Catch a groove to disco, listen to the rhymes of hip-hop, or daydream to dream pop with STUDIO 23

by Megan Wooters / Garnet & Black

Welcome to Studio 23: A deep dive into the innovative music genres that have propelled music forward with technological influences. With each genre and its accompanying playlist, fall deeper into the world of Studio 23. Transcend into euphoric bliss while traveling through the music of yesterday and looking forward to the music of tomorrow. 

DISCO- Disco is known for being up-tempo. The genre often has syncopated beats, which is created by switching up the beats on notes to create an unexpected rhythm. Disco also incorporates four-on-the-floor beats, which is a type of rhythm that some say resembles a heartbeat. Disco emerged in the 1960s and reached its peak popularity in the 1970s. A key tool in the progression of disco is the technological use of the synthesizer, an electronic instrument that generates and moderates sound. Invented in 1955 inside of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) laboratories, the synthesizer helped in the creation of the up-beat, fast tempo sounds of disco. The genre got its feet off the ground in clubs frequented by Black, gay and Latino communities, according to Brittanica. Disco was a form of escapism from social issues at the time such as war, gang violence, race riots and homophobia. Disco clubs, coined discotheques, were popular disco destinations of the seventies. Stars like Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, Cher and Mick Jagger often attended these clubs, including Studio 54 in New York City. Studio 54 served as a place where inhibitions were free and everyone danced the night away into tomorrow.

STUDIO 23 song selection: "Let No Man Put Asunder" (Dam Swindle Remix)- First Choice

Released originally in 1977 during the heat of disco, this 2021 remix by Dutch duo Dam Swindle weaves in all the elements disco is known for, such as an up-tempo, syncopated beat, while bringing a modern-day bounce. This remix breathes new life into the original song, more than 45 years after its initial release. With lyrics such as, “What has been joined by God / Let no man put asunder / Oh no, don’t throw it away,” the song details a relationship where one has withdrawn, while the other is still very much entangled in the love affair they have created. The song professes, “I know you will be coming back someday / Because I know deep inside you feel the same.” The song proclaims that although it might not be right in the moment, when two people find true love it is important to look forward to tomorrow. 

HIP-HOP- Moving out of the disco era, a new generation was on the horizon: one characterized by infectious beats and hypnotic flows, otherwise known as hip-hop. As its 50th anniversary nears this year, hip-hop can be credited to DJ Kool Herc and his innovative use of the turntable, an important technological piece to the formation of the genre. A turntable is the portion of a record player that holds and spins a record while it plays. DJ Kool Herc hosted a bash in the Bronx in 1973, where he first introduced the technique of playing the same record on twin turntables and operating them simultaneously. This technique would become fundamental to developing the new genre. Elements of hip-hop, which some call, “the Four Pillars of Hip-Hop,” are: deejaying, rapping, graffiti and break dancing. These four pillars along with hip-hop gained furthermore popularity in the eighties and nineties. Lyricism during this time was further emphasized when rappers began to write about their experiences of navigating through America while being Black, connecting to an audience who could resonate because of shared experiences or who could just appreciate hearing about perspectives different than their own. Today, hip-hop is one of the most profitable music genres. According to Billboard, hip-hop has been the most popular music genre on their charts since 2017, coming a long way from its inception in the Bronx during a party of joy and music. 

STUDIO 23 song selection: "Claymore" (feat. Smino)- Isaiah Rashad

Off of Rashad’s 2021 album "The House is Burning" the collaboration between Rashad and fellow artist Smino creates "Claymore's" mixture of mellow rapping with smooth melodies throughout the track. Smino’s feature is a highlight of this song. In a mixture of rapping and singing, he says, “See, everything that you doubt and fear / That energy not allowed this year / That little league mindset out of here.” Here, Smino tells his lover to relieve themselves of the troubles that have plagued them in the past, to be present, and to look to the future for how good things can be when long-held doubt and fear are let go.

DREAM POP/HYPER POP- Dream pop’s origins trace back to the United Kingdom during the eighties. The genre is an amalgamation of alternative rock, psychodelia and other genres. Dream pop is most notable for its use of reverb to create a moody, atmospheric ambiance and features vocalists that sound almost ethereal with their tone of voice. Like dream pop, hyper pop is a niche genre of pop that has recently made space for itself in mainstream music. The term “hyper pop” can date back to the days of “dream pop.” However, most feel it truly developed during the 2010s when SoundCloud was changing the musical landscape and providing a platform for artists to release their work without the need of a big label push. Billboard defines hyper pop as experimental, with influences of 2010s' EDM. Hyper Pop has gained momentum on TikTok with the hashtag “Hyper Pop” having more than 800 million views as of Jan. 2023. According to Billboard, hyper pop “seeks to find new entry points into the mainstream, with the ambition to simultaneously drain experimental music of its elitism and exclusivism.”

STUDIO 23 song selection: "Cherry-Coloured Funk"- Cocteau Twins

This song was released in 1990 from the Cocteau Twins' critically acclaimed sophomore album, "Heaven or Las Vegas." Both the album and the Cocteau Twins are often credited for the progression of dream pop. The song is lush and dreamy, and the vocals of lead singer Elizabeth Fraser transcend its listener to a world of euphoria. What makes "Cherry-Coloured Funk" so special is the fact that Fraser’s vocals are quite unintelligible, a common theme amongst the Cocteau Twins' discography. Upon first listen, it’s hard to make out what Fraser is saying. On the band's site, Fraser says she wants fans to focus more on the sound and emotions of the songs, so the listener can create experiences of their own to the music.

Now, take a listen to the songs of yesterday and today with Studio 23 and create your own experiences and memories that will last beyond tomorrow.