Break out the Popcorn!
Popcorn, like Northern Soul, is a retroactive musical genre. That is, it was defined by collectors, or in this case DJs, to describe a style they had discovered that encompassed records from various genres that to their ears had enough in common to be defined as a genre of its own. This means at a Popcorn night you might hear a track from a Soul star followed by a country artist followed by a tune from a film soundtrack.
The style arose in Belgium in the late 1960s. A club on a farm outside Antwerp, Gibbe Govaert played sets that did not fit into the dance craze styles that had swept the world. The tunes he played were atmospheric, well produced, and slow. This was a world away from the frantic Yea Yea of southern Europe, the up-tempo funk of the USA and the driving rock of the UK.
The club at the farm was called The Popcorn and the music Gibbe played came to be called the same. As time went by he was joined by two fellow collectors / DJs and the style spread. The cool groove and slow beat got its hooks into crowds around the world who would spend long nights dancing low and long to obscure tracks that just felt right. The feel was all that mattered.
Catch the Popcorn Fever
So what is the music? Probably the most Popcorn tracks of all time is Fever, an R&B track from the Little Willie John original, through the Peggy Lee sophistication to the up-tempo (for Popcorn) latin version by La Lupe, and Summertime, a showtune.
Have a listen…
Other tunes that fit the popcorn mould whilst also being collected as part of another style include vocal harmony number like Mama Linda by The Monitors.
A few years back I met one of the original Popcorn DJs and had a neat afternoon playing 45s with him to try and get a handle on the style. I played a few numbers to him, leaning away from the RnB style and he agreed that a tune like Johnny Carroll’s The Swing would have fitted right into the club.
The style has been popular enough to have a record label (called Popcorn) dedicated to it. We have a few of these tough-to-find 45s in stock but they do sell out very quickly. Search for ‘Popcorn’ in our shop to see what we have in stock.
Rather than running through the many 45s we have that fall into the Popcorn genre I would recommend some album series that collect the style together.
Rather than running through the many 45s we have that fall into the popcorn I would recommend some album series that collect the style together.
Compiled by the DJs at the Slow Grind Fever Club in Melbourne, Australia the eponymous album series leans towards the RnB side of popcorn. With 10 volumes each never duplicating a track there is one hell of a lot of great music to enjoy.
A fine series that explores the lonesome side of rockabilly and country music is Gunsmoke. This has reached volume 6 in its exploration of prairie Popcorn.
With these records you can explore the Popcorn style that has exploded across the world and is the soundtrack for sleazy, after midnight clubs of lovers, mothers and thieves everywhere.
For more information, track listings and sample tracks to turn your ears to for the records listed in here, click on the ‘show more’ buttons.