Tropical house is keeping summer alive

Daniel Matcham /
Oct 20, 2016 / Music

summer refuses to end in the mainstream music world, and i am not complaining one iota. let the beat go on i say. maroon 5, those purveyors of radio-friendly pop rock, returned to the airwaves in the midst of october with don’t wanna know, an ode to lost love and that moment when feelings of said ex become overwhelming  and you have to force yourself to move on. forget the past, forget their future, worry about your own. or something. maroon 5 probably know.

the sound formally known as tropical house is really in right now, its slick synth and steel drum providing the soundtrack to many a workday and festivity. don’t wanna know isn’t up there with the best of the los angeles natives finest work over the past decade, but it is one of the most joyful in sound. there is little in the way of depth to the lyrics. “do you think of me, of what we used to be” is generic to the extreme, and the prolific kendrick lamar (who hasn’t he collabed with in 2016) adds little on this occasion – “do he lay it down for you, touch your poona like this” feels inauthentic on a maroon 5 record, though that is perhaps part of the intention. kendrick doesn’t play by our rules.

justin bieber’s surprise resurgence, to a point where it is no shame to enjoy his output, has followed the tropical house (and other sub house genres) trend closely. the tipping point for those who still wished to deride the canadian former-youtuber’s music alongside his impulsive late-teen actions, was the insanely catchy earworm where are u now with electrohouse pioneers diplo, jack u and skrillex. people sat up, listened and pressed repeat. what do you mean and sorry followed. let me love you was to have a big moment in the summer of 2k16. a new pattern was set.

but is it really anything new or a reinvention. house music first came to prominence worldwide in the late eighties, spreading from its underground Chicago roots, and has sprung up in varying forms ever since, though it has had peaks and troughs in popularity. it may be cool and hip now but at that time (according to our trusty friend wiki, god bless you) house was adopted in small doses by madonna, bananarama and, later, steps. kygo might not want that boast against his reputation.

yazz. dj sneak. s-express. stock-aitken-waterman’s ventures. st.germain. fedde le grand. daft punk. david guetta. right through to calvin harris. house, in essence, has never truly gone away but simply emerged in new forms. yet it would be difficult to reach for a point in modern history where the beats have been so upbeat. the rhythm so feelgood. the sound of summer all year round. everybody dance now.

yet why, you may ask, did music put on its gladrags and ditch its weepy side. the slowed down almost to a stop acoustic leanings of a generation of singer songwriters ditched for marimba. calum scott’s recent chart success via a soulful rendering of the robyn hit dancing on my own took on another life when tiesto took the wheel. appropriately given scott’s britain’s got talent start, the dj christened tijs michiel verwest (the greatest dj of all time™ according to mixmag readers) flip-reversed the guitar soundtrack and [re]made the song his own. another win for the fellow on the decks.

streaming has temporarily ruined the charts, we all know this. songs are sticking around for too long, new artists are apparently not getting a chance – the irony (am i using that right) in these claims being that half of the songs that have made a dent on the listening habits of the public are from first-timers. jonas blue were unknown a year ago. two hits later and we know their sound, and we love it.

it is only my opinion but when the sounds are so welcome to the ears, a few extra weeks of sigala’s sweet lovin in the top ten is no bad thing. if the summit was crammed with ten ed sheerans (who i am a big fan of but to a point) i would be switching my radio, or spotify, off after five. the beauty of the tropical house movement is that the sounds are contrasting in spite of their similarities. are you with me, one of the sounds of summer 2015, will share a tonal range with matoma’s contemporary recordings but its identity is far more individual.

tropical house and its companions look like it is here to stay right into the winter months, an indelible presence on the landscape. sipping a hot chocolate in your slippers with in the name of love filling my ears sounds very appealing. it can’t be long before john lewis hand the reigns of their annual christmas campaign over to bieber and friends.

now if someone could call 2007, i want indie to be next to have its moment. maybe the pigeon detectives need the tropical house treatment to make their comeback. just make sure kendrick lamar is on board.

winter is coming but summer is still here.

Words by Daniel Matcham

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