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Eurodance (sometimes referred to as Euro-NRG, Euro-electronica or Euro) is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in the late 1980s in Europe. It combines many elements of hip hop, techno, [3] Hi-NRG, [1] house music, [1] and Euro disco. [2] This genre of music is heavily influenced by the use of rich vocals, sometimes with rapped verses. This, combined with cutting-edge synthesizers, strong bass rhythm and melodic hooks, establishes the core foundation of Eurodance music. [2]




Eurodance music originated in the late 1980s in central Europe, especially in Germany, where rave parties were becoming popular. By 1987, a German party scene was started by Tauseef Alam, based on the well established Chicago house sound and Belgian new beat in Frankfurt. The following year saw acid house making a significant impact on popular consciousness in Germany and central Europe as it had in England. [5] In 1989, German DJs Westbam and Dr. Motte established the Ufo Club, an illegal party venue, and co-founded the Love Parade. [6] The parade first occurred in July 1989, when 150 people took to the streets in Berlin. [7] It was conceived as a political demonstration for peace and international understanding through love and music. [7] On 19 July 1989, Black Box's single "Ride on Time" was released. The song spent six weeks at No. 1 in the United Kingdom and it was the UK's best-selling single of 1989. [8] It contained the Korg M1's "house piano" [9] which can be found in many Eurodance releases. On 27 September 1989, Technotronic's single "Pump Up the Jam" was released. It reached number one in Belgium [10] [11] and Spain, [12] and it popularised the house variant called hip house in Europe. [13] On 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; free underground techno parties mushroomed in East Berlin, and a rave scene comparable to that in the UK was established. [6] East German DJ Paul van Dyk has remarked that the techno-based rave scene was a major force in re-establishing social connections between East and West Germany during the unification period. [14] In the same year, German producers Michael Münzing and Luca Anzilotti (under the pseudonyms Benito Benites and John "Virgo" Garrett III) formed the Snap! project in Frankfurt. Snap! songs combined imported hip hop and soul vocals adding rhythm by using computer technology and mixing electronic sounds, bass and drums, mainly house music. By doing so a new genre was born: Eurodance. [15]

Rise and fall

Snap!'s first single, "The Power", released in 1990, reached number one in the Netherlands, [16] [17] Spain, Switzerland [18] and the United Kingdom, [19] and it helped to raise awareness of the genre within Europe. In the following years, other Eurodance acts formed in Frankfurt, including La Bouche, Jam and Spoon, Magic Affair, Intermission and Culture Beat. After the breakthrough single "Rhythm is a Dancer" by Snap! in 1992 (number 1 in 12 countries), [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] new groups started to pop up all over Europe, mainly in Belgium, Netherlands and Italy. From 1992 till the decline of popularity after 1995, the sound became more and more NRG-oriented, leading to songs raising in B.P.M. up to 150. The notable songs which defined the genre in this period, dubbed as the "golden era" of Eurodance, are "It's My Life" by Dr. Alban in 1992 (number 1 in 8 countries), [29] "No Limit" by Dutch group 2 Unlimited in 1993 (number 1 in 14 countries, it was Europe's biggest-selling song for 1993), [30] [31] [32] "What Is Love" by Haddaway in the same year (number 1 in 13 countries), [33] [34] [35] [12] [36] "Mr. Vain" by Culture Beat also in the same year (number 1 in 13 countries), [37] [38] [36] "Cotton Eye Joe" by Rednex in 1994 (number 1 in 12 countries) [39] [40] [41] [42] and "Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)" by Scatman John in the same year (number 1 in 9 countries). [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] In the same period the popularity of the genre also expanded further to East Asia, in nations such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan; towards the end of the golden era also in Russia.

