Mid 1980s, United Kingdom
Late 1980s, Italy and Japan
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 United States 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/Italo disco 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 Japaneses"
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.
Intro of "I Wanna Dance"
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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", 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: "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!" by Manuel; "Go Racin' Go!" by Fastway
- 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
- 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
The Eurobeat formula (for the Japanese market)
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|
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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.
"Boom Boom Fire"
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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.
Italian Eurobeat Labels
A-Beat C was founded in 1990 by Dave Rodgers and Alberto Contini, and introduced in 1991 on Super Eurobeat 9. Many of the label's producers and artists have worked with Eurobeat and Italo disco even before A-Beat C was created, which isn't surprising to hear familiar voices or see familiar titles on older Italo disco labels. Some A-Beat C artists include Dave Rodgers, Powerful T., Norma Sheffield, and Matt Land. After 2007, many singers and producers left A-Beat C to pursue other projects, including Domino, Sandro Oliva, Matt Land, Mega NRG Man, Lolita, the Go Go Girls, Neo, Nuage, Annerley Gordon, Kiko Loureiro, and Mickey B, among others. Those who have remained with the label, such as Dave Rodgers and Norma Sheffield, have since become a part of Sun Fire Records. A-Beat C currently does not produce songs anymore.
Boom Boom Beat
BBB is a label that has multiple sub-labels. It is under Saifam for starters, but the EPs that BBB releases have artists from various Saifam labels like Asia Records, Interdance, and Technodisco. But successful BBB tracks have also appeared on the Euromach album for example. Some of the most well-known BBB aliases are Mark Farina, Spencer, Sarah, Alvin, Milk & Coffea, The Flippers, Laurie, and Ken Martin. Saifam's debut on the Super Eurobeat series was Super Eurobeat 161. Before this, the label only appeared on spinoff series such as Euromach, Eurobeat Flash, and other releases like VIP Mega Euro Star, EuroPanic!!, and LovePara.
Delta is one of the older generation labels that has been around for quite some time. The label was created in the year 1995 when producer A. Leonardi from A-Beat C, L. Newfield and C. Moroni from Time joined forces from Time Records. The first Super Eurobeat album with Delta-produced songs was Super Eurobeat 64. The label has known aliases such as Marko Polo, Vicky Vale, Cherry, Pizza Girl, Suzy Lazy and Dr. Love. Delta's style is pretty much like A-Beat C. Tracks usually drop percussion during the breakdown while the singer sings the first verse and bridge again. Synths are typically very "harsh"-sounding, and bass is relatively low depending on the producer of each track. A. Leonardi split from the label in 2008 to form SinclaireStyle and took the tracks he produced at Delta with him.
HI-NRG Attack was founded in 1994, with Baby Doll / Dr. Gabriel being their first record. This label has a very upbeat and cheerful sound, with generally nonsensical lyrics. Some of the known names from this label are Jee Bee, Claudia Vip, Franz Tornado, Bazooka Girl, Nikita Jr., Baby Gold and Dolly Pop. As with Delta, percussion usually drops during the transitions in many songs. This label is notable for its relatively "quirky" lyrics and rhythm, with lyrical subjects such as cows, Russia, vodka, and bazookas. Synths are known to be very wild, sometimes playing a different note at every 1/4 beat.
Time is the oldest Eurobeat label and has produced Italo-Disco and Eurobeat since the late 1980s; however, Time debuted on Super Eurobeat 1. The label has a huge list of big names and famous songs. Many of the younger Eurobeat labels have been created by producers who've left Time to create new labels (for example Vibration and HI-NRG Attack). Some of aliases from this label include Vanessa, Lisa Johnson, Lou Grant, Rose, Jilly, Sophie, Chester, Maio & Co., and Mike Hammer.
New productions from Time Records disappeared from the Super Eurobeat series in 2008. Though the reason is officially unknown, some say it is because of their second publishing name "Time S.p.A" that had Eurobeat releases outside of Avex Trax. On the other hand, some say Sergio Dall'Ora, the main producer, was unsatisfied with Time Records' standards. However, Avex still recognizes Time Records and continues to display the label's logo on the back cover of Super Eurobeat. This was all short-lived though as Time's successor, Eurogrooves, was formed in 2009 a year later.
Eurogrooves is Time's successor. It was founded by Sergio Dall'Ora to replace Time of the Super Eurobeat compilations. Eurogrooves is directed by Dall'Ora exclusively, instead of the company Time Records Italy. The label has been on hiatus since 2010 and has not had an original Eurobeat track released by Avex Trax since Super Eurobeat 203. The songs released by Eurogrooves after SEB 203 are "Healing Remixes" or ballad remixes of Eurobeat songs; however, these ended after Super Eurobeat 218 and Eurogrooves has not returned since.
Dima was founded by Davide Di Marcantonio. The name of the label is a combination of "Di" and "Ma" from the founder's name. Before Dima's debut on the Avex Trax series Super Eurobeat in 2008, the label produced songs that appeared on non-Avex Eurobeat compilations such as Love Para2.
Vibration belongs to the record label LED Records Italy. LED Records Italy was run by Luigi Stanga and used labels such as LED Records and Eurobeat Masters, depending on whom they licensed songs to. Their songs have somewhat unpredictable style; some songs have simple percussion drops during transitions, and sometimes there is a very intense guitar solo or even new lyrics. With Stanga retiring in 2008, LED Records Italy, along with its sub-labels, ceased production.
