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Electronic dance boom: Stars behind the beats

Daft Punk and the current pacemakers fueling the EDM crossover

By Kathy Iandoli
Special to MSN Music

For mainstream music fans and buzz-hungry music industry pros, the surge in awareness for EDM – electronic dance music – is only growing, propelled in recent years by an invasion from within as hot pop artists from Madonna to Katy Perry have lashed their songs to the signature electro-sonics and four-on-the-floor beats familiar to club kids and rave veterans from years back.

EDM’s march on the mainstream goes beyond Hot Top 40 and urban hits hot-wired to the production palette that’s evolved over recent decades. Major festivals including Bonnaroo and Coachella have seen their dedicated dance tents stealing fans from the main stages, more energized by the kinetic frenzy generated by lesser-known DJs, producers and EDM artists than the brand name icons with more traditional presence.

If the acronym is new, its current sounds are more evolutionary than revolutionary to more ardent fans: From house music to drum & bass, trance, electronica and dubstep, dance music forged within a true but eventually massive underground that has been built without conventional media exposure. For U.S. fans, its current prominence inevitably raises questions about a disco backlash that seemingly killed beat-heavy workouts by the early ‘80s, yet the rudiments of the music have thrived overseas. Helping spur the new boom have been canny collaborations between veterans including Daft Punk, David Guetta and Calvin Harris who drafted pop, urban and, yes, disco stars to add familiar voices and song structures to their fevered beats-per-minute pulse.

Here’s primer on the stars leading the parade from club to main stage.

 
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