As EDM has catapulted in popularity over the last ten to fifteen years, the sounds of electronic music are now quite familiar to any person who listens to pop music. The truth is that behind the artists fronting some of the biggest pop hits on the planet are often some of the biggest names in EDM.
The definition of pop music—literally music that is popular—is a malleable definition in that it accommodates different sounds that can change over time as people’s preferences alter. Whereas EDM sounds on pop music charts were practically unheard of during the 60s and 70s, you would struggle to navigate any modern pop chart and not see at least one DJ on it, whether as the main artist or as a featured artist.
However, named EDM artists on pop charts don’t tell the full story of EDM’s influence on mainstream music. Some of the biggest names to dominate pop music in recent times have enlisted the help of EDM artists to create their songs. Quite curiously, those EDM artists who create pop songs often go unrecognized for doing so.
Kanye West, winner of 21 Grammy Awards, hired Daft Punk, Brodinski, and Gesaffelstein to make his Black Skinhead track, which featured on Kanye’s sixth studio album, Yeezus. Daft Punk additionally produced On Sight and I Am A God from the same album.
Britney Spears, known as one of the defining female names of early 2000s pop music and one of the best-selling artists of all time, hired Bloodshy & Avant to produce Toxic, her smash hit from 2003. Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg are the real names of Bloodshy & Avant, and the former is now well-known as one half of DJ duo Galantis.
Justin Bieber is a divisive name, but there’s no doubting his stardom. In collaboration with Nicki Minaj, Bieber released Beauty and a Beat in 2012. What you might not have known is that Zedd, a huge EDM name in his own right, originally produced this track for his Clarity album. However, Zedd re-wrote the track with a team of producers and it was instead released on Bieber’s album, Believe.
Furthermore, Cold Water, one of Bieber’s latest tracks which debuted at number two on Billboard’s Hot 100, is actually a Major Lazer song.
What’s most interesting about all this is the lack of negativity within pop circles about pop artists hiring EDM producers to help them make songs and not giving them the proper credit. Proper credit in such cases would mean listing the DJ or producer as a featured artist.
The pop music outlook contrasts sharply with the outlook on ghost production within EDM circles. In EDM, it’s seen by some critics as deceptive or lacking in integrity when a DJ hires another producer to make his/her songs. The truth is that ghost production is a completely normal thing that doesn’t deserve the inherently negative outlook adopted by many of its critics.
If making music for other people and not receiving “proper” credit for it was actually such a bad thing, you could be certain that the criticism within pop music for the likes of Kanye West, Britney Spears, and Justin Bieber would be a thousand times more vocal than anything you hear about ghost production.