In the earlier years of their career, the three guys from Scooter typically followed its own instincts and developed its own musical trends, resulting in a unique signature sound. However, something seems to have changed in terms of their motives recently; commercialism and the almighty dollar have come to the forefront. With their most recent album, "Jumping All Over The World", Scooter isn't creating their usual brand of hard dance music with decent variety and the occasional experimental track here and there. Instead, this album follows the currently popular trend of jumpstyle music that first came about in Holland and Belgium, but has infected Europe with its high level of... well, jumpability! But instead of just trying one track based on this new trend (as would normally be the case with a Scooter album, where they would try many different styles to create an amalgamation of sorts), they themed the entire album around jumpstyle, with the exception of a track or two; this is the first album by Scooter that follows any particular theme. The genre generally gets old quickly though, but let's see how well Scooter tackles the art of jumpstyle.
The album starts off with a typical beginning: a short introduction. However, it is a bit strange, where an obviously computer-generated female voice gives us The Definition of jumping. The actual spoken words are taken directly from Wikipedia's entry on 'jumping'; the entry is subsequently featured in the liner notes of the album booklet, hyperlinks to other entries included in parentheses. It's an interesting approach, but since I consider introductory tracks to albums as generally superfluous, I will not take this track into mind when scoring the album. The next track, however, is definitely worth noting, and immediately caught my attention. Jumping All Over The World starts out with a catchy H.P. lyric: "Uncore hardcore / Rock you down to the floor/ Posse saw you on the border / Jungle jumper under order" with a doubling vocal effect. This is soon repeated over a typical hard Scooter beat along with some other wacky lyrics that frontman H.P. Baxxter (known on this album as 'Notorious Dave' for whatever reason). Oddly enough, right after the aforementioned lines, there is supposedly a fifth line that was cut from the final version, BUT you can hear the "sh" sound at the beginning. It's even in the booklet's lyrics: "Champagne up right in the corner"! This is poor editing, and I also now wonder what's wrong with having extra lyrics? This song could certainly use a few more. The high-pitched voice that Scooter loves to use also makes a return by creating a jumpstyle-themed chorus based on the song "A Glass of Champagne" by 1970s pop group Sailor (who, as luck would have it, dressed up as sailors -- weird). After the chorus, a tough melody takes center-stage that simply pulsates with energy. This sequence repeats itself once again to complete the song. My only quarrel with this song is that the high-pitched vocal part is four verses long and appears twice, making the chorus sequence far too lengthy. This song was released as a single on February 1, 2008, with a few changes made, including new lyrics by H.P., but only the second refrain was shortened. Still, this is one of the top tracks of the album, in my opinion, of course!
The third tune from the album is also the first one to be released as a single. In August 2007, The Question Is What Is The Question hit the stores and made an unexpectedly large impact on the charts. I wrote a review of the single a while back, and declared it a decent song, but noted that a similar cover by the Party Animals had also been released around the same time, and whether the idea to cover it was directly taken from the Party Animals or not is still up for debate. "TQIWITQ" was the first jumpstyle outing for Scooter, and apparently it was successful -- successful enough to build an entire album off the genre. It must have SOME merit... right? Anyway, following this party pleaser is Enola Gay, somewhat of a cover of a song by the same name as written by OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) and released in 1980. Whether this song is good or not is also up for debate; many Scooter fans seem to like it, but proclaim that it sounds hastily produced. This song uses many different wacky elements to create one coherent track, including a vocal sample used frequently enough of someone saying "Hardstyle, baby", as well as a chopped version of a high-pitched vocal to help cover the melodic aspect. It is also at this point that certain percussive aspects are noticed in every song and become a staple of the album: the clap for certain, the UK hard-house style "donk-donk-donk-donk" kick, and the rigid jumpstyle snare drum noise. Don't expect percussion variety on this album -- it's tough to find.
Everyone also seems to love Scooter's cover of the theme song from the movie, The Neverending Story. To be honest, I wish they hadn't even touched this. It doesn't have the Scooter vibe to it, and just sounds out of place. Even H.P.'s shouts and the high-pitched vocals, classic Scooter trademarks, can't save this dismal tune. Granted, there's some good energy to this track, but the chorus (as sung by band member Rick J. Jordan's wife Nikk and then pitched even further -- why?!) pretty much ruins it for me. When they choose songs to use the HPV with, Scooter usually chooses well... but not this time. Thankfully, they make up for their mistake with And No Matches, the second single from the album and also one that I have written a review for. I like this one a lot better than "The Question Is What Is The Question". It feels like there was more effort placed into its production this time around, and even though this chorus (HPV again!) initially sounds corny and childish, it grows on you like vines on an untameable wall. The chorus is actually a cover... sort of... of "Big, Big World" by Emilia, released in 1998. But the Scooter version is MUCH faster and has different (though admittedly horrifically written) lyrics. It is very difficult to compare the two songs! This is also a good song nonetheless (in fact, I like it more now than when I reviewed it as a solo single), and it makes up for any musical brutality produced elsewhere on the album.
