|Stylistic origins||House,Euro disco,hi-NRG,techno,trance, hip house, dance-pop, hip hop|
|Cultural origins||Belgium, Netherlands and Germany, late 1980s|
|Typical instruments||Synthesizer, drum machine, keyboards, sequencer|
|Derivative forms||Happy hardcore, UK hardcore, progressive trance, psychedelic trance|
|Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan, United States, Ibero-America|
|List of Eurodance artists|
Eurodance (sometimes known as Euro-NRG or Euro) is a genre of electronic music that originated in the late 1980s in Europe. It combines many elements of techno,hi-NRG,house music and Euro disco. Eurodance production continues to evolve with a more modernized style that incorporates elements from electro music.
This genre of music is heavily influenced by the use of rich melodic vocals, either exclusively by itself or inclusively with rapped verses. This, combined with cutting-edge synthesizer, strong bass rhythm and melodic hooks, establishes the core foundation of Eurodance music.
It peaked at Ibiza's summer festivals of 1994 in Spain and its intense popularity then spread around the world, which carried on into late 1997.
The term "Eurodance" gradually became associated with a specific style of European dance music. During its golden years in the mid-1990s, it was referred as "Euro-NRG"; in Europe it was often called "dancefloor" or simply "dance".
While some use a much broader definition of what is considered "Eurodance", over time, the term particularly came to refer to an NRG-based genre from the 1990s which included a solo vocalist or a rapper/vocalist duet.
Eurodance is nightclub-oriented music that is usually produced somewhere in Europe and had a commercial enough sound to be played by radio stations and music television. Some of the more prominent Eurodance songs go international, especially if an act manages to score more than one hit.
Characteristics of the music
Most Eurodance is characterized by synthesizer riffs, one or more female or male vocals with simple chorus, one or more male or female rap parts, sampling and a strong beat. Sometimes with female or male vocals singing throughout the whole song without rap.
Eurodance is often very positive and upbeat; the lyrics often involve issues of love and peace, dancing and partying, or expressing and overcoming difficult emotions. The early-mid-1990s Eurodance vocals were frequently done by a solo vocalist or a mixed rapper-vocalist duet.
Many groups used variations of the rapper-vocalist theme, such as a German rapper with American singers (Real McCoy), or the use of reggae rap as in Ice MC and Fun Factory, or scat singing as in Scatman John. Solo singing artists such as Alexia, Tess, Whigfield and Double You also contributed to the genre.
Eurodance lyrics are almost always sung in English, regardless of the artist's nationalities.
Almost all Eurodance emphasizes percussion and rhythm. Eurodance percussion is generally a "kick" bass drum with some variations on a 4/4 time signature. While the percussion is always done by synthesizers, it is a sound more typical of dance music and not the "beat box" sound typical of rap music. The tempo is typically around 140 beats per minute, but may vary from 110 to 150.
Most Eurodance is very melody-driven. Unlike most pop music, which is usually written in major keys, most Eurodance songs are in minor keys, similarly to techno. This, along with positive lyrics, helps contribute to the overall powerful and emotional sound of Eurodance. Besides the contribution of the female or male vocals, there is often a noticeable use of rapid synthesizer arpeggios, similar to trance music, but unlike trance arpeggios, they are usually more repetitive (e.g., "Scatman" by Scatman John and "The Bad Touch" by The Bloodhound Gang). The synthesizer often has a piano or barrel organ but sometimes mimics other instruments, such as calliope (e.g., "Touch the Sky" by Cartouche). There is often a short, repetitive ostinato riff, while other times there is a whole tour de force of synthesizers.
Characteristics of the bands and business
Eurodance is widely commercialized. Some producers, like Max Martin or Larry Pignagnoli, have managed dozens of bands. From thousands of records released, only a few bands have existed in the mainstream beyond two records. Many acts, such as Captain Jack and Jonny Jakobsen (Dr. Bombay), had a carefully planned humorous image. A group called E-rotic received attention with sexually provocative lyrics and music videos.
While Eurodance singles regularly went to Gold, Platinum or multi-Platinum status, it had been more difficult to get a full-length album to get to the same level of success. Typical problems cited include the album as a whole not up to the strength of the singles, the performers not being charismatic enough to hold the attention of millions of people past a song or two, or weak promotion of the remainder of the album after the singles have become hits.
Original Eurodance is a fusion of several styles of dance music, primarily house and hip hop with the Hi-NRG variant of Euro disco music.
