Many moons ago – nearly six months, actually – I wrote what would become a semi-legendary album review of Dancemania EX2. One of the many Toshiba EMI Dancemania releases (which is where most licensed DDR tracks come from, hence the interest), this album was notable for a number of reasons…
…largely because it was absolute crap.
Shortly after my return from NYC, I heard the three characters I was praying I would never hope to hear: “EX3“. My logic and reason screamed no, but the sadomasochist in me shouted yes, and so here I sit, ready to listen to said album.
Standard rating system notes: As with the official ID3 MP3 rating system, songs are rated from 1 (absolute trash) to 100 (solid gold). Songs rated at 40 or higher should be considered at least somewhat redeemable. Songs rated at 50 or higher should be considered above average. Ratings of 60 or higher are good enough to be included in my “Top Rated” playlist (currently containing 1870 songs out of a total of 5785), while songs above 80 go into the “Only The Best” playlist (currently 131 songs).
Here we go.
Beautiful Morning (Spanish Fly Club Version) / Ace Of Base
Trying to disregard my internal hatred for everything Ace Of Base as we start this. Fairly standard house/trance/Daft Punk knockoffery with a little bit of an Ibiza feel. Hey, I can make up words like “knockoffery”, it’s my review. I wasn’t having a problem listening to this until the lyrics started, and now I’m cringing over the refrain. If this was instrumental, I could pass it off as just being a standard house track. Actually, there’s no variation in the instrumentals either, really. Sigh. Given that the hook is alright, and that it doesn’t sound like a typical Ace Of Base track, I’ll dole out a 45.
Something Got Me Started / BTH
Note to BTH: Stop trying so hard to convince us we’re listening to disco.
Note to lead singer: Never sing, ever again. You are not Jay from Jamiroquai
Note to whoever wrote this refrain: The song is called “Something Got Me Started”. Not “I’ll give it all up for you”.
Note to ears: Stop hurting, I’m ending this early. 30.
Mas Que Nada / Alegria
Hey, this must be Cliche Genre Album – we did the cliche house, we did the cliche disco, and here we are at the cliche latin. It’s a nonstop identity crisis. Like Samba De Janerio, Mas Que Nada will be done properly only once – and that one time was the speed mix by X-Treme. This is trying too hard to be everything at once. Hey, we’re Latin! No, wait, we’re techno! No, wait, we’re dance! No, wait, I’m unimpressed. 40.
Love, Leave, Forget / Multitude starring Bananarama
You know what “Starring” means, right? Means they sampled the entire vocal track and put in some new background music. Thus providing us with 80’s kitsch with a thrillingly bland background beat. It’s like the Geri Haliwell cover of It’s Raining Men, only really obscure and without any sort of good cheese. Inexplicably, there’s a noise like a fax machine right before the mini-bridge. Sadly, it only lasted about 2 seconds. 35.
Rhinestone Cowboy (Giddy Up Giddy Up) / Rikki & Daz feat. Glen Campbell
My impression is that this may be the lead singer of Bus Stop, sampling the refrain of Rhinestone Cowboy and hitting every western/cowboy cliche in history – gun shots, whipping noise, banjos, etc. This makes for quite possibly the most hilariously overdone song in history. This is problematic for your reviewer – do I give this a grade based on just the music, or do I allow for cheese to float higher? There’s only one way to do this – 20 for the music, 60 for the sheer ridiculousness of it all. Pick one or the other.
Help! I’m A Fish / Creamy
One of two Creamy songs, although we’ve heard the other one before. Hey, it’s girlie pop! If only I had a musical genre bingo card, I could win by now. This sounds like it could be the theme song from Finding Nemo if it wasn’t so goddamn depressing. Then again, this song in context of that movie would probably drive me closer to suicide, not further away. 40
Tokyo / Smile.dk
*grabs Bingo card, marks off “J-pop”* Hey, if we get “Cheesy female vocal trance”, I’ll seriously have a bingo.
This is the same style of track Smile.dk has been pulling off for the past 5 years. Either you like it, you hate it, or you just really, really don’t care. 40.
Hai Hai Hai / Captain Jack
CJ leans on some techno beats and…I guess it’s okay? There’s no emoticon for what I’m feeling. Oh wait, there’s always :|. Since this is a far cry better than the hell that was Centerfold on the last album, I’ll give a generous 50.
