by: Rachel Narozniak
May 14, 2022
“I half-jokingly told my manager it would take the world five years to appreciate the album,” Zedd wrote of Clarity in an October 10, 2017 tweet. “When I released the album, I said that hopefully five years from now, people will look back at the album as one that changed dance music forever.”
Nearly one decade later, they do.
Clarity was, in many respects, an album ahead of its time. And rather than fade into the periphery in ensuing years, the seminal project, reissued in deluxe form in 2013, has done something that relatively few dance/electronic albums are able to do: remain in the foreground, where it’s since been regarded as a classic. Though Clarity is celebrated now, in retrospect, its value in the dance/electronic genre and in driving a commercial wave of dance-pop sound couldn’t have been known—much less appreciated—to the extent that it can, should, and ultimately is, today.
“#CLARITY,” Zedd tweeted prior to the project’s release, “is all about the music; the ‘M’ in ‘EDM.’” The album landed amid dance/electronic’s surge into the mainstream, where it influenced and intermingled with pop and even rock and rap, appealing to a “new rave generation,” as SPIN termed it in 2011. Skeptics thought of it as a trend, soon to pass, just like any other. And in the cacophony of dance/electronic sounds that pervaded, it was possible to think that Clarity might get lost among the shuffle of sounds proliferated by fellow acts like Skrillex, David Guetta, and Calvin Harris. But it didn’t. And now, in hindsight, the initially reluctant critics can agree that Clarity didn’t just put the “M” in “EDM”; it also paved the way for the popularization of the dance-pop hybrid while kicking open the doors for acts like The Chainsmokers, whose path to radio play and mainstream appeal was made easier by the pioneering power of Clarity.
Such a history is worth honoring. On October 7, at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, Zedd will do just that, celebrating the landmark 10-year anniversary of his debut album by playing Clarity front to back, with added “surprises” along the way. Tickets to the one-of-a-kind experience that Zedd has vowed to do “once and never again” are currently available for purchase here. Support will be provided by Shallou and Joel Corry.
Featured image: AI Visuals