Eiffel 65 Spin 'Blue' Into Gold

Italian dance-pop trio formed to create one song and now have international hit.

TURIN, Italy — There are one-hit wonders, and then there are one-song wonders.

Eiffel 65, the Italian trio whose dance-pop novelty "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" is racing up the charts throughout Europe and the U.S., formed to do nothing more than create that one song.

" 'Blue' was born almost like a game," singer/producer Jeffrey Jey said on Wednesday of the tune, in which he sings about "a little guy that lives in a blue world." But the experiment between the three men, who are members of the Italian dance-hit factory Bliss Corporation, "worked, and so we continued working on other tunes and completed the rest of the album," Jey said.

Even their name has a haphazard, patched-together quality. A computer chose Eiffel randomly from a group of words the men liked. The number 65 was added mistakenly to an early pressing of the single; the group liked the combination and stuck with it, Jey said.

'Blue' Gone Gold

"Blue (Da Ba Dee)" (RealAudio excerpt) climbed from #9 to #6 this week on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, continuing a rapid two-month rise, while Eiffel 65's album, Europop, moved up to #8 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The LP has sold more than 600,000 copies in the United States, according to sales tracking company SoundScan, and was certified gold.

The song is "a bit cheesy, but there's nothing wrong with that," said Billy Vidal, a vice president of the Mirror Corp., which owns four San Francisco nightclubs including Club X and the Sound Factory. "It doesn't have any serious message or anything, but it's a good, fun song.

"The first time I played it, it didn't get a great reception," Vidal said. "But then a little while later, about three weeks later, people recognized it, and it got a much better response, because it's been on the radio so much."

"The success of this song lies in many factors," the 30-year-old Jey said, speaking in Italian. "From the name of the band to the name of the song itself to the lyric. Unlike many other dance tunes, our songs have a traditional structure, with verses, choruses and bridges. This was important because it made 'Blue' a song in every sense. Probably that's the reason many people perceived 'Blue' as a song, not a dance track."

As the song has blossomed into an international hit, Jey, producer/composer Maurizio Lobina, 26, and DJ/composer Gabry Ponte, also 26, have been steadily on the run. Wednesday, they had just returned to Turin, their hometown, from Mexico. They were then headed to France and Russia to promote their next single, "Move Your Body."

Eiffel's Blissful Meeting

The trio met in Bliss Corporation, founded in 1992 by Italian producer Massimo Gabutti. The collective has produced several Italian and European dance hits, including a 1993 cover of punk poet Patti Smith's "People Have the Power," credited to Bliss Team. Bliss Corporation has 22 members and six recording studios and runs six dance labels.

"Here at Bliss Corporation we're all producers, everyone with his studio," said Jey, who was born Gianfranco Randone in Sicily. He moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., with his family, when he was a year old and returned to Italy 13 years later. At 23, he moved to Turin and began working in the local dance scene.

"We constantly work with each other on different projects," he said of Bliss. "Me, Gabry and Maurizio worked on this song ['Blue']. The melody was composed by Maurizio, and I wrote the lyrics. Then we reworked it all together. So the song 'Blue' was born."

A 'Blue' World

The idea behind the song, Jey said, was to use the color as a metaphor for life. "Yo listen up, here's a story/ About a little guy that lives in a blue world," he sings. "And all day and all night and everything he sees/ Is just blue like him."

"Blue does not mean sadness, as they often ask me in English-speaking countries," Jey said. "It is intended to describe a style of life. Every one of us at a certain point in life has a style of life through which everything is seen. And this style can be described as a color. For example, everything a person likes can be seen as blue."

Even if the project was born out of a single song, the trio now feel like a real band, the singer said. "That's why we show ourselves in our videos, something that many other dance acts, like Daft Punk or Chemical Brothers, don't do," he said. "We like to have a real contact with the people who listen to and dance to our songs."

Nonetheless, nightclub promoter Vidal said, "It's tough to follow these records up. I'd like to see a record company put the time in and [develop] some of these guys. That's the thing with most dance acts — they mostly end up with one big hit, because the record companies don't really try to develop them. It's just luck."

(SonicNet's Will Comerford contributed to this report.)