Big room house is a subgenre of electro house. Since the mid-2010s it has become one of the most popular forms of electronic dance music. It is regarded as a combination of hard dance and electro techno. It has gained mainstream popularity after artists like Hardwell, Nicky Romero and Martin Garrix began infusing it into their musical style.
The genre is generally 126 to 132 bpm. It is composed of 'lengthy techno-influenced build-ups, a powerful and driving electro-style drop'. It is also known to include a 4/4 hardstyle kick. A typical big room house track features bass-heavy kicks, with minimal musical elements and sometimes only a syncopated supersaw or percussion. It often incorporates drops, minimalist percussion, regular beats, sub-bass layered kicks, gritty and electrical synths, simple melodies, and synth-driven distorted breakdowns.[not in citation given]
In the early 2010s, big room house began developing and gained popularity at electronic dance music events and festivals such as Tomorrowland. Despite being considered a subgenre of electro house, big room house has been developing into a genre of its own throughout the years.
Swedish House Mafia members - Steve Angello, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso are regarded as the pioneers of big room house.Martin Garrix's best selling single, "Animals", is regarded as one of the most notable big room house songs. The genre gained notability in the early 2010s as DJs and producers began playing big room house songs at festivals and clubs.
In 2016, Beatport added the Big Room genre and mistakenly reclassified electro house as a subgenre of Big Room, putting notable producers such as Deadmau5 and Wolfgang Gartner under the category. This issue was fixed shortly afterwards.
The structure of big room house songs is similar in terms to that of progressive house music usually inspired from American progressive of the late 2000s. I.e., there are two build-ups complete with breaks, two drop sections, and one or two breakdowns, one of which may or may not include the intro/outro phase. Unlike progressive house, however, bigroom is adapted to radio edited format, and hence, features either the first or the second build-up usually much longer than the other one. In case of remixes, one usually features the whole vocal/riff sample of the initial song, while the other build-up is in fact a simple break that is significantly shorter and prepares the listener for the drop.
The basic characteristic of big room lies in its minimalism. One bassline, often aided by one or two highs and lows, creates the mood for the whole composition. This bassline is reverberated so that the echo is cut and spontaneously released only on 1/4 of the tab, usually the last. Unlike in electro house proper, where the bass itself is subject to additional wave effects (such as attack, threshold and sustain) in order to beautify the melody, in big room house, only the way the sound is released plays a major role. Henceforth, the drum beats are made minimal, sometimes with only a kick/tom and a couple of hi-hats.
Big room first appeared in early 2010 and was influenced by famous early electro house tracks, such as Benny Bennassi's "Satisfaction".Trance music, a similarly build-up centric, reverb-heavy genre, was also central in the genre's formation, with some EDM commentators even dubbing big room "Trance 2.0." The increasing role of North American progressive (such as deadmau5 and Kaskade) and the introduction of electronic sounds in mainstream pop music at the same time also influenced the scene significantly. Swedish groups such as Swedish House Mafia and Dada Life were among the first to experiment with bigroom by mid-2010, when it found increasing popularity through international dance music festivals such as Tomorrowland, Ultra Music Festival, and Electric Daisy Carnival.
The implementation of "big room" elements in tracks by producers gained prominence on the level of popular music artists, who by 2012 started to include portions of big room house into their songs. Examples of such tracks include "This Is Love" by will.i.am featuring Eva Simons and "Work Bitch" by Britney Spears.
By 2013, big room house gained international prominence, with its base across Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Italy, the UK and Russia. Certain tracks such as "Animals" by Martin Garrix and "Levels" by Avicii have topped the radio charts for over a couple of months, extending well beyond the EDM scene.
The genre has been criticized by several musicians, describing it as 'stereotypical EDM sound lacking originality and creativity', and that it is homogeneous and lacks originality, diversity, and artistic merit. Mixmag described the genre as composing of "titanic breakdowns and spotless, monotone production aesthetics".Wolfgang Gartner described the genre as a "joke", and disregarded it, alongside conglomerates such as SFX Entertainment, as "digestible cheap dance music".He also called the genre "the EDM Apocalypse", saying "real music should have some soul and authenticity to it, and not just be a big kick drum and a trance like breakdown with a cheesy one-liner and a 'big drop'".
In mid-2013, Swedish duo Daleri posted a mix on SoundCloud entitled "Epic mashleg", consisting purely of drops from 15 "big room" songs on Beatport's charts at the time (including artists such as Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Hardwell, and W&W) played in succession. The intent of the mashup was to serve as a commentary on the "big room" movement and the lack of differentiation between tracks; member Eric commented that "the scary thing is that there are new tracks like this every day. Every day, new tracks, all the same. It just keeps coming all the time." The duo defended their use of big room characteristics in their own music by emphasizing their complextro influences. Also, in the midst of a feud between Deadmau5 and Afrojack over social media regarding originality in dance music, Afrojack created a style parody of Deadmau5's music entitled "something_". In response, Deadmau5 posted a song on SoundCloud, "DROP DA BOMB", satirizing the style of "commercial" house music and big room.
Russell Smith of the Globe and Mail observes a "fiery friction" between fans of traditional underground electronic music and the newer, typically younger fans who have arisen as a result of big room's movement of EDM into the mainstream.
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To be perfectly honest, and I hate to sound negative, cynical or condescending in any way but that's probably how this will come off, I've been really bummed with most of the new music that's been making waves in 2013. I feel like the "big" sound in dance music right now is just this mashup of every single subgenre possible, to try and appeal to the most people possible, with these cheesy played-out trancey pads and vocal hooks, it all sounds exactly the same and it's really bad for the most part, and the scariest thing is that people are reacting to this stuff, crowds at festivals and clubs are wanting more of it. A few of us have deemed it the EDM Apocalypse. Electronic music is in a really weird place right now. I don't know where it's going to go. In some way I'm hoping Daft Punk single-handedly destroys this phenomenon we're experiencing and un-brainwashes everybody into realizing that real music should have some soul and authenticity to it, and not just be a big kick drum and a trance breakdown with a cheesy one-liner and a "big drop."