Hi-NRG and Italo disco
Hi-NRG started in the United Kingdom and United States as an underground, faster form of disco after disco had lost mainstream popularity. In the late 1980s, it became associated with British record producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman, and by the early 1990s, bands such as Masterboy and 2 Unlimited were producing a Continental version of Hi-NRG.
Eurodance shows a strong Hi-NRG influence, such as the high tempo and strong use of female vocals. Eurodance can also be seen as a more technologically advanced form of Euro disco, just as Hi-NRG is the more technologically advanced form of disco.
Italo disco and its later evolution, Eurobeat, are sometimes thought to be subgenres of Eurodance, but rather they are offshoots of the European version of Hi-NRG, called "space disco". Italo disco was influential on the production of Eurodance in general, while Italian-produced Eurodance artists, such as Alexia, Cappella, CO.RO and Double You, tended to preserve features such as operatic female vocals. Later artists such as Eiffel 65 adopted a sort of "marching" beat in their productions. The term "Eurobeat" appears to be more common in Japan, where this style of music is featured in the video game Dance Dance Revolution, as well as in some anime soundtracks, for example the street racing scenes in Initial D.
House music, an underground genre in the United States, was first mainstream in Europe, even though it had initially come from the U.S. to the UK and continental Europe with the rise of acid house and "rave" house in the late 1980s. By the early 1990s, with the rise of the Belgian New Beat, house then became associated with Belgium and the Netherlands.
Some of the first songs with elements of what would later be called Eurodance are house music. Songs such as "C'mon and Get My Love" by D Mob (1989), "Strike It Up" by Black Box (1990), "3 a.m. Eternal" by The KLF (1990) and "Get Ready for This" by 2 Unlimited (1991) all have the duet characteristic of Eurodance, and "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" by Rozalla (1991) has the characteristic synthesizer riff.
Hip hop music
Rap verses has been one of the main distinguishing elements of Eurodance. While Eurodance makes use of rap vocals, it does not contain the lyrical themes of "gangster rap", nor does it follow many of the instrumental conventions of rap music, such as turntable scratching or heavy basslines. It does, however, focus on danceability similar to funk music which was a critical basis to the hip hop genre, since many songs from that genre were sampled by hip hop artists.
Eurodance has, however, served to popularize rap music in Europe. While rap had been made in Europe at least as far back as Falco's Einzelhaft album (1982), the American variety only gained a more widespread acceptance when Technotronic landed their hit "Pump Up the Jam" and Snap! scored the hit single "The Power". The combination of house music with rap vocals in general came to be referred to as "hip house" or "house rap".
In the early 1990s, blending elements of reggae also became a trend in Eurodance music. The origin was "All That She Wants" by Ace of Base. The success of this song led to others such as "Coco Jamboo" by Mr. President, "Sex on the Beach" by T-Spoon, "Sweet Sweet Smile" by Tatjana, "It's My Life" by Dr. Alban, "Ole Ole Singin' Ole Ola" by Rollergirl, "We're Going to Ibiza" by Vengaboys and "Fat Boy" by Max-A-Million.
Techno always had an important influence on Eurodance music, which at times was basically its more commercial counterpart.[dubious ] Contemporarily to the rise of the second generation of Eurodance artists in the late 1990s and early 2000s, trance began to take more influence from Eurodance as well, and, by 2006, it started slowly losing popularity as quality releases declined. The interest in Eurodance reignited in the late 2000s around 2008-2009, and this time the comeback was largely helped by interests through music and video websites, which includes significant support from media sharing and online networking sites.
Such groups as Basic Element (also active in the 1990s), Alcazar, Scooter, Ian Van Dahl, Milk Inc., Merzedes Club, Infernal, Special D, Groove Coverage, Santamaria, Cascada, Sylver, Danijay, Eiffel 65, , and solo artists such as Madonna (e.g. "Hung Up" single), Kate Ryan, Luca Zeta, Gabry Ponte, DJ Aligator, Máni Svavarsson, Lucas Prata and O-Zone, represent some of the most successful of the second generation of Eurodance artists. Most of them have released hit singles or albums Stateside.
As dance-pop returned to prominence in America in 2009 and 2010, many songs borrowed elements from Eurodance. Katy Perry's 2013 song "Walking on Air" was styled in Eurodance and became a commercial and critical success. In 2014, British DJ Route 94 released "My Love", with vocals by Jess Glynne, which was also styled in 90s Deep House. Romania is actually the biggest country that produces it. An example of a highly successful dance song from this country is "Mr. Saxobeat" by Romanian artist Alexandra Stan, which peaked at No.1 in over 20 countries.