I Was Made For Lovin’ You / Bus Stop
We’re still in the techno vibe here, but luckily Bus Stop isn’t complete cheese. I’m glad Bus Stop (and, for the most part, CJ) have moved away from the goofy covers (One Two, Only You) and actually started sounding like they’re trying. 60
Born To Be Alive / Voyage 2000
Gay Dance Club Music…nope, not on my card. Damn. It’s imitation 2 Unlimited, which is ironic since they’re on the next track. This track is screaming “filler”, even with the cheesy “Peter Frampton talking guitar” effect. Why is this even on here? 30
Workaholic (K-Groove Trance Mix) / 2 Unlimited
Wow, that’s a lot harder than 2 Unlimited normally goes. Reminds me of the Sharp Maniac Mix of Twilight Zone, which is probably my favorite 2 Unlimited song ever. And the main melody sounds like a note blender on Twilight Zone. Ugh, but the rapping is terrible (it’s mercifully short, thankfully), and there’s the grating instrument that doesn’t blend in well to anything else. I’ll almost take it. 58
Mosquito / DJ Aligator Project
Okay, so the Whistle Song was a bunch of whistle blowing. Lollipop was kazoos. This is hoovers meant to sound like, well, mosquitos. (Note: Here it’s pronounced “moss-kee-toe”, instead of “mus-kee-toe” like the rest of the world.) The most offensive word here appears to be “goddamn”. This would be okay if it wasn’t for the talking portions – although “THIS IS MOSSKEETOE MURDAH!” is beyond hilarious. So listen to it just for that, like you listened to The Whistle Song for “blow the headroom like a laser guided missile”. 45
Pray (Flip & Fill Remix) / Lasgo
Wait, Lasgo? Don’t they do cheesey female vocal trance?
I’m sad to report this is NOT an MC Hammer cover. It’s just your standard female vocal trance song with “touching” lyrics about how two people should stay together, with cheesetacular builds and hoovers and…what more is there to say? 40
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Q-Tex Club Mix) / Flip & Fill
Oh Flip & Fill, say it isn’t so. You guys didn’t actually turn Whitney Houston into a trashy techno cover, did you? Not with a stadium trance background and snare fills and overdubbed female vocals, that’s just not like you guys. Because if you did, I’d have to give it a 25
Someday (Clubstar Remix) / Rezonance Q
I have to give an award out here – Most Cliched Trance Name. Reasons?
- Use of a term relating to acoustics in the name
- A “creative misspelling”
- Use of a the letter z
- Use of the letter Q
Now, I have to admit, if they had thrown an X in there somewhere, they could’ve had a shot at the hall of fame. As for the song? Hey, female vocal euro-trance! Fantabulous. To be fair, the hook is decent, and if it wasn’t for the irritating way the girl says “Some, SOME-DAYYYEEEEYAY” in addition to the goofy “Yeeeaaayeaaaah” and “Heyy, heyy, heeyyyyyyaaaa” crap, this might’ve warranted more than a 50.
Libertine / Kate Ryan
Okay, I can excuse one or two stadium/anthem techno songs with female vocals. The fact that this is in french doesn’t help – I wasn’t crazy about Irrestistiblement either. Blah. The instruments actually sounds a lot like Jump by Van Halen. I wasn’t crazy about that either. The ending almost saves it from doom, but it goes back to crap and ends at 38.
Gimme Gimme Gimme (2003 Trance Remix) / E-rotic
It wouldn’t be an Ex album without an E-rotic remix. I’m reminded just a little of William Orbit, but that quickly passes as we get a decently enjoyable trance version of an old tune I really wasn’t crazy about. Does all the typical trance things – hits the break, goes down low, builds back up, etc etc. Problem is, this isn’t something I want to hear repeatedly – thus, only 55.
Show Biz / Loud Force
I came to the conclusion a long time ago that Loud Force is the odd man out in every Dancemania album ever. Even as they try here to merge into the techno branch of the album, the guy who does the “OH YEAH ALL RIGHT 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4!” screaming ruins EVERY song they’ve ever done.
Subject: This song
Message body: no. 20
I Do, I Do, I Do (Red Monster KH-R Master Mix) / Creamy
Outside the intro, I’m waiting for some indication that this has actually been remixed. It takes about 3 minutes to get there. And honestly, it’s not really worth the trip. Still okay, though. 45.
The final tally:
2 songs at 60 or higher.
6 songs I would listen to again, although one of those falls into the “joke” category.
This, combined with the overall average and the lack of absolute stinkers, means that it falls just above EX 2 in the Grand Scheme.
The real problem here is the identity crisis, primarily in the first half of the album. A successful nonstop megamix needs a unifying theme (Scorrcio’s Hot Mix, for instance) or enough songs in each genre to allow for switching without feeling schizophrenic (DDRMAX Nonstop). You can’t just throw EVERYTHING together at once.
Recommendation is to avoid, but not as strongly as it was for EX2.