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Hey deejay, where's the bass?
May 28, 2007 12:35 PM   Subscribe

I've heard a lot of bizarre music over the years, but Eurobeat has to take the cake for sheer W-T-F insanity. Virtually all the artists and producers are Italian, and the only place where their recordings sell in any quantity is, oddly enough, Japan. That's right, Eurobeat doesn't sell to Europeans. In most dance-music styles, 135 beats per minute would be considered rather fast; in Eurobeat, 155 BPM is considered slow. The lyrics are nearly always in English, with occasional Japanese--despite the fact that very few English-speaking people buy the stuff. And the artists tend to record under an assortment of pseudonyms, maintaining some degree of anonymity. Eurobeat had a major influence on the parapara dance scene. Which led directly to this. Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music called Eurobeat "sped-up, spastic Euro Disney cheese". And that fits perfectly, because the only places Americans are likely to hear Eurobeat are in a DDR game---or on a Radio Disney station. Eurobeat is (apparently) only available on costly Japanese imports, most released by Avex Trax.

Despite the anonymity of Eurobeat singers, at least one--Alessandra Mirka Gatti, aka Domino--has managed to become famous enough to have a fansite. In English, no less. Go there and examine her discography. That obscure, helium-voiced singer has been putting out records for twenty years. Someone is buying them.
posted by metasonix (56 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Domino!

The name has come up several times in exercises where my students are asked to name their favorite singers/performers. Hadn't come up enough to bother tracking down her stuff, though.

Interesting.
posted by dreamsign at 12:44 PM on May 28, 2007


On her fansite the animated gif shows someone trying to mow her down with a car. Hmmm. What could it all mean?
posted by Salmonberry at 12:53 PM on May 28, 2007


Funny, I first encountered Eurobeat last night while researching this question. Apparently, it's used in the race scenes of the Initial D anime. As one Amazon commenter wrote, Get on your own vehicle, and just turn it on!
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:55 PM on May 28, 2007


Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music is amazing. I love Italo music (techno>italo). It's so bad.
That music was really prevalent in Europe.
posted by jouke at 12:57 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not exactly Eurobeat. But still a nice contrast between the US and European music scene.

The music that is played is instantly recognizable in Europe. They're called Modern Talking and they are from Germany.
posted by jouke at 1:11 PM on May 28, 2007


Ishkur's guide to Electronic Music has a nice interface, but the information in it is basically worthless.
posted by dydecker at 1:12 PM on May 28, 2007


This domino song is what you mean. Danger, do not listen to Initial-D music while driving.
posted by Skorgu at 1:16 PM on May 28, 2007


I'm actually a fan of Eurobeat and parapara, but mostly when they're remixes of some of my favorite Japanese artists or familiar enough songs. It's a fun, maddeningly fast genre. And great for working out to.
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:17 PM on May 28, 2007


and the only place where their recordings sell in any quantity is, oddly enough, Japan.

Nothing so odd about that. Big in Japan is so common it's cliché.
posted by three blind mice at 1:17 PM on May 28, 2007


but the information in it is basically worthless
Hm, you don't provide a lot of arguments. But I know nothing whatsoever of Techno etc. so I assume you're right. But still a lot of fun to play all the examples of '80s electro. For instance synthpop. Heh.

Just shows you that given sufficient time anything is funny. At that time it made my ears bleed.
posted by jouke at 1:19 PM on May 28, 2007


When I visted Toyko I tried to observe all the hip kids as impartially as I could to try to get a sense of what it was that they thought was so cool about themselves and all the kitsch and music they wallowed in. At first I thought it might be that they had a deeper or faster kind of insight into things over their American or European counterparts due to the rich warrior and zen/shinto traditions there that permeated their blood and I simply wasn't quick or refined enough to get it. On further reflection I realized my initial assessment was incorrect and they simply suffered en masse from a lack of discernment.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:24 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Who could forget the days when this stomping Euro classic raged across the dancefloors of Grimsby?
posted by Drexen at 1:31 PM on May 28, 2007


jouke, some problems with the site: first the information is ten years out of date. And in electronic music timeliness is pretty key. Second Ishkur's opinions on dance music are really insulting and stupid. Some examples:

