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|Stylistic origins||British Eurobeat:|
|Cultural origins||British Eurobeat:|
Mid-1980s, United Kingdom
Late 1980s, Italy and Japan
Eurobeat refers to two styles of dance music that originated in Europe: one is a British variant of Euro disco influenced by dance-pop, and the other is a Hi-NRG-driven form of Italo disco. Both developed in the 1980s.
In the United States, Eurobeat was sometimes marketed as Hi-NRG and for a short while shared this term with the very early freestyle music hits. Italo disco was often referred to as Eurobeat, probably due to the negative connotations of the word "disco" in the minds of the United States' population in the 1980s.
"Eurobeat" is also directly related to the Japanese Para Para dance culture as it influences many song and business decisions.
Origin of the term "Eurobeat"
The term "Eurobeat" was first used in the UK when Ian Levine's Eastbound Expressway released their single "You're a Beat" in recognition to the slower tempo of Hi-NRG music emerging from Europe. The majority of Hi-NRG songs tended to be from 124 to 138 BPM whereas the European releases tended to be from 108 to 120 BPM. Many European acts managed to break through under this new recognition, namely the likes of Modern Talking, Bad Boys Blue, Taffy, and Spagna. It was used commercially to describe the Stock Aitken Waterman–produced hits by Dead or Alive, Bananarama, Jason Donovan, Sonia, and Kylie Minogue which were heavily based on the British experience with Italo disco during holidays in Greece and elsewhere. "Eurobeat" was also applied to the first hits from the Pet Shop Boys and other UK-based dance music and electropop groups of the time. Those "Eurobeat" hits had a European beat, topped the UK charts, and, in the USA, received radio airplay and contributed to the evolution of New York's Freestyle genre. "Braun European Top 20" on MTV Europe also aired on MTV USA during summer 1987 to 1989, spreading the UK's Eurobeat sound. But after the summer of 1988 (UK's summer of love), the style lost popularity, with the exception of Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. By the summer of '89 the term "Eurobeat" was replaced by other labels and the music changed to 90s Eurodance and mostly Euro house. The term "Eurobeat" was also used only in the UK during 1986–1988, for specific Italian 80s Euro disco imports, such as Sabrina Salerno, Spagna, and Baltimora.
Renaissance: "By the Italians, for the Japanese"
Meanwhile, in Japan in 1985, the term "Eurobeat" was applied to all continental-European dance music imports. These were mainly Italian and German-produced Italo disco releases. That sound became the soundtrack of the Para Para nightclub culture, that has existed since the early 1980s. Japan experienced Italo disco through the success of the German group Arabesque, which broke up in 1984. This did not prevent the release of two Italo disco-sounding singles in 1985 and 1986, produced and mixed by Michael Cretu (of Enigma). The later solo success of Arabesque's lead singer Sandra further introduced this sound to Japan. This attracted the attention of many Italo disco producers (mostly Italians and Germans) and by the late 80s while the Germans faded out of the outdated Italo disco scene and went for other newly rising popular scenes, mainly trance, the Italians created a new sound especially for Japan, but virtually unknown in the rest of the world. In Japan, this music is called "Eurobeat", "Super Eurobeat", and "Eurobeat Flash".
In the early 1990s when Eurobeat's popularity was gradually decreasing in Japan, two Japanese men, the owner and a managing director of Avex, a small import record shop at the time, decided to release a compilation CD. They went to Italy and met Giancarlo Pasquini later known as Dave Rodgers, then a member of the Italo disco band Aleph, and eventually released the compilation CD, the first Super Eurobeat, which proved an instant success and re-sparked Eurobeat's popularity in Japan.
Despite its European origins, the Eurobeat style's main market has always been Japan, where its synthetic and emotionally upbeat stylings are popular. Even though many European people and American people have heard of Eurodance, Euro disco and Euro house, this flavor of Eurobeat is largely unknown in Europe and only recently became somewhat popular in the Western world. It appeals to open-minded Italo disco fans and some Euro-house fans.
