There are few things in contemporary pop culture that elicit my fight-or-flight instincts more acutely than My Little Pony and dubstep. Yet Jason Kottke's thorough followup to a New York Times correction—which had misnamed a particular Pony character—magnified my worst grade-school fears by combining the two. Apparently, there exists this horrifying, fist-pumping subgenre called "dubtrot," i.e. My Little Pony dubstep remixes. The sadomasochist in me just had to investigate further.
My Little Pony—specifically My Little Pony: The Movie—tarnished my childhood. The trouble began with an absolutely frightening film poster, depicting this purple ooze monster called The Smooze attacking the Ponies' Dream Castle. Stay with me here. Though I was young, I distinctly remember being coerced into the theater by my sister. Visions of surly, singing ooze consumed my dreams that night. By age 10, I was readingFangoria.
I rewatched My Little Pony: The Movie to see if it carried the same shock value as it had two decades' prior. A: no. The Ponies—with names like Lickety-Split or Shady, denoted by the ice-cream cone or sunglass tattoos on their respective asses—hurl rainbows (though not unicorn poop) at the evil ooze, saving their kingdom. Hell, Danny DeVito gets lead credit, voicing the Grundle King (choice quote: "I try not ta mention it too often! Witches! Smooze! It was terribuhl!"). Granted, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group distributed Maximum Overdrive and Blue Velvet the same year. And that sequence when the witches are rowing a pantaloons-propelled skiff over waves of Smooze, singing "Nothing Can Stop the Smooze" to a barbershop-style chorus…that's still creepily upbeat.
Speaking of creepily upbeat, let's talk "dubtrot." Kottke mentions "Rainbowstep," which I guess is a good primer for newbies. It's a Youtube clip, a blessing and curse to the post-MTV generation, as we get strobey visuals with the seismic beats and chirpy Pony dialogue. "Cuz Dubstep with Rainbows is 20% Cooler!!! XD" writes uploader—and purported My Little Pony fanboy "brony"—ZestyArt, crediting the track (or its inspiration/style?) to Skrillex, dubstep's macho-ass posterboy. Now me, I'm in crooner/producer James Blake's camp, thanks in no small part to my NYC muse's insistence. One might "dub" Blake's enveloping atmospherics as post-dubstep, but if he calls out Skrillex's antics "without naming him," then I'm taking Blake's side.
Frat boys killed big beat, so it's no shocker those same meatheads took to Skrillex's inelegant steroidal “brostep” like Flutter Ponies to glitter. I can't credit Skrillex for dubtrot's saccharine ear-trauma (he'd sooner produceKorn's new album), and I love me some bass, like Richie Hawtin's classically ferocious live sets, replete with viscera-rearranging throbs and mind-splintering breaks.
Still, Hawtin throwing some credibility at Skrillex's Mickey Mouse beats makes me a bit vexed. The former screamo kid ain't even good enough for the bronies.
Image: DubTrot's SoundCloud avatar