In spite of Moby's success, mainstream pop fans continue to shun electronic music at the checkout stand, and many erroneously regard the music's followers as glow-stick-wielding, drug-fueled hedonists.
But fan-bashing isn't exclusively a mainstream game. Within the electronic music world, the subgenre known as "happy hardcore" and its fans, known as "candy ravers" because of their Teletubbies-inflected psychedelic fashion sense, are almost universally regarded as juvenile.
"The scene at large looks down on them mainly because it casts a bad light on the whole scene because it's so childlike," says Scott Sterling, editor of the electronic music magazine URB.
Last month, Santa Monica electronic music label Moonshine released the seventh installment in its "Happy 2B Hardcore" series mixed by Canadian DJ and producer Chris Frolic, a.k.a. Anabolic Frolic.
As the title of the sixth CD in the series, "Happy 2B Hardcore: The Final Chapter," suggests, it was supposed to have been the last. Nevertheless, like Britney Spears, happy hardcore may often be criticized, but it's a smashing commercial success.
The first six CDs in the series have sold a combined 323,000 copies, making Anabolic Frolic the third-best-selling electronic mix CD artist in North America, according to SoundScan, trailing only Paul Oakenfold and DJ Keoki.
Frolic's sales put him ahead of vastly better-known DJs, including Sasha and Digweed (No. 4) and Paul Van Dyk (No. 5). In L.A., the subgenre thrives at clubs, including the Orion and Qtopia in Hollywood, and at such one-shot events as Together as One and the Monster Massive
Given the "Happy 2B" series' success, Moonshine decided that whether the genre is loved or hated, "Happy 2B Hardcore" had not yet breathed its last.
"A big group of kids really identify with it defining their rave experience," Moonshine President Steve Levy says. "It was in the back of our minds that we were going to do a comeback one."
Thus, "Happy 2B Hardcore Chapter Seven: A New Beginning" was born.
The rebirth of the series and its popularity are significant in light of the fact that the electronic music press and aficionados largely dismiss it as repetitive, unmusical and lacking in nuance -- many of the same criticisms mainstream pop fans make about all electronic music.
But the beef against it has much to do with the genre's roots as well.
In the early '90s, the hard-core style of electronic music mutated in two directions. One evolved into the rhythmically complex style known as jungle. With its syncopated, 170-plus beats per minute and nightmare bass moans, jungle was the darker, grittier side of the evolution, and the urban, B-boy-inflected style of its fans, known as junglists, sartorially mirrored the sound.
Happy hardcore arose as a smiley-faced antidote to the darkness of jungle. In its modern form, happy hardcore is characterized by a relentless, boingy 140-plus beats per minute and four-to-the-floor kick drum accompanied by saccharine-sweet synth stabs, diva vocals and roaring crescendos.
Aesthetically, its mostly 14-to-20-year-old candy raver fans are the flip side of junglists, typically people in their early 20s. Candy ravers still rely on the aesthetic of the early days of rave: They turn up at clubs in leg-swallowing fuzzy pants, oversized shirts and kiddie candy-bead jewelry, often toting plush dolls and pacifiers.
The ubiquitous '70s smiley-face symbol, which appears on the cover of every "Happy 2B Hardcore" compilation, is the predominant signifier of the genre. The dance moves of choice are a combination of popping, locking and the NordicTrak, an insanely fast and athletic style of dancing that looks like someone pumping away on a cross-country skiing exercise machine.
The candy ravers' youthful energy is often astounding at the alcohol-free raves or all-ages clubs that specialize in happy hardcore. The atmosphere tends to be more upbeat, as fans get their first experiences with music they can call their own.
Candy ravers are die-hard fans, and as the series has shown, their loyalty translates into big sales. And even though they are shunned by many e-music fans, candy ravers get some respect for their enthusiasm.
"I definitely respect the happy hardcore heads for sticking to their guns and being proud to wave their freak flag high," Sterling says. "That's what a lot of the American rave scene was based on: being able to totally freak out and do your own thing."
In the Flesh: Orion, 740 S. Broadway, L.A.; Qtopia, 6021 Hollywood Blvd. Hollywood.
When: Friday nights.
Info: (310) 285-8192 (Orion); (310) 509-0031 (Qtopia).
On the Web: www.candykids.net or www.raversdigest.com.