Being a guy of a certain age, I spent all of my teenage years in the 1990s. Nothing unusual there, I hear you say. Except being a teen in the 90s meant that, in addition to the dangers of puberty, came the horrors of having to live through the hey-day of the genre known as Europop. In recognition of this most guilty of pleasures, here is a run-down of the top ten offenders, those who used the genre most shamelessly in terms of grabbing a quick chart hit. The sole consolation is that, as you will see, the perpetrators of these musical hate crimes are now probably scraping a living together as they, in the words of the mighty Manic Street Preachers, look through ‘newspaper cuttings from their glory days.”

 

10. TECHNOHEAD - 'I WANNA BE A HIPPY' (1995)

Who the bloody hell are they?

Technohead are a bit of a funny one, and perhaps a controversial entry in a list of shit Europop songs. They're actually English, and the group was started by a husband and wife duo named Michael Wells and Lee Newman right the way back in 1985. Apart from Technohead, they have recorded under the aliases Greater Than One, Tricky Disco, GTO, John + Julie, Church of Extacy, Signs of Chaos, T.D.5, Salami Brothers, Killout Squad and L.E.D. Lee Newman died in August 1995 from cancer, and since then, Wells has continued to record and release music, adding the solo aliases The Man and S.O.L.O to the list of names (as if there weren't enough already). 'I Wanna Be a Hippy', arguably the group's biggest hit under any name, reached No 6 in the UK, and featured a video where some skinheads chase a hippy around a park with some blow-up hammers. Really. Unbelievably, this shit reached No 1 in twelve - bloody TWELVE - countries including Germany, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland. It had an element of happy-hardcore about it, and that parent baiting chorus of "I want to be a hippy and I want to get stoned on mara-marajuana!". I have the dubious honour of having this released in the same week as my birthday in 1995, but I assure you that, while I did actually buy this CD single, and still have it somewhere - I do not play it any more. I've gotten over that sort of thing now. It was a massive hit at our youth club discos at school, where I sometimes helped my friend Ken with the DJing. Unfortunately, the youth centre manager got wind of the song and banned us from playing it (probably on the grounds that it immediately sent children off to score some choice weed and get blasted out of their tiny gourds). He did the same thing with 'Living Next Door to Alice' by Smokie featuring Roy 'Chubby' Brown, the utter bastard. Weirdly though, he found 'Ebeneezer Goode' by The Shaman to be completely acceptable.

 

Where are they now?

After raping the charts and impressionable kids' minds senseless with 'I Wanna Be A Hippy', things went a bit tits-up in Technohead's world. Their only other Top 40 single was 1996's 'Happy Birthday'; it's surely one of the greatest crimes in modern music how their later single 'Banana Na Na (Dumb Bi Bumb)' never got higher than No 64...oh wait - no it's not - it's because it was a massive lump of twat that nobody cared about.

 

9. DOOP! - 'DOOP!' (1994)

Who the bloody hell are they?

Doop were made up of Ferry Ridderhof and Peter Garnefski - two music producers from Holland. Their debut song was really nothing more than a bit of sampling and a huge slice of luck. Taking a 1920s big-band sample and looping the word 'doop' (which as far as I know, doesn't actually have any meaning whatsoever). Doop were destined to remain a one-hit wonder though, and a remix of the same track flopped (probably because it was released not long after the original came out), and the subsequent singles 'Huckleberry Jam' and 'Ridin' only did relatively well in their native Holland, probably were people felt a bit sorry for them.  The song is one of those annoyingly catchy efforts, where you hate yourself for humming it but once it's in there, by God it takes a lobotomy to get the sod out. It seemed like quite a good song when it came out - hence why it topped the charts here in the good old UK - but with the benefit of hindsight, this was as massive a felony as wearing shell-suits or a Global Hypercolour t-shirt.

 

Where are they now?

Ridderhof and Garnefski went on to form the duo Hocus Pocus after they realised Doop weren't likely to score another hit. Their sole single under this alias garnered a No 1 in Austria (why is it Austria are big on naff songs??), but since then they've been curiously silent.

