David Guetta: The Rise of EDM

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Electronic Dance Music's Influence on Popular Taste

Electronic Dance Music has never really been part of my world of music for most of my life. Whenever I desired to listen to new music, whether a completely different genre or a new artist, I have always tap-danced around EDM. The closest I ever got to the EDM genre was by attending a couple of music festivals. EDM began as an underground movement in the 1980s, and it seems that the genre is surging to the forefront of mainstream tastes which can be confirmed by Forbes' list of the top-earning DJs. This piqued my curiosity, and I wanted to know what was so amazing about the synthetic sound of squiggles and beats that I had disregarded for so long. I, therefore, chose to review David Guetta, an artist who rose from the modest beginnings and through his vision, charisma, and creativity was able to influence the world of music and inspire millions of people.

David Guetta's Transformation of Electronic Music

Over the past five years, David Guetta has redefined electronic music. Initially, Guetta was unable to reach the heights of his contemporaries. However, his albums One Love and Nothing but the Beat which he released in 2009 and 2011 respectively changed everything for him. He enhanced these albums with massive pop hooks, big-name stars and relentless energy that saw them dominate radio across the world and with this David Guetta was reborn on a global scale. He changed his usual approach and instead of beginning with the beats he first worked on the vocals and live instruments. This was apparent in his sixth studio album, Listen.

A Personal Touch: David Guetta's Album, Listen

The album was Guetta's most personal record, and a little background research confirmed this. A significant part of the album was written after a divorce from his wife of twenty years. The album had melancholic lyrics which differed from his usual hedonistic celebrations. For example, "The Whisperer" talks about a person who seems to be on the verge of taking their life. It was among the songs that were motivated by his divorce. It speaks about heartache, loneliness, hard ends, and new beginnings. Sia sings "I was standing on the edge, I'd long for a new beginning" she shows a glimmer of hope when she sings "And though I struggle through the days now it helps to know that you are listening." The Whisperer is a ballad, and It is quite uncommon for a DJ to create a ballad which demonstrates how diverse this album is. "Bang my Head," a song also motivated by his divorce, speaks of a person trying to fight her way out of the darkness. Sia sings "I should have failed and nailed the floor; instead I rose above it all." The song urges a person who wishes to give up to push on, and in this case, we would presume that Guetta was trying to motivate himself to keep going.

Diverse Melodies and Collaborations

The record also makes a perceivable shift towards basic melodies on guitar and piano. For instance, in "What I Did for Love," a collaboration with Emile Sande, Guetta begins with a garish piano line instead of charging in like a bear as he would have done before. The song takes time growing to its full size. Listen featuring John Legend starts slowly before swelling into a roaring chorus of synths and big bass. His first track "Dangerous" which features Sam Smith has a gritty retro beat. If Daft Pank had produced the song, it wouldn't seem odd because it has a hint of an 80s power anthem. "Lovers of the sun" which too features Sam Smith is a fantastic song that has a dark guitar riff and whistle.

A Diverse Group of Artists

Some credit is due for bringing together such a diverse group of vocalists such as Mambazo, Ladysmith Black, John Legend, and The Script. Surprisingly even with such a diverse group of artists, Guetta somehow manages to stay within his comfort zone. "Hey, Mama" Nicky Minaj's feature is, however, an exception since the song elicits a relatively tight, slinky beat from him. The song is nasty and sexed-up which is not classic Guetta. Minaj sings, "When you need that, I'ma let you have it,......I keep the na-na real sweet for your eating". Also, the record has a raw emotional connection which was not present in his previous records.

The Sonic Risks and Vocal Performances

Guetta takes a few sonic risks throughout the album. There are reggae tracks such as "No Money No Love" which features Showtek, Elliphant, and Ms. Dynamite. Even though am not a reggae fan, I felt that Guetta took an exciting approach to the song. The record also has songs flecked with strings and country guitar. Sadly, the performances that anchor these songs are too conservative. The album's vocals are varied and largely anonymous which poses as its main problem. Overprocessing the album takes away the uniqueness of some artists an example being John Legend whose distinct tone and texture is not as apparent in the song "Listen." Though, with her tracks "The Whisperer," "Bang My Head" and "Titanium," Sia seems to be the only artist who braves the force of Guetta's production.

The Evolution of David Guetta's Music

All in all, Listen still delivers the usual crowd-pleasing build and drops, the strong formulaic structures. It's refreshing that an artist like David Guetta can realize that there is more to life than just nonstop rave. Through Listen, Guetta lives up to his claim of trying to dive in deeper with his lyrics.

October 05, 2023


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