Saturday 11 April 2020

Go (Euro)Beat Crazy

It's high time I make good on a promise I made on the podcasts all that time ago. It's not been intentionally delayed or anything, but now feels like the right time to do it, so join me as we take a trip into the world of Eurobeat. Okay, so part of the delay was me waiting for a decent amount to become available to stream legally, a weird thing about Eurobeat is that the copyright folk are VERY active and regularly take down videos and the like. With that out of the way, a little background:

The logo of one of the big players in the Eurobeat world, Super Eurobeat. Should give you an idea of what you're in for!

For those of you not aware, Eurobeat is the final evolution of some very specific genres. As I mentioned on the podcast, it's actually really interesting to hear the roots of the original genres in Eurobeat. It starts as many good electronic genres do in Disco, which split off into many different directions including House, Synthpop and most crucial to our tale today; Italo Disco.

Italo Disco, as the name implies is Disco, but with an Italian twist. Now truth be told I don't have much Italo in my collection (that's a rabbit hole to go down another day), but the ones I do know off the top of my head are pretty solid; tunes like Gary Low's I Want You for example. There's definitely an element of cliché to the proceedings, but ironically that cliché vibe is what helped it spawn one of my other favourite genres in Electroclash. But I digress, Italo Disco started to wane in popularity by the early 90's: enter its successor, the titular Eurobeat.

Taking it's cues from the above, mixed with a little Hi-NRG and so mixed in for good measure (and some questionable graphic design, see below). I'm going to quote a line from Ishkur's original Guide To Electronic Music here which echoes my opinions on Eurobeat pretty nicely: "Unlike other genres, Eurobeat knows what its limitations are. It's not trying to save the world or convert anyone over to its (...) sped-up cheese". Which when I read made a bunch of things suddenly click, especially when twinned with my new outlook of there being no guilty pleasures, you like what you like. (Saying that, once again I am adding to the list of genres/songs I like that have been memed to death!)

An example of a typical Super Eurobeat compilation cover, they all follow a similar format!.

But that is pretty much how I feel about Eurobeat. Is it cheesy at times? yeah totally, but it does what it means to do and does it well. I can enjoy it and still have the occasional chuckle at the lyrics and the absolute audaciousness of some of those synths from time to time (bonus points if you play a bit of Eurobeat Bingo too!) With that, here is a cross section of some of my favourite Eurobeat (that I can find on spotify).

I distinctly remember listening to this one for the first time, mainly because it took my interest in the genre from a passing thing I might right about to something that I could really see myself enjoying. Looking back at it analytically now, it hits the same buttons for me as late 90's trance euphoria does, no doubt helped by that pop structure to the songs themselves. Funnily enough it sounds very much more 90's than I remember back then but if you remember Myself and Adam's musings on the subject, that's not a bad thing at all!

Further to that, Burning Up For You hits all those same notes in fantastic fashion (also for some reason all the titles on Spotify are in all caps). It's energy is also part of the reason that my commuting music has consisted a potentially unhealthy dose of Eurobeat, it most definitely wakes you up and it's pretty hard to be too mad at delays or what have you with this in your ears.

We're going forward chronologically here, so while the sounds are getting less dated (to an extent) the formula remains the same. Note that this one has the subtitle (Eurobeat Version), as I discovered on Spotify there is also a 'Eurock' version. Which I thought was neat, I always like to see ways styles of music can cross over, and Eurobeat does love it's unnecessary guitar solos so it only makes sense. But upon listening it's nowhere near as good as the Eurobeat one. Maybe it's that sped-up cheese sensibility that I quoted Ishkur on above, maybe I'm just a sucker for synth power notes.

Finishing up with the latest one I have on repeat with Rain; I live for those power synths and chrouses. Funnily enough I feel like the guitar-y solos aren't as out of place here as on other Eurobeat tracks but it's also not as obnoxious as other examples either. Bear in mind that this is just a cross section of what I could find on Spotify, and even more specifically tunes that fill that same niche for me as Trance and the like. I joke about a lot of Eurobeat sounding the same but if you feel like exploring further be aware there is a slight more variety than what I'm presenting here.

If you're interested in more, I'd recommend the official Initial D compilations, which ramps up the cheese with engine revs and tire squeals but makes it even more hype in the process. They usually clock in about a minute or so per track too, so if you're looking for a quick injection of eurobeat variety, check them out! Well this post went on longer than I expected, I'll see you all back here soon, as always: Stay safe, and enjoy the music.

-Claude Van Foxbat

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