 

8. HADDAWAY - 'ROCK MY HEART' (1994)

Who the bloody hell are they?

Known to his parents as Nestor Alexander Haddaway, the Trinidadian-German vocalist first nuked the European charts with his debut hit ‘What Is Love’? You’ve probably heard it on one of those ‘I Love the 90s’ countdown-style shows. It’s estimated that by the start of 1994, ‘What Is Love’ had sold around 2.6 million copies, which is more women that Russell Brand has banged. ‘Rock My Heart’ was his first released of 1994, and the fourth single from his debut album. It marked the beginning of a slippery slope for Nestor, and while he clung onto success in some European territories, by 1996 he was all but scuppered on the rocks of public indifference. The song features many of the Europop staples, those being a ‘hi-NRG’ beat, anodyne, semi-romantic lyrics about a lover making his life better, and cheesy female backing vocals. Oh, and a simplistic keyboard line that was surely plucked from the ‘90s Pop Melodies’ file.

 

Where are they now?

After a remarkable six albums – honestly, who was allowing this? – Haddaway finally seems to have been laid to rest. Possibly because his last four albums failed to chart anywhere in the world (I’ve not even seen any in the ubiquitous charity shop bargain baskets...). To compound the fact Haddaway was locked in some sort of 1990s ‘Groundhog Day’, he released a single in 2008 called ‘I Love the 90s’ with fellow ‘icon’ Dr. Alban – more of him later, and as recently as 2012 put a record out featuring The Mad Stuntman (that awful MC who disgraced himself on that Reel 2 Reel song ‘I Like to Move It’ – sample lyric: ‘physically fit/physically fit/physically, physically, physically fit’). His last actual singles chart success was in France, where they went absolutely mental for a 2009 reboot of ‘What Is Love’, which reached No 5. Come on, it’s hardly fucking Daft Punk, is it? In addition to this, he’s also had two – TWO – ‘Greatest Hits’ collections out, one in 2001 and the other in 2004. Really, it’s a miracle his debut album from 1993 wasn’t given a 20th 

Anniversary Special Edition with demos and unreleased tracks. In a spectacular showing of not being able to let things go, Haddaway appeared on ‘Comeback’ – a German reality show in 2004. Nothing wrong with that, you might think – but he then repeated the feat on UK TV on our own ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ show, then pimped himself AGAIN in the USA on their version of the same show!! Thankfully, he seems to have got the message at long last and now spends his time between his homes in Kitzbuhel in Austria, and Cologne in Germany. Hopefully where he has been banned from attending any form of recording studio.

 

7. WHIGFIELD – ‘SEXY EYES’ (1996)

Who the bloody hell are they?

Whigfield was the wholly illogical stage name given to Sannie Charlotte Carlson, who hails from Denmark.  The Whigfield name actually came from her piano teacher, to whom she paid tribute to. Hmm, seeing as her greatest (s)hit involved her playing precisely no piano at all, and instead featured her dolling herself up, I’m not sure how much of a tribute this is. In fact, the only good thing that came out of ‘Saturday Night’ being released was the fact it prevented fellow chart-botherers Wet Wet Wet from getting a record-equalling 16th 

week at No 1 with ‘Love Is All Around’. But we’re not here to chastise ‘Saturday Night’, which everyone knows, but instead her 1996 classic ‘Sexy Eyes’, which you’ll be pleased to hear has EXACTLY the same backing melody as ‘Saturday Night’. ‘Ooh-ooh aah-aah sexy eyes, I’m going to take you to paradise’ she coos over this identical melody. Even the fucking keyboard solo in the middle is the fucking same. I felt utterly cheated at hearing this, which is why Whigfield appears in this list. People obviously had short memories in Spain, where this dross reached No 4, despite it only being two years since ‘Saturday Night’ came out. Here in the UK, we only deemed the song worthy of a No 68 showing in our charts, which seems fair enough. Incredibly, it was reported that between 1994-1997, Whigfield sold more records than Oasis and Blur combined. Which is absolute madness.

 

Where are they now?