By 1995, Eurodance dominated European charts with 5 singles in the top 10 of the singles charts. Despite its success, many observers within the music industry said that the Eurodance sound had to change or die, and Eurodance producers and singers started to follow different paths and different sounds, such as happy hardcore and house music, [48] but not all the groups followed this trend immediately, notably the group 2 Unlimited wanted to remain within Eurodance sounds in order to remain chartbusters, although the producer De Coster predicted a retreat from a poppy to a more clubby sound. [49] Nevertheless, in the second half of the decade the popularity of Eurodance started to decline, and "Scatman's World" by Scatman John was the last major hit of the original Eurodance sound in the Eurochart Hot 100, being number 1 for 3 weeks between late August and early September 1995.

In late 1990s the classic Eurodance sound gradually morphed into bubblegum dance and progressive house. [50] Notable examples of successful Eurodance songs of this era are "Coco Jamboo" by German band Mr. President in 1996, [51] [52] "Freed from Desire" and "Let a Boy Cry" by Italian singer Gala in the same year, [53] [54] [55] "Barbie Girl" by Danish-Norwegian group Aqua in 1997, [56] [57] "Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!" by Dutch group Vengaboys in 1998, [58] [59] [60] "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Italian group Eiffel 65 in 1999 [61] [62] and "Around the World (La La La La La)" by German group ATC in 2000. [63] [64] [65] By the early 2000s Eurodance music disappeared almost completely from the majority of European radio airplay.


The term "Eurodance" gradually became associated with a specific style of European dance music. During its golden years in the mid-1990s, it was referred as "Euro-NRG"; in Europe it was often called "dancefloor" [66] or simply "dance". [67] [ failed verification ]

While some use a much broader definition of what is considered "Eurodance", [1] over time, the term particularly came to refer to an NRG-based genre from the 1990s which included a solo vocalist or a rapper/vocalist duet. [68] Although the term was initially used to describe only European dance music productions, there are some examples of acts from the 1990s produced in the United States, which followed the same music style and became popular particularly in Europe, nowadays are also referred to as Eurodance music.[ citation needed ]

Characteristics of the music

Most Eurodance is characterized by synthesizer riffs, one or more vocals with simple chorus, one or more rap parts, sampling and a drum machine clap beat. [2] [69] Sometimes non-rap vocals are used. [69]

Eurodance often carries a positive, upbeat attitude; the lyrics usually involve issues of love and peace, dancing and partying, or expressing and overcoming difficult emotions. The early to mid-1990s Eurodance vocals were frequently done by a solo vocalist or a mixed rapper-vocalist duet like the male-female duets 2 Unlimited, Captain Hollywood Project, Captain Jack, Pharao, Mr. President, La Bouche, Cappella, Maxx, Masterboy, Culture Beat and Magic Affair. [69] [70]

Many groups used variations of the rapper-vocalist theme, such as a German rapper with American singers (Real McCoy), or the use of reggae rap as in Ice MC and Fun Factory, or combination of rapper and reggae vocalist like in the Life in the Streets album, or scat singing as in Scatman John. [69] Solo singing artists such as Alexia, Dr. Alban, Haddaway, Corona, Livin' Joy, Playahitty, Whigfield, Double You, and DJ BoBo also contributed to the genre. Some acts like the Swedish dance-pop originated group Ace of Base use more pop vocals rather than rap/soul vocals along with Eurodance sound. [71] [72] Pop vocals were particularly popular in the late 1990s Eurodance productions. The Swedish group Rednex also introduced American country music elements into the sound. [73]

Eurodance lyrics are almost always sung in English, regardless of the artist's nationalities. [69] However, there are cases like in the Belgian group's Paradisio where Spanish lyrics are used along with latin music elements. [74] [75]

Almost all Eurodance emphasizes percussion and rhythm. The tempo is typically around 140 beats per minute, but may vary from 110 to 150. [69] [76]

Most Eurodance is very melody-driven. Unlike most pop music, which is usually written in major keys,[ citation needed ] most Eurodance songs are in minor keys, similarly to techno. This, along with positive lyrics, helps contribute to the overall powerful and emotional sound of Eurodance. [2] Besides the contribution of the female or male vocals, there is often a noticeable use of rapid synthesizer arpeggios. [2]


In Europe

Pandora in Karlstad, Sweden, in 2004 Pandora (artist).JPG
Pandora in Karlstad, Sweden, in 2004

From the early to mid-1990s, Eurodance was popular in Europe; the style received extensive airplay on radio stations and television shows, resulting in many singles appearing in the charts. For example, in Italy there were seven singles in the top ten of the chart at the end of May 1995.

