The Prodigy vs Commercial EDM, and why The Prodigy is right

From music snobs to critics to casual listeners, people have been quick to dismiss electronic music as "not real music". But can you really blame them? Some of the EDM tracks playing on the radio make us wonder, "Do people actually listen to this?" It’s at times like these that the dearth of genuinely good electronic music becomes apparent.

Fortunately, there are still artists who are keeping the genre alive even though they may not have achieved commercial success. Alice Glass, Justice, Daft Punk, ASTR and Caribou are just a few of the contemporary electronic acts that have risen above the run-of-the-mill DJs and shown us the beauty of the genre. But any list of credible and talented electronica artists is incomplete without The Prodigy. They first rose to fame with 1994’s Music for the Jilted Generation, paving the way for electronic music as we know it. Since then, The Prodigy have delivered one hit album after another. It’s no surprise that their sixth album, The Day Is My Enemy, has topped the UK charts as well.

On the very first track, it is obvious why The Prodigy have managed to make an ineffaceable mark on electronica. The titular track is the perfect concoction of the angst of rock, the catchiness of pop and their signature electronica touch. But The Day Is My Enemy is far from the only track on the album to accomplish this. Tracks like Ibiza (feat. Sleaford Mods), Rok-Weiler and Nasty manage to strike this balance too.

Though the album isn’t filled with deep, meaningful lyrics, it is still a huge step-up from Smack My B!*#& Up. And hey, it’s still light years ahead of the EDM and "IDM" acts that are all over the airwaves.

This became even more obvious from Liam Howlett‘s comment on the current state of the genre. The musician went on to talk about how independent record labels have changed over the last few years. XL always asked The Prodigy to be dangerous and exciting, and do what no one else would. However, both record labels and artists now choose to be safe, sticking to the tried-and-tested formula for creating a hit.

Though The Prodigy have treated listeners to another rebel soundtrack, that isn’t a risk most commercial DJs are willing to take. It’s always easier to just record a radio-friendly hit that’s easy on the ears than release music that dares to deviate from one genre. Another factor that contributes to this is the lack of groups recording electronic music. The lack of groups recording and performing electronica inevitably leads to even fewer acts who play their tracks live. This isn’t lost on The Prodigy, whose aim behind The Day Is My Enemy was creating an album that could be played live.

At times like these, it’s easy to lose faith in dance music. But isn’t that exactly why we need artists like The Prodigy? What we need are artists who are willing to push the envelope, and there are no better leaders for the movement than the group that shaped the genre. We can also hope that their success in this day and age inspires more electronica groups to bridge the gap between their genre and live music. After all, they don’t have to be completely unrelated now, do they?

With more and more artists rising to the challenge, an electronic music revolution might just be coming our way. All we can hope is that more and more artists like The Prodigy emerge and gain mainstream recognition. Until then, we can always enjoy the titular track from The Day Is My Enemy:

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