2011: The Year Dubstep—And “Brostep,” and Post-Dubstep—Dropped

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Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 29 2011 4:59 PM

Dubstep’s Breakout Year in One Infographic

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Photo of Skrillex at Coachella byMichael Tullberg/Getty Images.


Pop music has not been at a loss for trends in 2011. Over at Slate’s Music Club, 2011 has been discussed as the year of whistle-pop, the year indie and R&B made nice, the year of the people’s mic, and the year of Canadians. Meanwhile, at MTV Hive, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd has written a retrospective on one of 2011’s other biggest trends, dubstep’s invasion of the mainstream, and with Ho-Mui Wong she made a handy infographic to boot.

With as fractured and ill-defined a scene as dubstep in 2011, it’s helpful to see it all in one image. These days dubstep means not just the ghostly vocals and sparse beats of someone like Burial, but also the flatulent bass of “brostep” acts like Skrillex, Rusko, and (sometimes) Deadmau5. To add to all this, 2011 saw these sounds not just in the clubs of the U.K. and the margins of Pitchfork, but in the American mainstream of pop hits and massive festivals. As the MTV essay describes it:

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2011 opened with a Britney Spears dubstep song—”Hold It Against Me,” a predictably catchy, vampy come-on with a bass-throb breakdown, along with major Mandee in-store potential. And 2011 closed with a Korn dubstep album.

The year also saw dubstep infiltrate hip-hop by way of tracks like Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Who Gon Stop Me” and found an unlikely partner in blue-eyed soul via James Blake. The whole boom was enough for the genre to receive (arguably) the South Park treatment, helping to certify it as a bona fide cultural phenomenon.

The chart below recaps this more cleanly than I ever could. Click on the image for a larger version, and check out the essay here.

2011 in Dubstep Infographic

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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