2017's Biggest Music Production Trends
Pop Embraces Latin American Rhythms
Reggaeton, Dancehall and Baile Funk provided the structure for many of 2017's most popular tracks.
By now every waking soul has heard 'Despacito,' a Latin hit by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee that went stratospheric after Justin Bieber's English-friendly remix. Between both versions, there are 4.6 billion streams, making 'Despacito' the most streamed song of all time, beating out Bieber's own 'Sorry,' another Pop-Reggaeton hybrid.
J Balvin and Willy William also made waves with ‘Mi Gente’ a thumping Reggaeton track with a hypnotizing vocal hook. Even though it was sung entirely in Spanish, the song was a crossover hit, being picked up by multiple Top 40 stations.
Simple, but stomping dembow drum rhythms are also getting major attention in more leftfield and underground scenes. Brazilian rapper and larger-than-life sensation MC Bin Laden clocked in over 18 million plays on Youtube for his track ‘BOLOLO HAHA,’ an energetic take on US rap that borrows from Baile Funk and Grime.
Argentinian-born and Mexico City-based DJ and producer Tayhana and her NAAFI collective fused reggaeton with 808s and experimental foley for some of the more out-there club tracks this year, and we’re sure these styles will be explored further in 2018.
Dance Music Gets a 90s Revival
For music that is often described as forward thinking, electronic dance music in 2017 felt more like an appreciation of the past then a look into the future.
Breakbeats, acid basslines and cosmic pads become the main reference point for the some of this year's most popular house, electro and techno releases. Niche 90s genres like trance, jungle and new age became common fixtures in both DJ and radio sets.
Nostalgia for the golden age of rave had been creeping back into dance music for years, and in 2017 the trend took it's strongest hold.
90s kids are grown up now, and the music they're producing is an attempt to capture an era they were around for, but not a part of. Their chosen methods of musical expression: deep house synths, twinkling arps and classic drum machines.
Danish labels like Help Recordings and Regelbau were at the forefront of this movement, churning out bubbly takes on UK garage and breakbeat every few months. Similar sounds cropped on labels like Acting Press, Peach Discs, and Future Times.
After a particularly noisy stretch beginning in 2015 that saw a lot of dance music producers try their hand at peak-time techno and industrial music, 2017 marked the return to the chill-out room.
Trap Goes Emo
Trap’s simple formula—sub shaking 808s, rapid fire hi-hats, and vocal booth ad libs—is undeniably predictable at this point. But for nearly five years, the once Atlanta-based sound has dominated popular music, blaring out of cars in nearly every major city.
One reason the genre has managed to stay fresh is that it is open to newcomers. Every six months or so, there seems to be a new kid on the block that saves Trap from becoming redundant. Lil Uzi Vert, Migos and Lil Yachty were some of this year's best new players, while stalwarts Future and Gucci Mane kept up a regular release schedule, the former being responsible Percocet anthem 'Mask Off'.
A second reason behind Trap's longevity is it's ability to merge with other genres. It’s already borrowed from Carribean music, classical, soul and ambient. In 2017, it was rock and emo.
Lyrics focused on drug abuse, mental health and even suicide. Since when can club bangers have hooks as miserable as ‘All my friends are dead, push me to the edge’?
Spidery guitars samples from Alt Rock dudes Three Days Grace and Brand New could be heard in music from Lil Peep, a leading voice in the Emo Trap movement who passed away earlier this year. Sad Boy Yung Lean put out an album of icy beats and ambient pieces with titles like ‘Agony’ and ‘Fallen Demon’.
Rock rap has somehow become cool again, and the borders between the two genres are becoming increasingly blurred, leading to a new form of raw emotion in Trap that will continue to develop in 2018.
With a growing amount of streamable music to draw inspiration from, music creators have become more adventurous in their productions. Today's albums, EPs and DJ sets regularly explore a huge range styles, tempos and genres, a trend in itself that is likely to continue throughout 2018.
What were some of the biggest music production trends you observed this year?