This Is Sadcore

Given how much genre-defining debate (translation: a couple of people mused over whether it should really be called 'UK Funk' or something) was kickstarted by the post about so-called 'Pigeon Street Soul', it's high time that we took a look at another unnamed, unformed and singularly unimportant non-existent musical genre that doesn't particularly warrant celebrating in any way, shape or form, and which most of the alleged participants probably didn't even realise was a genre. This time: Sadcore.

Yes, Sadcore. Or, in other words, that curious strain of early-to-mid-nineties post-'rave' dance music wherein blue-hued chunky piano motifs vied for space with bawling full-throated vowel-expanding mono-monickered Eurodisco vocalists who constantly sounded on the verge of crying, and lyrics pondering great existential posers in the sort of vocabulary more normally to be found on greetings cards, which were not so much sung as they were stretched out on a rack. And, what's more, have more recently given rise to Wikipedia entries that stretch out coverage of their one or two stray hits to give the decade-straddling illusion of a career roughly equatable to that of Iggy Pop.

If you want to get all allegorical about it, then in some ways Sadcore represented the 'comedown' after the great big early-nineties-long ecstasy-fulled warehouse party of chart-hogging upbeat Balaeric anthemry, with the wailing divas, crowd noises, children's TV samples and blissed-out programming giving way to soul-searching and moody tonality. Their songs were the aural equivalent of a bloke catching an early Sunday morning bus home whilst still in his raving gear, with an expression that suggested he had 'seen' the philosophical burden of humanity in the middle of a mist of steam, dry ice and bleeping techno sounds. It needs a name, and Sadcore is as good a name as any.

And if you've still no idea what any of this is all about, here's a couple of defining examples of the genre. Yes, it is a genre now. Stop arguing.

Haddaway - Life

More widely celebrated for his equally existentally-probing debut hit What Is Love?, Haddaway really came to his own on this less well remembered follow-up smash, which explored his philosophical ponderings on the subject of 'life' (which, in case you were wondering, 'will never be the same' and 'keeps changing'), complete with allegorical video-based 'artificial intelligence' shenanigans. As if that wasn't enough, he then went on to score two more equally Diderot-riffing top ten hits - emotion-versus-logic ballad I Miss You, which he somehow contrived to perform on Top Of The Pops whilst apparently dressed as Duane Dibley, and mind expansion-endorsement Rock My Heart, perhaps best remembered for its opening syllable being approximately eight million decibels louder than the rest of the song.

Gloworm - Carry Me Home

Alternately bawled and murmured conjecture on the shifting and evolving nature of identity, relationships, vocation, domesticity and, erm, 'smog', the posited lateral response to all of these transitory societal strata being that the narrator should, for some reason, be carried home. The nearest that Sadcore has to a national anthem. Gloworm's only other hit, lest we forget, was I Lift My Cup, which with true zen pan-perceptualism strove to reiterate that he lifts it 'up'.

MC Sar & The Real McCoy - Another Night

A plea for openness and inter-gender discourse set to a not-particularly subtle rewrite of the theme from Van Der Valk, fronted by a man occupying a none-more-early-nineties facial middle ground between Kevin Day and The Bloke Out Of Therapy?. Note cunning deployment in video of those old Sadcore 'meaning'-depicting standbys, out-of-context silent movie footage and 'being on' a television. Best experienced as accompanied by a technical breakdown on long forgotten cable music channel The Box that somehow contrives to cause the upper and lower halves of his face to switch positions.

By the mid-nineties, it was all over bar the shouting - the actual literal shouting if we're taking latterday Sadcore standard Ecuador! by Sash into account - and Eurodance had curtailed its spiritual quest in favour of Whigfield trying to find increasingly ridiculous ways of sneaking filth past the censor's radar. Further along this upward trajectory lay The Party Animals... but that's another contrived fictitious genre.

If you've enjoyed this article, you can find plenty more not very much like it in Not On Your Telly, which is available in paperback here or from the Kindle Store here.