Italo disco

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Musical genres, styles, eras and events

Italo disco is a musical marketing term introduced in 1983 by Bernhard Mikulski, the founder of ZYX Music. The term applied to Italian electronic dance music of the 1980s and to music from other parts of Europe and from North America that imitated the sound thereof. A typical Italo-disco song had contrasting verse-chorus form, had synthesizer based accompaniment and was usually sung in English by European artists.


Origins, 1978-1985

Electronic dance music started to develop in the late 1970s when traditional sounding disco bands began to experiment with synthesizers and other electronic effects. This early form of electronic dance music is unofficially called "space disco" due to its odd sounds and sci-fi stylings. One of the main influences during this period was the producer Giorgio Moroder, as well as the cynical styles of such electropop acts as Telex, Devo, and Gary Numan, and the early Hi-NRG albums released by San Francisco producer Patrick Cowley with such singers as Sylvester and Paul Parker.

By 1982, Italo appeared as a fully developed form in Italy and other parts of Europe, with artists releasing completely electronic songs using drum machines and other equipment. Synthpop, New Wave and the New Romantic genres were the foundations for Italo taking off, as these became very popular around the world at this same time during the early 1980s. Typical songs were simple, with catchy melodies, and were often sung using vocoders and overdubs. Much of the genre featured love-song lyrics sung in English with heavy Italian accents. English was more often than not the artists' second language, creating lyrics that were often considered to be almost nonsensical. Along with love, italo disco themes deal with robots and space, sometimes combining all three in songs including "Robot is Systematic" (1982) by 'Lectric Workers and "Spacer Woman"(1983) by Charlie.

1982 and 1983 saw the releases of the irony-laden "Dirty Talk," "Wonderful," and "The M.B.O. Theme," three track cited as influential in the development of house, by Klein & M.B.O., a side-project developed by Davide Piatto of the Italo disco duo N.O.I.A., with vocals by Piatto and Rosanna Casale.

Many see 1983 as the height of Italo, with frequent hit singles and many labels starting up around this time. Such labels included American Disco, Crash, Merak, Sensation, and X-Energy. The popular label Disco Magic released more than thirty singles within the year. It was also the year that the term italo disco was reputedly coined by Bernhard Mikulski, the founder of ZYX Music (Germany), when ZYX released their first volume of "The Best of Italo Disco" series.

Derivative styles, 1982-1989

During the late 1980s Italo began fading away and some groups moved into the Hi-NRG genre, which combined high-paced Italo and house. This style is evident in the productions of such artists as Divine, Roni Griffith, Tony Caso, and the Flirts, all of whom were produced by Bobby Orlando, as well as many Stock Aitken Waterman, notably those of Sinitta, Stacey Q, Samantha Fox, and Dead or Alive.

Canada, particularly Quebec, produced several remarkable Italo disco acts, including Trans X ("Living on Video"), Lime ("Angel Eyes"), Pluton & the Humanoids ("World Invaders"), and Purple Flash Orchestra ("We Can Make It").

In Germany, a style of Italo disco known as Discofox developed. It was characterized by an emphasis on melody, exaggerated overproduction, and a more earnest approach to the themes of love; examples may be found in the works of Modern Talking, Fancy, Bad Boys Blue, Joy, and Lian Ross.

Also during the mid-1980s spacesynth developed as a sub-genre of italo. This style of Italo was mostly instrumental and focused more on space sounds than the earlier pop-oriented songs, as exemplified by the sounds of Koto, Proxyon, Rofo, Cyber People, Hipnosis, and Laserdance.

Revival, 1993- (Electro)

Italo disco developed a cult following in the early 1990s, and electro releases in 1993 by I-F, in 1998 by Legowelt and Tobias Bernstrup, and in 2000 by Jeans Team, Bangkok Impact, and Hong Kong Counterfeit were among those that fuelled renewed interest. I-F's 2001 Italo-cum-electro mix Mixed Up in the Hague was equally important to the reintroduction of the genre.

As of 2005 several online radio stations stream the genre and underground clubs are playing the records widely again. Its renewed popularity is inspiring re-releases and new mixes on many of the record labels that released the genre initially. ZYX records has released many new CD mixes since 2000. Labels like Panama Records and Radius Records have gone through great lengths to find the original artists of obscure italo tracks for re-release on vinyl.

The German group I-Robots has released several mixes incorporating obscure Italo disco tracks, and in 2006 released a German-language cover of Charlie's "Spacer Woman" called "Spacer Frau."

Italo disco artists

Some popular artists and their hit songs include:

