New Beat is a term that was used in the 1980s to refer to two different genres of electronic dance music. It also refers to an underground 1980s Belgian music style.
The term New Beat was first used in the USA during the early '80s. At the time, this New Beat music was a contemporary genre to Techno from Detroit and House from Chicago, although not intrinsically linked. The Americans at the time used the term to describe those music styles that they never heard before. It was the new beat of the time, the new sound, very different from Hi-NRG disco, New Wave, Synth Pop, Rap. The term was soon replaced by other terms, so virtually any USA hits once described as "New Beat" are today considered a part of another music style, most of the time simply House or Techno.
The second time that the term New Beat used, was in Europe. First, appeared in Belgium, around 1987, to describe a local music style that mainly developed out of 'Bodybeat' heralded by the early formation of Front 242 and other such acts as Praga Khan and Lords of Acid. When MTV Europe began in the summer of 1987, it brought the term to the UK. In the UK, the term New Beat was used in 1987 1988 for various local Acid house / Techno Rave productions, to point out that this was a new sound of dance music and a less commercial alternative to UK's Eurobeat. Eurobeat was at the time used in the UK for the Stock Aitken Waterman productions. Eventually, the term became mainstream, especially between the summer of 1989 and the summer of 1990, but faded fast after Euro House took over. Because of the relation of the "New Beat" and Acid house in the UK during 1988, the later commercial "New Beat" European productions, sported the Smiley as symbol of love in the British related markets. Various British "New Beat" productions, eventually migrated to the 'Bacalao' scene in Valencia Spain.
Before the term New Beat began to fade (during 1990-1991), it was used one last time to describe many Belgium and German dance groups like Technotronic, Snap!, Confetti's, The adventures of Stevie V, McSar & the Real McCoy and Twenty4Seven on the minor European (and related) markets (Greece, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Israel, Southern France). The term in this case used again like the way it used in USA almost a decade before to describe the overall "new" dance sound of the time and not so much a music style. It was generally used to fill the "gap" between 80s Euro disco and the 90s Euro-House).
USA fans of 90s Eurohouse (in the USA the term "90s Eurodance" is used), testify that the term New Beat was also used for a short while during the early 90s, to describe various early 90s imports on the USA market, like 2 Unlimited, Quadrophonia, T99, etc.
The New Beat sound originated in Belgium in the late 1980s, especially in 1987 and 1988.
The Belgian New Beat was an underground danceable music style, well known at clubs and discos in Europe. It is a local crossover of EBM, Acid and mid 80s underground House music. The 80s Dark Wave also became an aesthetic influence (especially Depeche Mode's videos from 1985 1989). At the time, EBM was popular in German speaking countries and The Netherlands, Acid / Acid Trance was popular in the UK, and House Music (in a 80s Eurodisco French twist) was popular in France. Belgium created this unique music sound, with huge underground success all over Europe.
Legend has it that the Belgian New Beat genre was invented in the nightclub Boccaccio in Destelbergen near Ghent when DJ Marc Grouls played a 45rpm EBM record at 33rpm, with the pitch control set to +8. The track in question was Flesh by A Split-Second.
In addition to A Split-Second, the genre was also heavily influenced by other EBM acts such as Front 242 and The Neon Judgement, as well as the likes of Fad Gadget, Gary Numan and Anne Clark.
In 1989 1990, the genre spawned some short-lived sub-genres or successor genres Hard Beat and Schizzo - the latter being a techno-influenced style, considerably faster than the original slow new beat style.
The most commercially successful New Beat groups were Confetti's and The Lords of Acid, which had heavy airplay on the MTV Europe show "Party Zone". MTV Europe's VJ Steve Blame was a great fan of New Beat and through his position on MTV News, promoted the Belgium's New Beat sound through his reports.
Many Europeans consider New Beat as a forerunner of European House (Euro-House). Others consider "New Beat" to have been the first true European dance music style that had no Euro disco (Italo Disco - Eurobeat) influences. New Beat incorporated more Techno and Acid house influences, as opposed to the Euro disco influences of Euro House.
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