"Minimal techno: this kind of music is more fashion than function. Listening to it makes you oh so sophisticated, etc".
"Detroit techno: Uptight and pretentious..."
"Schranz is really good."

etc, etc. In short, he doesn't know (and probably doesn't really care) about the music that he's talking about.
posted by dydecker at 1:38 PM on May 28, 2007


Tx for the explanation dydecker.
posted by jouke at 1:47 PM on May 28, 2007


Well, to understand the difference between the European and American music scenes... this is popular in Europe and not in America while this is popular in America and not in Europe.
posted by Kattullus at 1:48 PM on May 28, 2007


Welcome to my Hell.
posted by chillmost at 1:51 PM on May 28, 2007


hmm, but back on the subject of this post - this Avex Trax Eurobeat stuff is pretty ubiquitous in Japan. If you go into any Pachinko Parlour or shop in Harajuku, or switch on the television and you can't avoid it. But as with a lot of Japanese things which are of interest to foriegn Japanophiles (Gothic Lolita, boy bands, a lot of anime, DDR), it would pay to remember it's pretty much only of real interest to 15 year old girls. Foriegn grown men getting into it kinda...creepy.
posted by dydecker at 1:56 PM on May 28, 2007


Woot. I do like me some Scooter, I will admit...
posted by Samizdata at 2:07 PM on May 28, 2007


wow, the things one learns here. huh. ParaPara.

Dang, that is one frenzied, heart-attack beat. yikes.

Clinton doing the DanceDanceRevolution to Barbie Girl.

Maybe ParaPara, with its electric bubblegum disco beat, is based on a child's racing heartbeat rate? Or maybe a crow's or a hummingbird's?

Years ago I saw a great history of dance documentary (would love remember the name) and it showed how danced evolved from a jumping up and down thing that hunters did to a side to side thing that agriculturalists did to the most evolved, 3D dancing, which includes up and down, side to side and spiral gyrating.

The amazing 5 year old Dance Dance Revolution kid.

Japanese freeform street dancer.

Antique and inadvertently hilarious Finnish disco dance instruction video.

Please hope me. Can anyone remember the name of that super fast ping pong disco instrumental in 1974?
posted by nickyskye at 2:12 PM on May 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I just listened to that Domino song and now I have to go find some Gillian Welch to return me to baseline.
posted by jimmythefish at 2:40 PM on May 28, 2007


What I've heard so far sound a lot like Blümchen. Which, of course, is a good thing, but they're not Blümchen... cos Blümchen pretty much reigns supreme.

Anyway, I'm off to dig deeper. Somewhere, out there, somebody will give me the insane sugar rush I got when I heard my first happy hardcore tune.

Scooter is way too frat boy for my taste.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 2:41 PM on May 28, 2007


Can anyone remember the name of that super fast ping pong disco instrumental in 1974?

"Popcorn" by Hot Butter?
posted by beaucoupkevin at 2:47 PM on May 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yay! Eurobeat! Italo Disco! Clara Moroni! Domino! DDR!

*passes out*
posted by infinitewindow at 2:54 PM on May 28, 2007


On further reflection I realized my initial assessment was incorrect and they simply suffered en masse from a lack of discernment.

Yes, they failed to discern you at all.

A significant amount of the social music experience is tribalism, i.e. creating a difference between those in the crowd, who appreciate, and those outside, who do not.

It's a shibboleth. You failed, as you were meant to. But you also succeeded -- you're not some crazy music listening tokyo brat, you're some highly refined music listening genius. Or something.
posted by effugas at 2:57 PM on May 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is moving off-topic, but one of the best movies I saw this year was Linda Linda Linda, which is about a group of Japanese schoolgirls learning a pop-punk song for a talent show.

Here they are playing it
.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:08 PM on May 28, 2007


Was it really eighteen years ago?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:34 PM on May 28, 2007


Well, to understand the difference between the European and American music scenes...

I was worried that this was going to be one of those comparisons that makes one side look really bad, where someone picks an idiotic pop band for the other continent and a brilliant group for theirs.

But no, you did an excellent job. Clearly none of us have any taste. Then again, I think I've heard Avril Lavigne on frequence3.fr...so maybe we're all doing ok.