By 1996, the popularity of this genre had started to decline. From then, the classic Eurodance sound gradually morphed into progressive house. [50] By 1997 and towards the end of the millennium house and trance music increased popularity over Eurodance in Europe's commercial, chart-oriented dance records. [77] [78] [79] In the early 2000s, the mainstream music industry in Europe moved away from Eurodance in favour of other styles of dance music such as nu-disco, electro house, dance-pop and R&B. [80] [81]

In recent years till today, classic Eurodance songs continue to be loved by a niche group, and the most famous songs are still aired on some of the most popular radio stations and television music channels across Europe.


Italo dance is an offshoot of the Eurodance music genre. It was popular in Italy in the late 1990s to the early 2000s and gained some popularity after the release of the single "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65. The genre had its infancy from 1993 to 1995 and its golden age from 1999 to 2005. Although Italo hits by Eiffel 65, Prezioso, Gigi D'Agostino, Molella, Gabry Ponte and DJ Lhasa still receive substantial airplay, the genre is far from mainstream today where it has been replaced by mostly electro and house music. Prezioso and Molella now produce house and electro and many other artists have also changed their genre, however Gigi D'Agostino, Gabry Ponte and Luca Zeta still produce Italo.

Italo dance is predominantly nightclub-oriented music and mainly produced in Italy. The genre never really became mainstream enough for the whole European market, but received much airplay on Italian radio, especially the dance radio station m2o, and in southern parts of Europe plus in the German speaking European countries.

United Kingdom

After Cappella's Gianfranco Bortolotti set up Media Records in Brescia, northern Italy [82] [83] [84] to release his 'commercial European dance music' (a set-up which included fifteen studios featuring various production teams working almost non-stop on a huge number of records) he decided to take the label into other markets and set up a UK office in the UK. Run by Peter Pritchard and featuring many records by Stu Allan's British Eurodance act Clock, [85] this record company would eventually turn into hard house label Nukleuz (known for its DJ Nation releases). [86] [87]

As Media turned into Nukleuz, it would fall to All Around the World Productions to be the label in the 21st Century which was more likely to release Eurodance tracks in the UK than other, with its Clubland TV music channel still having regular blocks of Eurodance videos in 2020 [88] [89] (though extending its scope to include hits by David Guetta as well as Cascada and Scooter)

Australia and New Zealand

Eurodance was popular in Australia and New Zealand in the early/mid 1990s, particularly during the time of the emergence of warehouse parties and raves. Its popularity in these countries waned in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

North America


During the 1990s, Eurodance became popular in Canada, which produced its own variant called Candance (although it was mostly referred to as "Eurodance" or "dance music"). [90] From about 1992 to 2000, acts such as Capital Sound, Jacynthe, Shauna Davis, Emjay, Love Inc., Temperance, Jefferson Project, Big Bass, DFS, Kim Esty, The Boomtang Boys, Solina, Joée, Roxxy, and BKS among others; originating mainly in major cities of Central Canada such as Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa were hitting the airwaves. The Toronto sound was more pop-oriented, while the Montreal one was more house-oriented. Eurodance received significant airplay on radio stations in the Greater Toronto Area such as Power 88.5, Energy 108 and Hot 103.5. Montreal was also a major Eurodance market, with MC Mario's famous radio show on Mix 96, called "Party Mix" and Bouge de là, a popular TV show on MusiquePlus.

