Mr. Lava's Trash Music Compendium

Another round-up of the best, the worst, and the most intriguing trash of the past and present.

VOLUME 49
(June 2006)
         


The hottest girls in the world might be Slovenian volleyball players.

Studio B - C'mon Get it On (Radio Edit)
2006
As instantly likeable a song as any you'll ever find. The radio edit is jam-packed with audio goodies—which are strangely lacking in the so-called "extended mix." So what is the "extended mix" an extension of, exactly? Or, one might ask, what is the "radio edit" an edit of? And while we're on the subject, ever since I encountered the term on a Millane Fernandez CD single I've wondered: "What is an 'Extended Edit'?" Anyway. The guy rapping the verses sounds exactly like the bloke out of Black Eyed Peas; the fellow doing the choruses sounds exactly like George Michael. Sandwiched in between are tasty slabs of keyboard melody on top of slamming beats. Without even a second of breathing room, it's a triumph in relentlessness. That's the "radio edit" I'm describing, by the way—though the Freemasons Mix is excellent, too.

Ian Betts & Oceanforce - Polarise (Original Mix)
2005
Boasts an excellent build-up followed by a hooky riff that strikes an ideal balance between bitter and sweet. Strong bridges link the "choruses" (this being an instrumental) and some additional musicianship is tossed in to make this 9½ minute monster listenable from start to finish. Fans of 2000-era trance will find themselves on overly familiar ground, but what can I say? It's as fine a tune as any played at Gatecrasher back in the day.

Sylver - Make It
2005
Sylver suffers from chronic "I'm pretty but not beautiful" syndrome. Every song serves as a lectern from which lead singer Silvy De Bie delivers a sermon on the miseries of her love life while Wout van Dessel backs her with dull music. "Make It" is no exception. But it's worth noting anyway for its inspired incorporation of the same wacky vocal sample that made Tomcraft's magnificent "Bipap Song," well, bipap. Did Sylver sample Tomcraft, or did the two artists draw from the same source material? The Council of Europe is looking into the matter.

C.O. (Club Oriented) - Alegria (Alegria In Da mix)
2006
In 1996 I heard the beautiful "Alegria," and then was disappointed to learn that the song was written for Cirque du Soleil. Associations with face-painted French contortionists aside (They're just colorful, flexible mimes, aren't they? Since when do we like mimes?), the song is gorgeous. C.O. (Club Oriented) agrees, so the group house-ified the melody (their standard 12" version is subtitled "Alegria In Da mix"; there's also a slower, funkier mix featuring a laid-back rapper). The result is currently enjoying Italian dance chart success. This new version is better than the original, because by adding those thumpy house elements the song gets much-needed teeth lacking in the too-sugary original.

Of course, in Eurodance, when somebody covers something, it's usually only a matter of weeks before somebody else tackles the same tune. So, a group called Joyful have also tackled "Alegria," and to be fair, there's just no way for me to be sure which came first. But I endorse C.O.'s version over Joyful's.

DJ BoBo - Love is All Around
1995
For a slab of classic Eurodance, you cannot go wrong with an artist who calls himself "DJ BoBo." Before his Coca-Cola-endorsed "Chihuahua," before his thoroughly disgusting/brilliant cover of "Flashdance (What a Feeling)," came "Love is All Around," a mid-nineties classic that exhibits all the best qualities of tru-trashdom. Which is to say there's a diva vocal, dumb Bobo rap, and huge synth hooks.

K3 - Oma's aan de top
2001
K3 were a Belgian girl group who sang perky pop songs in Dutch for the 10-and-under set. So, why not check out "Oma's aan de top," a 2001 entry, where the young women sing the praises of a grandmother—"grandma's the 'top'," or "best" is the rough translation.

September - La La La (Never Give It Up) (Extended Mix)
2003
Swedish dance tune featuring soulful female vocals atop glossy Euro-beats. There's a little lifting from Planet Funk's "Chase the Sun," a dash of Kylie Minogue, and every Eurotrash song with "la la la" in its chorus. This Stockholm Records release was massive in Russia and Eastern Europe, but seems to have made no impact on the west. I wonder what other dance music secrets the Russians are hiding?

Supermode - Tell Me Why
2006
A shimmering slab of Euro-house with a wailing divo and a moody synth melody cribbed from Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy."

Big Affair - Hombre (Yo No Puedo Vivir Without You) (D-Deck vs Ale B Extended Mix)
2006
Comes hot on the heels of Club's recent "Don't You (Forget About Me)"-sampling "Action," sharing the same basic chords as the 1980's Simple Minds hit. "Hombre" has an especial melodic lushness lacking in most of the electro-based Italo stuff being kicked out these days, and a weirdly androgynous-sounding vocal that makes it an immediate stand-out. It's the best new song of the last few months, and as the weeks tick by it seems more and more likely to be a contender for top song of the year. :-O

Markus F - Gates of Eden (Club Mix)
2003
Withstands the potentially crippling blow of a cheesy goth-like female vocal by killing off offending chick early in the tune. The resultant void makes room for an excellent keyboard riff (with some particularly inspired and aggressive flourishes), followed by lots more nice keyboard work throughout.

