Free yourself and fall through the motion. One can’t help but feel the emotion running through their body when hearing the sprightly sounds of Eurodance. In an era that somewhat lacks this specific breed, let’s not forget the bang throughout the 1990s and early 2000s that was Euro. Here, I will highlight the key tracks that made the genre a success and kept it going for all the years that it did. Let me start off by saying that this genre is extensive, and I’ll be highlighting only a select few.
So, what is Euro? Its dance music that was popular throughout the 1990’s and bled into the early 2000’s. It’s heavily influenced by Hi-NRG, evident in its high-tempo format. Hi-NRG is a style of disco, originating from the U.S & U.K. sometime in the 1970’s, and was uptempo music. Lyrics of Euro music often deal with life, love, and partying. Not all, but most Euro songs consist of a female vocalist and a male rapping in the verses. Then, some feature solely male, or solely female. This genre of music is reliant on synthesizers and in some cases, keyboards. That’s not at all a bad thing. It sounds like no other dance music during that time period and has defined itself as its own unique brand. Don’t kid yourself. You don’t need glow sticks to dance to this. That’s just a stereotype associated with this type of music, but you’d look less foolish without them 🙂
Euro music has many elements to it, blending various genres together. Rap has been a key element to Euro, with an extensive amount of the songs having featured a rap verse, while a female vocalist sings the chorus. Reggae has also played a role in the evolution of Euro. Some of the most successful artists have reggae vocals implemented into their tracks. See Ice MC’s Think About the Way, Afrika Bambaattaa’s Feel the Vibe, Loft’s Mallorca and Max-M-Million’s Fat Boy. The variety truly makes it special, as it is able to implement these elements successfully, and at the same time, not even make you realize.
The stem of Euro derives from early 90’s house and dance music, (Black Box’s Strike It Up and Snap’s Rhythm Is A Dancer come to mind). But, to me, the Euro invasion, truly took off on June 30th 1993, when Mr. Vain started calling. Culture Beat’s most well-known song was truly the one that set the trend for all Euro releases in the decade that followed. From the opening riff, to the point where the beat kicks in, something special was upon us. It was the first of its kind in the area to display such uniqueness in the world of dance music. 1993 also saw Jam & Spoon’s Right in the Night, U96s Love Sees No Color and Public Art’s River; to name a few, make their mark on the Euro scene. Still all classics today.
1994 saw some imperative Euro tracks arrive on the scene. Alter Ego & Daisy Dee’s club banger Dance If You Cannot is 140bpm of fun. It has a fast and easy riff to hum along to. Another notable hit from 1994 was Fun Factory’s Close To You. Beginning with that all too familiar synthesizer and continuing for the duration of the song, it’s definitely an easy one to identify. Also, how can one forget Corona’s Rhythm of the Night? (Oh yeah!) This brings us to one song was released that not only made a splash in the Euro scene, but also the mainstream pop music scene. I’m talking about M.C. Sar & The Real McCoy’s mega-hit Another Night. This is a song about the female singer’s desire to be with a man she encounters while dreaming at night, only to realize she’s alone when she wakes up. The song saw tremendous success reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart and #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs charts. To this day, it’s still one of the most beloved songs from this era. It was this song that generated interest in the rest of the Euro genre, as people took to it quickly.
By this time, there were a lot of artists emerging on the Euro scene from Canada. In 1995, a Canadian artist from Toronto (along with Intonation) covered Cutting Crew’s 80’s hit Died in Your Arms as a freestyle song, becoming the only Canadian Euro artist to crack the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song also reached #1 in Canada. That man? None other than Joée. He would later release the classics we know and love today such as Feel It in the Air, Almost Suicide, and the one his most known for, Angel. Another Canadian artist who made a splash on the Euro scene is Montreal’s own Marie Josée Riel, better known as Emjay. Emjay brings her own hard-hitting style to Euro, (most evident on the 1995 song In Your Arms). She later released the classics such as Flying to the Moon, We All Need Love, Over and Over, and a cover of Company B’s 1987 hit Fascinated. Other notable Canadian artists are Mia Minx (Open Up Your Heart), Love Inc. (Broken Bones, You’re A Superstar), Solina (Show Me Love), and Jacynthe (This is the Night).
