Wow! I didn’t take very long at all for me to come across an artist (or two artists, in this case) that I actually recognize in this Random Single a Day challenge. Granted I’ve never been too huge on trance music, but Armin van Buuren is one of the most successful individuals in the genre, with multiple accolades and more entries in Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Charts than anyone else ever. Moreover, while I’m less familiar with Sophie Ellis-Bextor, I have definitely heard “Murder on the Dancefloor” at least a few times around.
In its essence, this plays itself off as just another one of those “empowerment in the face of adversary” anthems. Y’know, like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Stand By Me”, “Reach Out I’ll Be There”, and… well, “I’ll Be There”. This is just another one of those types of songs, sort of revamped for a “modern” age. Sure, the pulsing electro-vibes typical of trance music are ever-present in van Buuren’s production, but it’s Ellis-Bextor’s contribution to the piece that give it its push. Lyrics like, “I’ll be there when the storm is breaking / In this moment I’m yours / And you can always be sure / That together we’re gonna make it”, while maybe not worded as convincingly as it could be, still get its message across plainly and powerfully.
Now, once again, I’m not terribly familiar with trance music nor van Buuren himself, but I always kind of felt that genre relied more on a calming, sort of spacey feeling in the production. I always think of DJ Tiësto’s “Adagio for Strings”, which I was really into in high school for some reason. After a few seconds of pulsing, high-energy beats, it breaks down into its rendition of Samuel Barber’s haunting composition, from which it builds back up again. I even went back and listened to van Buuren’s earlier singles like “Blue Fear” and “Communication”, and these too contain such defining elements of trance music. Helped by the inclusion of Ellis-Bextor in the mix, “Not Giving Up on Love” is a decidedly more poppy effort from the DJ, a direction that was probably pushed by the record label more than anything else. I also feel like this was an attempt to compete with the crossovers of superstar DJs Calvin Harris and David Guetta.
But efforts into pop music shouldn’t be marked down as inherent betrayals to the cause. It’s of no coincidence that pop music remains so prominent in our music culture. In any case, this makes for a pleasant enough listen in the moment, but I see no reason to revisit it right away when I could much rather gravitate toward more pointed pop or trance efforts from the two. I guess this is just the kind of song that works the best when played loudly over a huge dancefloor, and not quite as well with headphones in my quiet, lonely bedroom.