Celebrating 10 years of We No Speak Americano, Australia's biggest dance song
Released in 2010, the Yolanda Be Cool and DCUP favourite helped launch a new generation of Australian electronic - and continues to, all this time later.
The ‘Best Australian Electronic Songs of All Time’ headline has been spinning around at Pilerats for a couple of years now, but constantly pushed back due to the simply huge amount of effort needed to bring it to life. It’s near-impossible to encapsulate so many generations and movements within a defining list - one that’d probably be irrelevant in just a few months later, knowing the strengths of current-day electronica too - and because of that, it’s something that’s been mostly left in the drafts pile, waiting for a burst of enthusiasm to bring it to life.
However, one thing we’re incredibly sure of is that We No Speak Americano would be somewhere at the top. Released in 2010, the Yolanda Be Cool and DCUP collaboration closed a chapter of Australian electronic and opened a new one simultaneously, forging a new generation of musicians and DJs - an entire label worth, to start with - with its earworming bounce, one that has seen been covered by K-Pop groups and Alvin & The Chipmunks alike, and parodied more than any other Australian song we could think of.
While it was technically released in February 2010, last week saw a 10-year anniversary special of the single emerge, including new remixes and even a re-edit from Yolanda Be Cool themselves, revisiting the song a decade on from its release and updating it to 2020 tastes. In turn, it gives a good reason to reflect on the record and its influence in Australian electronic; how a fun, 1950s Italian folk sample blossomed into something that would kickstart the careers for some of Australian electronic’s elite.
Take a look at its impact in the greater Australian electronic conversation, for example. We No Speak Americano’s arrival teetered at the book-end of the bloghouse explosion, fuelled in Australia by artists such as AJAX - who’d sign We No Speak Americano to his dance music label Sweat It Out, but we’ll talk about that shortly - alongside international efforts that together, have helped influenced many of today’s electronic heavyweights. The song was inspired by bloghouse no doubts, but it was far removed from the conventional sounds of the genre niche, instead searching for something a little more modern and slick compared to the sound’s typical rough-around-the-edges grit.
Yolanda Be Cool are commonly associated with Australian bloghouse, but their music - We No Speak Americano specifically - was more important in inspiring what happened after that time, and how Australians interacted with club music at a more commercial level. It’s one of the only Australian electronic songs to crack the ARIA Singles Chart’s top five (#4), UK Singles Chart (#1) and the Billboard 100 in the US (#29), marking a monumental feat for homegrown club music that in turn, inspired a new generation of musicians to explore similar sounds. Eventually, these sounds simmered to the surface of Australian electronic culture and began the transition away from bloghouse, informing the future.
Just take a look at the electronic musicians that would find success in the years following We No Speak Americano, and how many have ties - direct or indirect - to Yolanda Be Cool and DCUP. There were acts like Flight Facilities and RUFUS DU SOL who captured the nation’s hearts shortly after; acts like Art Vs Science and Architecture In Helsinki debuting cleaner sounds. By 2014, all the homegrown dance music to chart in the triple j Hottest 100 were made by that generation of new electronic artists: Peking Duk, The Kite String Tangle, Flight Facilities, Carmada, Odd Mob and SAFIA included.
For another obvious impact of We No Speak Americano’s success, take a look at the label it was released on: Sweat It Out. Founded by AJAX in 2008, the electronic label is a pivotal platform for dance music’s history in the past decade, responsible for some of the country’s biggest musical exports this side of the millennium.
Yolanda Be Cool and DCUP were two of the label’s earliest signees, releasing tracks and edits on Sweat It Out back in 2008/2009. We No Speak Americano was its first commercial success, however, expanding the label outside of the strobe-lit clubs and into realms of dance music away from that club music core. In 2011, they signed Emoh Instead’s new collaborative project with Flume - What So Not - and released Parachute Youth’s timeless Can’t Get Better Than This. In 2012, they signed RUFUS and Indian Summer; 2013 they signed Go Freek; 2014 brought Crooked Colours, Motez, Cassian and Mickey Kojak - the list goes on.
Sweat It Out has arguably defined Australian electronic music more than any other platform in the country, and We No Speak Americano brought many of the opportunities and class to make that happen. Hell, the song was so pivotal to Sweat It Out’s success that one-half of Yolanda Be Cool - Matthew Handley - remains an A&R at the label’s international division, some ten years later. The legacy of We No Speak Americano long outlasts even the decade it was released in - there are so little Australian releases quite as impactful, even outside of dance music.
It’s why a revisiting to the single 10 (and a bit) years later is so great. It provides an opportunity to reflect on its impact and educate, as well as an opportunity for those inspired by the song to attempt to show how they’ve even further pushed the sounds We No Speak Americano helped bring to the limelight. Take Chemical Surf’s mainstage-ready interpretation of the song; JAXX DA FISHWORKS’ signature bass-house; tech-house cousins SLLASH & DOPPE. Even Yolanda Be Cool themselves, revisiting the song ten years later.
“We hope it doesn't become as annoying as its predecessor and we hope it brings a cheeky smile to your face, either for the sake of nostalgia or a fresh memory.” We’re sure it will do.
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