Now, how old are you?
Where is your harbour?
Have many things to do
Open the door
Yes I love so true
Without my 'loh-ver'
But tell me if the sky is blue
How old are you?
Miko Mission -- "How Old are You?"
My God...if ever there were an indicator that I was born a decade too late and on the wrong side of the Atlantic, this is it.
Italo Disco, or Italo for short, was a term originally used simply to designate Italian dance music, but it ended up evolving into a whole sub-genre by the 1980s, its popularity extending beyond Italy to all of continental Europe.
By 1980 much of the Anglo-American market had reached its saturation point with disco music, which led artists to pursue more progressive directions in what would later be known as New Wave, Synth-pop, and even House. This didn't happen in Europe, at least not with the same kind of fevered intensity, and consequently there has since been a bit of a dissonance between how Americans and Europeans see synthesized dance music.
Let me try your love
Yes babe, I'm waiting, please don't stop
Hey hey guy all your love forever
Ken Laszlo -- "Hey Hey Guy"
In view of these opposing paradigms and the uncertainty to which one the reader might belong, you're left to draw your own conclusions about Italo. It might be the most soulful display of musical and lyrical virtuosity of the English language to have ever been produced, or it just might be cheesy, amateurish, schmaltz that makes a mockery of good taste in general.
Once you get past the fact that the singers seem to be delivering their lines phonetically with no idea of the meaning behind their words, the music's really not that bad. Italo can be moody, over-pretentious, vibrant, or just plain silly, depending upon how much of the song you actually understand.
Oh, oh, riding over mountains
Oh, oh, loving all the night
Oh, oh, dancing near the mountains
Holding a graceful lady
Valerie Dore -- "Lancelot"
In stark contast to its somewhat-disowned American sibling, Italo is not meant to possess either of two attributes: excess and funk. There's a tight, stripped-down, minimalist aesthetic to it that keeps songs moving straight ahead with melodic, poppy, but robotic precision -- a blue-eyed, Teutonic kind of rhythm, lacking a sense of self-consciousness of its own lack of coolness. Picture Michael Myers from SNL's "Sprockets" and you'll get yourself on the right track.
Need your passion
Sweet possession of your soul
The voodoo that you do is magic dejavu
Sweet Connection -- "Need your Passion"
In this sense, Italo has much more in common with New Order than Lipps, Inc. Musicians were just beginning to learn how to harness the power of synthesized instruments to produce commerically viable music, and Italo paved the way for synthesized pop throughout the entire world. Despite its lack of exposure 'o' this half' of the world enjoyed tremendous popularity for the first few years of the 1980s, and became recognized as the first completely electronic dance music to become successful on the popular market.