Hey Hey Italo: Top 40 Italo-Disco, Spacesynth and Eurobeat
Step right up, there are new things to be learned in this article.
You may be looking at this title and thinking, “What the hell is Italo-Disco, Spacesynth and Eurobeat? Italian disco? Gross.” Or, “Is Eurobeat that I’m Blue da ba dee da ba daa thing?”
Good questions, but in reality, these obscure genres are actually quite fascinating.
Italo-Disco, short for Italian Disco, is an electronic offshoot of the disco movement after it died in the U.S. It moved to Europe, where it experienced a resurgence during the ’80s and early ’90s in countries such as Germany, Russia, and Italy. Italo-Disco has risen to new heights within the past few years, with artists making new songs in the style.
Italo-Disco is characterized by disco blended with synthpop, often with a vocalist, and is generally themed around love, heartbreak, and city life, while its main offshoot, Spacesynth, is often instrumental —if there is a vocalist, they are usually distorted through a vocoder — is themed around space travel and science fiction.
Eurobeat is considered the evolution of Italo-Disco, retaining much of the same sound but played at much faster speeds — and often featuring guitars. Lyrics typically revolve around love, cars, Japan, and dancing. Each artist usually has multiple aliases, and there are several prominent Italian metal singers who also have done Eurobeat songs, such as J. Storm aka Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire) and Powerful T. aka Roberto Tiranti (Labyrinth).
The history of Eurobeat is an interesting one, as there are essentially two eras: before and after Initial D.
Starting with the Super Eurobeat compilation series in 1990, Eurobeat was successful but not a breakout hit. However, after being heavily featured in the 1998 street racing anime, Initial D, it exploded across Japan. Not only did Eurobeat begin to be produced solely for the Japanese market, but it caused scarcity of the 1986 Toyota Sprinter Trueno (the protagonist Takumi Fujiwara’s car), and created the Parapara dance movement, where multiple dancers do a synchronized routine to a Eurobeat song.
Eurobeat has also attracted the Japanese Touhou doujin scene, who have produced many Eurobeat albums themed around the PC game Touhou. The Super Eurobeat series is now considered to be the longest running and largest compilation series in the world, with 250 main releases and many side albums.
These 40 songs (15 Italo-Disco and Spacesynth, 25 Eurobeat) are only a very small piece of the Italo scene, but it serves as a good introduction.
Italo-Disco and Spacesynth:
Mike Mareen – Don’t Talk to the Snake
Mirko Hirsch – Lost in Alphaville
Ryan Paris – I Wanna Love You Once Again
Yuri Shatunov – Белые розы (White Rose)
Chris T. – I Wanna Be the Night
Dave Rodgers – Beat of the Rising Sun
Dejo & Bon – Wheelpower and Go
Lou Grant – Don’t Stop the Music
Max Coveri – Running in the 90’s
Mega NRG Man – Back on the Rocks
Nick Mansell – Mission Impossible
Norma Sheffield – Maybe Tonight
Queen of Times – Ever and Ever
Spock – Enter the Sand Man (cover of Metallica’s Enter Sandman)
Valentina – I Love You Like You Are
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.