If you’re going to fail, do it spectacularly! The Guardian tried to do a top 20 of Detroit techno – and they’ve annoyed Juan Atkins, ignored Derrick May, and put a house track at number one…

The mainstream press are a weird lot when it comes to dance music. They’d have you believe that Beyoncé Knowles saved house music from an impending death last year – all by sticking a Korg M1 organ patch on an average sounding record. They seem blissfully unaware that house music and its many derivatives have been around since the 1980s.

And not only do they not know anything about the genre, but they don’t care to find out. But this is nothing new – the so-called Belleville Three fairytale only became the legend it did because no one bothered to actually check the story. Had they done so, the likes of Juan Atkins and Derrick May would have had some explaining to do.

That said, there is one thing that both dance music and the mainstream press understand very well – and that’s the fact that nostalgia sells. Tapping into some fanciful idea that things were better in the past – for example, the bizarre notion that you could leave your door open ignores the fact there was nothing worth stealing anyway.

It’s with this in mind that Britain’s Guardian newspaper decided to publish an article on a quiet Thursday afternoon to bring in some clicks – a piece listing no less than twenty moments from Detroit techno’s long history. There were unsurprising entries in there, such as “The Bells” by Jeff Mills, a K-Hand release from 1995, and a few mentions of the underrated Underground Resistance.

Things get a little odd, however, once we get to number two in the chart. It’s a little ditty called “Strings Of Life”, by someone using the alias Rhythim Is Rhythim. Weirdly, the piece fails to credit who created it – and mentions some downright odd facts alongside it…

The eagle-eyed amongst you will no doubt know that we’re talking about Derrick May – the 60-year-old occasional DJ out of Detroit. Curiously, his name is not actually mentioned once here – or anywhere in the article. The article also spouts some nonsense about sampling the Detroit Symphony Orchestra – when in truth, the song is heavily based on a sample of an instrumental piece composed by Michael James.

Things get even more surreal when you discover the number one spot is occupied by Inner City – whose records, let’s face it, have more in common with house than techno. No doubt that statement will have some of our Detroit readers in a stir – but how has this article been received within the city’s techno community?

Over the weekend, we reached out to a few of our regular Detroit sources – and as usual, they had plenty to say. One told us that Juan Atkins “just went very quiet” when asked about it, saying “I suspect he was secretly really p***ed off about it. He really does believe his own hype.”.

Whilst another was more philosophical about matters, telling us “These countdowns and lists are just one person’s opinion. It’s just unfortunate that the ones who know the least seem most able to get viewed by the most.”.

No word yet on what Derrick May thinks of the article’s failure to name him even once…

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One thought on “If you’re going to fail, do it spectacularly! The Guardian tried to do a top 20 of Detroit techno – and they’ve annoyed Juan Atkins, ignored Derrick May, and put a house track at number one…

  1. SNX 11 October 2023 at 13:40

    Ironic, you’d call the Guardian article poor when you state Jeff Mills is actually from Chicago in another article, and all you really seem interested in is berating Detroit artists as has beens, sell outs or accusing them of being sexual predators. Also Strings of Life is based around both orchestral string samples AND a piano sample from Michael James – whether is detroit symphony sample, I dont know. Undergroud Resistance UNDERATED ?? Really ? Are you guys 15 years old or something ? ETTH is the worst portal for “dance music” news I ever stumbled across, boring, smug and cynical – But you dont care what anyone thinks you, already stated that, but maybe you SHOULD care about better journalism. Mega fail ETTH

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