Lots of Bangers, Not Many Anthems
a.k.a. Thoughts on the current state of "big tunes" in dance music.
2022 isn’t over yet, but with the summer festival season more or less wrapped up (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), it feels like a good time to take stock and ask, “What does dance music sound like right now?” And more specifically, “What are the year’s biggest tunes?”
Clearly, the answers to those questions are highly subjective, but after conducting a(n admittedly unscientific) poll of friends and colleagues during the past few days, a couple of trends do seem clear:
Bangers (i.e. big, bright, fun and often somewhat goofy tunes) are both abundant and in very high demand.
Few of those tunes, however, seem to have much in the way of long-term staying power.
This isn’t an entirely new phenomenon. Back in the early days of First Floor (November 2019 to be exact), I actually penned an essay about the dwindling supply of certifiable dance music anthems, and in the nearly three years that have passed since then, that shortage has only grown more acute. (As I said back then, “let’s consider an anthem to be the kind of track that is supported by a wide range of DJs across different genres, scenes and styles, to the point where it becomes almost ubiquitous, at least within electronic music circles.”)
The pandemic obviously had something to do with this, as two-plus years of lockdowns, club closures and festival postponements / cancellations deprived potential anthems of the testing grounds (i.e. dancefloors) they need to thrive. (Those years also prompted a seemingly infinite number of ambient side projects, which varied in quality but very rarely produced anything resembling a hit song.) Things have obviously changed in 2022, but even during a year when the world’s party infrastructure has by and large been up and running, only a handful of dance tracks have made what feels like a lasting dent in the culture.
What tracks exactly? Here are the songs from this year I’d definitely put into the anthems category.