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 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 Europe, began making songs with cheesy English lyrics
and they used synthesizers to produce the songs. Unlike traditional disco, it wasn't aimed at minority and LGBT communities. A lot of Italo-disco songs are about love, some are instrumentals, while some are about space.
Most of the genre's songs never reached 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, few releases that made it to Latin America, the Philippines, and even the Soviet Union became local 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 were replaced by drum machines. The genre tends to overlap with Synth Pop
, Hi-NRG, and Electro. The genre has noticeable regional differences within Europe. In contrast to Italy, German tracks tend to be more poppy, and may even be labeled under the more generic term "Euro 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, primitive, and underground-centered than post-1983 releases.
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. In native Italy, there is a movement of new Italo disco artists and releases, and the older ones are slowly entering the digital music stores. The soundtrack to the 2011 film Drive
had an Italo disco inspired soundtrack largely composed by Cliff Martinez.
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 artists