of concept” genres which gain popularity rapidly then fade into obscurity with the only echoes of it ever existing being it’s influence on more popular music and other artists.

  3. Busy! Badger! Bad? « Under the Pink Says:

    […] you know, I’m not a fan of dubstep…and although I am a geek of sorts I usually cringe at geekery when it escapes my […]

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