Unbelievably, Whigfield managed to wangle a ‘Greatest Hits’ album in 2007 (‘All In One’), which saw her ‘hits’ re-recorded with more modern beats, as well as a couple of new tracks. So not really a greatest hits, more her trying to cash in on past glories, then. In 2008, a remix package for ‘Saturday Night’ came out, featuring twenty new mixes which is surely overkill for a song that at that time, was eighteen years old. Who am I kidding? Twenty remixes is too many, FULL STOP. NOBODY NEEDS TWENTY REMIXES. In recent years, Whigfield has changed her name to Naan, for reasons not made clear. Perhaps she fancied an Indian. She’s still recording (feel free to rejoice/break down and cry, whichever seems more appropriate) and her latest album ‘W’ came out in September 2012. Her last single, ‘Jeg Kommer Hjem’ (‘I’m Coming Home’) was released in December 2012 – although it failed to chart anywhere.

 

6. SCOOTER – ‘HOW MUCH IS THE FISH?’ (1998)

Who the bloody hell are they?

This band of musical fanatics became active in the Hamberg area of Germany in 1993, and consist of wanted criminals H.P. Baxxter, Rick J. Jordan and Michael Simon. They are wanted by police in particular for a number of crimes against music such as ‘Move Your Ass’ (1995), ‘I’m Your Pusher’ (2000),  ‘Aiii Shot the DJ’ (2001), ‘Behind The Cow’ (2007) and ‘The Sound Above My Hair’ (2009). ‘The chase...is better than the catch’, Baxxter tells us ominously at the beginning of the song. All of Scooter’s lyrics appear to have been written in German and translated to English via some disabled six-year-old with no firm grasp of any language whatsoever. Quite what ‘How Much Is The Fish’ is meant to be about is anyone’s guess, seeing as it’s made up from what are apparently random lines that make no sense in the context of a four minute song. ‘We’re breaking the rules/ignore the machine/you won’t ever stop this/the chase is better than the catch’. Despite hours mulling over this snippet, I’m still none the wiser, although my hair has begun going grey with the stress of it all. The only realistic theory I can offer is that this music is intended to be listened to while completely Sean Conneried on some Class A narcotics, and therefore isn’t meant to make any sense at all. Despite being a later entry in the annals of Europop, this fully deserves its inclusion in a run-down of absolute horrors such as this. Christ on a stick, it’s bad.

 

Where are they now?

Unfortunately, after sixteen studio albums, three compilation CDs and four live offerings, the Scooter machine shows no signs of slowing the constant churning out of utter diarrhoea that has clogged up the music industry since the mid-nineties. The only hope we have is for the band to be consumed in a fireball during one of their own pyrotechnic-heavy live outings, or for a well-placed assassin with a sniper rifle to take them down on the way to record tracks for their (hopefully never to happen) seventeenth album.

 

5. DR. ALBAN - 'IT'S MY LIFE' (1992)

Who the bloody hell are they?

Trivia – Dr. Alban, unlike most other musical ‘doctors’, was a real doctor. Well, kind of.  He probably still is. He had a dental practise before he released this musical behemoth on the world, which means that should you want to have your teeth yanked out rather than listen to it, Dr. Alban is your man. Pushed from his mother’s insides and given the name Alban Uzoma Nwapa in Nigeria in 1957, Dr. Alban went to Sweden to make his fortune and also become a DJ. In an anecdote that will probably be recounted in his autobiography (we’re still waiting for it), Alban met someone from a record label who thought it might be rather spiffing if he recorded some songs. He duly did, but this planet-shaking hit single actually came from his second studio LP ‘One Love’. Unfortunately, despite scoring No 1s in Sweden, Austria, Germany and Holland (not the moody old USA though, where it only got to No 88 – those Yanks never understood Europop) the song is most well known for being the soundtrack to ‘lady product’ Tampax, accompanying images of girls rollerskating and flinging themselves out of aeroplanes on parachutes, making the monthly period look (and sound) like a thing of absolute joy.

 

Where are they now?