SCP is also known as Stefano Castagna Productions. The label was known as Double for some years until the name was changed to SCP. Castagna has worked behind many other labels before this one. Some more well-known artists from this label are Fastway (a.k.a. Dusty), Kiki & Kika, Ace, Go 2, and Christine. SCP almost always follows A Beat C's formula. Rarely is there ever a percussion drop, but instead you can find a guitar solo or "ad-libbing" of lyrics or synthesizers. In 2008 & 2009, SCP experimented with more pop/house oriented songs such a cover of "Wait for You" by Elliott Yamin and an original production, "Bright Time" which has an infused feel of 80's pop and modern house music. The recent songs produced by SCP in 2011 are more a mix of the experimental style they created, mixed with the older sound they had in the Euromach era.
A former producer with Delta, Bratt Sinclaire uses more "airy" synths that had been seen in his Delta productions. All former tracks he produced with Delta transferred with him over to Sinclairestyle.
Go Go's Music
Go Go's Music was founded by Alessandra Mirka Gatti and Sandro Oliva in 2006. Gatti and Oliva decided that it was in their best interests to detach from A-Beat-C and create a new label to preserve the classic sound that they felt was being lost with the direction A-Beat-C was heading. Noted singers who left A-Beat-C to join Go Go's Music were Elena Gobbi Frattini (Lolita, Virginelle) and Manuel Caramori (Manuel). Go Go's Music also brought new singers to the Eurobeat genre, including Giorgia Vecchini (Giorgia V), Silvio Rondelli (Leo River), Elisabetta Coiro (Betty Beat), Marina Santelli (Mari-san), and Ester Scarpa (Ester). Notably, A-Beat-C's most recognized group alias Go Go Girls was brought over to Go Go's Music as Gatti and Oliva held the creative rights to the group. Go Go's Music unofficially debuted on SEB 175 with three songs, but was not recognized as an official Super Eurobeat compilation label until volume 177. Go Go's Music and SCP have a close relationship with each other, and have collaborated on a couple of songs in the past, including a remake of a popular SCP song, "Looka Bomba", which was covered by the Go Go Girls. Returning the favor, Go 2 of SCP covered the Go Go Girls' song "Hot Vampire" on Super Eurobeat Volume 193.
In 2005, one of the current Delta producers, Laurent Newfield, created a label under Hearty Inc. called Akyr Music. Akyr produced not only Eurobeat, but trance and hyper-techno as well. The songs were featured on the Farm Records compilation, Love Para2, and other albums such as Parapara Hyper Best. In Winter 2008, Newfield released an internet-only album, Super Euro Freak, with remixes by Diskowarp and other independent producers. The label has been defunct since 2009.
Sun Fire Records
Sun Fire Records was formed by A-Beat C producer Dave Rodgers. It is currently the newest Eurobeat label to be featured on Super Eurobeat. The label made its first appearance on Super Eurobeat Vol. 206.
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.
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- 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" 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 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.
- Eurobeat labels to showcase this type of J-Euro are Akiba Koubou INC/Akiba Records, Plum Music, Fantasy Dance Tracks and more.
Popular Eurobeat artists
The following is a list of many Eurobeat compilations series, the most famous (and longest running) are Super Eurobeat and the various Super Eurobeat presents... compilations by Avex Trax. Other notable compilations include:
- Aerobeat Eurobeat
- D-1 Grand Prix
- Digibeat Euro, a series from the label Chapter One and now defunct company Digibeat, released from 2000-2001. It is unique in that it features Japanese producers and American vocals, as opposed to the usual Italian producers and Italian-born vocalists. The majority of the songs can only be found on this 4 CD series, with some repeats being on That's Eurobeat Now series, released much earlier in 1996.
- Eurobeat Fantasy
- Eurobeat Disney
- Eurobeat Flash
- Gazen ParaPara!!
- LovePara², a series from FARM Records that mainly featured Eurobeat from Dima Music and Boom Boom Beat, released from 2005-2009.
- Maharaja Night
- Maharaja Night - Hi-NRG Revolution
- ParaPara Paradise
- Para Para Hi-BPM Eurobeat, a series from King Records (Japan), mainly for the Para Para audience, released 1994-1995
- Super Anime Remix, a series from Dreamusic Inc. from 2009 that highlights the popularity of anime eurobeat around that time.
- Super Euro Christmas, a sporadically released series from Avex Trax that featured eurobeat remixes of Christmas songs
- That's Eurobeat (Vol. 1–44, 1986–1994)
- That's Eurobeat series of compilations was launched by Alfa Records in 1986, as the successor to That's Hi-NRG, the first Hi-NRG compilation in Japan released in 1985. It consisted of original Eurobeat music, not reborn Eurobeat music that first appeared in the late 1980s–early 1990s. That's Eurobeat was the most popular and best-selling Eurobeat product until the early 1990s, when it was overtaken by Super Eurobeat.
- That's Eurobeat Now
- Toho Eurobeat
- VIP Mega Euro Star
- Avex Japan Eurobeat (Official website for Super Eurobeat)
- Eurobeat Prime (Extensive Eurobeat information and database)
- ParaParaMania CD Information (Japanese Eurobeat database by Yuuto Matsumoto that has many lesser-known Eurobeat releases)
- NRG Express (Eurobeat information from Japan)
- Eurobeat.se (Some Eurobeat and Eurodance samples)
- Eurobeat-Italia (Italian Eurobeat website)
- New Parapara (Chilean website for Eurobeat and Parapara)
Eurobeat labels websites
- Interbeat (include Magnum, Blitz, Movie)
- A-Beat C / Rodgers Music
- Akyrmusic (Includes Vocal Trance projects such as nR Element from California.)
- Dima Music
- Disko Warp Music
- Farm Records
- GoGo's Music
- Hi NRG Attack
- The S.A.I.F.A.M. Group (Includes Boom Boom Beat, Asia Records, etc.)
- SCP Music
- Sinclaire Style
- Time Records