United States

Eurodance is not well known in the United States outside of the major cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami. Exemplifying this is the Eurodance classic "Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)", by Scatman John, an American artist; despite topping the charts in multiple European countries and reaching number 3 in the United Kingdom, it only reached as high as number 60 on the Hot 100. [91] Another notable example is the Life in the Streets album, a combined Eurodance music project from American rapper Marky Mark and Caribbean reggae vocalist Prince Ital Joe, which was not released in the United States, but was a huge success in several European countries including singles like "Happy People" and "United" that topped the German charts. [92] [93]

A few Eurodance artists (including La Bouche, 2 Unlimited, Real McCoy, Cartouche, Corona, Haddaway, and Ace of Base) made the Rhythmic Top 40, Top 40 Mainstream and the Billboard Hot 100 during the early to mid-1990s. However, the sound tended to be more house and the rap-oriented artists received airplay. For instance, the German hip-house project Snap!, the Belgian hip-house project Technotronic and the Dutch techno dance project L.A. Style received quite a bit of airplay early on. [94] [95] [96]

The more Hi-NRG-oriented artists were typically played only during special "mix" shows, and it was often necessary to go to a club to hear Eurodance music. While Eurodance did become popular with club DJs in the United States, radio stations were cautious about playing anything that sounded too much like disco during most of the 1980s and 1990s. By the end of the 1990s, however, some of the later acts such as Italian group Eiffel 65 and Danish group Aqua did receive extensive airplay.

Despite lack of widespread radio play, many Hi-NRG and Eurodance songs are popular at professional sporting events in the United States, especially ice hockey and basketball. [97] [98]

Compilation albums, such as the DMA Dance: Eurodance series of compilation albums (1995–1997) from Interhit Records and Dance Music Authority magazine, [99] were popular and helped to define the genre as well as to make it accessible in the U.S. and Canada. [100]

Hands Up

Hands Up (also known as handz up! (stylized as HandzUp!) or dancecore in East Europe) is a style of Eurotrance music, and a derivation of Eurodance. The genre comes from its name, meaning music that requires listeners to "put their hands up" as well as fitness and danceability.

The genre developed in Germany in the mid to late 1990s as part of the emerging trance music scene, and emerged in distinct form in the early years of the following decade, consuming elements from Eurodance and various other dance genres such as happy hardcore and techno.[ citation needed ] This was also the period during which the genre received its name.[ citation needed ] Representatives of Eurodance such as Starsplash and Mark 'Oh, are sometimes regarded as forerunners of Hands Up. The biggest commercial success was the music until the mid-2000s, Scooter's hit single "Nessaja" at number one on the single charts. [101] [102]

Hands up Disc Jockey Hands Up !.jpg
Hands up Disc Jockey

The synthesizer melodies are often catchy and simple. Often the vocal melody is accompanied by a synthesizer. In contrast to Techno short, high-pitched synthesizer tones are used. Hands Up does not rely on the structure of tension build-up, but is based on the typical verse-chorus-pop music scheme. The main elements are the bassline, drums and a catchy lead sound. A typical stylistic device of hands up are pitched female or resulting feminine vocals, male vocals are also common. In addition, distorted, autotuned, chopped and repeated spoken phrases are common characteristics.

See also

Related Research Articles

Hi-NRG is a genre of uptempo disco or electronic dance music (EDM) that originated in the United States during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Technotronic Belgian electronic music project

Technotronic was a Belgian electronic music project formed in 1988 by Jo Bogaert, who originally gained popularity in Europe as a solo artist with various New Beat projects, including the Acts of Madmen and Nux Nemo. Together with rapper Manuela Kamosi, he produced the single "Pump Up the Jam", which was originally an instrumental released under the name The Pro 24s. Based on Farley Jackmaster Funk's "The Acid Life", this instrumental initially included vocal samples from Eddie Murphy's "Delirious" live set from 1983 and was months later replaced by newer music, along with a lyrics from Kamosi prior to the song's international release in September 1989. With Bogaert adopting the name Thomas De Quincey, a front for the act was put together, utilizing Congolese-born fashion model Felly Kilingi who became the group's rapper, appearing on the single's cover art and in the music video.

