An Ode To Kygo And Tropical House Music
You can feel the airiness in the beat. There may or may not be a sample from an old school R&B song, and there’s a good chance that it’s been played at a summer festival before. Everything about it was dreamy - ethereal even - and in the summer of 2012 (perhaps even a little later than that?) tropical house was the most popular genre of music on the planet.
One wasn’t able to attend a music festival or house party without hearing a track from Kygo or Felix Jaehn. It was feel good music like I had never heard before. Kygo’s “Sexual Healing” remix comes to mind immediately when the words “tropical house” are mentioned, but for few years that man alone had hits on top of hits on top of hits.
His run atop blogs like The Hype Machine and Ear Milk was unprecedented, a soft spoken Norwegian that developed his sound out of a dorm room in Edinburgh and became a worldwide phenomenon.
Somewhere along the way though the genre as a whole seems to have just sort of fizzled out. I suppose that this happens with music of all kinds, right? The landscape is ever changing and the tastes of teenagers are what has always driven the market, but why couldn’t tropical house find a niche group that would stick with it?
Perhaps it was the formulaic approach that artists began taking to the genre. Tropical house never evolved like hip hop or rock. Trop house DJs find a popular song from 70s or 80s, throw a little synth, a kick drum pattern, a steel drum, saxophone, and a pan flute and boom - you’ve got tropical house. Me personally? I blame festival culture and drugs as a whole.
It’s the fact that a person rolling on molly will listen to literally anything, claim that it’s the most amazing shit they’ve ever heard, and you can start to form an idea as to why this subgenre of house music didn’t quite make it.
The kids who were going to large scale music festivals and rolling face to Kygo, Felix Jaehn, and Matoma grew up and got jobs, content to stop discovering new music. This leaves us with a fresh batch of teens who simply aren’t into tropical house or discovered something far cooler than what myself and my mid-20s contemporaries were listening to at their age.
Maybe this is an indictment on myself. Perhaps I’m dead wrong here and tropical house is still alive and well, but at 26 I’m no longer an authority on what sounds cool and what doesn’t. Furthermore, artists like Kygo are now getting mainstream radio play which is essentially a death knell in terms of something being considered cool. Way back in 2012, though, when I wasn’t too tired to do deep dives into dark corners of the internet to find groundbreaking music, tropical house was the shit, and when I’m feeling extra nostalgic wallowing away in a cubicle I’ll throw a little Kygo on and smile.