Happy hardcore

Happy hardcore, also known as happycore, is a music genre of hard dance. It was also later named UK hardcore due to its origins, emerging 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 breakbeat-based 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 growthEdit

In the UK, happy hardcore as it had become known was starting to gain popularity alongside jungle during 1994 and 1995, often being hosted at major raves such as Dreamscape and Helter Skelter, and other events held at the Sanctuary Music Arena. Parties hosting this music on the south coast of England included Fusion (Portsmouth), Adrenalin (Southampton), and Tazzmania (Hastings).

A huge part of the spread of both jungle and hardcore in these early days was the creation and sale of cassette tape compilation packs by the rave promoters. These would often contain hours of music recorded live at the rave events and would be sold across the country from independent record shops and via mail order, with the music then finding it’s way into the car stereo’s of the ravers and the Walkman’s of their younger siblings in the school yards. 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 distorted 909 4/4 kick drum pattern, with more original vocal leads and stab patterns. 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, Pretty Green Eyes, Cloudy Daze, Sunshine after the Rain, Above the Clouds, Discoland, Love of my Life, Techno Wonderland, and Hardcore Fever.[6] Throughout the mid-late 1990s, the compilation series Bonkers would be commercially popular and showcase the latest hardcore music. As a side note; Bonkers only really came into being due to the record label React showing interest in Toy Town, and Hixxy and Sharkey blagging a compilation album deal instead.


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, oldschool rave and hardstyle once again becoming popular in many modern productions.


UK hardcoreEdit

UK hardcore is a genre of music which evolved from and incorporates sound elements from happy hardcore. UK hardcore has a characteristically "harder" style by its "thicker" harsher bassline, as well as less of the breakbeat associated with the happy hardcore music of the 1990s. The term 'UK hardcore' refers to the evolution of the happy hardcore sound and is not a general term for hardcore (gabber or techno) that comes from the UK.

Early hardcore producers evolved in a period when techno was developing a harder edge, exploring the complex breakbeats that would later manifest themselves as jungle and the subsequent development of drum and bass. The stylistic influence of techno including the movie, cartoon and media samples, and powerful synthesizer-based breakdowns characterised this earlier form of UK hardcore.

With the diversity in sound available to producers rising with the onset of progressively more advanced computer and music production systems, electronic music was evolving at a rapid pace during this period. Hardcore, techno, and drum and bass began to split during this intense period of creativity, spinning off the genres ragga and darkside. The United Kingdom-based rave hardcore scene of the 1990s encompassed several native styles through the years, techno and hardcore being the respective dominant genres in the North and South of the country for much of this period.

Through a combination of factors, hardcore had taken a new musical direction towards the latter half of the 1990s. It now had little musical resemblance to its origins, generally becoming more vocal-based and at times producing cover versions of popular songs. This sound attracted a younger audience in the UK. Elsewhere at this time, this particular sound had found a new worldwide audience in places such as Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States.



While ambiguous as a term, 4-beat only indicated that this style—unlike jungle music and its earlier breakbeat hardcore predecessor—used a common if somewhat insignificant four beats to the bar bass drum complementing the obligatory breakbeats. 4-beat does not mean it was void of breakbeats, a common error assumed by most. Several record labels including Impact, Techstep Records (London) and United Dance Recordings, displayed the 4-beat logo on their artwork alongside the "recognized form of 4-beat" slogan. This logo may also have been used on records to easily distinguish this and jungle music in record shops.

Happy hardcore compilationsEdit


  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.
  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.

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