Disco Italo: How A Retro Genre Is Influencing Contemporary EDM

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Disco Italo: How A Retro Genre Is Influencing Contemporary EDM

Italo is sweeping its way across the world at the moment, bringing a fresh sound to many who’ve never heard it before. We couldn’t be more excited at radio to see this classic retro genre taking off in the mainstream market. Still, with so many listeners new to the genre, it’s no surprise that many are curious about the origins of this unique style. That’s why we’ve decided to take a closer look at the genre, its influences, and how it’s become so popular in recent times.

The Nostalgia Cycle

What does the 1978 film Grease have in common with the disaster movies of the early 2000s and the popular streaming series Stranger Things?  In a word: nostalgia. The nostalgia cycle is a well-documented phenomenon that’s been influencing our media landscape for as long as it’s been around. In everything from film to books to even fashion, major trends often seem to go in and out of taste around once every 20-30 years. Accordingly, we often see attempts to reference, update, or even evolve on ideas from the previous generation of media.

In case you couldn’t guess, this pattern holds just as true for music as it does for everything else, which is why listeners of contemporary pop often find themselves listening to ‘retro-genres’.

What is Disco Italo?

Disco Italo is a retro genre through and through. Born in the 1970s, and popular throughout the ‘80s, Italo has always been a genre that borrowed liberally from its inspirations.
That’s not to say it didn’t have its own unique identity. On the contrary, traits such as the use of enigmatic lyrics and open embrace of experimental techniques would often set the genre apart from its spiritual siblings. From the beginning, Italo has often been seen as more of a hybrid genre than a distinct school of EDM, and this perception has only grown more prevalent during its modern revival.

A Brief History

If you want to find the origins of the genre, then you have to look back to the late ‘70s when acts like La Bionda and B.B. & Q. Band were taking off. For years, the American disco sound had been prevalent throughout the scene, but around this time, the trends began to shift with a more European style taking over.
Disco Italo was one of the central pillars of this new European style, bringing together many influences that are now fundamental to as a whole. The genre was bright, colorful, and funky, with results from across the continent but distinctly Italian.
During this golden age, international hits like “Dolce Vita” and “Call Me” began to shape the entire scene. By the end of the ‘80s, Disco Italo began evolving into new genres such as Italo House.
Perhaps more significant to the broader genre was the heavy influence Italo had on the growing Eurodance movement, which, for many, would ultimately supplant its place in modern culture.
Disco Italo

Contemporary Disco Italo

The current revival of the genre has brought us some such as Italoconnection and Carino Cat while also bringing about a return for classic Disco Italo names like Fred Ventura, Marco Fruttero, and Alex Valentini.
On the other hand, the revival has also provoked debate about what we even classify as Disco Italo, with some arguing that the genre has become too broadly divided.
However you see it, here at Radio, we’re just delighted to see this fantastic retro genre getting its moment in the spotlight, and we can’t wait to hear what music the current wave inspires.

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