The Grammys’ thorny relationship with dance music continues to evolve with the introduction of a new category for best pop dance recording. The addition, announced Tuesday (June 13), is a welcome development to the genre, which has long been hampered by attempting to cram it into the two existing dance/electronic categories.
The broader umbrella of dance pop is an uptempo blend of pop and electronic music that often features synthesizers, drum machines, electric guitars, and vocoders. It’s characterized by high energy and catchy melodies. It’s a popular mainstream style that’s been performed by numerous artists including Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, Whitney Houston, Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley, Mel & Kim, Michael and Janet Jackson, Bananarama, Spice Girls, and Christina Aguilera.
Popping is a dance style that’s part of the Boogaloo culture and other street/funk dance styles such as waacking and locking, but it has its own distinct characteristics. It involves sudden tensing and releasing of muscles (“hitting”) to the beats of the music. Popping is a highly technical form of dance that can be performed in battles and cyphers, and it’s commonly performed alongside other dance styles. Dancers that perform the style are known as Popping OGs and they aim to maintain the integrity of the techniques and traditions.
In addition to hitting, popping dance moves include air posing, where the dancers use their isolations to create pictures and shapes in the air. Tutting or ‘King Tut’ is fluid rolls of the body that mimic literal waves of water or the slithering movements of a snake. Struttin’ has the dancer break up their pathway to a spot into many smaller increments while hitting them and then uses dime stops in between that make it look like they are moving within a strobe light.