The rise and popularization of house music over the last ten years has been massive. With electronic music hitting the airwaves and mainstream pop radio, the discovery of house music for the mainstream culture and media has become much more prevalent. Music that was “underground,” twenty years ago is now playing in coffee shops, clubs and developed music-niche’s online and through hipster subcultures. House music originated in the 1980’s in Chicago as popular “electronic dance music.” The term “house music” is thought to have originated as a reference to a Chicago nightclub called The Warehouse, which existed from 1977 to 1983. With the creation of drum machines and synth musicians were able to explore new ways of making music with the 4/4 beats and rhythms. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley even proclaimed August 10, 2005 to be “House Unity Day” in Chicago, in celebration of the “21st anniversary of house music” (or rather, the 21st anniversary of the founding of Trax Records, an independent Chicago-based house label.)
As the notoriety and awareness of house music rises, with the ability to create several types of sounds thanks to technology and evolution of beat making machines, computer programs and the like, the genre has branched into various sub genres; electro house, jump house, euro house, tech house and so on.
Soul and disco music were influencing genres in the creation of house music, with songs like Donna Summer’s, “I Feel Love,” and Cerrone’s “Supernature.” As house has morphed into a mainstream indulgence many popular artists like Bjork, Madonna, C+C Music Factory and Daft Punk weaved in elements of house into their music. The dance-based grooves are easy for people to digest and “get into a feel-good zone”
More recently, the influence of the old house sound has resurfaced through artists like Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Steve Aoki, Fedde Le Grand, Armand Van Helden, and Dada Life. Swedish progressive house has also trickled through mainstream media with the emergence of Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell, Steve Angello, Kaskade, Avicii (who currently dominates pop radio,) and Alesso. Festival season is around the corner and that means festivals like Tomorrowland, Ultra Music Festival, and Electric Daisy Carnival will be bumping with house-inspired music.
The Main Players
Recently the House music community suffered a major loss when the “Godfather of House,” Frankie Knuckles passed away. DJ Frankie Knuckles combined elements of disco, electronic sound, soul and synth into a new genre earned him the title ‘Godfather of House Music,'” Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said. Knuckles worked as a remixer with top artists including Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. He won a Grammy in 1997 as nonclassical remixer of the year.
During the mid 1980’s the Detroit Techno sound also became popular when legendary disc jockey The Electrifying Mojo began a radio program featuring artists like, Inner City, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins. The Detroit EDM and house appreciation continues still today with the Movement Electronic Music Festival an annual electronic dance music event held in Detroit each Memorial Day, carrying on tradition and featuring performances by musicians and DJ’s. The preservation around the culture of house music is almost as important as the creation of the music itself.
What people are saying about it:
- “Not everyone understands House music; it’s a spiritual thing; a body thing; a soul thing.” Eddie Amador
- “House Music is a Feeling,… a feeling that will never die.”- Anonymous
- “House is our release, house is our sanctuary…can you feel it like I feel it?”
- “If you’re in this business for the money, fame, and women, get out of the way of those who are serious musicians. Yes, there are DJ/producers who are serious musicians but DJs first. You know who you are. You are the heroes who work in the trenches weekly, at those little dives off the beaten path with half-ass sound systems and club owners who don’t take your craft seriously. Still, you know how important your work is. This is your life’s work. I thank God everyday that I survived long enough to see the craft we live become a serious profession. ” Frankie Knuckles
- “Drugs are not the reason that the music took off. House music’s universal appeal comes from the energy, beauty, soulful sexiness, and gut-wrenching vocal performances that have inspired so many spin-off ideas.” Frankie Knuckles
To go back to the roots of house and remember where this danceable, vibey- music came from below is a playlist of twenty classic house songs from the early 1980’s and 1990’s that has shaped the sounds you hear today:
- “Mystery of Love,” and “Can You Feel It?” by Mister Fingers
- “On and On” by Chicago DJ Jesse Saunders and co-written by Vince Lawrence
- “Move Your Body” by Marshall Jefferson
- “Everybody Everybody” by Black Box
- “Acid Tracks,” by Phuture who experimented with the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer in this 12-minute track. They’re credited as being one of the first to use the TB-303 in the house music context.
- “Bango” The Todd Terry Project
- “Big Fun” by Inner City who popularized the Detroit Techno sound
- “Work it to the Bone” by LNR
- “In a Vision” by Virgo
- “Girl I’ll House You” by the Jungle Brothers
- “French Kiss” by Lil Louis
- “(Who?) Keeps Changing Your Mind” by South Street Players
- “What Time is Love” by The KLF
- “To Be Real” by Ladycop
- “Deep Inside” by Hardrive
- “Break for Love” by Raze
- “’COFFEE POT (IT’S TIME FOR THE PERCOLATOR)’ by Cajmere
- “Tears” by Frankie Knuckles Presents Satoshi Tomiie
- “I’ll Be Your Friend (Original Def Mix)” by Robert Owens
- “Can You Party” by Royal House
Whether you’re already deeply in love with house or you’re exploring the genre as an entirely listener, there’s a lot of history to dig your teeth into. With the many subgenres of house and electronic dance music, there’s a song for every ear. Start with the classics, by understanding the root and history of where your music came from you gather an even deeper respect and appreciation.