Admitting that you genuinely dig European dance pop is like giving away a deep dark secret. These songs probably weren't cool upon release and, even with the reevaluation of a select few (mostly Italodisco) artists amidst the electro boom a few years back, the bulk of the available material still isn't particularly hip. But cool and hip are fleeting, while ohrwurm (German for “earworm,” or a song that gets stuck in your head) can haunt you for years. If there's one thing that both fans and foes of Eurodisco and its later incarnation Eurodance can say, it's that these pop machines can churn out songs with serious sticking power.
Below is a sampling of Eurodisco and Eurodance hits dating from the '70s to the '00s. Undoubtedly, the melodies of these songs will linger for at least the rest of the day. You might wake up in the middle of the night singing some of them. I should probably apologize in advance.
Boney M “Rasputin”
Consider this the precursor to Milli Vanilli. Frank Farian launched his career as a producer/puppet master with disco outfit Boney M, for which he provided the recorded lead vocals and hired a hip, young performer named Bobby Farrell to front it. The formula proved successful in late-'70s Europe, where Boney M racked up hits that number in the double-digits. A decade later, he would try a similar technique with two dancers named Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus. That time, it didn't work out so well. Farian went on to continued success with bands like La Bouche. Meanwhile, Morvan and Pilatus took the brunt of the world's ire, their story making a tragic turn when Pilatus passed away in 1998.
For all of the impending doom present within the backstory of Boney M., the sound is incredibly funky. This catchy disco number was covered by Finnish metal band Turisas.
Turisas “Rasputin” live at Download Festival, 2007
Dschinghis Khan “Moskau”
A group this over-the-top could only have its roots in one place, Eurovision. While Dschinghis Khan didn't win the annual pop spectacle in 1979, their self-titled song became something of a hit, particularly in Japan, where it was recently covered by Jpop group Berryz Kobo. “Moskau,” which bears at least a few sonic similarities with Boney M's track “Rasputin,” is known for its appearance on the German TV show Disco. The dance sequence is a killer.
Like Boney M, Dschinghis Khan found new life through European metal heads. German band Black Messiah covered “Moskau.” Check out their take on it below.
Black Messiah “Moskau”
Sabrina “Boys (Summertime Love)” (video possibly nsfw)
Sabrina Salerno, best known simply as Sabrina, began her career as a beauty queen and model before transitioning into European pop stardom. Much like her contemporary Samantha Fox, Sabrina was regarded as a sex symbol of the era thanks in part to her curvy figure and revealing wardrobe. In fact, the white bikini worn in the clip for “Boys (Summertime Love)” was so skimpy that the video actually stirred up a bit of controversy when it first hit television sets. Video aside, the song was a massive hit throughout Europe. Upon the revived interest in Italodisco earlier this decade, “Boys” found new life in US nightclubs.
In 2004, European electro-punk outfit LTNO covered “Boys” in a fashion that sounds almost like Peter Murphy gone metal. Check it out below.
Army of Lovers “Crucified”
By the early 1990s, techno and house had become a global phenomenon and nowhere was that more evident than in Europe, where the conventions of the two genres had infiltrated pop music, forming a sound known as Eurodance. Throughout the decade, the biggest hits of the continent would occasionally pepper the US top 40 as well (e.g. Haddaway “What is Love?”, 2 Unlimited “Get Ready for This”, Eiffel 65 “Blue (Da Ba Dee)”). Of all these songs, though, it is Army of Lovers' 1992 hit “Crucified” that remains the most outrageous.
Everything about the Swedish band's biggest hit single was epic, the rousing chorus, the sexy take on rococo fashion, the proclamation “I cry, I pray mon dieu. Adieu mon dieu!” In 2007, Army of Lovers briefly reformed (sans original member La Camilla) and played at G-A-Y in London. Judging from the video below, the song is still wildly popular. Founding member Alexander Bard also produced Alcazar's international mega-hit “Crying at the Discoteque.”
Army of Lovers “Crucified” live at G-A-Y, London
Dannii Minogue “Begin to Spin You Round”
Although Dannii Minogue is actually Australian, she's partially based in the UK, where, in addition to scoring numerous dance hits, she's a judge on The X Factor. Consider her both an underdog and superstar of Eurodance. Those who keep up on British media know that, despite two decades of work, she's still frequently viewed as “Kylie's little sister.” Out in the US, where Kylie is considered something of a two-hit wonder, Dannii's virtually unknown. But she is consistent with the dance floor jams.
“I Begin to Wonder” stems from the 2003 release Neon Nights and is a revamped version of a club track created by DJ/producer Jean -Claude Ades. “Begin to Spin You Round” is particularly significant as it pairs the single with the '80s classic “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” playing up on the mash-up trend that dominated nightclubs in the early portion of this decade. More recently, she collaborated with DJ Jason Nevins on the single “Touch Me Like That,” which makes use of a sample from Sylvester's “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” Last year, Ades released alternate versions of “I Begin to Wonder.”
Jean-Claude Ades “I Begin to Wonder 2008”