Dubstep: Skrillex, Dancing and A Capella (Oh, My!)

January 27, 2012

This post was authored by Bailey Johnson of CBSNews.com's The Feed for a YouTube Trends series exploring viral video phenomena.

Wubwubwub. The metallic crunch of dubstep was inescapable in 2011. (Ed. Note, see: Interest in Dubstep Grows and Grows.)

Once a sub-set of UK bass music, the genre exploded last year, with electronic music festivals drawing tens of thousands of fans and acts like Skrillex topping charts. (Facebook’s year-end rankings of the most-played songs on their site found not one but two Skrillex jams in the top ten.) One could argue that the soaring popularity of dubstep – and the growing acceptance of club music in general – was the top trend in music last year.

Like they always do, YouTube users embraced the growth of dubstep, using it in endlessly creative ways – from amateur dance numbers to a capella covers. (There’s even a channel dedicated to dubstep “lyrics.”) Let’s take a look at some of the most popular bass-rocking clips from last year.

Warning: Body-moving, party-grooving beats incoming.

Marquese Scott, from the dance crew RemoteKontrols, kicks us off with this incredible one-shot video. With a dubstep remix of Foster the People’s “Pumped up Kicks” behind him, Scott shows off his chops. Scott has been featured on “So You Think You Can Dance” and “America’s Got Talent” (in addition to our site, The Feed.) He also racked up nearly 30 million views with this video. How can a dance be so robotic and yet so fluid? That, friends, is the power of dubstep.

Speaking of the power of dubstep, this clever video shows the three young dancers overcome by the teeth-rattling bass coming from a mysterious pair of headphones. The robotic, full-body control this style of dancing requires fits perfectly with the idea that these dancers are possessed by the beats. The song, by the way, is “Louder (Docter P & Flux PavilionRemix)” by DJ Fresh. So far we’ve seen people dance to dubstep, but is it possible to actually play it? As a matter of fact, it is.

Crafting electronic music is generally a solo pursuit. DJs spend hours hunched over their laptops working out all the beeps, bloops and screeches on a track. But it turns out bands can get in on the act too, as is the case with Pinn Panelle and their cover of Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.” Without the use of sequencers or backing tracks, these guys do a pretty good job replicating the squalls and base drops of a dubstep jam. But they are still using instruments.

That’s where Aaron of AaronicStuff comes in. Using nothing but a laptop, some sick editing skills, and the power of his voice, Aaron brings us this a capella Skrillex cover. Is it safe to say dubstep has gone mainstream once the a capella covers come out? We think so. Of course, this song – “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” – was also nominated for a Grammy award. (One of five nominations for Skrillex, including Best New Artist.) Doesn’t get more mainstream than that.

With thousands of fans, millions of YouTube views, and even Grammy recognition, it’s clear that 2011 was dubstep’s year. What can we expect in 2012? Probably even more bass drops. Then again, not everyone is a fan.

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