I think I liked the Scooter song a little better, but living in America I hear far more awful numetal than I do cheesy dancy crap (is there a name for that?), so I'm more tired of ours.
posted by pinespree at 3:36 PM on May 28, 2007


jouke: Thanks sooo much for Ishkur's guide. I'd almost forgotten about it. Every time I go there I waste an hour. This time was no exception.
posted by ob at 3:40 PM on May 28, 2007


If you're not a dancer, or interested in the culture, you're not going to get much out of ANY beat music. The same was true of early rock'n'roll ... if you didn't dance it, it may just seem inane.

It's not music for washing your car or doing your income taxes.

But get those feets movin', get into it, and the beat dissolves into the background and you ... are flyin'.
posted by Twang at 3:44 PM on May 28, 2007


For those of you picking on Ishkur: where's YOUR list?
posted by Twang at 3:46 PM on May 28, 2007


For those of you picking on Ishkur: where's YOUR list?
                              Kraftwerk -----------
                             /                                                /                        The Beatles ----- Silver Apples ---          Everything else
;)
posted by soundofsuburbia at 4:00 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Holy CRAP, I struck out, didn't I? Oh well.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 4:01 PM on May 28, 2007


It's surprisingly hard stuff to produce. Braindead simple to compose, but difficult to nail that shimmering polished sound while keeping it hard-hitting. It's like pop production on speed. There are whole communities sprung out of the "DDR scene" devoted to this stuff, and a decent number of westerners who actually DO import it from Japan and listen to it non-stop.

I'm not one of them, but a bunch of my friends are (my standard denial/disclaimer around here for all things Japanese, progrock, and fantasy-wank) - truth be told, I contributed a bit to a failed DDR-style arcade game project, as a favor to one of said friends.. These are people whose primary hobby is making custom "steps" for dance games, testing them out on PC simulators, and sharing them on forums so competitive and drama-filled that they make Metafilter look like a love-in.

People get awful edgy about their sped-up, spastic Euro Disney cheese!
posted by jake at 4:35 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Talk about old school. Domino hasn't done anything decent for years. Pretty much since her and Dave Rodgers broke up.

Speaking as someone who actually has all SEB albums currently made Eurobeat has changed a LOT since the first albums. I have some old Max Coveri on some Dancemania Classics CDs and it's completely different from the stuff you hear on SEB 17x.

Nowadays its more mainstream dance with some silly lyrics and concepts thrown in for good measure. If you listen to some of the stuff by Pamsy, Christine and Annalise and you could play it in a car without your friends going "what the fuck is this shit?". Don't get me wrong you still get some pretty dumb stuff (anything by Bazooka Bill or Franz Tornado) which requires you to take the music not seriously.

If you're looking for boy racer stuff try Go2 (or anything by either Ace or Fastway). Some of the lyrics for some of the songs (i.e Go Racing Go!) are completely stupid but they have a decent beat.
posted by Talez at 4:36 PM on May 28, 2007


When I was in Tokyo for about two weeks I became inexplicably obsessed with Ganguro girls and their even more mysterious relatives the Yamamba. Upon further research into their strange realm, I learned that they were the true hardcore audience of eurobeat, and that the greatest artist of all time, (or at least the one with the greatest name), was their Savior, Franz "MAD COW" Tornado!
posted by afu at 4:47 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


On Ishkur: He's a good starting point for getting up to speed on the basic idea of EDM categorisation. For most people just getting into dance music, the blizzard of genres and terminology can be overwhelming. He cuts through a lot of bullshit and with a few samples and some cleverly worded descriptions gets people more-or-less up to speed quickly. Is it 100% up-to-date and accurate? No, but where else are you going to go?

On Eurobeat--- it's basically just trance-core isn't it? Trance sped up to happy hardcore and drum and bass speed? I don't see it as being particularly japanese? Seems like it's more just music for 12 year olds on ritalin, no matter where they are.

