In the late 1980s, a new genre of electronic dance music came to the fore in central Europe, originating especially from the German rave party scene. The music was characterized by a strong bass rhythm, electronic drums and innovative synthesizers. The vocals were either rich and melodic, or rapped. The lyrics were usually about peace, love, dancing and partying, or talked about overcoming difficulties; artists usually sang in English, irrespective of their nationality.
We are, of course, talking about Eurodance, a genre whose influence on international music and pop culture is hard to overstate. Eurodance has enjoyed massive popularity throughout the 1990s and 2000s, and remains popular to this day.
You think you might have never heard of it, let alone listened to it – but odds are, you probably did. In fact, these are all great hits on the dance floors! Here’s a list of ten tremendously famous Eurodance songs!
#1 – Pump Up the Jam – Technotronic (1989, Belgium)
One of the first Eurodance songs ever composed, Technotronic’s Pump Up the Jam was released as a single: it became a worldwide hit by the early 1990s. As it is part of the hip-house genre as well, it is also said to be the first house song to become a hit in the US.
If you’ve watched Space Jam, Bride Wars or some episodes of Family Guy, you might recognize it…
#2 – The Power – Snap! (1990, Germany)
If I tell you “I’ve got the power!”, do you sing it along a certain melody? If so, here’s the next level of FYI: this song is actually German! In fact, the duo Snap! originated in Frankfurt. The video opens to a Russian sentence, which translates as follows:
“The American company Transceptor Technology has started production of the ‘Personal Companion’ computer”.
The Personal Companion was a computer-like device for the blind and visually impaired, released in 1990. It was controlled by voice and could, for instance, automatically download articles from USA Today with help from a built-in modem.
Mostly known for the film Bruce Almighty, this song was featured in several shows, like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Glee and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
#3 – Get Ready for This – 2 Unlimited (1991, The Netherlands)
Talking about Space Jam, you might recognize this, too. Get Ready for This by Dutch group 2 Unlimited is, in fact, one of the most frequently played songs at sporting events around the world, according to ThoughtCo.
This song became immediately successful throughout Europe and worldwide as soon as it was published, thanks to its upbeat rhythm and catching riff.
#4 – What is love – Haddaway (1993, Germany)
“Baby, don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more…” You probably recognize this refrain from the single by Belgian DJ Lost Frequencies, but you might not know that the 2016 song was a cover. The original track was made in Germany, this time in Cologne, and was sung by Trinidadian-German singer and producer Haddaway.
#5 – Saturday Night – Whigfield (1993, Denmark)
Saturday Night, by Danish singer Whigfield, is a song with a truly European background. The piece was first composed by an Italian producer duo, Larry Pignagnoli and Davide Riva; they hired Whigfield while she was living and working in Bologna. After they recorded the song, though, no label was interested in publishing it, until a Spanish DJ played it repeatedly on radio and the general interest of the song increased.
This light-hearted and jumpy song hit the world’s dance floors and unexpectedly became a No. 1 hit in Germany, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Spain and Switzerland, while peaking at No. 2. in Denmark, France, Iceland and Norway.
#6 – Barbie Girl – Aqua (1997, Denmark)
This song doesn’t need much introduction, does it? While being part of the Eurodance genre, Barbie Girl is also the symbol of a specific Scandinavian subgenre: bubblegum dance. In fact, the track can be described as cheerful, catchy and childish. And yet, at the same time, the lyrics sound parodic and sexually suggestive to the adult listeners (“undress me everywhere”, anyone?).
The song seems to be pretty divisive: it was featured in several charts, such as “Best Number One of All Time” (VH1), but also “Most Awesomely Bad Songs… Ever” (again VH1), “20 Most Annoying Songs” (Rolling Stone) and “50 Guilty Pleasures” (MuchMoreMusic). What do you think about it?
#7 – Better Off Alone – Alice DJ (1998, The Netherlands)
If you turn on the radio right now, it’s likely that at some point you’ll hear Does It Matter by Dutch singer Janieck. Guess what? The 2017 song is based on 1993 Better Off Alone… And so was the melody in Play Hard by French producer David Guetta (2013)! The Eurodance song was indeed very influential thanks to its simple but effective riff.
#8 – Blue (Da Ba Dee) – Eiffel 65 (1998, Italy)
This is another song that earned definitely mixed reactions. While it was extremely successful among the public and was featured in several films and TV series (Loser, Iron Man 3, Smurfs: The Lost Village among others), it also received scathingly critical reviews, like this one by Rolling Stone: it “blends Cher-esque vocoder vocals, trance-like synth riffs, unabashed Eurodisco beats and a baby-babble chorus so infantile it makes the Teletubbies sound like Shakespeare”. Ouch!
#9 – Stereo Love – Edward Maya (2009, Romania)
As we enter the late 2000s, Eurodance evolves as a genre: the synths become softer, the bass less persistent and general production decreases. However, some hits were released in the 21st century as well, like Stereo Love, by Romanian musician Edward Maya.
The refrain, which evokes long summer nights, is based on Bayatılar, a song composed by Azerbaijani musician Eldar Mansurov, whereas the music video was filmed in Greece.
#10 – Mr. Saxobeat – Alexandra Stan (2011, Romania)
Last but not least, we find another Romanian artist, Alexandra Stan, with Mr. Saxobeat. Thanks to the upbeat techno beats and the catchy saxophone riffs, this song was internationally successful.
It was featured in media as well, such as TV Series (Suburgatory, CSI: Miami) and video games (Dance Central 3, Just Dance 4).