I can't say the same thing for Cambodia, which is a cover of the 1982 Kim Wilde song of the same name. The original "Cambodia" has already been covered many times by artists such as Pulsedriver and Apoptygma Berzerk, so I beg the question of why it has to be covered once again. And this version of the song isn't even particularly interesting. It's just a cheap jumpstyle/hardstyle cover of the melodic structure, and nothing more. It sounds somewhat like Scooter in their rougher-sounding days, but still, this is filler and nothing more. I like the melody; I don't care much for the way this song was produced or the way it's been wedged into genres where it doesn't quite belong. It is followed up by a strange concoction called I'm Lonely, which borrows its chorus from the song "Lonely" by Felix Project. And yes, I'm noticing a pattern of borrowing from other artists. It's nothing new; it's now called the 'Scooter Composition Strategy', where they have to reach a certain quota of stolen material for each album. Erm... anyway, H.P. does his usual shouting thing, and then the chorus comes in over some nice piano chords and even a bit of an orchestral pad. Then we get another nice jumpstyle reverbed refrain, which is actually pretty good! If they play it at their concert, this part will surely psych up the fans. (This also later became a fourth single, but they completely revamped the song.) It is another highlight of the album... which is more than I can say for Whistling Dave. The track would be cool except that it covers something else that's already been done countless times: the folk song "Korobeiniki" of Russian lore. Of course, most people now know it as the theme tune from Tetris. Yeah, like no one's ever covered the Tetris theme before. It is definitely (and even sounds like it's directly from a Game Boy at times) but I'm sick of hearing remixes of this song. Scooter used to be known for sampling from more obscure tunes and making the public more aware of old classics. But now they're just grabbing anything, really. I am not impressed by their cover choices this time around.
Next up is a song that doesn't fit with the rest of the album. Marian (Version) is an electro-house cover of the song of the same name released in 1985 by The Sisters of Mercy. It's a rather somber piece and serves as the antithesis to the pro-jump attitude that has engulfed the other songs. This is a relatively high-quality cover, although H.P.'s deep vocals are somewhat creepy. I suppose that was the original intent. If you are tired after excessive jumping (which I seem to be after only one song), let this one be your downtempo devil. This is also the third time in Scooter history where H.P. spouts lyrics in German (the first two being "Am Fenster" from the limited edition of "We Bring The Noise", and "Lass Uns Tanzen", an earlier single from 2007). This is followed up by an equally unusual track -- but NOT a cover (I don't think...). Lighten Up The Sky brings forth strong hardstyle and hardcore elements that had only been hinted at during a few previous tracks in Scooter's vast history. Melodically, there isn't anything brilliant to discuss, but the pounding beats and interesting effects will make fans of this genre happy. However, casual music listeners may not be so approving; the song can be rather ear-crunching and utterly annoying, especially the latter half. I enjoy it, but even I can clearly see how many people would absolutely hate this song. The same style is used in The Hardcore Massive, but it has a stronger focus on melody in the second half (with the feel of a medieval citadel as its source of inspiration). It is an easily forgotten effort though, and when compared to the final instrumental track on previous Scooter albums, which is typically very well done, "The Hardcore Massive" falls short of that same mark of quality. That is rather unfortunate. The outro, using the same classical music as the intro, is very short and unnecessary. The same faux femme vocal speaks: "It seems that the greatest difficulty is to find the end. Don't try to find it; it's already there." Isn't that rad?
The limited edition of this album also was released with a bonus disc featuring "The Scooter Top Ten Anthology", showcasing all of Scooter's singles that reached the top 10 on the German charts. While this could serve as informative to listeners who have no idea what Scooter was capable of before they entered the lucrative and quickly faltering jumpstyle music scene, for those who already have been long-time Scooter fans, it is merely a re-packaging of material they likely already possess. The only real advantage here is financial, for folks who don't want to buy any more old singles, albums, or compilations. I'm not going to review this bonus CD, but I will say that the Headhunters Remix of "The Question Is What Is The Question" isn't absolutely awful, but it isn't that spectacular too. The synth they use to imitate the chorus melody is a bit heinous, but that's what I've come to expect from Scooter remixes from the UK.
All in all, "Jumping All Over The World" has its definite ups and downs. To summarize what I've already shed light on, I have to say that although it is unfortunate that their trend of sampling heavily by other artists continues, it is even more unfortunate that they are choosing to sample from poor, overused sources. It is also a bit shameful that they have jumped on the jumpstyle bandwagon. It seems like merely a commercial ploy. Frontman H.P. Baxxter has noted in a recent interview that the next album will be different, and hopefully Scooter will go back to creating their own style instead of following the status quo. Jumpstyle seems to simply be the current fad, but it will fade and something else new will take its place (though hopefully not a resurgence of horrible dance covers of 80s songs). While there are definitely some exceptional tracks on this album, it feels rushed as a single entity. I know Scooter can produce better material; they just need to take the dollar signs out of their eyes and go back to their roots of just making music for fun and for themselves. Everyone would surely benefit from that.