Mr. Lava's Trash Music Compendium

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

(May 2005)

The iTunes selection is improving. They have been adding old Eurotrash tracks to their catalog (for example, DuMonde's mighty "Human" is now available), and whenever they nab a 20 track German pop hits CD it just rains Eurotrash!

Kate Ryan - The Rain
Detractors sneer that Kate Ryan's second album, which was released recently in a slightly different form stateside, is "just pop." Well, it's damn good pop, as the beautiful "The Rain" demonstrates. Not a dancefloor pumper, but a glorious way to open a compendium.

M.I.A. - Hombre
The comely M.I.A.'s most surreal track from her debut album is the sexually charged "Hombre," which features cool vocal bits that remind me of the Trio Bulgarka.

Maria Isabel - Antes Muerta Que Sencilla
Maria Isabel won the Eurovision Junior competition last year, and belts out the, uh, exotic-esque "Antes Muerta Que Sencilla," which enjoyed some Italo dance success.

Pure Star - Beautiful Love
Pure Star's "Beautiful Love," from the excellent French Eurodumdum label Airplay Records, reminds me of some of the Europop stuff from around the turn of the millennium (Daddy DJ in particular). It features a sweet male vocal, a slightly awkward Franglish-language sentiment, and a funky keyboard riff. Am I nostalgic for 2001 already?

D'Angelo - Cosmic Love
Taking the irresistible hook that dominates Simple Minds' 1982 classic "New Gold Dream (81, 82, 83, 84)," D'Angelo (not the American guy, but an Italian DJ) has produced the groovy, cowbell-laden "Cosmic Love." To be honest, I like his countrymen USURA's 1992 take on the same sample more (since USURA had all the subtlety of a falling anvil), but you can't go wrong with this hook.

Danielle - La Poupee
Danielle takes an old French pop tune called "La Poupee" and gives it a relatively restrained Benassi-esque treatment. It's delightful. Kontor Records forecasts a bit optimistically that the 17 year-old Danielle will become Germany's Alizeé. Hahahaha; if you clicked the Kontor link you'll find that it's now broken--and the Alizee site is closed! Somehow, this all reminds me of "Ozymandias." Oh ye supposedly eternal legends of Europop! What hath become of ye? Anyway, best I can tell Danielle made one other pop appearance providing vocals on a Jan Wayne song (she also posed on the CD cover in a swimsuit), then disappeared.

Paul Masterson presents Subway - What U Got What U Do
Paul Masterson presents Subway, i.e., he presents himself under a new alias, who in turn presents the cheerily loopy "What U Got What U Do." Man, those are some chipper synths jumping around in there!

Avanto - The Flute (Mike Shiver Remix)
Avanto's "The Flute" gets an excellent Mike Shiver remix treatment. The analog synth melody in this beautiful trancer reminds me a bit of Jurgen Vries's "The Theme." No vocals to fuck things up. Lasgo, Ian Van Dahl, and 4 Strings, take note.

Bucci Bag - More Lemonade (Sparkling Version)
Andrea Doria gave us the excellent "Bucci Bag" back in 2002, and now a group called Bucci Bag has given us the similarly flavored "More Lemonade." Any song featuring a stern admonition that "no one has the right to touch you in your bathing suit area" is an ipso facto masterpiece. A ton of good remixes are available of this tune (a novel concept—remixes that are different enough to merit listening to them all), but my favorite is the Sparkling Version.

Vitalic - My Friend Dario
The reliably manic Vitalic delivers the pounding "My Friend Dario," which is tearing up Italo dancefloors with its ridiculously fun rock guitar riff. Sounds like Dario could use some driving lessons, though.

Climax 69 - Ambience (D-Light Remix)
It had seemed to me a while back that trance was pretty much dead, and that made me a sad panda. But Climax 69's gorgeous "Ambience (D-Light Remix)" raised my spirits considerably. It demonstrates that Drizzly Records (which also gave us the wonderful "Flute" song, above) is keeping the trance spirit alive. Gorgeousness of this tune manages to transcend the artist's smirky name.

Qkumba Zoo - The Child (Inside)
Stateside Seaworld commercials are reminding us of a time when musicians (scare-quotes optional) took pleasure in crafting catchy, original tunes, by using Qkumba Zoo's "The Child (Inside)" in their adverts. It's a spritely piece of tribal Eurofromage bouyed by a somewhat piercing (some might say "ethereal") female vocal. Highly recommended for jumping porpoises.

Mario Lopez - Angel Eyes
The spirit of old school Europop is alive and well in the competent hands of Mario Lopez, whose "Angel Eyes" is as pretty a representative as you could ever hope to find of the fading genre. It is a cover of a 2003 song by Primadonna ("Lucky Star").

Scooter - All I Wanna Do
Scooter's Mind the Gap finds the band in fine form, or formulaic form, or something. How can you hate a group that makes a happy hardcore number out of Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do"? How can you forgive them?

U.S.U.R.A. - Open Your Mind
And finally, I recommend that you track down USURA's "Open Your Mind" to hear an Alternate Dancefloor Deployment of that same Simple Minds sample used by D'Angelo. You can find it on old Deconstruction records compilations stateside. Thirteen years later it still delivers as much oomph as four cups of joe.

(September 2005)

A long hiatus with the compendium, I know. Let me make it up to you with three rapid posts in a row over the next week!