Saphira - Just for You (Verano Club Mix)
2006
A sort of happy trance update to the whole ATC la la la la sound, and works well as such.

Dyyni - City of Moving Water (Robert Gitelman Remix)
2005
After an exhilerating opening three minutes, this trance monster switches gears and rolls out an eerie melody that emerges from the murky depths like skyscrapers rising out of Lake Michigan. Goosebumps galore!

Dickheadz - Pimp My Stereo (Single Edit)
2005
July will mark the 5th anniversary of the legendary "Eurotrash or Eurotreasure?" parties. As this has put me in a nostalgic frame of mind, I recall that I used to feature many more dumb comedy songs in these compendiums than I do today. So now is an appropriate time for me to, uh, pimp "Pimp My Stereo" (the "single edit" is all you need), the main musical element of which is a keyboard farting Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake." It's terrible, but as the band is called "Dickheadz," it's also critic-proof. A real cultural experience for those uninitiated in the ways of tru trash—a download I-dare-you.

 
VOLUME 50
(September 2006)
         


Fifty times I have collected a batch of favorite Eurodance tunes, past and present, and presented them here. Here's more of the same panoramic scope and brilliant insight you've come to expect from me.

ABBA - La Reina del Baile
1980
ABBA are a band you may have heard of. They lived in a world called "The 1970's," a distant decade defined by tensions with Iran; high oil prices; and glossy, electronic dance music. ABBA were shrewd about their worldwide reach, which is why they re-recorded several of their songs in Spanish. Check out "La Reina del Baile" to see what I mean. (Thank God it's not happy trance!)

Marianne Rosenberg - Herz aus Glas
2004
I had my initial doubts, but German disco legend Marianne Rosenberg turned in a superb German-language cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass." There is no happy trance in it!

Clarisse Muvemba & SUMO - Nini (Claude Monnet Remix)
2006
Tune seems to have taken a long trip to find a wide release (I am certain I heard a variation of this tune in December 2004 in Paris; I have my notes from that night to back me up; I am a Eurotrash scholar). It's sort of an homage to Donna Summer's "I Feel Love," and is boueyed by infectious chants of "gimme love" before a funky sprinkling of disco strings. The label suggests I might be confused; they report that the song is sung in Lingala and that the lyrics are "Kembela-kembela-kembela ye pima-a Zibula-zibula-zibula ye pima-e." One thing I'm not confused about: there is a copious (and much appreciated) lack of happy trance in this number.

Uniting Nations - Ai No Corrida (Uniting Nations Extended Mix)
2006
Another 80s cover, this one being a bit more obscure: Quincy Jones's "Ai No Corrida" getting the trash treatment. It's yer basic, by-the-numbers house-cover, which makes it superior to your basic by-the-numbers happy trance song!

Hot Banditoz - Shake Your Baila (1, 2, 3 Alarma)
2005
Those Hot Banditoz made a big splash with their tropical dum-dum "Veo Veo," a song that a Latin girl once informed me was the "wrong kind of Latin music" to play at a party. Well, the group did it again in 2005 with "Shake Your Baila (1, 2, 3 Alarma)," which is, for all intents and purposes every bit as good as "Veo Veo." I like the inclusion of the chick cheerfully shouting "eins, zwei, drei!" amidst all the Spanglish posturing. Horribly reviewed by users on Amazon.de—but even they would have to admit that the song is not as bad as happy trance.

Alexia - Me and You
1998
The first time I heard Sugar.m's "Ready 4 Yo' Kiss" I felt there was something familiar about its melody. Later I realized that that was because it was a rip-off of the immensely superior Alexia classic, "Me and You." In 1998 the Italians were feeling left out of the whole Eurodance phenomenon (consider: Snap!, Haddaway, and La Bouche were German; Dr. Alban was Swedish; Aqua was Scandinavian, etc.), so they crafted this excellent tune. Alexia has a big voice, and the song contains awesome house-organs, the requisite "la la la" 1990's Eurodance refrain, and a rap courtesy of Double You, who gave us his legendary interpretation of "Please Don't Go" some years earlier. In 2003 Alexia won the San Remo song competition with a ballad. But "Me and You" looks to be her defining moment, a symbol of the exciting dance music era that existed before happy trance came along and ruined everything.

Amos - Only Saw Today/Instant Karma
1994
My friend Richie loaned me a dufflebag full of Bravo Hits CD's from Germany in order to ready me for an Atlanta Bierfest DJ gig. Amos's Eurodance/reggae sorta-cover of "Only Saw Today/Instant Karma" was on one of those discs. It follows the basic Eurodance cover premise of combining original yet generic-sounding rapped (in this case reggae-style) verses followed by a singing of the original song's chorus. Sorta dumb. But not as dumb as happy trance!

DJ Adamus & Mafia Mike Pres. Wet Fingers vs. Wanda i Banda - Hi Fi Superstar
2006
A souped-up techno cover of a song by 1980's Polish New Wave group Wanda i Banda. The Poles are leading a huge Eurodance boom-boom revolution—only they usually forget to bring melodies. This is a wonderful exception, a nutty exercise in pounding beats, thick synths, and twisted vocal samples. Not tasteful, but not happy trance, either.

