Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Murder on the Dance Floor: Why Disco Sucks Again

"Your disco needs you," Kylie Minogue sang 12 years ago. Lately, mine have been killing me -- not so softly, with one terrible song after another.

When did dance music become not only unlistenable outside of the club but virtually undanceable inside of it, too? Maybe I'm just getting old, and the disco is simply no longer my playground, but I'd like to think I can still cut a rug when the time and the groove call for it. (Another sign of my impending old age: I use phrases like "cut a rug"!)

Every time I get close to venturing onto a dance floor, the faceless electronic loops and pop songs dressed up with fancy beats (hey, Mr. DJ, no matter how much rhythm you stuff under it, Adele's "Someone Like You" will never be something I want to dance to), I'm just reminded that it's no longer the mid-to-late '90s, the last great era of vocal dance music. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was a time when Tori Amos songs like "Professional Widow," "In the Springtime of His Voodoo" and "Jackie's Strength" could be reworked into under-the-strobelight classics that were far better than the originals (the former to the point that the remix became a No. 1 single in the UK).

It was also a time when fierce ruling divas like Kristine W, Joi Cardwell, Ultra Nate and Sandy B and the producers/DJs who loved and remixed them -- Junior Vasquez, Danny Tenaglia, Deep Dish and the still-hot Arman Van Helden, the one who boosted Amos to UK No. 1 -- ruled both the dance floor and Billboard's Dance/Club Play Songs chart. Alas, even then, all was not well in certain hot spots in New York City's Chelsea district, where DJs insisted on overhauling turgid Celine Dion ballads by slapping tired recyclable backbeats onto them. No, my heart will not go on, not with that thing playing in the background!

These days, I wouldn't dream of risking life and limb on an over-crowded dance floor for the opportunity to move like Jagger to Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera, or to pretend that Katy Perry actually makes decent music to dance to (the ever-fabulous "If We Ever Meet Again" aside). Hell, I'll even pass on most of Madonna's MDNA -- or at the very least, those first two "shiteous," as my friend Atzin recently called them, singles. I don't care how much Madonna sexes up the video, "Girl Gone Wild" is trash.

Will anybody listen to anything by David Guetta in 10 years and say, "Those were the days"? Maybe if you aren't old enough to remember when dance music wasn't so color-by-numbers that it could make an artist as unique as Nicki Minaj sound like everybody else, which David Guetta -- ugh! -- did on "Turn Me On" (cool video, though!) and Minaj did herself -- with a lot of help from RedOne (double ugh!) -- on "Starships."

If a DJ isn't going to save my life, it's a good thing I have my iPod. Because of it, I can flashback whenever I want to, move like Jagger anywhere I please, stay off the dance floor, and die another day.

5 Great Reasons for a '90s-Disco Revival!

1) Kristine W "Feel What You Want"

2) Vanessa Daou "Two to Tango"

3) Sandy B "Ain't No Need to Hide"

4) Joi Cardwell "Soul to Bare"

5) Ultra Nate "Found a Cure"

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