From the early to mid-1990s, Eurodance was highly popular in Europe, due to extensive airplay given by radio stations and television shows, resulting in many singles appearing in the charts. For example, in Italy there were seven singles in the top ten of the chart at the end of May 1995. The popularity, which was similar to that of disco music in the mid-to-late 1970s, also led many non-Eurodance artists, such as Ivana Spagna, to create this type of music.
By the late 1990s, the popularity of this genre had started to decline slowly. At this time, the classic Eurodance sound gradually morphed into Euro-trance, amongst other harder styles such as Hard House, Nu-NRG and Mákina. Today, Eurodance is generally an underground genre, and it does not receive airplay on mainstream radio.
Eurodance was popular in Australia in the early 1990s, particularly during the time of the emergence of warehouse parties and raves. Its popularity in the country waned in the late 1990s and early 2000s, however the interest redeveloped around 2009 thanks to artists such as Melbourne DJ Havana Brown, who went on to achieve international success.
Canada was a major Eurodance market, the largest outside Europe, which produced its own variant called Candance. From about 1992 to 2000, acts such as Capital Sound, Jacynthe, Shauna Davis, Emjay, Love Inc., Temperance, Jefferson Project, Big Bass, DFS, Kim Esty, The Boomtang Boys, Solina, Joée, Roxy, and BKS among others; originating mainly in major cities of Central Canada such as Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa were hitting the airwaves. The Toronto sound was more pop-oriented, while the Montreal one was more house-oriented. Eurodance received significant airplay on radio stations in the Greater Toronto Area such as Power 88.5, Energy 108 and Hot 103.5. Montreal was also a major Eurodance market, with MC Mario's famous radio show on Mix 96, called "Party Mix" and "Bouge de là" a popular TV show on MusiquePlus.
By the late 1990s, the popularity of this genre was in decline. Today, Eurodance receives little airtime on Canadian radio stations, however Z103.5 plays the genre in rotation almost daily. Some nightclubs in the Toronto area have dedicated nights to this genre including the long running live to air. On Z103.5, "Wayback Wednesdays" plays this type of music since April 2002. Eurodance in Toronto is often referred to as nickname: Euro or Gino Beats.
By the early 2010s, some Montreal producers brought back the genre with cover of classic hits and original productions. Anthony Simons (Think About the Way) & Vito V (Close to You, Love is Paradise) made produced international hits with vocalist Anna Berardi.
Eurodance is not well known in the United States outside of the major cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Houston etc. Exemplifying this is the Eurodance classic "Scatman (Ski Ba Bop Ba Dop Bop)", by Scatman John, an American artist; despite topping the charts in multiple European countries, it only reached as high as #60 in the Hot 100.
A few Eurodance artists (including La Bouche, 2 Unlimited, Real McCoy, and Ace of Base) made the Rhythmic Top 40, Top 40 Mainstream and the Billboard Hot 100 during the early to mid-1990s. However, the sound tended to be more house and the rap-oriented artists received airplay. For instance, both, the German hip-house project Snap! and the Dutch techno dance project L.A. Style received quite a bit of airplay early on.
The more Hi-NRG-oriented artists were typically played only during special "mix" shows, and it was often necessary to go to a club to hear Eurodance music. While Eurodance did become popular with club DJ's in the United States, radio stations were cautious about playing anything that sounded too much like disco during most of the 1980s and 1990s. By the end of the 1990s, however, some of the later acts such as Italian group Eiffel 65 and Danish group Aqua did receive extensive airplay.
Compilation albums, such as the DMA Dance: Eurodance series of compilation albums (1995–1997) from Interhit Records and Dance Music Authority magazine, were popular and helped to define the genre as well as to make it accessible in the U.S. and Canada.
The songs "S&M" and "Only Girl (In the World)" by Barbadian singer Rihanna are strongly influenced by Eurodance music. Both songs peaked atop the Billboard Hot 100 in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, a large number of songs by American artists featured quintessential Eurodance elements (especially synthesizer and strong beats during the chorus, mixed with rapping or vocals for verses). Examples are Chris Brown, Usher, Jennifer Lopez at others that traditionally attributed to more established American genres such as R&B, soul and pop.
Eurodance was popular in Ibero-America during the early and mid-1990s, mainly in Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico; XHFAJ-FM best known as "Alfa 91.3", the top rated radio station at the time in Mexico, played a format that included 60 percent Eurodance music. During the 1990s, "Alfa 91.3" held an annual series of concerts at Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City, including live performances of several Eurodance acts from all around the world, such as Alexia, Corona, Lynda Thomas, N-Trance, Colonia and KWS among many others.
