1997 was one hell of a year for Happy Hardcore. The genre really was at the top of its game and events were selling out up and down the country as well as in Europe. This year saw the release of some of the genre’s biggest anthems as it continue the trend of uplifting vocal tracks, moving away from the breakbeat infused sounds of the previous years. This was also a time when the Trancecore and Freeform sounds were emerging, bringing forth a stronger identity and a new energy to the scene.
So here we go, put on your white gloves as we count down the 20 greatest tracks of 1997.
19. Sy & Demo – Devotion
What do you get when a true Hardcore Legend joins forces with one of the finest and frankly most underrated producers the scene has ever witnessed? An absolute anthem that’s what. Everyone knows the lyrics to this one surely.
18. Supreme & UFO- Trip to the Other Side
Things were changing back in 1997, whilst traditional Happy Hardcore was very much alive there was a new sound emerging from the underground. Trancecore fused elements of Trance and Hardcore to make a new hi-energy sound that was sweeping scene, this would go on to morph into Freeform and this is one of the finest examples of that early style.
17. DJ Demo – I’ve Got a Feeling
We’ve already heard DJ Demo teaming up with DJ Sy but here’s the man by himself doing what he does best. Fusing those rolling breakbeats over some well thought out Happy Hardcore. A sing along anthem for the ages.
16. Antisocial – Get Into Love
Hixxy has never been afraid of experimenting and his Antisocial project spawned some fantastic tracks. Teaming up with Sunset Regime they fused the new Trancecore feel with the signature Hixxy sound to create something harder that you could still smile along to. Get Into love is a real highlight that deserves a listen. Just listen to that Kick!
15. Dj Breeze-Jump a Little Higher
Breeze would become a staple of the Raver Baby camp, teaming up with Darren Styles to create some of the most popular and well known Hardcore tunes of the ‘00s. This is a great example of what he used to do back in the day. Big kick drums with a rolling rap sample that stomps along nicely.
14. Metropolis –Liquid Night
Sometimes a tune comes around that defines its own place in history. This tune isn’t classed as Freeform or Happy Hardcore but fits perfectly with both styles. Dark and brooding with that classic Jim Morrison sample this is a stone cold classic written by Hardcore legends Fade and Melody.
13. Ham, Demo & Justin Time – The Big Spill (Demo Remix)
DJ Demo returns, this time teaming up with DJ Ham and Justin Time to deliver one of the all-time classics on the JAL label. The Big Spill was absolutely rinsed for years after Its initial release, we’ve chosen the DJ Demo mix as it’s generally recognised as the classic with its D&B intro and Reggae breakdown.
12. Jonny Go Mental –I Can Feel It (Acid & Bass Mix)
This is a full on Freeform workout complete with hi-energy beats and a wicked acid line. Need we say more? Well, Jonny Go Mental was in fact the unique and somewhat controversial producer DJ Kaos.
11. Dougal & Mickey Skeedale – Gotta Go
Bonkers classic alert! Yes that’s right if you were into Hardcore in ’97 then you will know this tune very well. Dougal & Skeedale were a force to be reckoned with back in the day and this was one of their crowning glories.
10. Force & Styles Feat: MC Junior – Paradise & Dreams
Force & Styles were the kings of the Hardcore anthem in the ‘90s and they were never better than when accompanied by their two vocalists Jenna and MC Junior. The latter appears on this one to deliver a blistering and soulful performance which helped to set the duo apart from their comrades in Hardcore. Melancholy and timeless, a genuine classic. R.I.P Junior, we still miss you.
9. Bang! –Cloudy Daze (Ham Mix)
1997 was a big year for Bang! They would create two massive tunes that year that would go on to define the Hardcore scene. The first was Cloudy Daze an epic track with a fantastic vocal and some very clever melody work, all placed on top a dirty beat. Lovely.
8. Triple J – Follow The Sun (90 in the Shade Mix)
The Hardcore scene is often unapologetic in its love of Cheese and this slab of Edam from Triple J is up there with the best. This is a true summer anthem that you could hear pumping out of many a Vauxhall Nova at the time. Listening back it gives you a real nostalgia for what was a fantastic summer for many of us.
7. Interstate – Lost Generation
Scotland’s Scot Brown is a pioneer in every sense of the word. Prolific in the Happy Hardcore scene as well as the Dutch Hardcore scene he has shaped the styles of both scenes over the years. Lost Generation was years ahead of its time almost creating a blue print for the UK Hardcore sound of the early ‘00s. Trance laden with little hint for the Happy Hardcore sound this tune changed everything.
6. Brisk & Trixxy – Back To The Top
Brisk & Trixxy are best known for their filthy kick drum led cheesy Hardcore but this track was pure Freeform and was absolutely caned back in the day. It’s still a staple in any classic Freeform set and we think it sounds as fresh today as it did back then.
5. Visa -Don’t Go Away (Hard ‘n’ Euro Mix)
Few tunes are so regularly played as this one. Don’t Go Away is a tune that has never disappeared from the scene. Visa was the alter ego of legendary Hardcore DJ Stu Allen and this was his biggest hit by far. There aren’t a lot of tunes in the pantheon of dance music which have multiple verses and a defined chorus but this is one of them and every raver up and down the country knew every single word.
4. Q-Tex – Power of Love ’97 (Digital Boy Italian Rave Mix)
Scot Brown strikes again, this time with his Q-Tex project. The Power of Love was a huge hit on the Eurodance scene and when the Hardcore version was re-released with new mixes in ’97 we were faced with the ultimate version. With Gabber maestro Digital Boy on remix duties the tune was given new life and went on to become one of Hardcore’s biggest hits.
3. Monty & D’Skys – Music Is My Life
Hard as nails and packed with nostalgia for the Old Skool sound Monty & D’Skys released a 2 track single that blew the competition out of the water. Often featuring in Brisk mixes back in the day both sides could have made it on this list as U Had it All is another classic but we chose the C&C Music Factory sampling Music is My Life purely for the memories.
2. Brisk & Trixxy – Eye Opener
Brisk & Trixxy must have known they were on to a winner when they wrote this monster back in ’97. Sampling Koko- Open Your Eye’s which was a big Euro Dance hit in ’97 and elevating it to a real hi-energy Hardcore classic, Eye Opener has had its fair share of Remixes since this came out but the original will always be the best.
1. Bang! – Shooting Star (Ham Mix)
We previously said that Bang! had a big year in ’97 and as if Cloudy Daze wasn’t a big enough triumph along came Shooting Star. One of the few Happy Hardcore tunes to receive the commercial remix treatment and actually get to number 1 in the UK charts Shooting Star is special. It may have been played to death at the big events back in the day but that’s because it’s just so good. Who can resist screaming the lyrics when it’s played, not us that’s for sure.
So that’s our top 20, have we missed out one of your favourites? Why not tell us in the comments and please share to your fellow 90’s ravers and start reminiscing!