The anime series Initial D, based on the manga by Shuichi Shigeno, uses Eurobeat music regularly in its episodes during racing scenes between the characters, and because of this it has come to the attention of some anime fans outside Japan.
Eurobeat's sound (in the Japanese market) is its main link to its Italo disco origins, where it was just one of many different experiments in pure electronic dance. There are certain synth instruments that recur across the entire genre: a sequenced octave bass, characteristic are the energetic (sometimes wild) and heavy use of synths, distinctive brass and harp sounds, and tight, predictable percussion in the background. These sounds are layered with vocals and natural instruments (guitar and piano are common) into complex, ever-shifting melodies that, at their best, burst with energy.
In 1998, Bemani, a branch of the video game company Konami made a hit video dance machine, Dance Dance Revolution. The game acquired Eurobeat songs from the Dancemania compilation series from Toshiba EMI. Over time, DDR has featured Eurobeat songs on-and-off in their songlists. However, their number has dwindled due to efforts to make DDR more marketable to North American markets. Currently, there has been a push to add more Eurobeat into DDR, most recently with the addition of Super Eurobeat tracks in the latest arcade release, Dance Dance Revolution X2. Other music games in Konami's lineup feature a large number of Eurobeat tracks, including Beatmania, Beatmania IIDX, and jubeat. The popularity of the genre also led Konami to create a Para Para game; ParaParaParadise.
Eurobeat from the Japanese point of view
Eurobeat evolved into different genres, while preserving its essence. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Hi-NRG, 70s Euro disco, space disco, Canadian disco, and Italo disco (a.k.a. 80's Euro disco) emerged from electronic music. Although disco music became unpopular in North America, it remained in the limelight in Europe for many more years. In the USA, in the early 80s, disco linked with George Clinton, Earth, Wind & Fire, and the Hi-NRG scene.
What follows in the article, is the description of "Eurobeat" (a.k.a. Super Eurobeat) as formed during the late 80s and 90s in Japan.
While modern music is often recognized by its lyrics, Eurobeat is recognized not primarily by its lyrics. Very much like bubblegum Eurodance, it usually has extremely silly or utterly meaningless lyrics. This broad genre can create a great number of different subgenres within it because of this combination of harmony and rhythm. Sometimes it can still sound like disco music, and sometimes it can be very "fast and happy" like happy hardcore or speed music, and occasionally features guitars as a method of Saiba.
One peculiar thing about Eurobeat is the fact that each artist is often credited with a variety of different aliases (See "Popular Eurobeat Artists" below for details). Artists usually adopt different stage names according to the mood of each song, or depending on who wrote their lyrics. For instance, Ennio Zanini has stated on the SCP Music website that he goes by the name of "Fastway" on songs which are more upbeat and sprinkled with high-pitched female backing vocals, and goes by "Dusty" on his more "serious" tracks.
Eurobeat also has notoriety for name recognition, lifting titles from popular songs and using them as the names of Eurobeat tracks. Examples are "Like a Virgin", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", "What is Love", "Dancing Queen", "Don't Stand So Close" and "Station to Station." The Eurobeat songs that reuse song titles typically have nothing to do with the song it lifted its title from (i.e., not a cover). It is unknown if this practice in Eurobeat is intentional.
Yet another characteristic of Eurobeat is recurring song themes. Common themes include:
- Cars / car racing—examples: "Running in the 90s", "The Race is the Game", "The Race of the Night", "The Race is Over", and "Wheels of Fire" by Dave Rodgers; "Face the Race" by Powerful T.; "Drivin' Crazy" by Ace; "My Car is Fantasy" by Mega NRG Man; "Car of Your Dreams" by Dave & Nuage; "Ready Steady Go!" and "Gas Gas Gas" by Manuel; "Go Racin' Go!" by Fastway; "Speedy Speed Boy" by Marko Polo; "Grand Prix" by Mega NRG Man; "The Top" by Ken Blast.
