Italo-disco is a genre of music mostly derived from Disco and Europop. It originated from Italy
, hence the name. As its popularity reached all around Europe, German, Belgian, Greek, French, Swedish and Spanish artists have been influenced by the genre to produce their own songs, labeled appropriately under the "Euro-Disco" genre.
Italo-disco started with the popularity of Disco
to Europe after its death
in North America. Europeans, primarily in central or southern Europe, began making songs with cheesy English lyrics
and they used synthesizers in these songs. Unlike traditional disco, it wasn't known to be aimed at minority and LGBT communities. A lot of Italo-disco songs are about love, some are instrumentals, and most songs have instrumental versions too.
The majority of this genre's releases never reached to the United States and the UK due to possible backlash, the confusing lyrics, and the poor music export record of Italy and other nations, but a number of those that did end up there became dance hits, such as Baltimora's "Tarzan Boy" in 1985. Italo disco never reached massive popularity in North America and Australia, but besides Europe, some releases that made it to such places as Latin America and the Philippines became local hits.
Unless if you count the biggest international hits, Italo disco wasn't part of mainstream 80s
culture typically known internationally, but it would be so if it spreaded to more regions. (A majority of generic Italo Disco compilations are named after the 80's, but since Europeans considered it part of the culture of the time, the "80's hits" name has different meanings depending on the place.) The genre pretty much encapsulates the 80s. You get deep bass beats, catchy tunes
, and joy from the songs.
Italo disco is different from disco music most people are familiar with. While it borrowed elements from traditional disco, its use of synths is very principle to it; traditional disco drum beats have been replaced by drum machines. The genre also tends to overlap with Synth Pop
, Hi-NRG, and Electro. The genre has noticeable regional differences within Europe. In contrast to Italy, German tracks lack less of the Italian instrument-like sounds, but may even be sometimes labeled under "Italo-disco". In Spain, the songs have higher energy, voice pitches, and synths. This genre began to be mainstream in the breakthrough year of 1983 when genre had clearly evolved. The pre-1983 releases in Italy are more darker, minimal, and underground-centered than 1983+ releases. The genre died down in the end of the decade when the Italo-dance, Eurobeat and House genres grew.
Italo disco is currently going under a bit of a revival, thanks to American artists like Chromatics, Glass Candy and Johnny Jewel operating out of Washington state's Italians Do It Better label. There is a movement of new Italo-disco artists and releases, and many older artists are having their releases into digital music stores and produce new releases. Poland even enjoys an Italo-disco trend after the 80s, and created their own genre called Disco-polo. The soundtrack to the 2011 film Drive
had an Italo disco inspired soundtrack largely composed by Cliff Martinez.
The German label ZYX Music owns the rights to a high percentage of the Italo-disco releases from the 1980s after acquiring the rights of formerly prominent labels such as Discomagic, Time Records, Memory Records, Il Discotto, and Sensation Records. (Discomagic controlled Sensation Records and distributed Time Records releases)
If you want a glimpse of Italo disco, listen to this online radio station
, or type up "Italo Disco" to Youtube
for a quick look at remix compilations of the genre.
Notable italo-disco/euro-disco artists