Happy hardcore

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Happy hardcore, also known as 4-beat or happycore, is a music genre of hard dance. It emerged both from the UK breakbeat hardcore rave scene, and Belgian, German and Dutch hardcore techno scenes in the early 1990s.[1][2]


In the UK, the breakbeat hardcore rave scene was beginning to fragment by late 1992 into a number of subsequent genres: darkcore (tracks embracing dark-themed samples and stabs), hardcore jungle (reggae basslines and influences became prominent), and 4-beat also known as happy hardcore where piano rolls and uplifting vocals were still central to the sound. DJs such as Slipmatt, DJ Sy, DJ Seduction, Wishdokta, DJ Dougal, and DJ Vibes continued to play and put out music of this nature throughout 1993/4 – notably Slipmatt through the SMD releases, Wishdokta as Naughty Naughty, and Seduction on the Impact label.[3][4] In Scotland, a fusion of happy hardcore and gabba would emerge as bouncy techno, played by the likes of Scott Brown.

In mainland Europe, new beat and hardcore techno from Belgium had both an influence on the early 1990s on the UK rave scene, but also Germany and the Netherlands, such as Praga Khan, Human Resource, and Frank De Wulf. In Germany, producer Marc Trauner, and in the Netherlands, Paul Elstak would also be early influences.

1990s growth[edit]

In the UK, happy hardcore as it had become known was starting to gain popularity alongside jungle by 1995, often being hosted in the second arena at major raves such as Dreamscape and Helter Skelter held at the Sanctuary Music Arena. In London, the pirate radio station Dream FM would become the primary champion of the genre. The sound was also changing, tracks increasingly losing their breakbeats towards a stomping 4/4 kick drum pattern, and more vocally-led. DJs and producers that began to come through included Hixxy, Breeze, Force & Styles, DJ Sharkey, and DJ DNA[5], and tracks that started to define the genre included Heart of Gold and Above the Clouds.[6] Throughout the mid-late 1990s, the compilation series Bonkers would be commercially popular and showcase the latest hardcore music.


In the UK, the scene received its own special on BBC Radio 1 called John Peel Is Not Enough (named after a track by CLSM) in 2004.[7]. The scene continued to expand, with compilations such as Clubland X-Treme Hardcore, and an ever youthful audience. In 2009, DJ Kutski hosted a show featuring hard dance and hardcore on Radio 1.

Elsewhere at this time, this particular sound had found a new worldwide audience in places such as Australia, Canada (notably Anabolic Frolic), Japan and the United States.


In the UK, after a brief decline including the closure of labels such as Freeform and the Nu Energy Collective, and DJs such as Kevin Energy and Sharkey announcing their retirements, the rise of digital labels has helped to both re-energise both classic releases as well as new and upcoming artists including Fracus & Darwin. Hardcore has also started to take many different directions, with influences from dubstep, electro, techno and oldschool rave once again becoming popular in many modern productions.

Happy hardcore compilations[edit]


  1. ^ Reynolds, Simon (1998). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. Picador. The difference between Happy Hardcore and happy gabba is slight: basically, the English tracks have sped-up breakbeats running alongside the stomping four-to-the-floor drum kick, and at 170 b.p.m., they're slightly slower than happy gabba.
  2. ^ Reynolds, Simon (1998). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. Picador. From the rave-will-never-die movement called 'happy hardcore' to the club-based house mainstream, the four-to-the-floor kick-drum ruled supreme everywhere but the capital.
  3. ^ Reynolds, Simon (1998). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. Picador. Back in 1993, when hardcore plunged into the 'darkside', a breakaway faction of DJ-producers like Seduction, Vibes and Slipmatt continued to make celebratory, upful tunes based around hectic breakbeats. By the end of 1994, happy hardcore had coalesced into a scene that operated in parallel with its estranged cousin, jungle.
  4. ^ "Gone To A Rave: High On A Happy Vibe – The Rise And Fall Of Hardcore". Ransom Note. 29 January 2015. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  5. ^ Louis Pattison (21 February 2020). "White gloves on, whistles out: Photos capturing the thrill of hardcore rave". RBMA Daily.
  6. ^ Mumdance (4 September 2014). "The 20 best happy hardcore records of all time". FACTmag.
  7. ^ Wall, Mick (2004). John Peel – A Tribute To The Legendary DJ and Broadcaster. Orion Books.

External links[edit]