Published on Beatsmedia 07/10/2013:
When Hardstyle artists get signed by record labels that don’t usually produce Hardstyle, tension and uncertainty fills the air. However, when Coone decided to work with Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak Records, Coone and Steve Aoki reassured the Hardstyle fans that they would stay true to the Hardstyle sound. Yet, there is probably no such thing as a musical style that stays fixated in its form forever. What Coone and Steve Aoki probably meant was this: Coone wasn’t going to do a 360 turn and produce Electro House instead of Hardstyle like Showtek did. Whether or not Coone’s ‘Times Gettin’ Hard’ would be considered true Hardstyle is not the question I will be asking. Instead, the key focus of this review will be on explaining how Hardstyle could be taken to new heights.
However, firstly, I find it important to justify why finding different styles to incorporate, was important for Coone to innovate. This post will be divided into two sections, because the reasons why I like ‘Times Getting’ Hard’ has a lot to do with Coone’s past releases, and how ‘Times Gettin’ Hard’ makes its contribution to the evolution of Hardstyle.
Section One: Evolution of Coone’s Hardstyle
Make a comparison between the two tracks below.
At around 2.24 of video 1, and 2.09 of video 2, the tracks could start sounding similar in terms of techniques used and lyrical composition. There are varying compressions of climax melodies that lie within a narrow range, and kicks that don’t sound too different from one another. Don’t get me wrong; ‘Partystarter’ is still one of my favourites, but, I really expected more from Coone in ‘Headbanger’.
Now, listen to the Phat Brahms remix that Coone produced for Dim Mak.
Aside from the fact that this would really appeal to fans of both classical music and Hardstyle, this is actually one decent remix! Those little improvisations that slightly modifiy the original melody gave it some attitude, and the raw kick goes well with that awesome siren. The track even got played by Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike at Future Music Festival Sydney 2013 – two producers who do not produce Hardstyle. Oh, by the way, that happened before Tiesto decided to drop a Hardstyle track at Tomorrowland 2013.
I don’t know about you, but, I always have a hard time with converting my friends into Hardstyle fans. If Coone can do that with his music, I’d consider that a job well done.
Musical styles evolve, just like the way Hardstyle evolved from a different genre before it became what it is today. As sung in a Headhunterz track, “style evolves until it reaches the m*th*rf*ck*ng point of perfection”. To conclude this section, I believe that Coone’s decision to release with Dim Mak was great, because it allowed him to think outside of the box.
The next section of this post will explain how Coone’s new track successfully manages to introduce multiple dimensions into Hardstyle, while fusing Hardstyle with rap.
Section Two: Review of a Stage of Evolution (Coone feat. K19 – ‘Times Gettin’ Hard)’
It wouldn’t take much effort for anyone to see or hear how Coone’s ‘Times Getting’ Hard’ was influenced by rap songs. Firstly, on a visual note, the desaturated video and scenes of a broken relationship are reminiscent of Eminem music video styles.
Secondly, on a musical note, Coone’s track has a bittersweet melody, isn’t completely about partying, and definitely not about being evil. These musical features set this track apart from a lot of Hardstyle tracks, or cliché themes. It’s like how Eminem was different to a lot of the rappers of his time, because he didn’t necessarily rap about violence or swag all of the time. The lyrics in Coone’s track encourage its listeners to stay strong amidst troubled times, including relationship conflicts.
There’s also another emotional dimension in this track that sets it apart from the others: It’s about Coone as well. Coone was featured in the music video, and the description mentioned that the track would allow its listeners to “look inside the mind of an aspiring artist”.
It can be extremely difficult for a Hardstyle producer to walk between the line of being popular, and being a sell-out. As mentioned in the first section, unfortunately, when Hardstyle artists get signed with popular Electro House or Trance labels that don’t normally produce Hardstyle, they risk being labelled money-grabbing producers who no longer care about producing quality music. This is because Electro House or Trance genres are considered the more popular genres in E/DM. It’s no surprise that Coone would have “the fear of being behind”, or left behind.
To convince his fans that he would continue to produce Hardstyle, and to convince them that he cared about producing quality music, Coone had to deliver something different, but not too different. If that doesn’t sound difficult enough, Coone had to create a sound that would be bittersweet, but be something people could dance to and relate to as well. Despite of how “every day is a struggle”, and despite how he’s “starting to see double” from exhaustion, Coone was still “trying to be the greatest”.
At the end of the music video, Coone included a quote that sums up just how he managed to overcome challenges presented to him in the scene:
Positive thinking can achieve the impossible
‘Times Gettin’ Hard’ includes the universal theme of staying strong through hardship, and more specifically, the ability to stay strong with the help of Hardstyle. In terms of musicality, it incorporates rap elements consistently without destructing the foundations of Hardstyle. Thus, although it was a risky move, Coone managed the execution well. Expect to see people head-banging, stomping, and fist-pumping all their worries away with this amazing track, including Coone himself.
Overall rating 8.5/10