The "What Are You Listening To?" series has covered a lot of ground in the past year: party music from Portugal, punk rock from Omaha, and Cuban groove from Senegal. But this edition ventures into a territory that might be unknown to some listeners... and, as NPR's Steve Inskeep admits, to him as well.
It's the dance floor. Leo Robert Klein is a librarian and a Web developer, and a devotee of dance music. He presents four pieces for consideration, starting with Zapp & Roger's "Dance Floor," from 1982, a funky number with vocals produced by a vocoder. The song demands that you "shake it, shake it baby" and Klein defies listeners to defy the command!
Klein started listening to dance music as a young man living in Chicago, then in Berlin, Paris and Rome. He doesn't go to clubs as much anymore, but he still loves the music.
Next, Klein lands in 1990 with "I Want You" from Starpoint. Klein describes this song as fuller-bodied and exuberant. The track was produced by Frankie Knuckles, a Chicago DJ known for remixing '70s disco with a faster beat and fuller sound.
Then there's Ayla, and the 1998 song "Ayla, Part II." This mostly instrumental track is from the genre known as trance, or techno. Ayla is a collaborative group of German DJs. This song has a repeated beat that Klein decribes as hypnotic.
And just in case you gave up on dance music in your teens, be assured it's still around... Klein's last offering is from 2003. It's "Non So Perche (Be My World)" from Milky. The vocalist known as Milky is half-Egyptian and half-German, and went to school in England. But she collaborated with Italian DJs on this work. Like many popular dance songs, this track will be released in more than one version — an English version is on its way.