- Energy / feeling energetic—examples: "Adrenaline" by Ace; "Power" and "NRG" by Go 2; "Get Me Power" by Mega NRG Man; "Stop Your Self Control" by Marko Polo; "Electric Power" by Niko; "Overload" by Matt Land
- Love—examples: "Love is in Danger" by Priscilla; "Love is Danger" by Linda Ross; "Need Love" and "Raising Love" by Mega NRG Man; "Crazy for Love" by Dusty; "Mystery of Love" by Virginelle; "Burning Love" by D. Essex; "I Need Your Love"; by Dave Simon; "Love Rhapsody"; by Victoria;
- Japan—examples: "Tokyo Tokyo" by D. Essex, "Tokyo Fever" by Marko Polo, "No One Sleep in Tokyo" by Edo Boys, "Japanese Girl" by Mega NRG Man, "Night Flight to Tokyo" by Matt Land, "Made in Japan" by Dave Rodgers
- Eurobeat itself—examples: "Super Eurobeat" by Franz Tornado and The Tri-Star Girls; "Super Eurobeat (Gold Mix)" by Dave Rodgers and Futura; "Eurobeat" by Dr. Love; "King of Eurobeat" by Jordan; "Super Eurobeat (Eurobeat Mix)" by Alphatown; "Super Eurobeat" by Niko (note that although several songs are called "Super Eurobeat", it is not the same song sung by different artists)
- Music and dancing in general—examples: "Music for the People" by Dave Rodgers and Jennifer Batten; "Play the Music" and "Don't Stop the Dance" by Ace; "Music Come On!" by Go 2; "Don't Stop the Music" by Lou Grant; "Music Forever" by D. Essex; "Disco Fire" by Dave Rodgers; "Dancing" by Vicky Vale
The Eurobeat formula (for the Japanese market)
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Like most musical genres, (modern) Eurobeat has a fairly specific formula to it:
|beginning → riff (musical synth) → a melo (verse) → b melo (bridge) → sabi (chorus) → riff (musical synth) → c melo → ending|
The intro is the introduction into the song, the riff is the musical part without voices. The a melo, or a-melody is the first verse in the song, the b melo is the bridge of the song, and the sabi is the chorus of the song. There is also a c melo after the first sabi, as well as another a/b melo variant after the second sabi.
Eurobeat songs often have a beginning section followed by a very loud, highly technical synth riff, which is then repeated after the chorus. Songs usually repeat the verse, bridge, and chorus multiple times during the song. Another thing to note is that the beginning is typically like an instrumental rendition of the verse, bridge, and chorus, while the riff is a lot like an instrumental version of the chorus.
There have been three types of music called "J-Euro" (Japanese Eurobeat);
- 1. Eurobeat songs made in Italy, covered by Japanese artists with Japanese lyrics.
- 2. J-pop songs made in Japan, remixed in the style of eurobeat by Italian eurobeat producers.
- This type of "J-Euro" appeared first on the 1999 issue of Super Eurobeat, Vol. 100, with several tracks of this type of "J-Euro" by MAX, Every Little Thing, and the "J-Pop Empress in the early 2000s" Ayumi Hamasaki. This type of "J-Euro" has been popular in the para para scene since around 2000. Avex Trax launched the Super Eurobeat Presents : J-Euro series in 2000; Ayu-ro Mix 1, 2 and 3, plus a fourth remix album missing the "Super Eurobeat" tag featuring Ayumi Hamasaki, Euro Every Little Thing featuring Every Little Thing, Hyper Euro MAX featuring MAX, Euro global featuring globe, Euro Dream Land featuring Dream, J-Euro Best, J-Euro Non-Stop Best, ...
- 3. Eurobeat songs made in Japan, and sung by Japanese artists themselves.
- This type of Eurobeat was always present since the 2000s, but only started recently to gain much attention with the para para scene promoting a lot of these songs. Most songs are anime remixes or J-Pop covers, which makes it an anime boom as some people call it.[tone]
- Eurobeat labels to showcase this type of J-Euro are Akiba Koubou INC/Akiba Records, Plum Music, Fantasy Dance Tracks and more.