Our wonderful writer Kay Spence recently wrote an editorial on how the art of live TV DJing is a fruitless effort in showmanship.
As it stands, there’s two ways of looking at DJing. (There are probably more, but go with it.)
- We have the typical EDM DJ who plays in clubs and at festivals, up on stage with 2-4 CDJs or a mixer, what have you. These DJs thrive on building an emotional connection with the crowd and vibing off of their energy, producing a call & response effect to continually hype up the fans.
- We have the type who compete in tournaments like DMC to demonstrate carefully crafted routines and skill on classic turntables.
Right now, it’s difficult to say which format will be featured, but Simon Cowell’s idea for an “American Idol” show for DJs is moving forward. Thanks to Yahoo!’s new media and entertainment platform Yahoo Screen (which you might be familiar with for resurrecting Community), the show which is rumored to be called Ultimate DJ will be premiering sometime this year or next.
Fatboy Slim has already been quoted numerous times as being vehemently against the idea of a television DJ competition.
“Simon Cowell was talking about doing a show and … he kind of started approaching us, and we were like, ‘Fuck off. No – that’s a terrible idea!’”
“I get offered loads of TV shows and they’re like, ‘Can you perform for five minutes?’ But DJing takes two hours and an audience. It’s not like you can go out there and sing your latest song. Because of that, it will always remain slightly outside the mainstream. At the end of the day, it’s about taking a big bunch of high people and trying to get them higher, which you can’t do on TV.”
Seems that Norman Cook is under the impression that the show will feature method #1, listed above. Still, we’ve already seen pointed out in Kay’s editorial and elsewhere that performances from The Chainsmokers, Gorgon City, and others just don’t make the cut on live television. Then again, we’ve seen how Krewella or Zedd can also bring in millions of viewers thanks to their mass appeal. While Cowell’s idea is definitely not our most anticipated event of the year, it’s something to watch out for in how it portrays DJs and the art of DJing itself.
Will it be open-format or deal exclusively with EDM? Will we see these contestants go out and perform challenges à la Masterchef or other competition shows? What self-respecting DJ that is good enough to be qualified as a judge would actually want to be a judge? So many questions, and so few answers, means that we’re just going to have to wait and see. But one thing is for sure, this is happening, so we had better be prepared for the fallout.