I don’t know that turning a meat and potatoes trance tune into a dance-pop banger passes theological muster, but as pop miracles go it’s a welcome intervention. Unless, that is, you’re Coco Star, the singer whose vocals grace “Toca’s Miracle”, an unasked and – she later claimed – unpaid borrowing from her 1996 “I Need A Miracle”. “The Millennium Prayer” was cheekily fingered as the first mash-up number one: “Toca’s Miracle” has a much stronger claim. And like the bootlegs of 2002, the Internet was at the heart of it – Star says that the DJ who’d laid “Miracle” over the rather drab “Toca Me” had grabbed her vocals off a file-sharing site. Meanwhile jobbing German producers Fragma found themselves – quite by accident, since the bootleg was none of their doing – with albums and follow-ups to arrange sharpish. How much had changed since Loleatta Holloway got ripped off for “Ride On Time”? At least Star got to appear in the inevitable sleazy video.
In this swampy world of dance hit origins, few emerge with credit. But at least the unnamed DJ makes up for his ethical fail with an aesthetic win: “Toca’s Miracle” is a blend comfortably superior to either of its ingredients. Star’s “I Need A Miracle” is decent enough – a (non-UK) garage track showcase for that strong but yearning vocal workout – but no kind of breakthrough. “Toca Me” is less exciting: second-rate trance happy enough to rub BPMs with bigger hits in a DJ set but never likely to stand on its own. Together, though, they have alchemy: Star’s vocals give “Toca Me”’s moodiness some momentum and structure, and Fragma’s uninspired builds and rushes are the fuel “Miracle” needs to become a better pop song.
The result still doesn’t surprise, but it has an urgency to it, a melodrama neither of its originals possessed. The finished product hints at the cornball magnificence and thrill-power of italo house and disco. It was an inevitable development for trance: with the standardised sound a regular chart presence, better gimmicks – and better songs – were needed to cut through. Not one for the purists on any level, “Toca’s Miracle” is cheapo fun, and showed how the toolkit of chart trance could work melded to a pop structure. It was a lesson an awful lot of people were learning.