Haddaway was born in 1965 in Trinidad. Once he was 9 he relocated to the Washington, D.C. Area, where, after growing up come the sound of louis Armstrong, he ended up being inspired at 14 come play trumpet and subsequently start his first musical group, Chances. After dropping out of college, he relocated to Cologne, Germany in 1987. Because that a couple of years he operated in bars and found some success together a marketer in developing his very own company, Energy, in i m sorry he organized fashion shows and also photo shoots. Eventually, he captured his break in 1992 when German label Coconut documents signed the on, but remained other of a vagabond even as “What Is Love” catapulted him come fame. “I can not say i really call any place home,” Haddaway told the LA Times in a rare 1994 interview. “I can not say that will certainly change. Maybe it’s since I’m always looking for some type of excitement.” In that is infancy, the success of “What Is Love” understandably showed up to wake up Haddaway. His invited question and also the contagious beats surrounding it were sticking come people, and he felt he was simply scratching the surface ar of both his and the song’s potential.

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Written and also produced by Dee Dee Halligan (real surname Tony Hendrik) and also Junior Torello (real surname Karin Hartmann-Eisenblätter) the Coconut Records, “What Is Love” appeared on Haddaway’s debut The Album. That peaked in ~ No. 11 in the U.S. On the Billboard warm 100, and also Americans ultimately labeled Haddaway as a one-hit wonder since they never really heard from that again. Throughout the Atlantic though, the artist created a number of respectable followup hits, including “Life,” “I miss You,” “Rock my Heart,” and “Fly Away.” The latter three never scraped their way onto a U.S. Chart but did make respective splashes around Europe, also if the ripples died quicker each time. Likely as result of head-bopping exhaustion from the formula Haddaway, Halligan, and also Torello stuck to after the success the “What Is Love,” the songs succumbed diminishing returns, never ever quite recapturing the purity the the breakout hit that preceded them.

In this follow-ups, Haddaway basically re-framed the exact same existential question using a thesaurus and also a brand-new beat. The extended title that “Life” is “Life (Everybody needs Somebody come Love),” and along with “I miss You,” “Rock mine Heart,” and also “Fly Away,” that again consists the paralyzing fears associated with every phase of love—finding it, being in it, losing it, and wondering if it’ll ever be captured again. Provided the volatile emotionally peaks and also valleys the love and also loss have the right to send one through, the fitting that professionally, Haddaway’s biggest strength early on in his career was also his greatest weakness. He never seemed to discover a finish answer to his powerful question, therefore he retained asking it, entrenching himself together a male who can not quite move on. He clearly fell top top some tough luck in the dating world and was able to rotate that unbridled longing into some optimistic discotheque jams. For much better or for worse, it’s precisely that contrast in between heavy message and poppy sound in his music and persona the made his original hit so ripe for humor.


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For all the fun the comedy civilization has had with “What Is Love,” Haddaway has never seemed to be in on the joke, or also acknowledge the exists. Once asked in a 1998 interview by The A.V. Club if Haddaway had seen his movie, Kattan remarked, “I have actually no idea. We never even heard from him around using the song in the sketch. Not even a thank-you note.” This painted the singer as somewhat of a negative sport, back it’s difficult to error the man for seemingly preventing discussion of his most renowned work v the lens the a long-running gag he never ever asked for. Top top the rarely occasions he has talked to the media about the track itself, he is taken its origins really seriously. “People always ask me around what ns meant,” he created in a recent email to Flavorwire. “I supposed that what is love’ demands to be characterized by anyone by his own definition. It’s unique and individual. Because that me, it needs to do v trust, honesty, and also dedication.” The song has never to be laughter to Haddaway—far indigenous it. It way something come him, and also the much more it takes on a mystical high quality thanks come A Night in ~ The Roxbury, the an ext he seems unwilling to identify its feeling pop-culture status.


Now 50, Haddaway proceeds to placed out brand-new music, even though various other artists save revisiting his most famed track time and time again. “What Is Love” has actually been sampled, remixed, and covered countless times since 1993, with noteworthy recent entries consisting of Eminem and also Lil Wayne’s sample on “No Love” turn off Eminem’s Recovery in 2010 and Kiesza’s piano/synth cover in 2014. If the previous cranks increase the emotion of gift snubbed to aggressive brand-new heights, the latter strips Haddaway’s track down completely into a soft, delicate ballad highlighting the woe of his lyrics. It’s simple to ride the poppy, feel-good tide the original song’s win provide, however hiding in level sight right beside it that is a pains experiential crisis. By essentially begging human being to lose themselves in a blissful, so-very-’90s brand of eurodance while at the same time lamenting over a love unrequited, “What Is Love” provides a situation for itself as the can be fried happy sad song.

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As the title itself is one of the most searched terms on Google, the not complicated to recognize why the track strikes a chord. The disastrous longing that Haddaway defines is downright universal. With that in mind, it’s a bizarre yet delicious fact that because of a set of arbitrary factors—Kattan and Ferrell’s buffoonery and Google’s algorithms for surfacing relevant content included—perhaps life’s many torturous and also baffling inquiry yields a cheesy ’90s club banger as the very first result when gotten in into a find bar. Haddaway never might have imagined together a standing for the song when he initially recorded it, but even soon after that is success that seemed mindful that the popularity might pigeonhole him as an artist. I prevent being conventional—I hate the thought of it,” he said in his 1994 LA Times interview. “Being typed as a dance-music artist is a fatality sentence.” and yet, despite insisting that world “wait till my next album. You’ll view a different side the me,” 1995’s The Drive was much more of the very same dance music, and also anything rather he tried was never even close to as famous as “What Is Love.”

If it appears outrageous that a Trinidadian dude who stayed in Washington, D.C. As a teenager and also then relocated to Germany to churn out Europop hits for ever-diminishing returns would be the poster young for a crucial component that the person condition, well, to placed it simply, why not him? It may in reality make perfect feeling that such a citizen of the world and also perceived one-hit wonder would sincerely capture the existential angst of an ever-pressing question. SNL was quick to strategy “What Is Love” native the energy of the sound and also tack physical humor onto it, yet Haddaway has never presented anything various other than one inside-out check out of the song. He collection out with pure intentions to comment on what love really is, letting the renowned style that music in that certain time and place educate how civilization would digest the conversation.


That the song continues to hold a lofty status today, whether enhanced by laughs or not, speak to the genuine nature of its singer. “It was currently in my head a long time,” the told Flavorwire. “From the lyrics and also the search from civilization to look for it. When I heard the music , it was clear to me that this would go on for a lengthy time.” Haddaway offered up his emotions top top a platter once he recorded “What Is Love.” numerous years later, lock still maintaining us satiated and also hungry in ~ the exact same time.