If you look at EDM over a long period of time, you will notice a significant change in the dominant genre every few years. Right now, progressive house seems to have a strangle hold over the charts, just look at the front page of Beatport. Two or three years ago, dubstep was all the rage with rising stars such as Flux Pavilion, Skrillex and Excision. However, from the mid 90s to the early 2000s, a genre called Happy Hardcore had its own rise and fall as one of the more popular EDM styles.
Happy Hardcore has a very quick pace with a BPM between 160 and 190, usually paired with high pitch vocals and fast synths. It can also be referred to as a sub genre of hard dance and hardstyle. The similarities are easy to spot with blistering speed and thumping bass as their backbone, but happy hardcore tends toward softer elements by toning down the bass and making it more catchy. For this week's Throwback Thursday, we will look at some of Happy Hardcore's landmark artists and a few of my personal favorites.
To start things off, we have one of the biggest names in Happy Hardcore: Darren Styles. Styles was originally part of a group called Force & Styles with Paul Hobbs that created some of the biggest early hits of the genre in the late 90s such as "Heart of Gold" and "Paradise & Dreams." Then, Darren reinvented his career in the early 2000s with friend Mark Brady as Breeze & Styles that produced a trance and happy hardcore fusion. Darren Styles still produces happy hardcore today on his label Junkbox Records.
Here we have one of their bigger hits, titled "You're My Angel", remixed by prominent hardcore producer Scott Brown.
Another group who has produced a number of essential happy hardcore tracks is Scooter. The German super group has produced music in a wide range of genres from hardstyle to happy hardcore and electronica. Scooter has been making music since 1993 with multiple members that perform live instruments and trademark rapping from H.P. Baxxter. One of their biggest singles across their entire career was "Ramp (The Logical Song)," which samples Supertramp's "Logical Song" tuned to a very high pitch for the hook, released in 2001.
There have been some smaller producers that have dropped some great happy hardcore tunes, and these chosen songs all have a truly infectious sound. Tune Up! created one of my favorites, which has all the classic elements that makes for good happy hardcore along with pitched vocals and a small rhyming hook.
Nightcore was group from the early 2000s that fused anime with happy hardcore and took it to the next level. The group devoted their image to anime and created this happy-go-lucky style that paired well with the music.
S3rl has the cheesy lyrics and thumping beats that I never seem to get out of my head. To finish off this Throwback Thursday, we have the first happy hardcore song I ever heard, "Pretty Rave Girl:" A track Basshunter famously reworked into his classic track "DOTA." Take a listen in the soundcloud player below: