Justin Bieber's mammoth single gleefully steals the style of tropical houseDef Jam / School Boy

In my last column for this publication I shared with you my burgeoning love for Justin Bieber, which I suspect that many of you, having spent Christmas howling “but I’m missing more than just your body”, also share. I’m content to sit back and enjoy humming along to ‘Love Yourself’ and other bangers, but the question of why the Biebs’ music has gone from obscenely unpalatable (to all but pre-teen girls) to enjoyed in clubs all over the country still hangs heavy over me. The sound of tracks like “What Do You Mean?” is undoubtedly different to his simpering earlier work, but it brings to mind another phenomenon of 2015 that smothered us all summer with songs like those by OMI and Sigala: tropical house. Trop house is everywhere, you love it, and that’s OK.

So what is trop house? The thing is most people are already soaking up the stuff almost intravenously. It fills YouTube with hour-long mixes of ecstatic saxophone solos laid over cheery beats, illustrated with pictures of semi-naked women beaming at you from swimming pools. It took Spotify by storm last year, as Norwegian EDM golden boy Kygo was streamed over one billion times, pumping out the flute-filled remixes of classic pop tracks. The internet has been wrestling with the validity of the sub-genre all year, and its creator - an Australian DJ called Thomas Jack who has accomplished so much in his life already that it’s too depressing to mention his age - has already told Noisey that he’s bored of it. In contrast to the massive sounds of DJs like Calvin Harris, Tiësto and Avicii, trop house offers something a little more laidback. And while it seems I almost can’t move at pre-drinks anymore without someone telling me just how manufactured pop music, especially mainstream EDM, has become, trop offers something a little more sophisticated. It can be lyrically complex, it toys with fewer beats per minute, and samples instruments that make you smile and fill you with that ambient glow: flutes, marimbas and steel percussion to name a few.

Bieber’s sampling of that beachy pan-pipe sound in his new work was inspired; it grabbed the essence of trop house and mixed it with the euphoric mega beat drops that popular EDM listeners (of which these days, if you go to any club ever, you are one) love so much. The thing is that the minute a musical phenomenon is identified, the minute Vice writes a sycophantic critique of it and The Wall Street Journal offers a beginners’ guide to it, is the minute the magic starts to dissipate. Instead of just appreciating a track based off whether it appeals to you or not, the anxiety begins to creep in. “Is this trop house?”, you wonder. “Should I like it? Everyone seems to be listening to grime these days, should I be? Why am I enjoying this Felix Jaehn remix so much? Is there something wrong with me?”

The song which catapulted a digestable, summery version of house music into the pop mainstreamOufah / Ultra / Universal

The terminology of these sub-genres (tropical house, liquid drum and bass, ambient house, nu-disco) is useful for subdividing the complex world of electronic music, and for allowing columnists like me to sound like they know what they’re talking about. But that shouldn’t detract from the joy that just listening to what you want to should bring. Spotify, Apple Music, the awesome and terrifying resurgence of vinyl, your mate’s latest mix on Soundcloud: never has there been an easier time to make, listen to and share music. For me, this means that music snobbery should be well and truly dead. The minute you hear the first bars of Sigala’s Easy Love, you should be able to scream your love for the song without a care in the world: as you should be able to pour over the complexities of the lyrics of that band from Brooklyn that no one’s really heard of, or try and sound like you know what you’re talking about when discussing Grimes’ latest album in comparison to her others. The wrangling over sub-genres can alienate people who don’t have the time or patience to sit down and get to grips with them, but nonetheless love listening to any and every sound.

Taste is personal, and with music especially so. Go forth and enjoy trop house, or don’t. It’s completely up to you.

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