After ‘It’s My Life’ took the pocket money of many an impressionable tweenie in 1992, Alban had mediocre success with practically every one of his subsequent singles. He scored a smattering of No 1s over Europe, but here in Blighty we grew tired of his ramblings, and only the 1999 release of ‘Colour The World’ with Sash! was given any time of day, resulting in a No 15 chart placing. In a career pattern eerily similar to Haddaway, Alban released seven albums in total, and was also given a Greatest Hits album in 1997. There is the occasional flicker of life still left in Dr. Alban’s career, as the 2007 album ‘Back to Basics’ was released over the internet, but he’s not had a song in the charts since 2003’s ‘Work Work’ (No 13 in...Sweden – woohoo!)

 

4. REDNEX - 'COTTON EYE JOE' (1994)

Who the bloody hell are they?

Possibly the universe’s only Swedish techno/folk/bluegrass band, Rednex were unleashed like a virulent plague on the planet after they were created in a laboratory on the outskirts of Gothenburg. For a band whose material seemed so formulaic, the group has seen nineteen different band members during their time together. We’re told that ‘most of them are not involved in the actual music...they are responsible for the Rednex image’. For those not familiar with the group, here’s what they looked like as recently as September 2012...

 

This is not even fancy dress....

This is not even fancy dress....

Seriously, this looks like playtime in some backward, incestuous village. This song, a modern day recording of the folk song of the same name, somehow became an international smash hit (as was the follow-up, ‘Old Pop in an Oak’, which has exactly the same chords and reached No 1 in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, for fuck’s sake!). After two albums, there was a hilarious spat in 2000, when co-founding member Pat Reiniz suggested the band become ‘an entertainment group’ rather than just a recording band, so as not to rely on just record sales to make a living. One band member, Billy Ray, reportedly raged ‘We will not become a goddamn circus act’ (missing the entire point of Rednex altogether – what, did he think the band were gearing up to record an album that had the gravitas of say, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’??), and the entire band was replaced. As is often the case with bands such as this, Rednex got a Greatest Hits package in 2002, which came with the caveat that if you bought it, you could legally be bludgeoned to death with an eighteen inch rubber penis as punishment. The actual song is a brutal piece of hardcore, double-penetration hoe-down, which is sure to test even the steeliest of resolves over the course of its three minute running time. If you were the sort of gormless mong who bought ‘Hillbilly Rock’ by the Emmerdale cast members moonlighting under the name The Woolpackers back in 1997, chances are your brain was rotted to the core by this slice of utter shit three years earlier.

Where are they now?

After more line-up changes than Sugababes, Rednex struggled through some pretty bizarre behaviour, including performing a song called ‘Fe Fi (The Old Man Died)’ at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards in 2006 and being disqualified from the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest, where they were due to represent Romania, after it was found their entry has been published and performed as far back as 2001. To compound an already sad story, the company in control of the Rednex name, Rednex AB, was listed on eBay in 2007, with a starting price of $1,500,000. There were no takers as of November 2012.  In the more recent past, things have gotten a bit weird. As of January 2012, the band were no longer a solid organism, but would be put together from a pool of male and female performers for each performance they gave. To add to their bizarre history, the band also began a franchise in Australia and New Zealand, where an independent version of Rednex with local performers began operating. A press release claimed this was the first time an international pop band had cloned itself. Seriously, WTF???!?!?!?

 

3. 2 UNLIMITED - 'NO LIMIT' (1993)

Who the bloody hell are they?

‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no there’s no limit!’ Come on, surely you’ve heard of these guys – they were EVERYWHERE in the 90s. The recording name of Dutch duo Ray Slijngaard (rapping) and Anita Doth (vocals), 2 Unlimited scored sixteen chart hits in five years. The group came about when two producers, Jean Paul de Coster and Phil Wilde, made an instrumental record but felt it needed some vocals. After drafting in Doth and Slijngaard, the mega-hit ‘Get Ready For This’ was born. ‘No Limit’ came from the band’s second LP, and became their most successful single. By 1996, it was estimated this track alone had moved around 2.3 million copies. That’s more pints of ale than Oliver Reed drank in his lifetime (just). It was probably the repetitive nature of the song that bored its way into people’s souls, and as it was very...what’s the kindest way to say this...‘of its time’ (that’ll do), this only helped the wave of enthusiasm for the track all over the continent.

