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2016: The top 40 was where house music went to die

Dance music's creativity isn't being reflected in the charts – and that's really sad

  • Words: Patrick Hinton | Illustration: Alex Jenkins
  • 6 December 2016
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Nowadays casual listeners would be forgiven for thinking that house is about clumsily combining ridiculously obvious samples with beats damper than a trip to Atlantis. It’s a trend that began to bubble last year, spurred on by Sigala’s juvenile Michael Jackson-sampling chart-topper ‘Easy Love’, and fired full steam ahead on pumping cylinders of ham-fisted production in 2016.

Tracks have breached the upper chart slots with blasphemous samples of vintage reggae, underpinning them with puerile synths and sound layers so twee they’d make a cardigan wearer weak at the knees, turning dub into a steaming dump. Iconic r’n’b vocals have also felt the lazy wrath of producers who have clumsily squashed hooks into tracks that make Jamie xx’s use of steel pans look conservative. Or worse: used them as spoken-word-sample-before-the-drop moments, a cliché more played out than a retired stage actor.

The heavy sampling rife in this music is at best uninspired, and at worst, appropriation. There’s about as much talent in constructing half a song around a ready-made classic chorus as there is in preparing a Pot Noodle. It’s a wonder how the scene of predominantly white males is able to make these cynical cash grabs with their hands clutching so tightly to the coattails of recognisable bangers by black artists. This is music for people with no interest in creativity, who enjoy their repackaged nostalgia trips to be served tepid with a side order of bland. Presumably deriving enough excitement from the sand-covered, half-naked models posing as YouTube backdrops.

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