No Limit (2 Unlimited song) 1993 single by 2 Unlimited

"No Limit" is a song recorded by Dutch Eurodance band 2 Unlimited in 1993. It was their fifth single in total and the first to be released from their second album No Limits!. The song is one of their most commercially successful singles, especially in Europe, reaching the number-one spot in at least 13 countries and the top 10 in several others. Like previous releases, the UK version of the single removed all of the raps from Raymond Slijngaard, leaving just Anita Dels' vocals. One word from the rap was kept, the word 'Techno' which was looped and repeated during the middle of the song, turning the line into "Techno! Techno! Techno! Techno!" and giving the song an extra vocal hook.

Right in the Night 1993 single by Jam & Spoon

"Right in the Night " is a song by German electronic music duo Jam & Spoon, released as the second single from their album Tripomatic Fairytales 2001. It is a Eurodance song with elements from progressive and vocal trance. It is based on "Leyenda" by the classical composer Isaac Albéniz and features vocals by American vocalist Plavka, with lyrics by Nosie Katzmann. The flamenco-styled riff in the song is played by El Mar, who was trained as a classical guitarist.

Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop) 1994 single by Scatman John

"Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)" is a song by American Eurodance musician Scatman John. It was released in November 1994 as a single, and was later re-released in June 1996 for his second album, Scatman's World. The song is described as "a blend of jazz scatting, rap, and house beats". It reached number-one on the charts in at least nine countries and also won the March 1996 Echo Award in Germany for the best Rock/Pop single.

Another Night (Real McCoy song) 1993 single by Real McCoy

"Another Night" is a multi platinum-selling crossover hit by the German Eurodance and pop music project Real McCoy. The single is featured on their hit album, Another Night (1995), which was the American release of the project's second album, Space Invaders. The song was written and produced in Germany by Juergen Wind and Frank Hassas (Quickmix) in 1993 under the producer team name Freshline.

Twilight Zone (2 Unlimited song) 1996 single by 2 Unlimited

"Twilight Zone" is a song recorded by the Belgian-Dutch Eurodance band 2 Unlimited. It was the second single released in January 1992. The UK release of the single was the first 2 Unlimited single to include the vocals of Anita Doth as they had not been featured on their debut hit "Get Ready for This". However, Ray Slijngaard's raps were once again removed. The instrumental "Rave" version of the track sounds different from the original "Not Enough" version, with a more Hi-NRG style with more bass and added cowbells. The single scored chart success in many European countries and topped the chart in the Netherlands. Twilight Zone was the second single in a row to just miss out on the top spot in the UK again peaking at number 2. It was 2 Unlimited's biggest hit on the U.S. Dance chart reaching number 5. The single won an award in the category for "Best Techno 12-inch Single" on the 1993 WMC International Dance Music Awards.

Pump Up the Jam 1989 single by Technotronic

"Pump Up the Jam" is the opening track on Belgian act Technotronic's album Pump Up the Jam: The Album. Released as a single, it was a worldwide hit, reaching number two in the United Kingdom in 1989 and on the US Billboard Hot 100 in early 1990. The song was later certified triple platinum. It also peaked at number-one in Belgium, Iceland, Portugal and Spain.

Rhythm Is a Dancer 1992 single by Snap!

"Rhythm Is a Dancer" is a song by German Eurodance group Snap!. It was released in March 1992 as the second single from their second studio album, The Madman's Return. Written by Benito Benites, John "Virgo" Garrett III and Thea Austin, and produced by Benites and Garrett III.

Mr. Vain 1993 single by Culture Beat

"Mr. Vain" is a song by the German group Culture Beat, released as the lead single from their second studio album Serenity (1993). It was written by Steven Levis, Nosie Katzmann and Jay Supreme, and produced by Torsten Fenslau. Tania Evans is the lead vocalist and Supreme is the rapper. The song achieved huge success worldwide, reaching number-one in at least 12 countries. In the United States, it peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 2 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. The song earned an award at the German Echo Award in 1994, in the category for "Best International Dance Single".

The Power (Snap! song) 1990 song by Snap!

"The Power" is a song by German Eurodance group Snap!. It was released in 1990 as the lead single from their debut studio album, World Power. The song reached number-one in Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe, as well as on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and Hot Rap charts. On the Billboard Hot 100, "The Power" managed to reach number 2 for one week, behind "Vision of Love" by Mariah Carey.

