Hi-NRG developed during the end of the 1970s on the heels of Electro-Disco and quickly became the most popular Electronic Dance Music genre in the LGBT club scenes of San Francisco and New York.
The seminal Donna Summer single "I Feel Love" (1977), produced by Giorgio Moroder, is widely credited to be the first Hi-NRG song and made a huge impact on the club scene. In an interview, Summer described it as having a "high-energy vibe", which became the name for the entire genre..
"I Feel Love" was covered or remixed by many important Hi-NRG artists and contained the following stylistic characteristics: octave basslines; an upbeat, sometimes aggressive four-on-the-floor rhythm; high-pitched, dreamy vocals, and usually no funk elements. Along with Moroder, Bobby O and Patrick Cowley were the most successful and influential producers..
Among the most popular Hi-NRG artists were Sylvester, The Flirts and Divine. The genre had influence on House music, which replaced Hi-NRG as the club music of choice during the second half of the 1980s..
Andrea Del Conte (vocals, 1980-82), Rebecca Sullivan (vocals, 1980-82), Sandra D'key (vocals), Hope Drayman (vocals), Christina Criscione (vocals, 1983-?), Linda Jo Rizzo (vocals), Pamela Moore (vocals), Rebeka Storm (vocals), Debby Gaynor (vocals, 1983-85), Holly Kerr (vocals, 1983), Christy Angelica (vocals, 1984), Tricia Wygal (vocals, 1985), Geri Mckeon (vocals, 1986)
Defining Dance Music
Since the emergence of rock and roll in the 1950's, music has come to occupy a considerably important place in the lives of young people. Indeed, there are seemingly endless applications for popular music, from driving social justice movements to selling consumer goods, but sometimes we all just want something that makes us dance.
Dance music is a broad term that refers to any kind of music that is created specifically for people to dance to. Considering that music is very personal and its uses are subjective, it can be hard to distinguish dance music from other types and to pinpoint its exact origins.
Though there are earlier examples of dance music from the classical and romantic periods, like the waltz or the mazurka, the genre as we know it today has roots in the late 19th and early 20th century. During this time, ballroom dancing was a popular form of entertainment and music was often created specifically to accommodate the dance style.
Moving into the 1930's, town hall dances and dance competitions were a popular form of entertainment for which music was also often specifically written. Throughout the 1930's, 40's, and into the early 50's, swing music was a wildly popular form of big band jazz that generally accompanied high energy dancing. The popularity of these styles began to decline with the emergence of rock and roll and rhythm and blues music in the mid-to-late 1950's.
Though not specifically produced for the purposes of making people dance, the rhythms, melodies, and composition of 1960's soul and rhythm and blues lent itself well to dancing and good times. Moreover, there were a number of singles, like The Twist and Shake a Tail Feather, that were created for dancing, often going as far as calling out the steps in the song.
Entering into the 1970's, the concept of dance music changed considerably, as soul and R&B slowly morphed into funk music and eventually disco, which would ultimately reshape the way that we all think about dance music.
Disco is a genre of dance music blending soul, funk, rhythm and blues, and pop that emerged during the late 1960's and early 70's in New York City. It is characterized by heavy bass lines, strong beats, and the incorporation of early electronic instruments like the synthesizer. The word is derived from the French term discotheque, a name given to nightclubs in France during the 1960's and eventually in other parts of Europe.
Throughout the first half of the 1970's, it was a relatively unknown style among mainstream audiences, as it was primarily played in private clubs, particularly the members only gay clubs in the city. By the mid-70's, however, disco had reached the mainstream through strong radio play of singers like Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, and ABBA.
By 1977, disco was at its peak with the music charts being dominated by disco singers and the box office success of the film Saturday Night Fever. Towards the end of the decade, disco had become so influential that it started to influence rock and pop artists like Rod Stewart, generating a widespread public backlash and giving rise to the catchphrase ''disco sucks.''
Techno and Synthpop
During the first half of the 1980's, keyboards and electronic drum kits figured prominently in a number of hugely successful records. Like the music of the 1960's, these songs weren't specifically created for dancing, but they had an upbeat tempo and fun sensibility that was common in disco.
What is Freestyle? In order to answer that question you'd have to go back as far as the death of Disco back in the early 80's. Disco was Pop music in the late 70's and one of the biggest radio stations in the country was Disco 92 (WKTU-FM) in New York. Disco 92's core audience was made up primarily of Hispanics and Italian Americans. When Disco faltered in the early 80's, so did WKTU's ratings. In a move to bolster their sagging ratings,
WKTU changed their format (and eventually their call letters) to a more mainstream pop format and eventually to rock. Another station cross-town, WXLO (99X) also was changing its format. By 1981, 99X changed to 98.7 KISS-FM, an urban station hoping to chip away at WBLS' stronghold on New York's African American audience. In 1983, WHTZ (Z100) went on the air to take on WPLJ for the mainstream, primarily white audience abandoned by WKTU.
Through all these format changes, one demographic - the huge Hispanic audience in New York went - overlooked. Most Latins opted for KISS-FM and WBLS, who did play the occasional club record, but other Latins found an alternative to hear new music. They went underground.
In 1982, when Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force released "Planet Rock," a new sound was born. Some called it "hip-hop be-bop" or breakdancing music. While most of the neighborhood clubs were steadily closing their doors for good, some Manhattan clubs were suddenly thriving. Places like the Roxy, the Funhouse, Broadway 96, Gothams West, and Roseland who played this new sound were packed. Records like "Play At Your Own Risk" by Planet Patrol,
"One More Shot" by C-Bank, "Numbers" by Kraftwerk, "Al-Naafiyish (The Soul)" by Hashim and "I.O.U." by Freeze became huge hits in New York. Some producers wisely copied the sound and made songs that were more melodic. Records like "I Remember What You Like" by Jenny Burton, and "Let The Music Play" and "Give Me Tonight" by Shannon were all over New York radio.
Many of these performers performed at the Funhouse and Roseland to packed dance floors. The people packing these dance floors were young Latins, mainly Puerto Rican. The D.J.'s who played the music, (i e. Jellybean, Tony Torres, Raul Soto. Roman Ricardo, etc.) were also Hispanic. However, those on stage performing these songs were not, neither were most of the producers making the music.
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