The most notable Eurodance acts in Spanish language who achieved massive success from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s in IberoAmerica were the retired musician Lynda Thomas (formerly known as Lynda), she had a number of successful Eurodance and Bubblegum dance singles during such period of time, including "Gira Que Gira", "Blue Jeans", "Bang Bang" "Corazón" or "Dile" (IberoAmerican number one) and the Belgian Eurodance band Paradisio, this dance project topped the charts with hits such as "Bailando" or "Vamos a la Discoteca". Other notable Eurodance hits in Spanish and Portuguese language in IberoAmerica were " Duro de Pelar" by Rebeca (1996), Streamline by Newton, "Sex Machine" by Katrina, "Ritmo de la Noche" by The Sacados (1990), "Chiquitere" (1993) by the Dj Rafa Villalba, "Fiesta de Espuma" (Original 90s version), "Eclipse Total del Amor" (1995) by Marianne, "Me Haces Tanto Bien" by Amistades Peligrosas, "Angel Boy" by Sabrina Salerno, "Asi Me Gusta A Mi (X-Ta Si, X-Ta No)" by Chimo Bayo, "Mi Vicio Eres Tu" by Venus, "No Cambies" by ASAP, "Eu Sei, Tu És" (1998) by Santamaria, "No Hagas El Indio, Haz El Cherokee" by Cherry Coke (1996) and "Llorando Por Ti" (1995) by K.U. Minerva, among many others.
Notable Eurodance artists
Some examples of "original" Eurodance acts that emerged from the late 1980s until the mid-1990s are 2 Brothers On The 4th Floor, 2 Fabiola, 2 Unlimited, Ace of Base, Alexia, Bad Boys Blue, Blue System, Cappella, Captain Hollywood Project, Centory, Colonia, Corona, Culture Beat, Dee Monk, DJ Bobo, Double You, Dr. Alban, E-rotic, E-Type, Electro Team, First Base, Fun Factory, Haddaway, Ice MC, Imperio, Indra, J.K., La Bouche, Le Click, Lobby, Lynda Thomas, Magic Affair, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, Masterboy, Maxx, Melodie MC, Mr. President, N-Trance, Nicki French, No Mercy, Pandora, Paradisio, Playahitty, Real McCoy, Scatman John, Snap!, Technotronic, Twenty 4 Seven and Whigfield.
These bands included characteristics such as emphasis of the combo female chorus together with male rap performances, leading directly to the duo revival. Each group featured their own signature sound, persona, visual imagery, vocal approach or a combination of any of the above.
Solo artists who performed Eurodance include Amber and Haddaway. Rozalla supported Michael Jackson during his European "Dangerous" tour. In 1994, Amber made history becoming the first singer in Eurodance history to be signed to a label as a solo artist, not a singer who is bound to a producer.
After the early 1990s, Eurodance music had split into several categories:
- "Classic" Eurodance (1992-1997) – As noted, often a female vocalist and a male rapper were used for songs within this genre. The music features thicker and more detailed production and sometimes is slightly slower than most Eurodance that appeared afterward. This sound features arrangements, production touches, synths, and basslines unique to the early and mid-1990s, and is strongly favoured by those who were fans of Eurodance during that time.
- Bubblegum dance (1997-2002) – Essentially the Danish Eurodance version of bubblegum pop. While the instrumental style is similar to "classic" Eurodance, the lyrics tend towards a tongue-in-cheek humour very different from typical "disco" lyrics. Topics tend to be such things as toys, cartoons or video games, with double-entendres and fairytale motifs (for example, Aqua's "Barbie Girl"). Bubblegum may use either a chorus or a male rapper/female singer duet, though it tends not to make use of American rappers as classic Eurodance does.
- Euro-trance (1998-2004) – Has a more open-ended structure compared to the tightly knit vocals and melodies of "classic" Eurodance. The vocals are sometimes vague or repetitive without verse/chorus structure, often with echo and other effects. Often, Eurotrance has a strong synth line with ethereal chords and strong percussion.
- Synthpop – This style emerged during the late 1970s. A type of dance music with futuristic synths and a lighter electro aesthetic resembling new wave or early electro pioneers but with a simpler pop/rock template often centring around a vocal part. Synthpop somewhat lost its popularity in the mainstream by the early 1990s but has never been dormant. It continues to be a popular style having seen a major resurgence in the 2000s, and remains even more popular to the present day.
- Europop – Popular music related to dance-pop with elements of classic Eurodance or trance but is not a lot like one or the other. Chorus and verse structure prevalent. Nearly always incessantly catchy with infectious melodies, synths and beats.