This Beat Is Technotronic 1990 single by Technotronic

"This Beat Is Technotronic" is the third single from Belgian dance group Technotronic's 1989 debut album. Featuring MC Eric on vocals, the single found its greatest success on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the United States, where it hit number 3. It also peaked at number 14 in the United Kingdom. It is the follow-up to Technotronic's second single, "Get Up! ".

Rockin Over the Beat 1990 single by Technotronic

"Rockin' Over the Beat" is a song by Belgian dance act Technotronic. It first appeared on their debut album Pump Up the Jam in 1989 and was released as a single the following year. It is accredited to "Technotronic featuring Ya Kid K", who co-wrote the track with Jo Bogaert.

<i>World Power</i> 1990 studio album by Snap!

World Power is the debut album by German Eurodance project Snap!, released in 1990 on Bookmark/Ariola Records. The album received generally positive reviews from music critics, as the project's musical style and its vocalists, Turbo B and Penny Ford, were well received. It also achieved considerable commercial success with the help of four international top-ten hits, including its best-selling single "The Power".

Get Up! (Before the Night Is Over) 1990 single by Technotronic

"Get Up! " is a 1990 song recorded by Belgian group Technotronic featuring Ya Kid K. It was released as the second single from the band's debut album, Pump Up the Jam: The Album on which it features as the second track. The single was very successful in many countries, becoming a top 10 hit in Australia, Canada, and U.S. and topping the chart in Belgium, Finland, Spain and Switzerland. In 1998 and 1999, it was re-released respectively under the title "Get Up " and "Get Up ". The song appears in Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 4 and Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix. It contains a vocal sample of James Brown's "Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved". In 2007, the song was covered by Global Deejays who achieved a minor success in France.

Do You See the Light (Looking For) 1993 single by Snap!

"Do You See the Light " is a song by German eurodance group Snap!. It was released in July 1993 as the fourth and final single from their second studio album, The Madman's Return. It reached number-one in Finland, and peaked within the Top 10 in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Omen III (song) 1994 single by Magic Affair

"Omen III" is a song recorded by the German eurodance band Magic Affair, which consists of vocalist Franca Morgano and rapper A.K. Swift. It was released in January 1994, as the lead single from the debut album, Omen . The song is their most successful song, peaking at number-one in Germany, and number 2 in Austria and Finland. It has sold 750,000 copies in Germany alone and Gold status on the single were achieved within just eight weeks of release. In the official UK Singles charts it reached number 17 and sold under 180,000 copies, missing the silver certification just barely. Magic Affair won the 1994 Echo award in Germany, for the best German dance single with "Omen III".

Cult of Snap 1990 single by Snap!

"Cult of Snap" is a song recorded by German Eurodance group Snap!. It was released as the third single from their debut studio album, World Power in September 1990. The song reached No.1 in Spain for four weeks and it also peaked at No.2 in Austria and Zimbabwe. Snap! performed the song on the British TV show Top of the Pops.

Never Alone (2 Brothers on the 4th Floor song) 1993 single by 2 Brothers on the 4th Floor featuring D-Rock and DesRay

"Never Alone" is a song by Dutch Eurodance group 2 Brothers on the 4th Floor. It was released in November 1993 as the third single from their debut album, Dreams. Produced by brothers Martin and Bobby Boer, it is their first single featuring rapper D-Rock and singer Des'Ray. It was a number-one hit in Brazil, Israel and South Africa. In the group's native Netherlands, the single peaked at number 2. In 2014, new remixes of the song by JoeySuki and Jonathan Pitch were released.

Close to You (Fun Factory song) 1994 single by Fun Factory

"Close to You" is a Eurodance song by German band Fun Factory. It was released in March 1994 as the second single from their debut-album, NonStop and peaked at number-one on the Canadian RPM dance chart and at number 22 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in the US. Additionally, it peaked at number 46 on the Billboard Hot 100. In Europe, it reached number 19 in Germany and number 97 in the UK. It uses the same melody as the 1993 hit single "Hold On" by German group Loft.


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