Rave music as Top Forty pop

Adrian Renzo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The late 1980s and early 1990s saw a marked increase in the number of rave tracks appearing on the UK Top Forty chart. This music appeared to have little to do with conventional song forms. Rave tracks often lacked vocals, foregrounded left-field synthesizer sounds, and eschewed the verse–chorus structures that had dominated the charts since the 1970s. This article asks: is it possible that rave music overlapped in some ways with Top Forty pop songs? I will argue that the answer to this question is a qualified ‘yes’, and that certain types of rave music functioned as a type of pop music. Rave tracks may have initially seemed quite alien to the pop charts, but they actually replicated several conventions of mainstream Western pop songs. In particular, they frequently adopted a structure resembling the verse–chorus form: verses were replaced by ‘rave’ sections, while choruses were replaced by vocal hooks, samples of existing songs, and other signifiers of pop familiarity. The article constitutes a preliminary attempt to analyse how electronic dance music functions when it is heard away from the dance floor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-57
Number of pages15
JournalMusicology Australia
Issue number1
Early online date2 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Rave music as Top Forty pop'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this