Mr. Lava's Trash Music Compendium

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

(November 2006)

The Knife - Heartbeats
While hanging out in Aarhus's Ris Bar (pictured above) on a Saturday night, we heard the DJ drop a great tune from Sweden. It was The Knife's "Heartbeats", a hooky synth-pop song with a slow, slinky, sexy groove to it.

Karmah - Love and Pain
Karmah's "Every Breath You Take"-sampling "Just be Good to Me" is charting all over Europe, but an even better song is their "Love and Pain." Think of it as a Eurodance approach to R&B music. The accents are thick, but the melodies are sweet.

Rammstein - Engel
Rammstein's "Engel," dating back to 1997, is another ethereal metal song from Germany's best rock band. Dig that back and forth between the male and female vocals.

All Saints - I Know Where It's At
It seems criminal not to have mentioned Brit girl group All Saints at some point on this website. Euro VH-1 played their "I Know Where It's At" video during a retro show one morning while we were hanging out in Copenhagen. It was the group's first big hit, and honestly I don't think they ever topped it. Worth a thought: one All Sainter hooked up with Liam Gallagher from Oasis, another paired up with Liam Howlett of the Prodigy, and everybody's careers went downhill after that.

Fishing for Compliments - Teenager In Love
Fishing for Compliments offer a charming take on "Teenager In Love," which, as Europop covers must always be, consists of the original song's chorus sandwiched between original rap lyrics. It's sugar overload, but sometimes that's just what your body needs!

Souvenirs - Jeg hader Susanne
During my vacation in Denmark I picked up a greatest hits CD for a group called Souvenirs. The copyright dates of the tracks suggest that the duo had a short mid-to-late-nineties career. The singer is super-hot, for those who care, like I do, because I am shallow in that way. The best song on the CD was the strangely mesmerizing "Jeg hader Susanne."

Scissor Sisters - I Don't Feel Like Dancin'
Scissor Sisters' Leo Sayer-esque "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" was getting heavy airplay in Denmark. I felt it was the first Scissor Sisters to live up to the band's hype. In fact, I have been lip-synching it in my apartment four times a day. The video is a marvel, too.

Holly Dolly - Dolly Song (Leva's Polka)
The peculiar "Dolly Song (Leva's Polka)" from Holly Dolly is one of the catchier Italo dance tunes of this year, which doesn't say much, as Italo dance has been having a particularly bad year. It's a sped-up, techno-ized remake of a popular Finnish polka. It's a little nutty, a little silly, and lots of fun.

Tarantino - Pulp Fiction (Kill Bill Part 1 Electro Mix)
Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction (Kill Bill Part 1 Electro Mix)" first surfaced on a self-proclaimed Ibiza dance compilation. The iTunes critics had a field day ripping it apart, keen to differentiate this from what they believe is the more authentic Ibiza sound. But here's my philosophy. First, would the universe be complete without a Quentin Tarantino dance mix? And second, if you were going to do a Quentin Tarantino dance mix, could you do it any better than this? The answers, in case you're stupid, are "NO!!!!!"

Aaron Smith feat. Luvli - Dancin' (JJ Flores and Steven Smooth remix)
Aaron Smith and Luvli's "Dancin' (JJ Flores and Steven Smooth remix)" is a bouncy, technicolored house number. The wonderfully fluid female vocal elevates this above the usual fare. The singer's voice has an appealing sort of Nelly Furtado quality. Groovy!

Lens - Let the Light In (Jaytech Remix)
Lens's "Let the Light In (Jaytech Remix)". Adjectives: "trancey," "instrumental," "lush," "haunting." That'll do.

Yordis - The Need (Original Mix)
Hands-down the best dancefloor pumper of this little set list, Yordis's "The Need (Original Mix)" has an excellent call-and-response quality to it. It comes with everything a great dance song needs in 2006, including groovy electro garnishes alongside wistfully beautiful keyboard sounds, male and female vocals, a great chord progression, and a slamming beat. Soopa doopa! It's on

Adam White and Anthony Dean - Out of Knowhere
Adam White and Anthony Dean offer the crappily titled "Out of Knowhere." That grievance aside, this is a gorgeous, goosebumpy trance tune that provides the requisite spaciness demanded of the genre (including NASA transmissions and some Vangelis-like swoops in the final minutes).

