Blood on the dancefloor

Karl R. de Mesa

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Dance-aholics unite! The Frenchman is coming to get feet stomping and bodies shaking!

NOTHING COMPARES TO GUETTA's beat. Image from EMI/Polyeast

MANILA, Philippines – European dance music is a strange, niche creature. 

It’s got a hardcore, loyal following but its aesthetics that vaguely incline to the party-’til-you-die attitude alienates it from achieving mainstream success, ghettoizing itself even as it endeavors to spread its gospel.

Seen in that light, it does share a lot with, say, Norwegian Black Metal — sans the spiky accessories and the propensity for church burning.  

Which is why French DJ David Guetta’s triumph is such a momentous breakthrough event. Sure, you probably know he penned the Black Eyed Peas’ massively, insanely overplayed hit “I Gotta Feeling,” but aside from the 3 Grammy nominations he got for that song, he did bag another 5 for his own “One Love” album. 

It’s easy to see why, though.

In the aftermath of the decline of Big Beat and electroclash, Guetta keeps the torch alive through a unique brand of house, as part of that ambitious wave of DJs who seamlessly marry all that dance floor pomp, rock arena vibe, and the sleek, anthemic house music that’s worked so well for Daft Punk.

It’s his laundry list of big name collaborators that have made him hot property though; and on his “Nothing But the Beat 2.0,” (Virgin/Polyeast) that list does read like a red carpet who’s who.  

R&B crooner Usher lends his amazing pipes to the down-and-out-in-Ibiza flow of “Without You,” while Snoop Dogg (or Lion) smokes one too many disco roaches in “Sweat” (an auto-tuned song I actually do like). Akon’s huge, soulful voice features on the dance floor shaker “Crank it Up” and he divvies up against Ne-Yo on “Play Hard” with great push and pull dynamics.  

There’s no shortage of sexy on this LP, and Nicki Minaj brings the vocal curves in on “Turn Me On,” the stuff of pornographic fantasy as a casual visit to the doctor turns into a sultry pole dance number. The hits themselves are pure guilty pleasure and it’s easy to bob your head to the likes of “She-Wolf (Falling to Pieces)” and “Titanium” (where Sia acquits herself as a top shelf singer).   

As fun as the vocal songs are, though, it’s still the purely electronic tracks that have the most consequence. 

20 years of packing clubs and DJ-ing have persuaded the 44-year-old Guetta that he can only make good music when he’s having fun.

That may be an unapologetic slacker stance, but the payoff does show in the raver’s delight that is “Lunar” with its mind-exploding, 4-on-the-floor heft that sends you right into escape velocity; the gambolling and gaudy and very Gallic “Toy Story”; and the masterful drum and bass groove of “What the F***?” 

There’s quite a bit of classical scales and methods used in Guetta’s music, the suite-oriented attack that harks back to Bach and Ravell antiquity.

Then again, electronica was always about creating rituals of movement for people to be guided in, a meditation of dance viewed by its adherents as a strain of modern shamanism. 

The strobes, the drugs, the sensual proximity of your fellow dancers do add up to a Dionysian-rich environment.    

If you’re having a bad morning and need to get reacquainted with your nerves pronto, listen to “The Alphabeat,” a track that’s filled with so much energy and astounding use of the main riff that even rock aficionados will feel the hit in their viscera.

As a showcase of diversity and subtlety, I can imagine an arena full of people jumping to this track and hailing the DJ as rock star. 

Watch the official video of “Alphabeat” here:

Impressive? For sure.

That “NBTB” has sold nearly 3 million units and 15 million singles worldwide is the icing to this house phenomenon. –  


David Guetta will play in Manila on October 10 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. Tickets are available at all SM Ticket outlets.

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