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|Stylistic origins||Post-disco, synthpop, house, electropop, hip hop, funk, R&B, pop|
|Cultural origins||Early 1980s; United States|
|Typical instruments||Drum machine, keyboards, synthesizers, vocals|
|Boy bands • Girl groups • Eurodance • Teen pop • Stock, Aitken & Waterman • Dance-pop artists|
Dance-pop is dance-oriented pop music that originated in the early 1980s. Developing from post-disco, synthpop, and electropop, it is generally up-tempo music intended for clubs with the intention of being danceable but also suitable for contemporary hit radio. Dance-pop music is generally characterised by strong beats with easy, uncomplicated song structures which are generally more similar to pop music than the more free-form dance genre, with an emphasis on melody as well as catchy tunes. The genre, on the whole, tends to be producer-driven, despite some notable exceptions.
Dance-pop is a popular style and there are several artists and groups who perform in the genre. Notable ones include Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Madonna, Celine Dion, George Michael, Kylie Minogue, Jennifer Lopez, Paula Abdul, Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls and Christina Aguilera.
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As the term "disco" started to go out of fashion by the late 1970s to early 1980s, other terms were commonly used to describe disco-based music, such as "post-disco", "club", "dance" or "dance-pop" music. These genres were, in essence, a more modern variant of disco music known as post-disco, which tended to be more experimental, electronic and producer/DJ-driven, often using sequencers and synthesizers. Dance-pop music emerged in the 1980s as a form of dance, or post-disco, which was up-tempo, club-natured, producer-driven and catchy. Dance-pop was more up-tempo and dancey than regular pop, yet more structured and less free-form than dance music, usually combining pop's easy structure and catchy tunes with dance's strong beat and up-tempo nature. Dance-pop music was usually created, composed and produced by record producers who would then hire singers to perform the songs. In the 1980s, dance-pop was closely aligned to other up-tempo electronic genres, such as Hi-NRG. Prominent producers in the 1980s included Stock, Aitken and Waterman, who created Hi-NRG/dance-pop for artists such as Kylie Minogue, Dead or Alive and Bananarama.
By the 1990s, dance-pop had become a major genre in popular music. Dance-pop borrowed influences from other genres, which varied by producer, artist and period. Such include contemporary R&B, house, techno and synthpop. Being mostly a mainstream pop-influenced genre, dance-pop's sound was often influenced by the period. Several dance-pop groups and artists emerged during the 1990s, such as the Spice Girls, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. By the late 1990s, electronic influences became evident in dance-pop music; Madonna's critically acclaimed and commercially successful album Ray of Light (1998) incorporated techno, trance and other forms of electronic dance music, bringing electronica into mainstream dance-pop. Additionally, also in 1998, Cher released a dance-pop song called "Believe" which made usage of a technological innovation of the time, Auto-Tune. Celine Dion also released a dance-pop song "That's the Way It Is" by the end of 1999. It has a moderately slow tempo but an up-beat song. An audio processor and a form of pitch modification software, it became commonly used as a way to correct pitch, as well as to create a special effect. Ever since the 1990s, Auto-Tune became a common feature of dance-pop music.
At the beginning of the 2000s, dance-pop music was still prominent, and highly electronic in style, influenced by genres such as trance, house, techno and electro. Nonetheless, as R&B and hip hop became extremely popular from the early part of the decade onwards, dance-pop often borrowed a lot of its influences from urban music. Dance-pop stars from the 1980s and 1990s such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Madonna, Janet Jackson and Kylie Minogue continued to achieve success at the beginning of the decade. Whilst a lot of dance-pop at the time was R&B-influenced, many records started to return to their disco roots; Kylie Minogue's albums such as Light Years (2000) and Fever (2001) contained influences of disco music, or a new 21st century version of the genre known as Nu-disco; hit singles such as "Spinning Around" (2000) and "Can't Get You Out of My Head" (2001) also contained disco traces. In Madonna's case, her album Music (2000) contained elements of Euro disco, especially the successful eponymous lead single. Nevertheless, it was not until the mid-to-latter part of the decade when dance-pop music returned greatly to its disco roots; this can be seen with Madonna's album Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005), which borrowed strong influences from the genre, especially from 1970s artists and bands such as ABBA, Giorgio Moroder, the Bee Gees and Donna Summer. Britney Spears' album Blackout (2007) contained influences of Euro disco.
The mid-to-late 2000s saw the arrival of several new dance-pop artists, including Rihanna, Kesha, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. This period in time also saw dance-pop's return to its more electronic roots aside from its disco ones, with strong influences of synthpop and electropop; Rihanna's singles in the dance-pop genre, including "Don't Stop the Music" and "Disturbia", contained electronic influences, the former of which has elements of house music, the latter electropop; Lady Gaga's singles "Just Dance" and "Poker Face" were also heavily influenced by synthpop and electropop; Kesha's debut single, "Tik Tok", was also highly electronic in style and employed a video game beat. Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold" (2008), "California Gurls" (2010), and "Firework" (2010), which were major commercial hits, also showcased influences of electropop and house music.
In Japan, Momoiro Clover Z is known for energetic dance performances. They are heavily choreographed and feature acrobatic stunts. They also incorporate elements of ballet, gymnastics, and action movies. Although the girls' voices are not very stable when coupled with an intense dance, they never lipsynch. Momoiro Clover Z is ranked as the most popular female idol group according to 2013 and 2014 surveys in Japan.
The 2010s so far have, similarly to the late 2000s, seen strong electronic influences present within dance-pop. Dance-pop artists such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Madonna, Kesha, Britney Spears, Usher, and Rihanna remain very popular, and several new recording artists within the genre have or are starting to emerge. Country-pop artist Taylor Swift's albums Red (2012) and 1989 (2014) both contain more of a pop-influenced sound which features production by dance-pop producers Max Martin and Shellback.
Dance-pop generally contains several notable characteristics, which are listed here:
- Uptempo, upbeat music intended for clubs, with a danceable or dance-centered nature.
- Catchy songs with an easy, pop-based structure
- A strong emphasis on beats and grooves
- Prominent hooks
- Simple lyrics
- Polished productions
- Glenn Appell, David Hemphill (2006). American popular music: a multicultural history. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth. p. 423. ISBN 0155062298. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
The 1980s brought the dawning age of the synthesizer in rock. Synth pop, a spare, synthesizer-based dance pop sound, was its first embodiment.
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