Friday, August 22, 2008

Young, Dumb 'n' Full of Hum

I really like Eurodance; the "Eurocheese" of the Cappella, 2 Unlimited, Motiv-8, Jam and Spoon variety. A lot of that music has a melancholy about it which is underappreciated I think. It’s something in those chords. It’s that gay pop aesthetic: uplifting, defiant lyrics married to plangeant melodies. The throbbing electro pulse that makes the best synthpop so irresistible. 2 Unlimited’s “No One” was their first attempt at a mid tempo pop song, a sort of gentle cod-reggae thing, but it only got to number 17 in late 1994. I thought it was really good, but hey-ho. Corona’s “The Rhythm Of The Night”, Culture Beat’s “Mr Vain”, Motiv 8’s “Rockin’ For Myself”, even Toni Di Bart’s “The Real Thing” - I love it all, it feels like a bit of a golden age to me now. At it’s worst the scene gave us the novelty likes of Whigfield’s “Saturday Night” or Scatman John’s “Scatman”. But big deal, I’d take that over The Verve any day.

Ray Slijngaard and Anita Dels were great pop stars. "Technotechnotechnotechno", that was his catchphrase. 2 Unlimited's "Greatest Hits" compilation is surprisingly brilliant. It is of course, completely stupid. It does contain a string of massive hit singles, many of which my friends struggle to remember. When I manage to locate my copy of said album, I'll upload some tracks from it here. Capella also had a string of hits, but mostly this scene was made up of one-hit or two-hit wonders like The Real McCoy, Haddaway ("What Is Love" is an absolute corker - 9,195,416 viewers on YouTube can't be wrong), and Urban Cookie Collective. The whole thing went stellar when Rollo, the bloke behind Felix's "Don't you Want Me" - a pancontinental smash in 1992 - formed Faithless and released the excellent (no, really it is) "Reverence" album in 1996. "Insomnia" engulfed the world and big bombastic superclub house became inescapable. With "Big Beat" (which personally I tended to find rather grim and joyless) also enjoying enormous popularity in the late 90s, Europop ducked under the radar in terms of the popular consciousness, but it never went away as early 00s hits like Fragma's "Toca's Miracle", iio's "Rapture" and DB Boulevard's "Point Of View" prove.

This music is vibrant and youthful. You don't need to take drugs to this, this stuff is fuelled by fizzy drinks and at most a bit of alcopop (very 1996, that). It follows the lineage from Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder through Telex, Human League, DAF, Propaganda, Pet Shop Boys and The KLF to Bizarre Inc and their production line kind. Its presence is still felt in the charts today, it is in the aching atmosphere of downtempo house, the Bealearic influence on people like Cut Copy, in the electro-rush of Xenomania's output (Brian Higgins was a member of the Motiv 8 production collective) and it is also in the idiot noise produced by German techno-ARSES, Scooter. But you can't have everything. "Viva Europop 96!" is, as the title might suggest, a great compilation of this Euro stuff. Here are some tracks from it (AAC files will have to do for now, I'll come back and change them to mp3s if i get any requests to do so)...

Corona "The Rhythm Of The Night"
Jam and Spoon "Right In The Night"
Tony Di Bart "The Real Thing"
Urban Cookie Collective "The Key, The Secret"
2 Unlimited "No Limit"
Clock "Whoomph (There It Is)"
Cappella "U Got 2 Let The Music"
Motiv 8 "Rockin' For Myself"