Thursday, 04 June 2020 04:24

Sci-Fi Inspired Music Is Making a Comeback Featured

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Electronic music was the wave in the late 2000s and 2010s. When EDM became mainstream, musical acts from rockstars to rappers jumped on board the trend. Artists began collaborating with fellow EDM artists or even shifting their music towards more of a "futuristic" sound. In turn, this birthed a subculture that is heavily inspired by Sci-Fi. Whether it be by the beats or just concept, all music within this subgenre is forward-thinking and most of all, hopeful of the future.

2000s/2010s Sci-Fi Pop, Rap and Rock 

From Missy Elliot & Da Brat's Sock It 2 Me to George Michael's FREEEK, many Y2K pop music videos took a more futuristic angle even if the contents of the song didn't necessarily align with the visuals. It wasn't until the early 2010s when EDM took off, that artists of other genres gravitated towards making futurism inspired music. 

In the rap genre, the most notable musicians who incorporated sci-fi themes within their music were The Black Eyed Peas. The two albums they released in the 2010s called THE END, and The Beginning was an ode to a new era, a compilation of songs optimistic about the future.

Conversely, in the rock genre, musical groups like The Voidz and The Arctic Monkeys depict a more bleak future through their albums. Tyranny by The Voidz has a collection of songs with digitized 8-bit renderings overlapped with often depressive existential lyrics. Likewise, in The Arctic Monkeys' latest musical endeavour, Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino, the album is almost mocking society's progression after the invention of technology. The lead singer Alex Turner states the album was an analysis of America over the last few years. His assumptions of USA as an apathetic, narcissistic, self-serving country, in part, these characteristics exacerbated by technological advancements. 

Each genre's different interpretation of futurism has cultivated a subgenre in music which is rich in culture, and can be used as inspiration by future artists. So, what does 2020 and onwards have in store for us in terms of futuristic music?

The Resurgence of Futurism 

The once mythical rap album Eternal Atake by Lil Uzi Vert sounds like it's recorded right from inside a spaceship. Though the lyrics in the album's songs relate to more so the wealth/fame of Lil Uzi Vert himself, the sentiment of futurism through the album's imagery/beats is still there. Similar to Lil Uzi Vert, Dua Lipa's second debut album Future Nostalgia is very much an empowerment album as much as it is clout-based. Lipa herself stated the album signifies her uplifting the pop genre into something more modern. Dua Lipa carrying the metaphorical torch of pop for this generation. 

A 2020 artist's use of futurism in music has a different significance than those using space themes when making music in Y2K/2010s. Artists before 2020 used elements of space and Sci-fi as a representation of open-minded thinking, a chance to debut innovative music, and kind of prophesize the future. However, in this new decade, futuristic elements or indications of space fiction signifies opulence, individualism, and superiority. 

As to why this subgenre has taken such a shift in messaging in this decade is due to society placing much more importance in technology past eras. People owning phones, laptops, and digital watches wasn't a regular occurrence until later on in the 2010s. Once the digital age took over, people's interpretation of modernism changed. The wealthy had more access to advanced technology, while the middle/lower class usually only get their hands on accessible digital devices. This lead to artists associating the use of technology as a more consumer-based action rather than a visionary breakthrough. Therefore, to be ahead of society and to have what the many don't is considered a privilege, which then categorizes that person as elite. 

The same rhetoric towards futurism can be found in 070 Shake's most recent album Modus Vivendi, where the artist raps about heartbreak in the backdrop of a hivemind elitist society storyline. Such songs about futurism are becoming more of a common occurrence. As social media and the culture leans towards individualism and materialistic ideologies, there will be a shift in what type of music artists produce.

The transformation of Sci-fi inspired music through the 21st century is incredible. Hopefully, more genre-bending music is released within this decade, paving the way to something truly never heard before. Maybe a creation that's a vision of what the future will look like by this generation of musicians. 

Works Cited:

Brief History of EDM. la film. 2017. https://www.lafilm.edu/blog/brief-history-edm/

Julian Casablancas + The Voidz. Larry Fitzmaurice. Pitchfork, 2014. https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/19856-julian-casablancas-the-voidz-tyranny/

Black Eyed Peas show combines futurism with old-fashioned showbiz. Tris McCall. Nj.com, 2010. https://www.nj.com/entertainment/music/2010/08/black_eyed_peas_show_combines.html

Arctic Monkeys: Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino review – one giant leap for Alex Turner. Kitty Empire. The Guardian, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/may/13/arctic-monkeys-tranquility-base-hotel-obsever-review

The Y2K aesthetic: who knew the look of the year 2000 would endure?. Leigh Alexander. The Guardian, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/may/19/year-2000-y2k-millennium-design-aesthetic

Dance Dance Revolution: How EDM Conquered America in the 2010s. Noah Yoo. Pitchfork, 2019.https://pitchfork.com/features/article/2010s-reverberations-of-edm-skrillex-zedd/

Lil Uzi Vert: Eternal Atake. Alphonso Pierre. Pitchfork, 2020.https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/lil-uzi-vert-eternal-atake/

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