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Opinion: Why Pretty Lights Deserves The Grammy For Best Dance/Electronica Album

Pretty Lights innovated dance music with "A Color Map Of The Sun"

The 56th Annual Grammy Awards take place this Sunday, January 26th, and there are many talented artists nominated for awards in the two dance categories. Nominated for Best Dance/Electronica album of 2013 are Calvin Harris (18 Months), Kaskade (Atmosphere), Disclosure (Settle), Pretty Lights (A Color Map Of The Sun), and Daft Punk (Random Access Memories).

Many people expect Daft Punk to walk away with many of the awards, including even Record of the Year for “Get Lucky.” The commercial success of their album Random Access Memories is very impressive for any record, reaching the number one spot in 24 different countries around the world.   Many also wouldn’t be surprised if Calvin Harris won the award for Best Dance/Electronica Album this weekend, as his album spawned numerous hits including, “We Found Love” featuring Rihanna, “I Need Your Love” featuring Ellie Goulding, “Sweet Nothing” featuring Florence Welch, and “Let’s Go” featuring Ne-Yo. Disclosure’s album Settle brought garage and deep house music back to popularity and Kaskade went back to his roots for his eighth studio album Atmosphere, which was a masterpiece of progressive and melodic house music.

All of the albums listed contain some of the biggest tracks in dance music for 2013, which is why it came as no surprise that they were nominated for Best Dance/Electronica Album. However, Pretty Lights was also nominated for his work on A Color Map Of The Sun despite not having any chart-topping tracks. How can this be, you might ask? Pretty Lights innovated dance music in a way that hasn’t been done before. Instead of working with old vinyl samples (like he had in the past), or creating songs from scratch in computer programs (the way the majority of dance music is created), Pretty Lights created his own samples in live studio sessions before editing them later. If you watch the documentary below, The Making of Pretty Lights’ New Album: A Color Map of the Sun, you’ll see the entire creative process of the album.

Derek Vincent Smith, also known as Pretty Lights, spent two-and-a-half years working on A Color Map Of The Sun, an album that represents modern analog electronica. Smith traveled to several different cities, working with dozens of different musicians to create live studio sessions that were recorded as samples and pressed onto a vinyl collection that could later be mixed using modular synthesis and edited on a computer. The album covers countless genres from different time periods, while giving all of them a contemporary spin. Smith described the album as “electro-hip-hop-soul,” but I’m not even sure that covers all the genres that are represented, such as glitch and blues. The finished album included two discs, one with the finished edited tracks, and another with live studio sessions.

A Color Map Of The Sun may not have had the same commercial success as some of the other albums that are nominated for this category, but that doesn’t make his work any less significant or worthy of the award. The purpose of the Grammys is to reward outstanding achievements in the music industry, and because electronic music prides itself on forward thinking, the awards should be distributed as such. Pretty Lights unquestionably created one of the most innovative albums of the last decade, and that’s why he should win the Grammy for Best Dance/Electronica album.

A Color Map Of The Sun, along with all of Pretty Lights’ discography, is available for free download at PrettyLightsMusic.com

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