  • Albert One - "Turbo Diesel", "For Your Love"
  • Alexander Robotnick - '"Problèmes d'Amour"
  • Atrium - "Weekend"
  • Axodry - "You"
  • Azoto - "Exalt Exalt", "San Salvador"
  • Baltimora - " Tarzan Boy"
  • Blocksystem - "Don't Leave Me
  • Boland, Hugh - "Alisand"
  • Bruce & Bongo - "Geil"
  • Canton - "Sleepwalking", "Please Don't Stay"
  • Carrara - "Shine on Dance", "Fuerza Major", "Disco King", 'SOS Bandido'
  • Coo Coo (Max Coo & Steve Coo) - "Upside Down", "All I Need Is Love", "Boogie Woogie Dancer"
  • Cyber People - "Void Vision", "Polaris", "Digital Signal Professor"
  • Den Harrow - "Don't Break My Heart", "Bad Boy", "Future Brain", "Charleston", "Catch the Fox'", "Mad Desire"
  • Denise & Baby's Gang - "Disco Maniac"
  • Desireless - "Voyage, Voyage", "John", "Star"
  • Dharma - "Plastic Doll"
  • Diana Est - "Tenax", "Le Louvre"
  • Doctor's Cat - "Feel the Drive", "Gee Whiz", "Watch Out!"
  • Edyta - "ABC Letters of Love", "Be Slave of My Heart", "Come Back", '"Losing My Religion"
  • Tony Esposito - "Papa Chico", "Kalimba de Luna", "As to As"
  • Fabrizio Simoncioni - "Susy Oh", "Hello?"
  • Fake - "Frogs in Spain", "Donna Rouge"
  • Fancy - "Bolero", "Lady of ice", "Fools cry"
  • Finzy Kontini - "Cha Cha Cha"
  • Fun Fun - "Happy Station", "Colour My Love"
  • Gazebo - "I Like Chopin", "Masterpiece", "Lunatic", "Telephone Mama"
  • Gay Cat Park - "I'm a Vocoder"
  • Hipnosis - "Pulstar"
  • Italian Boys - "Midnight Girl"
  • Ivàn - "Fotonovela"
  • Joe Yellow - "Take My Heart", "Lover to Lover"
  • Kano- "Another Life"
  • Klein & M.B.O. - "Dirty Talk", "The Big Apple", "The MBO Theme", "Wonderful"
  • Koto - "Visitors", "Jabdah", "Chinese Revenge"
  • Ken Laszlo - "Hey Hey Guy", "Tonight", "Mary Ann", "Don't Cry"
  • Laserdance - "Humanoid Invasion", "Laserdance", "Shotgun (In the Night)"
  • Laura Branigan - "Gloria", "Self Control"
  • Lime - "Angel Eyes", "Babe, We're Gonna Love Tonight", "Unexpected Lovers"
  • 'Lectric Workers - "Robot Is Systematic", "The Garden"
  • Malcolm & the Bad Girls - "Shoot Me"
  • Martinelli - "Cinderella"
  • Meccano - "Activeate My Heart", "Down Down Romeo"
  • Michael Bedford - "More Than a Kiss", "Tonight"
  • Miko Mission - "How Old Are You?"
  • Mr. Flagio - "Take a Chance"
  • My Mine - "Hypnotic Tango"
  • N.O.I.A. - "Stranger in a Strangeland", "Looking for Love"
  • Novecento - "Movin' On", "Why me", "Excessive Love", "It's So Easy"
  • One System - "Life Is Very Short"
  • P. Lion - "Happy Children", "Dream"
  • Pet Shop Boys - "Paninaro", "Love Comes Quickly"
  • Phaeax - "Talk About"
  • Raf - "Self Control"
  • Ris - "Love and Music"
  • Stopp - "I'm Hungry / Caramba Mix","Wake Up"
  • Silver Pozzoli - "Around My Dream"
  • Linda Jo Rizzo - "You're My First, You're My Last"
  • Primadonna - "Angel You"
  • Q - "The Voice of Q"
  • Radiorama - "Desire", "Aliens", "Fire"
  • Righeira - "Vamos a la playa","No Tengo Dinero"
  • Ryan Paris - "Dolce Vita"
  • Sabrina - "Boys", "Sexy Girl", "My Chico"
  • Sandy Marton - "People from Ibiza", "Camel by Camel", "Exotic and Erotic"
  • Savage - "Don't Cry Tonight", "Only You", "A Love Again", "Fugitive"
  • Spagna - "Easy Lady", "Call me", "Every Girl and Boy"
  • Scotch - "Disco Band", "Take Me Up", "Mirage", "Man to Man", "Penguin's Invasion", "Plus Plus", "Money Runner"
  • Shreeve, Mark - "Legion"
  • Styloo - "Pretty Face"
  • Taffy - "I Love My Radio", "Once More"
  • Tom Hooker - "Looking for Love"
  • Topo & Roby - "Under the Ice"
  • Tracy Spencer - "Run to Me"
  • Trans X - "Living on Video", "Message on the Radio", "Digital World"
  • The Twins - "Love System"
  • Valerie Dore - "The Night", "Get Closer", "Lancelot"
  • Via Verdi - "Diamond"
  • Wish Key - "Orient Express", "Last Summer"

Contemporary artists influenced by Italo Disco:

  • Pet Shop Boys
  • Savas Pascalidis - "Fly wit the wind"
  • Legowelt
  • Metro Area
  • Bangkok Impact
  • Japanese Telecom
  • Orgue Electronique
  • Georgio Moroder
  • Mat-101 - Tangent 2002 - Disco nouveau
  • Lowfish
  • Hong Kong Countrefeit
  • Lindstrom
  • Michael Mayer

Authentic Related styles


  • Euro Disco
  • Synthpop
  • New Wave
  • EBM (electronic body music)
  • Belgian New Beat
  • Hi-NRG

Reaction, Revival and inspired by:

  • House
  • Eurobeat
  • The Hague electro sound
  • Electropop
  • Electroclash
  • Disco Nouveau
  • Gabber


  • Euroflash. 'Unofficial History Of Italo Disco', Retrieved June 25, 2005.
  • Ishkur. 'The Return of Italo Disco", Retrieved June 25, 2005.
  • Webdjsitalodisco.Ch Schmid, DJ. Italo Disco. Retrieved June 25, 2005.
  • Italo Disco on Myspace *under construction*
  • - Chart positions of Italo-Disco artists internationally.
  • Italo disco video on DVD - Selling, trading videos from the 80s (italo, eurodisco)
  • SouthPole Radio - Internet radio station, dedicated to Italo Disco only.
Bright disco - Dance-punk - Disco polo - Euro disco - Hi-NRG - House - Italo disco - Spacesynth
Artists - Discothèque - Nightclub - Orchestration - Other electronic music genres
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