From Beyoncé to Drake, house music is making a vibrant comeback for all the right reasons – SCREENSHOT Media

From Beyoncé to Drake, house music is making a vibrant comeback for all the right reasons

By Emma O'Regan-Reidy

Published Sep 9, 2022 at 10:19 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

Whether you’re passionate about all things club culture or haven’t stepped foot in one in years, you’ve most likely noticed that dance music has been making a comeback beyond the sometimes restrictive parameters of nightlife spaces.

House music was initially a reaction against the sickly-sweet radio appeal of pop music in the 70s—sounding “machine-like at its core,” as described by culture writer Maura Johnston for TIME. At first, club music was largely invented and championed in black and LGTBQIA+ spaces. In the 80s and 90s, it then became more mainstream, making its way to official charts worldwide. Today, the original genre has spawned an array of emerging subgenres, including tropical house, acid house and Chicago house to name a few.

While you may not be familiar with Jersey club or the work of Houston’s DJ Screw, chances are you’ve heard echoes of these sounds on your TikTok For You Page (FYP). So, why have these synth-heavy, glittering tracks been blowing up this summer?

Though it seems like a distant memory at this point, the COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably fed into this collective craving for bass-thumping, energetic tracks. Something about club music’s characteristic ability to get people moving is the perfect antidote in our post-isolation world. In a Pitchfork review of Beyoncé’s newest album Renaissance, writer Julianne Escobedo Shepherd succinctly observed that “dance music necessarily centres on the immediate present.” This mindfulness-adjacent quality of the genre puts it in direct contradiction to the jaded passiveness that many of us experienced during the pandemic.

Dance music is essentially a remedy to the past two years in the way that it draws us out of our own minds and directs our focus onto our bodies, with often little to no thought involved in the process.

“As physical movement was necessarily constrained during pandemic isolation, the dissociative effects of being unseen became both detrimental and liberating,” Shepherd continued. Conversely, contemporary club music “is a commanding prescription to be perceived again, without judgement.” With this in mind, it’s no surprise that ‘Massive’—which is full of “changing tempos, bright synths, and stabbing drums,” according to Pitchfork staff writer Alphonse Pierre—is one of the biggest hits off of Drake’s most recent album Honestly, Nevermind.

The most popular songs from the genre as of late have taken samples from dance music that has continually gripped audiences in previous decades. ‘BREAK MY SOUL’, the breakout single from Renaissance, is a perfect example of this. The synth-heavy track features clips from Robin S.’s club classic ‘Show Me Love’ as well as bounce music superstar Big Freedia’s 2014 hit ‘Explode’.

Beyoncé and her talented producers, namely The-Dream and Christopher “Tricky” Stewart, masterfully blend the sounds of 90s dance floors with contemporary house bliss, creating an instant classic that resonates with listeners of all ages. At its best, dance music breathes new life into cultural touchstones from the past, successfully connecting generations of club-goers from Chicago techno to New York kiki houses.

The recent popularity of club music––more specifically, the remixed versions of songs––can also be attributed to TikTok’s infatuation with short, memorable clips of high-energy tracks. When it comes to the platform in question, however, it’s important to note how the appropriation of black and Latinx dance music by white creators ties “into a long, infamous history of white appropriation of black arts,” as noted by The New Yorker.

For a contemporary example, think of how Addison Rae appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2021. While on stage, she performed a sum total of eight dances spearheaded by TikTok users of colour without crediting any of the original creators. Though this may seem innocuous at first glance, it’s significant to point out that Rae is worth $15 million as of 2022, largely thanks to her viral TikTok presence—while many of the original creators of colour continue to remain unrecognised. At the end of the day, the gen Z-first media platform offers powerful illustrations “of the way that unearned white authority overwrites black history, and, more specifically, the way some white influencers perpetuate expertise.”

The house music recently released by Beyoncé, Drake and others subverts this—in turn, reclaiming the music, conversations and culture for black voices. Renaissance, for instance, is teeming with sounds that can be found in the clubs made by and for black women and queer people around the world. Queen Bey has even dedicated the project to her late Uncle Jonny, a member of the LGTBQ+ community who she identifies as “the first person to expose [her] to a lot of the music and culture that serve as an inspiration” for the album.

Likewise, she has also thanked those who originated the musical culture she drew from and proceeded to acknowledge the “fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognised for fall too long.” The album, and tracks in its vein, continue to carve out a space for these marginalised groups, bringing their voices to the forefront of pop culture.

Rather than being viewed solely as a rococo, maximalist explosion of sound, contemporary club and dance music can be understood as a way of reclaiming cultural space—a type of archiving, if you must. For this reason, if not for the dynamic, lively music alone, these genres should continue to be vibrantly celebrated as we settle into the year’s colder seasons.

Keep On Reading

By Mason Berlinka

Meet Lex Fridman, the controversial podcaster who infiltrated Elon Musk’s inner circle

By Emma O'Regan-Reidy

From Bella Hadid to Kendall Jenner, why did everyone stop wearing trousers? The no pants trend, explained

By Emma O'Regan-Reidy

Big statement belts are back, and they’ve heard about gen Z’s obsession with functionality

By Charlie Sawyer

Who is Zack Bia? Meet the DJ who broke the hearts of Madison Beer and Olivia Rodrigo

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

How Gabon’s gen Z weaponised the make noise meme to protest decades of deprivation

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

UK gov needs to recreate Homes for Ukraine scheme for Sudanese refugees, says campaign founder

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

School uniforms to go gender-neutral across the UK through new ABC system

By Mason Berlinka

Internet rapper Lil Tay dead at 14? Here’s everything you need to know

By Marcia Veiga

The dark side of AI-generated music: How TikTok’s obsession with fake Drake songs could harm the industry

By Jennifer Raymont

Costume designers for And Just Like That… season two reveal $3 million wardrobe budget

By Mason Berlinka

Unpacking the drama behind Twitch stars Amouranth and xQc jumping ship to new rival Kick

By Charlie Sawyer

Fyre Festival fraudster Billy McFarland just announced that a Fyre Fest II is happening

By Simon Bland

How the Super Mario Bros. movie went from box office bomb to unlikely LGBTQIA+ hit

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Watch these amazing videos from the men teaching TikTok how to sew

By Mason Berlinka

Controversial billboard promoting OnlyFans model is met with local outrage 

By Amy Rose Everett

The return of the stereotype: Why sexist ads are on the rise and how we can make them history

By Charlie Sawyer

The Flash director and producer speak out on Ezra Miller controversy following drop of new trailer

By Jennifer Raymont

Mia Goth and Ti West reunite for MaXXXine: What can we expect from this 80s horror mashup?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

What the recent arrests of anti-monarchy protesters by the Met police reveal about our core liberties

By Phoebe Snedker

What’s wrong with the girl dinner TikTok trend? Gather your cheeses and grapes and let us explain