French Affair - L'amour
2006
French Affair has returned in very different form from that of their classic 2000 Eurodance debut (the only thing that told me it was the same "French Affair" was that they continue to write their name the same way). Thanks to a new vocalist who, unlike her predecessor, sings the majority of her lyrics in French; plus some stylish indie-dance touches, they sound Frenchier than they did six years ago. Their new album, Symphonie d'Amour is great. Perhaps their finest track is "L'amour," which owes more than a little to Serge Gainsbourg's superb "Bonnie and Clyde." It's a different world from the one the group explored in such Eurodance classics as "My Heart Goes Boom," but open-minded Eurodance fans will find much to like. Being closed-mindedly hostile towards happy trance, on the other hand, is a fine way to be!

Apoptygma Berzerk - Kathy's Song (Come Lie Next To Me)
2000
Worldwide fame has eluded Norwegian band Apoptygma Berzerk because nobody can spell their name. They generally produce so-so gothy/dance/rock hybrid tunes (that looks more interesting in writing than their music actually sounds). But their "Kathy's Song (Come Lie Next To Me)" is so spectacularly gorgeous that it even managed to tickle the imagination of trance-meister Ferry Corsten, who gave it a remix. The lovely vocodered vocals in the second half will remind die-hard Eurotrashers of MC Lan's "Generate Bodies"; there are echoes of Gigi D'Agostino in there, too. Delicate and beautiful. Unlike happy trance.

Duran Duran - Nice (Eric Prydz Radio Mix)
2006
The story goes that Duran Duran's "Nice" single got dropped after "Whatever Happens Tomorrow" underperformed. But Eric Prydz's smoldering remixes of the song were leaked anyway, which eventually spurred a late release. Not sure why there isn't a full 12" mix on iTunes, or anywhere else I've looked, for that matter, and I'm not quite sure what the differences are between the various Eric Prydz mixes. On iTunes the Eric Prydz radio mix has about twenty seconds of silence appended to the end, increasing its running time (it's actually about 3:15). Anyway. The song itself is slammin' vocodered exhileration, and it is a colossal improvement over the original (that you never heard anyway). Happy trance, on the other hand, is not an improvement over anything.

Aaron McClelland [was also released under the name "Rebus"] - Cruel (Fonzerelli Full Vocal Club Mix)
2006
Here is one of those hip recommendations that this web site is so sorely lacking in. Currently enjoying success as a top ten DJ Download (this means it has some street-cred, as opposed to, say, Dickheadz), this electro number features a lyrical bitterness to temper the extreme funkiness of the music. Mr. McClelland (who remixed this himself under his Fonzerelli alias) even tosses in some strings and subtle time adjustments for good measure. That's called "inventiveness," something you don't find in the genre they call "happy trance."

Nick Sentience and Mike Loney - Corona (Original Mix)
2006
Nick Sentience and Mike Loney find a way to combine everything they love about dance music into their "Corona (Original Mix)," including soaring trance keyboard flourishes and a 303. It's pinwheel-eyed psychedelia that will give all but the most resilient of dance music fans a migraine. Still, even over the course of its nearly 8 minutes, it won't cause half the brain damage you'd expect from just 3 minutes of happy trance.

RMB - Reality
1996
RMB give us another reason why happy hardcore might have been unfairly maligned. The Geddy Lee-esque vocals are unfortunate ("Lava right ahead!" he cries; uh, can't you just step out of the way?), but the frantic, baroque-style keyboard work demonstrates what made the best happy hardcore tracks so great. Happy trance, on the other hand, is an entirely different genre. Happy trance is a genre that sucks.

Bangbros - Bangjoy the Music
2006
Look what the cat dragged in. It's Bangbros' "Bangjoy the Music." It's (*ahem*) a happy trance song, and it's shite. But it bravely addresses the misery that all top Eurotrash DJ's must repeatedly confront: hip-hop fans who are unhappy with the DJ's perkier selections. This song is silly, crude, and rude (auf Deutsch, no less), but in its own strange way it's also an historic reflector of the dance/hip-hop divide. Give the Bangbros credit for reminding us that if there's one genre of music that's shittier than happy trance, it's hip-hop!


The compendiums:

2001 06/07
2001 08
2002 01
2002 01
2002 01/02
2002 04
2002 06
2002 09
2002 10/11
2002 12/2003 01
2003 02
2003 03/04
2003 05/06
2003 06
2003 08
2003 09
2003 10/12
2004 02/07
2004 07/09
2004 11
2004 12
2005 01/03
2005 05/09
2005 09
2005 12
2006 03
2006 06/09
2006 11/12
2007 01/03
2007 04/05
2007 06/07
2007 09/10
2008 01
2008 04/06
2008 06/07
2008 09/12
2009 02
2009 04/06
2009 08/09
2009 10/11
2010 01
2010 02/03
2010 04/07
2010 08/10
2010 11
2011 01/03
2011 04/05
2011 06
2011 09



© 1997—2011 King Pigeon Productions