As artists rise and fall on the music scene so do the genres that they inhabit. To avoid this pop music superstars (or sellouts) will shift their image and style completely to whichever sound is currently trending to remain in popular. In the past six years or so pop has shifted dramatically into an overly EDM focused industry. Genres like R&B, Indie and simple Bubblegum Pop have all shamelessly amalgamated into the dance sector.
Rising Underground Genres
In the underground however, artists stay true to their passion. This isn’t to say that smaller bands and soloists don’t experiment with new styles every so often, but they rarely make a Kings of Leon level shift to simply sell records. Instead what we are seeing now is the ‘popular’ labels seeking out music from entire genres that have largely been ignored. These once niche sounds are steadily growing and becoming more and more apparent in radio broadcasts and advertising.
Witch House – Coined by Picture plane in 2009, this immensely dark electronic sub-genre has been bubbling toil and trouble for over a decade. With a graphic aesthetic of blackened horror, this unsettling sector of post-punk inspired synths, spooky drones, and nightmare samples seemed destined to remain hidden in the shadows. Yet after becoming popularised by big name acts like Crystal Castles and Purity Ring, the darkness began to seep into the light. A growing number of acts still continue to pop up under atypically unnerving names and blacked out Unicode symbols.
Listen to: Sidewalks and Skeletons, Holy Other, oOoOO
Chiptune – This style of music was conceived not out of some grand musical fusion, but due to the limitations of video game consoles in the early 80’s and 90’s. As games demanded a more impressive and melodic soundtrack, composers began utilising the only tools they could to manipulate sound. These constrictions created the bleeps and square waves we know today and many recognise as old-school gaming and 8-bit music. The original composers themselves have continued to make fantastic scores as the rapid evolution of videogames continues. Surprisingly though modern artists and developers refuse to leave the retro sounds alone, creating a slew of new but classic sounding video game music. This is the Chiptune phenomenon. Using very basic and laborious programs or software that simulates the beloved sounds of Sonic, Donkey Kong and Streets of Rage, numerous artists and listeners indulge in the digital nostalgia.
Listen to: ABSRDST, Strawberry Nightmares, Slime Girls
Lo-Fi Hip-Hop – This subgenre exists in complete contrast to the impeccably produced multimillion dollar selling tracks serviced by the likes of Dr Dre, Swizz Beatz, and Mike Will Made-It. Created on slim/nil budgets and generally being more minimalist in style (usually a simple beat and a soft synth or two) this stripped down often lyric free beat design – sometimes called chill hop – seems to have taken over every platform. It’s almost unavoidable at the moment with Spotify’s playlists and Youtube’s 24-hour live streams, but no matter where you hear it there is an inescapable and comforting laid back quality. With a beat to keep you nodding and an ambient undertone, it’s easy to see the mass appeal and many uses as background music for writing, drawing, revising and just putting your feet up.
Listen to: Axian, Ol’ Burger Beats, Don Phillipe