Caroline Henderson - Made in Europe
Seldom is the word "classy" associated with my music tastes, so let me try to rectify that by concluding this musing on all things Euro with jazz chanteuse Caroline Henderson. She has a new album out in Europe called Love or Nothin', but it appears we'll have to wait for it a bit on this side of the pond (her website does promise a U.S. release [update: it has arrived and is on iTunes--2007 July 4]). While you wait, try out "Made in Europe." It comes off of her second album of the same name, and it is a lush paean to the rapidly changing continent.

(December 2006)

Robbie Williams - Lovelight
There are few things in life a tru trash devotee looks forward to more than a new Robbie Williams CD. Well, now we have one, featuring electro-infused covers of not-so-well-known pop songs. "Lovelight", a cover of a song by UK soul singer Lewis Taylor, finds the pop legend dabbling in electro funk. It's a way-smoov British answer to Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack"—and far catchier than that Yank's effort.

Eskimo Disco - 7-11
Eskimo Disco resurrect my cobwebby memories of rock-dance hybrids Lo-Fidelity Allstars. Their "7-11" has been described as a cross between the music of Ladytron and Electric Six. While it doesn't attain the heights of the best offerings from the aforementioned groups, the tune is clever enough to suggest a bright future for the band. The background vocals are exceptionally brilliant—it's arranged well. The video, an homage to children's TV show character Pingu the penguin, is one of the best clips of the year.

Cream - Cantecul inimii
Legendary 60's rockers Cream have apparently reinvented themselves as a Romanian pop band. I shudder to contemplate the hours of cosmetic surgery Jack Bruce went through to become a raven-haired siren. They're offering a tune called "Cantecul inimii," a bouncy slice of Latin-infused pop house. What is it about those Romanians and great pop music? The rest of the EU should stop fussing about the projected influx of Romanian immigrants and start dancing to tunes like these. When it comes to pop music production, the rest of the EU needs Romania's help.

Shaun Baker feat. Laidback - Bakerman (Funktune Remix)
Shaun Baker feat. Laidback brings us the intriguing "Bakerman," a gentleman who, we are repeatedly informed, is baking bread. There is much mention of a night train, too, which is coming. The Funktune remix is my fave, because it offers thick, shimmery chords alongside the original's Latinesque stylings.

Morgana - Never Gonna
People sometimes ask me what the difference is between gay and Eurotrash music. Morgana's "Never Gonna...", a 1998 entry, definitely falls onto the gay side of the fence. It's easy to imagine the chorus being lip-synched by a drag queen with a propensity for sweeping arm gestures. But darn if this sugary tune won't bring out the inner drag queen in you. You have been warned!

2 Unlimited - Wanna Get Up (Sash! Extended Mix)
Also from 1998 is 2 Unlimited's swan song, "Wanna Get Up (Sash! Extended Mix)." After the wildly successful original vocal duo departed from the group, the lads who wrote and produced the tunes chose two women, one blonde and one brunette, to replace them. Neither this nor the follow-up single "Edge of Heaven" charted well, and the plug was pulled. That's a shame, because "Wanna Get Up" is a solid dancefloor stomper which exhibits the same sterling pop musical qualities that made previous 2 Unlimited songs so successful. The brunette is now enjoying a career as a jazz singer, proof that there is life after Eurotrash.

Sash! - Move Mania
Sash!, who mixed the previous tune, offered an excellent single of his own in 1998 called "Move Mania." The catchy keyboard counter-melody demonstrates some good songwriting chops (either that or good taste in stolen source material—Mr. Sash! has spent a lot of time fighting accusations of musical plagiarism). The lyrics, which are admittedly silly, are nonetheless sung with great competence by freestyle legend Shannon.

Bob Sinclar feat. Dollarman and Big Ali - Rock This Party (Everybody Dance Now)
Anybody alive in 1990 remembers the C+C Music Factory hit "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)." At one point the group's full-length CD was found in 63% of American households—an incredible statistic I just made up. They also appeared as themselves on the television show "Blossom"; I hope they were paid well. Bob Sinclar must have enjoyed bouncing around to "Gonna Make You Sweat" himself. He took several chunks of the tune, enlisted Dollarman and Big Ali to throw some raggae-ish elements into the mix, and the result was the enormously successful "Rock This Party (Everybody Dance Now)." The overall concept strongly reminds me of Lumidee and Fatman Scoop's "Dance!" which was released a few months earlier and contained a sample of Whitney Houston married to the same swatch of Nina Sky "Move Your Body" percussion that is echoed here. How is that for references?