Tight Fit - Fantasy Island
Considering ABBA's success, I often wondered if that Swedish supergroup spawned any rip-off acts. Sure, one could argue that any Europop group with two females on vocal duties could qualify (say, Ace of Base), but none of these really sound like ABBA clones. Well, now I have uncovered an odd blip on the Eurodance radar, from 1982. The band was called Tight Fit. Their "Fantasy Island" sounds almost EXACTLY like ABBA, so much so that there is an Internet rumor that Tight Fit received cease-and-desist letters from ABBA's own record label. Group resurfaced to moderate success later on with a trashed-up cover of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," then sank into the murky seas of oblivion. You can buy used Greatest Hits of Tight Fit CDs for the same price you'd drop on a McDonald's meal, testimony to the enduring appeal of the group, i.e., none to speak of.

Kasabian - L.S.F.
Kasabian's "L.S.F." is being cited by some critics as a return to the baggy days of early 90's UK indie rock. It's damn catchy, that's for sure. Even Italian top 40 radio has given it their seal of approval.

Verbalicious - Don't Play Nice
Verbalicious is a "pint-sized rapstress from the UK" (from her website). Her single, "Don't Play Nice," charted well in the UK. Having already enjoyed a minor television acting career, and having contributed a song to the Disney Sleepover soundtrack, this teenager is not exactly from da street, yo. But "Dont' Play Nice" is pleasing.

Jovanotti - (Tanto)3
Italian electro-rapper Jovanotti scored big in his country with the infectious "(Tanto)3." Plus, he contributed one of the most memorable performances at his country's Live8 concert. Wrote one reviewer of his Live8 concert back on 2 July 2005 (no link since the entry is now deleted): "Doesn't matter what language he's speaking, this is music to move to, and as he shouts, 'Roma,' the energy an escalating slow-burn, you want whatever this cat is selling."

Nâdiya - Si loin de vous
With "Si loin de vous," French chanteuse Nadiya delivers an aggressive bit of R&B graced with a steady, solid beat and the same sorts of orchestral florishes (read: lots of timpani) that made her previous single "Et c'est parti" so pleasing. Think of her as the real Sporty Spice; she was the French national champion at the 800 meter run a decade before she entered the music business.

Planet Funk - Stop Me
Jovanotti's countrymen Planet Funk have fascinated me in the years since their Ibiza classic "Chase the Sun," (featured way back on Volume 1). Their tunes have been more rock'n'roll ever since that ethereal classic, suggesting that "Chase the Sun" was merely an attention-grabbing exercise designed to give the band the freedom to go into other artistic directions. I haven't been thrilled with subsequent singles from the group. But "Stop Me" has grown on me. With its male vocals and electro/rock stylings, it sounds a bit like Gary Numan, and it even includes hints of the keyboard trippiness that made "Chase the Sun" such a classic.

Kylie Minogue - I Believe in You
Kylie Minogue has been sorta slinky lately when I'd rather she be sorta beaty (her sis seems to have assumed the family's boom-boom duties). But with "I Believe In You" Kylie hooks up with Scissor Sisters and returns to the hypnotic four-four fodder associated with her classic Fever album. Lyrically, the concept seems a bit like a rip-off of "Believe" from the Run Lola Run soundtrack. Musically, it's pulsating, shimmery, electro-gloss. Verdict: another winner from Kylie.

Thomas Falcon - High Again
Thomas Falcon, i.e., Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk, seems to be trying to make up for the dull crap that typified the group's last album by offering more obvious crowd-pleasers. Enter "High Again," wherein a loop of the classic Chris de Burgh "High on Emotion" is played ad nauseum through a filter. Redundant, yes, but you can't go wrong with such a hook.

Alex Gaudino and Jerma present Lil' Love - Little Love
Alex Gaudino and Jerma present Lil' Love, who in turn present an uplifiting house tune called "Little Love." It's a cover of a Coldcut/Lisa Stansfield track from 1989 called "People Hold On," and (except for the title change) is refreshingly faithful to the original (i.e., they don't just sample the chorus and hit "repeat" [see previous Thomas Falcon single]). They add a big, fat synth hook which is guaranteed to kick your ass. It could be the "Lola's Theme" of 2005, and it's one of the best things I've heard all year.

Armin van Buuren - Shivers
Armin van Buuren is back in fine form with "Shivers." The tune has an appropriate goosebump-evoking quality. My only gripe is that there are several other tunes that are just a wee bit better, like say Rising Star's "Touch Me," or Perpetuous Dreamer's "Future Funland" (which both bear the Armin imprint). But for those who have been waiting a while for songs of that calibre, this will certainly fit the bill for now. "Birth of an Angel," the instrumental take, is also excellent (for those who prefer their trance vocal-free).

Commander Tom - Attention! (F and W Remix)
Commander Tom's "Attention! (F and W remix)" certainly earns its exclamation point. A mad electro stormer with fat synth chords to buoy it along, this track might maim. Massive.

Bomfunk MC's - Live Your Life
In 2002 the Bomfunk MC's offered "Live Your Life," which added fat synth chords ("fat synth chords" pop up a lot in my writing, don't they?) to the "Freestyler" formula. Honestly, the song is nothing much, but it's so decidedly Euro that I cannot help but feel happy when I hear it.

2 Small DJ's - I Only Wanna Be With You
Another Benassi-esque/classic pop marriage: 2 Small DJ's take on Dusty Springfield's "I Only Wanna Be With You." Sounds pretty much like you'd imagine—but worse.

Infernal - Balagan (Hava Nagila)
Isn't it about time somebody made a Eurotrash tune out of "Hava Nagila"? Infernal offer us "Balagan," which finally fills the necessary void. Includes the requisite motivational rapper. First-rate trash guaranteed to tear up any Eurodancefloor—or bar mitzvah!

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

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