I played a gig at Otakon one year, with basically no knowledge of Anime or american Otaku culture beyond having seen Akira about a dozen times. I was suggested that I play the cheesiest, fastest, dumbest trance I had. I played 3 hours of the dumbest 'hard trance' that I had--stuff that I would have been embarassed to play at a 'real rave', all around 145-150 bpm, with silly vocals and huge breakdowns, and the kids ATE IT UP. They would jump up and down in unison and the whole floor would shake after every breakdown. It was pretty unreal.
posted by empath at 4:48 PM on May 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


On Eurobeat--- it's basically just trance-core isn't it?

Scouse House, surely?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:50 PM on May 28, 2007


Trance-core is a bit above where Eurobeat is at. Eurobeat has dumber lyrics 95% of the time.
posted by Talez at 5:00 PM on May 28, 2007


What the fuck? That Scooter track is just "What Time Is Love" by The KLF, pitched up slightly and with even worse vocals than the original. I mean, I love love love me some KLF-style cheese, but this crosses some sort of line.
posted by 40 Watt at 5:05 PM on May 28, 2007


It's not just that though. During the breakdown in the middle of a song, there's a synth-piano playing the intro to Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper"

it may be the best thing ever
posted by elr at 5:50 PM on May 28, 2007


[removed the self-link, carry on]
posted by jessamyn at 6:02 PM on May 28, 2007


For those of you picking on Ishkur: where's YOUR list?

You can learn a lot about current dance music here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here among many others.
posted by dydecker at 6:27 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's not music for washing your car or doing your income taxes.

coding on the other hand...
posted by bitslayer at 6:41 PM on May 28, 2007


Chinese of all classes have a strong taste for 255bpm+ happy hardcore-ish house. Insanely fast with goofy helium vocals. It's simply too fast to dance to, which I think is the point. They can't dance, but they can jump and thrash and grind around at whatever beat they think they're hearing. And then breed.
posted by trinarian at 7:22 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


In most dance-music styles, 135 beats per minute would be considered rather fast; in Eurobeat, 155 BPM is considered slow.

Being somewhat familiar with how insanely fucking fast Japanese punk rock and hardcore is in general [youtube extravanganza], I'm not terribly surprised. American hardcore is like easy listening to those kids, although with real instruments you pretty quickly run into limitations of the human body.

Sadly, as soon as a band gets semi-famous (cf: Shonen Knife, Garlic Boys) they slow down and turn into melodic pop punk mush. Bleh.
posted by xthlc at 7:53 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


trinarian, there's no such thing as 255 bpm house :)

The fastest house you'll hear is around 155. D&B and hardcore tops out at around 190. Gabber might get up to 200, I don't know. 255, though? No way.
posted by empath at 8:15 PM on May 28, 2007


dydecker - thanks for the links including www.4four.org, ya gotta love a site with threads like "MS Word's formatting makes me want to kill humans", "Annoying net/BB phrases", and "So i am trying to get rid of someone at work". It's like a parallel universe euro-AskMe.
posted by scheptech at 8:57 PM on May 28, 2007


Want greater than 255 BPM? Speedcore! ; )

From the most excellent description on Ishkur's site.....

This isn't music, this is just a gigantic dick-wagging more-hardcore-than-thou staring contest between Hardcore producers to see which of them can be assaulted with "BPM = 1000" on their drum machine and not flinch.

The only speedcore track I really remember is Shaftman (Spanish Flea mixed with speedcore + NSFW vocals). And I don't remember ever encoutering anything that fast at any party I've been too (been to a few hardcore parties but it never got that extreme, or I had become temporarily deaf)

Speedcore/Freeform make excellent code clean-up music, you know when you just typing really really fast without too much thinking.
posted by coust at 9:00 PM on May 28, 2007


"Popcorn" by Hot Butter?

YES!! THAT'S IT! *Get's up and does Snoopy dance in apartment* YAYYY beaucoupkevin! Thank you so much.

What a relief, my brain was wracked trying to think of the name...for over 30 years. No kidding. Thank you.

MetaFilter: Relief.

effugas, A significant amount of the social music experience is tribalism, i.e. creating a difference between those in the crowd, who appreciate, and those outside, who do not.

It's a shibboleth. You failed, as you were meant to. But you also succeeded -- you're not some crazy music listening tokyo brat, you're some highly refined music listening genius. Or something.