Stylophonic - Baby Beat Box (Stylophonic Radio Edit)
Stylophonic's "Baby Beat Box (Stylophonic Radio Edit)" has a spectacularly catchy chorus. It also has incredibly annoying verses sung to a nursery rhyme melody. The liner notes to the promotional CD contains scary messages about how the CD contains an "inaudible watermark" that allows the record company "to trace this audio back to you." Well, everyone can just relax, because there's little fear that anybody will want to file-share this.

Kim Sozzi - Break Up (Johnny Budz Extended Mix)
Kim Sozzi, best known as the voice of Mynt, offers the hooky pop dance concoction "Break Up (Johnny Budz Extended Mix)." This particular remix has a sort of Felix "Don't You Want Me" (ahhhhh, do you remember?) quality to it. The lyrics are actually pretty clever—above-average for this superficial genre. Somebody clearly had some fun writing this.

Impact - Happiest Girl
Impact's "Happiest Girl" is our second Romanian entry. It's an English-language tune, which is somewhat surprising as I am more accustomed to Romanian groups sticking to their own language. But the vocalist gives nothing away; no accents are detectable and the lyrics, while simple, are also utterly charming. In fact, she really does sound like the happiest girl in the world. There's a hint of Mark'Oh's "I Surrender" to the chords, which is a good thing as that's one of my fave Eurodance songs (the songs are even pretty much in tune, which will likely be demonstrated in the upcoming Set 22). The song is so sweet, so innocent, and so joyful that it just might bring tears to your eyes. The video, on the other hand, is not so innocent.

Bananarama - Look on the Floor (Angel City Extended Remix)
Any 80's "kids" out there will remember Bananarama, who clobbered the British charts with their Hi-NRG dance choons and made a killing in the USA with "Cruel Summer." So it might come as a surprise to find that a hundred years later the group is still alive, and kicking out decent pop dance tunes like "Look on the Floor (Angel City Extended Remix)," which the sharp-eared Eurotrasher will recognize as a modified version of My Mine's old Italo disco hit "Hypnotic Tango" (which was successfully resurrected in 2002 by Master Blaster). Not sure why these middle-aged Bananaramans are still heading out to the clubs at midnight (shades of "Absolutely Fabulous"). I think it would be better if they sang kick-ass dance songs about changing diapers, watching daytime TV, or shopping at Sainsbury's for digestives.

Bit Machine feat. Daisy Dee - Somebody Real (Piano Main Mix)
I am always pleased when I uncover old Eurodance songs previously unknown to me that sound every bit as good as the better-known club classics from that era. Bit Machine feat. Daisy Dee's "Somebody Real (Piano Main Mix)" is a fine example, a 1994 anthemic pumper packed with tasty hooks. It breaks a mold, too; the typical 1990's Eurodance tune featured a female singer and a male rapper, whereas both singing and rap duties are handled by the ladies this time around. Ms. Dee, who is the rapper, turns in an excellent performance; her bossily-delivered "I even want to make love in the snow" is priceless.

David West - Make U Mine (Dub Mix)
David West's last name is English-ized shorthand for Westerlund. He was half of the superb Swedish techno group Antiloop, whose tunes were used to great effect in the movie masterpiece Lilja 4-Ever. With such a history, it comes as no surprise that West has learned a thing or two about writing songs. This is proven once again on his spectacular "Make U Mine (Dub Mix)." It's an insane amalgamation of cut-up vocals, haunting keyboard melodies, and massive orchestral builds. With so much going on, its ten minutes fly right by. Here's a rare example of a song where you can really hear the huge amount of effort that was poured into it. A weird, wonderful, amazing triumph.

Bubble Fish - Stars of Ibiza (Original Mix)
Bubble Fish's "Stars of Ibiza (Original Mix)" is a frantic, tingling piece of instrumental trance with a hook to die for. At the 4 1/2 minute mark, when the melody bursts out of the gate like a greyhound on speed, the listener can expect much hair-raising on the back of his/her neck—especally if your neck is very hairy.

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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