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Tech? No!

An imaginary history of electronic music

Ten years ago, music industry wags were telling us that techno music was going to take the rock world by storm. Guitars and drums would be abandoned, we were told, children would be asking for drum machines for Christmas. When the Prodigy, the genre's would-be Nirvana, topped the Spice Girls on the album charts in the summer of 1997, the knob twirlers and console monkeys took this as a sign of things to come. The hype machine went into overtime and promised us that a new age of bleeps and bloops with nauseating light shows was coming. It never did.

Sure, the Rolling Stones used tape loops on an album that was produced partly by the Dust Brothers, and Eric Clapton did put out a techno album. Yes, U2 threw a handful of Pop at us and rumors flew that Metallica had asked the Chemical Brothers to remix "Enter Sandman." Regardless, the movement never quite got its collective shit together, and techno didn't take over the world. But what would have happened if techno had destroyed rock? Here's a walk down an imagined memory lane:

March 1997...U2's Pop sells 2 million units the first month of release. The record is viewed as an enthusiastic soundtrack for the coming millennium.

April 1997...Pawn shops around the country report they are overstocked with used guitars and drum sets as musicians begin "playing" turntables instead.

May 1997...The Japanese government threatens trade sanctions when falling sales of guitar pics force factory closings across Asia.

June 1997...Feeling pressure from his record label, Bob Carlisle remixes his recent hit, "Butterfly Kisses," with help from DJ Tiosto. It becomes a major club hit but is largely ignored by Christian radio.

September 1997...Garth Brooks scraps his upcoming Sevens album to have it totally remixed by William Orbit.

December 1997...The dance floors of honky-tonks empty whenever DJs play the new Garth Brooks techno album. Strangely, the French love it.

January 1998...The Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers headline the Super Bowl XXXII half-time show. The previously announced performers, Boyz II Men and The Temptations, are pre-show guests.

Summer 1998...Turntables and samplers are being ordered by high schools around the country as marching bands begin performing to mixed and sliced recordings of John Philip Sousa classics. Band geeks around the country collectively ejaculate.

Christmas 1998...Mattel's Candy Barbie, the first doll with "fat" pants and a pacifier, is the bestselling toy in America.

January 1999...Apple Records announces that the surviving Beatles and Yoko Ono have commissioned Fatboy Slim to reinterpret Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for a new generation. The record, titled Sgt. Tripper's Lovely Big Beat Band is promised for early summer.

April 1999...The small town of El Campo, Texas holds its first annual "Raving Days." The community-wide celebration features a night parade with glow sticks and a pie-eating contest. The pies are later found to be laced with ecstasy, and dozens are hospitalized.

August 1999...The rumored Mariah Carey/Tricky duet album is leaked onto the web. It never sees official release. It is rejected by the label as being too "what the fuck??"

September 1999...ABC premieres "Welcome to the Jungle," a new fall sitcom featuring a traveling family that performs jungle music á la "The Partridge Family," starring Lori Petty as the mother.

October 1999...Jack and Meg White, a duo from Detroit, release their debut CD White Label. The record is hailed as a welcome return to the roots of techno, and Jack and Meg are quickly lauded as the heirs of the Detroit dance music legacy.

February 2000...The Prodigy's new double disc set sells only 600,000 copies during its first week of release, prompting online music magazine Pitchfork to claim techno is dead.

April 2000...Manhattan hipsters begin holding "Rock Nights" in underground clubs. The playlists include mainly guitar rock, like Creed and Sugar Ray.

June 2000...The Crystal Method is ordered back to their home studio, to re-record their new album. The execs deemed the record "too human" because of the live guitars on some tracks, and Rick "The Dehumanizer" Rubin is brought in to fix it.

January 2001...Moby performs "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXXV. The anthem is performed using only sound loops and field recordings from former slaves.

Summer 2001...Weird Al Yankovic, with no lyrics to parody on his records, takes to covering techno hits using fart sounds.

Winter 2003...Pawn shops report the bestselling Christmas items are used guitars and drum sets, falsely raising the hopes of rock music fans. It's soon discovered that the guitars are being modified into skateboards and the drum sets are being used as chic coffee tables.

November 2004...George W. Bush uses Daft Punk's One More Time for his reelection campaign's theme song. Pitchfork correctly announces that techno is now officially dead.

 
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