Had to look up the word, "shibboleth".

wow, wonderful insight. Thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 9:40 PM on May 28, 2007


American hardcore is like easy listening to those kids, although with real instruments you pretty quickly run into limitations of the human body.


maybe it's nothardcore you are looking for.
posted by geos at 10:32 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Last weekend I showed up to a favorite local bar/club/karaoke joint with some friends to find a supposed "para para team" from Sapporo. It was the first time I had really seen para para and been able to speak with the people dancing.

At first I was really into it. It seemed quite fun and energetic. After about 45 minutes, many of us came to the conclusion that we were never gonna figure out the moves and just stopped trying. That's when I realized that the sort of club dancing that you would find in a club in New York and para para are mutually exclusive. The para para dancers were totally against your more traditional club dancing (once slower songs came on) and those of us that didn't know the para para routines either looked like fools trying to copy them or were forced to hang out on the side lines until other music came on. Mmmmm, internationalization.

Great post, though. I passed it on to my girlfriend who is trying to learn some of the motions as to not be so left out next time.
posted by RobertFrost at 5:19 AM on May 29, 2007


My grievances of Eurobeat are thus:

1. Its useless as dance music to dance too.

I'm a fairly competant night club type dancer and I think theres a reason why artists who aim at people like me make their music at around 130-140 bpm; because you can dance at this rate for hours and hours and hours.

If the DJ then puts something in the 180+ bpm your pushing what you can dance to for any length of time. Anyone who claims to be able to sustain dancing above 180bpm for longer than 10 mins honestly isnt going to be dancing. More likely convulsing - i'm talking controlled reasonably interesting dancing here.

2. Its too soft and best suited to being about Micky Mouse on tv adverts. But this is personal preference.
posted by 13twelve at 5:19 AM on May 29, 2007


What the fuck? That Scooter track is just "What Time Is Love" by The KLF, pitched up slightly and with even worse vocals than the original. I mean, I love love love me some KLF-style cheese, but this crosses some sort of line.

I would have to agree with you, the Scooter track is very iritating.

I am glad that people are still making crazy stupid music, even if it does seem to take us into the realms of a William Gibson/Jeff Noon novel.

Anyway, KLF in 'we nicked the riff for What Time is Love'* shock:

Which brings up a problematic point in the dance-music scene, namely that sometimes it seems like ...

"All the records sound the same!"

Exactly. The riff from 'What Time Is Love?', for example, seems to be turning up in half the dance singles released in Europe at the moment. But given Drummond and Cauty's recent musical history, it's questionable whether they're in any position to complain about it.

"Well, we can't, except ... you know who Andrew Lloyd Webber is? Uhm ... it seems that he had the riff first, on JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR."

He's right. A trip to the record collection confirms that the 'What Time Is Love?' riff is lifted straight out of the track "Judas' Death" in Webber's rock-musical.

"Well we've never heard it ... see, supposedly it isn't even our riff, but we thought it was our riff all this time. We thought 'Hey! All these people are making records using our riff!' but it seems it isn't ... seems it's Andrew Lloyd Webber's," Drummond laughs. "And obviously, he must have ripped it off Mozart or somebody in the first place, Moz' probably got it off, you know ... it'll go right back to the cavemen."

Which, of course, makes it all okay.

*Summary quotation marks.
posted by asok at 4:15 PM on May 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Anyway, KLF in 'we nicked the riff for What Time is Love'* shock:

Well, I'll be hornswoggled. I never noticed that before, but they're right. Damn you, Andrew Lloyd Webber! Somehow, this is all your fault!
posted by 40 Watt at 7:11 PM on May 29, 2007


Ishkur's site is heavy on his own editorializing, and he doesn't exactly hide that fact. But it's still quite useful as a guide to historical styles.

Contemporary styles are harder to categorize, and subject to endless dispute on wankerish message boards like ILXor.com. Only trainspotters have the patience for such things. As always in music, wait five or ten years, and what's going on today will easier to classify in hindsight (or perhaps the critics will simply have come to a rough consensus on which set of convenient oversimplifications to accept).

The broad public, as well as many of us with more extensive knowledge and appreciation of electronic and dance music, are well served by Ishkur's taxonomy.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:06 AM on May 30, 2007


. what Artifice said
posted by Twang at 3:34 PM on May 30, 2007


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