In the mid to late 1990’s, there was a bit of crossover. A few artists began to appear outside of their own works, or simply had more than one. Most notably, Italian singer, Giovanna Bersola. She is a featured vocalist on different tracks from different artists. Her first big breakthrough hit was, of course, Rhythm of the Night, followed by Playahitty’s The Summer Is Magic and 1-2-3 Train With Me, JK’s You & I, Beat It and You Make Me Feel Good, and Libra’s Closer To Me, to name a few. We can’t forget about Melanie Thornton. Remember La Bouche’s Be My Lover and Sweet Dreams? Aside from making the Billboard Hot 100 with them, Melanie went on to be featured in Le Click’s 1997 hit Tonight Is the Night. While the vocalists sound a bit similar, Le Click’s other track Call Me is sung by Kayo Shekoni, and not Melanie Thornton. Mark Ryan from Temperance, the Canadian trio that covered the infamous track Forever Young, also started up his own solo project called S.P.O.T. (Side Project of Temperance). He had one commercial release, Welcome to Paradise, a fun summer-sounding dance jam (that I’m listening to as I write this :))
As the 90’s went on, there was an immediate expansion in Euro, with artists such as First Base (Can You Keep A Secret, Love Is Paradise), Twenty 4 Seven (Take Me Away, Keep On Tryin’), Herbie (Right Type of Mood), and Maxx (Get Away, No More) all arriving on the scene. Koko’s Open Your Eyes (1997), the club banger Rhythm of Love from DJ Company (1997), and let’s not forget about the one that people still to this day LOVE to sing along due to its infectious meoldy, Loft’s Mallorca (1996). Mind you, just naming only a few here :). The trend continued and was going strong. The popularity of Italo disco, which was at its peak in the late 1980s, along with Eurodance, influenced an outgrowth of Euro, dubbed as Italo Euro, or Italo Dance.This is, essentially, the same musical format as its predecessor, only sung in Italian, by Italians. It was a dominant entity in the early 2000’s. This style of Euro is defined, most notably that is, by Nek’s La Vita E, Gianluca Grigniani’s L’aiuola, DJ Lhasa’s Giulia, and Prezioso’s Voglio Vederti Danzare. This type of Euro is mostly enjoyed (of course) by the Italian culture, but that doesn’t stop other cultures from jamming to it as well. They are most definitely party favorites.
3… 2… 1… HAPPY NEW YEEEEEEEEAR! We’ve now hit the new Millennium. Y2K! The Euro invasion was still going strong, and introducing new artists, the most popular during the era being Alice Deejay and Cascada, among others. Do you think you’re better off alone? Those lyrics, even today, are sung across clubs everywhere, and artists such as David Guetta and Wiz Khalifa have even sampled it in their music. The new Millennium batch of Euro can truly be defined by this song, as it’s the most well-known. During this time, we were introduced to more progressive versions of Euro, which were heavily Trance-influenced. A handful of the songs released during this time had hit close to, or right on, the 140BPM mark, making it some of the fastest stuff the genre had seen. That, combined with the hard hitting beat, was surely an indication that the genre was evolving, and not at all in a bad way. A few examples of this are Groove Coverage’s Poison, and Cascada’s Everytime We Touch and Miracle.
In conclusion, while this specific style of dance music has disintegrated to an extent, it still leaves an everlasting feeling of intensity each time it’s played. Dance music has evolved drastically over the last ten years. The world of dance music is an exciting one. It makes you feel good, and has a positive feel to it. As I leave you here, finishing this blog in the dark, this was truly, for me, the rhythm of the night. Cheers!
Note: See below this post for my recommendations!