 

Where are they now?

After the original duo left in 1996 (after a dispute over money and creative control) two new vocalists were brought in, but the success of their earlier hits could not be repeated. After years plugging the nightclub circuit separately, the original singers reformed in 2009 at a gig in Belgium, and the pair revealed that during their early days, they had actually been shagging. Well, they weren’t that blunt about it, but we knew what they meant. As the singers didn’t actually own the 2 Unlimited name (despite being the public faces of the group) they had to release a 2010 single as ‘Ray & Anita’, which sounded shit. As a result, in July 2012 an announcement was made that ‘Ray & Anita’ would be working with the original production team under the 2 Unlimited moniker. Has nobody had the heart to tell them that bird has flown? In fact, the whole fucking nest has gone.

 

2. EIFFEL 65 - 'BLUE (DA BA DEE)' (1999)

Who the bloody hell are they?

A trio of the devil, that’s who. The universe will never forget the day Jeffrey Jey, Maurizio Lobina and Gabry Ponte met each other at an event called Bliss Corporation. Wanting to form a band, but having apparently no creative talent whatsoever, they let a computer randomly choose a word – that word being ‘Eiffel’. The 65 was added later “by mistake”.  Eiffel 65 released three albums between 1999 and 2003, although practically nobody bought the last two apart from some unlucky bastards in Italy, who presumably were family and friends of the band. The song itself is a turgid, Auto-tuned mess, but also a lesson in clinically assembled, regurgitated pop that lives on with little or no right a full fourteen years after the song was released.

 

Where are they now?

After this and the second single ‘Move Your Body’ did well across Europe, everyone recovered from the trance that had meant they rushed out and bought the damn songs in their droves and few of their subsequent songs charted anywhere apart from Italy. In a fit of good sense, Gabry Ponte broke up the band in 2005 to work on some solo tracks. The other two members formed a new group called Bloom 06 (the band name presumably chosen in the same random way as Eiffel 65), and their debut album came out in 2006. Rumours of a reformation of Eiffel 65 float around occasionally, but much like an asteroid smashing into Earth, luckily this hasn’t happened yet. Jeffrey Jey blamed the fact the band couldn’t agree on what song should be made into a single as the reason nothing has come out, which kind of hints that most of what they have shelved in the archive is probably a load of shite.

 

1. MAXX - 'NO MORE (I CAN'T STAND IT)' (1994)

Who the bloody hell are they?

Maxx were a German outfit consisted of rapper Boris Kohler, producer/songwriters Juergen Wind, Frank Hassas, Jeglitza and David Brunner, and singer Samira Besic. After scoring a Europe-wide hit with their debut single 'Get-A-Way' (which, in the realm of Europop and definitely no other, was actually quite a catchy song), Besic had the sense to leave the group and was replaced by vocalist Linda Meek. Despite this early success, Maxx's career was to be short-lived; their singles did progressively worse in the charts, and their sole album 'To The Maxximum' (see what they did there?) only really bothered the charts in Finland, where it reached No 6. This track, their second single, did just as well as 'Get-A-Way' - probably because it sounds EXACTLY the same. With its limited palette of synth bloops, drum fills and incomprehensible lyrics, it sticks faithfully to the three-minute Europop template. In doing so however, Maxx shoot themselves in the foot by trying to pass off this guff on an unsuspecting public. It's probably justice that their career went down the crapper after this, showing that, in the mid-90s at least, the music-buying public were more savvy than they looked. And surely there's a certain irony in the track being called 'No More (I Can't Stand It)'? They might as well have called it 'Heaving Pile of Shite' and been done with it.

Where are they now?

After a fourth single in 1995 - 'Move Your Body' (no thanks, I'd rather stay pleasantly comatose) - flopped in most countries apart from Finland and Austria, who were still inexplicably lapping this shit up, Maxx called it a day. Perhaps for the best, chaps.

Posted
AuthorPeter Tyrion Muscutt