Venus (Shocking Blue song)

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"Venus"
Single by Shocking Blue[1]
from the album At Home
B-side "Hot Sand"
Released 2 October 1969
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded 1969
Genre Blues rock, garage rock
Length 3:06
Label Pink Elephant, Metronome, Colossus, Poplandia, Joker, Yugoton, Minos
Writer(s) Robbie van Leeuwen[2]
Producer(s) Robbie van Leeuwen
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Shocking Blue[1] singles chronology
"Lucy Brown Is Back In Town"
(1968)
"Venus"
(1969)
"Mighty Joe"
(1969)

"Venus" is a 1969 song by the Dutch band Shocking Blue which the group took to number one in nine countries in 1970.

In 1986, the British girl group Bananarama returned the song to number one in seven countries. The composition has been featured in numerous films, television shows and commercials, and covered dozens of times by artists around the world.

Shocking Blue[edit]

Released in late 1969 as a single from the album At Home, Shocking Blue's single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on 7 February 1970. RIAA certification came on 28 January 1970 for selling over one million copies in the U.S., garnering a gold record. Worldwide, the single sold over 7.5 million copies.[3]

The song's lead vocals are performed by Mariska Veres. The song's music and lyrics are written by Robbie van Leeuwen, the band's guitarist, sitarist and background vocalist, who also produced, along with record producer Jerry Ross. Van Leeuwen originally miswrote the line "...the godess on the mountain top..." as "...the godness on the mountain top...". This was corrected in later versions.[4]

Van Leeuwen was inspired by "The Banjo Song", a composition by Tim Rose that set Stephen Collins Foster's lyrics to "Oh! Susanna" to a completely new melody. "The Banjo Song," which appears on a 1963 album by The Big 3, features a bassline, guitar riffs, and a melody that sound almost exactly the same as those in "Venus".[5] However, Rose never claimed plagiarism.

"Venus" was remixed and re-released by dance producers The BHF (Bisiach Hornbostel Ferrucci) Team in May 1990, scoring the group a Top 10 hit in the UK and Australia 21 years after the release of the original. The remix featured a hip house rhythm and samples. An instrumental version was also released independently under the producer's alias "Don Pablo's Animals". The instrumental version (credited only to Don Pablos Animals – without referencing Shocking Blue) became the highest charting version of the song.[6] The single began with a sample from James Brown's 1988 hit "The Payback Mix (Part One)". This release of "Venus" peaked at #4 on the UK Singles Chart[6] and #8 in Australia in 1990.

Shocking Blue version in popular culture[edit]

In advertising[edit]

In films[edit]

The song has been used in several films:

In games[edit]

  • A caveman-style musical version appears in Croc 2, as the theme for "Venus fly Von Trappe"[citation needed]

In literature[edit]

  • Twin sisters, Sarah and Casey Hunter sang "Venus" in the Sugar & Spice book, Stuck in the 80's[citation needed]

In music[edit]

  • Morissey, the former lead singer of The Smiths, used the Shocking Blue music video for "Venus", in a pre-concert video shown during his 2009 tour[citation needed]
  • Stars on 45 used the opening riff from "Venus" to begin their medley "Stars on 45", which went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 1981.

In television[edit]

Shocking Blue version on the charts[edit]

Chart (1970) Peak
position
Australian singles chart 1
Austrian singles chart 2
Belgium singles chart 1
Canadian singles chart 1
Finnish singles chart 8
French singles chart 1
German singles chart 2
Irish singles chart 10
Italy singles chart 1
Japan Oricon Singles Chart 2
Dutch Top 40 Single Chart 3
Spanish singles chart 1
UK Singles Chart[8] 8
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1

Bananarama version[edit]

"Venus"
Single by Bananarama
from the album True Confessions
B-side "White Train"
Released 30 May 1986
Format 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl
Recorded December 1985
Genre Dance-pop
Length 3:51 (Album Version)
3:40 (Single Version)
Label London Records
Writer(s) Robbie van Leeuwen
Producer(s) Stock Aitken Waterman
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Bananarama singles chronology
"Do Not Disturb"
(1985)
"Venus"
(1986)
"More Than Physical"
(1986)
Music sample

"Venus" had been a part of Bananarama's repertoire for several years before they actually recorded it. The team's three members, Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey, and Keren Woodward, had the idea of turning the song into a dance music tune, but they were met with resistance from their producers at the time, Steve Jolley and Tony Swain. Bananarama brought the idea to the production trio of Stock Aitken Waterman, and it became Bananarama's first collaboration with them.

Dallin, Fahey, and Woodward had nearly completed recording their third album, titled True Confessions, with Jolley and Swain. Stock, Aitken and Waterman also resisted the idea because they believed that "Venus" would not make a good dance record. After persistence by the women, SAW relented, and the result was a worldwide smash. Bananarama's "Venus" went to number one in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Mexico, and South Africa. It hit number two in Germany and Hong Kong and was a top ten success in Italy, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and their native UK (#8 on UK Singles Chart). It also went to number one for two weeks on the U.S. Dance chart.[9]

The collaboration on "Venus" led Bananarama and SAW to work together on the group's follow-up album Wow! the following year.

A new mix of the track appeared as b-side to the 1989 limited release "Megarama '89" in Germany and France. Bananarama has since re-recorded the track for their 2001 album Exotica and it was later remixed by Marc Almond, with re-recorded vocals, and included on their 2005 album Drama.

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song received extensive play on MTV and video channels across the world, and presented Bananarama in various costumes, including a she-devil, a French temptress, a vampiress, and several Grecian goddesses. In one sequence of the video, The Birth of Venus, the painting by Sandro Botticelli, was reenacted. The video marked a pivotal shift towards a more glamorous and sexual image for the girls that contrasted with the tomboyish style in their earlier work. Choreography by Bruno Tonioli. Music video directed by Peter Care.

Track listings[edit]

7" single NANA10
  1. "Venus" 3:30
  2. "White Train" 3:50
    S.Dallin/S. Fahey/K. Woodward/P. Bishop/P. Seymour
12" single NANX10
  1. "Venus" (Extended version) 7:23
  2. "Venus" (Dub) 8:15
  3. "White Train" 3:50
2nd 12" single NANXR10
  1. "Venus" (The Hellfire Mix) 9:20 #:Remixed by Ian Levine
  2. "Venus" (Hellfire Dub) 6:55
  3. "White Train" 3:50
3rd 12" single NAXRR10
  1. "Venus" (The Fire And Brimstone Mix) 6:35 #:Remixed by Stock, Aitken & Waterman
  2. "Venus" (Hellfire Dub) 6:55
  3. "White Train" 3:50
US 12" maxi-single 886 088-1
  1. "Venus" (The Hellfire Mix) 9:20
  2. "Venus" (The Fire & Brimstone mix) 6:55
  3. "Venus" (Extended version) 7:23
  4. "Venus" (Dub) 8:25
CD video single
  1. "Venus" (Extended version) 7:23
  2. "True Confessions" (Edit) 4:09
  3. "A Trick of the Night" (Edit) 4:07
  4. "More Than Physical" (UK Single version) 3:40
Other versions
  1. "Venus" (The Greatest Remix Edit) 3:40
    Found on the 1989 UK CD single "Cruel Summer '89", Remixed by Phil Harding and Ian Curnow
  2. "Venus" (The Greatest Remix) 7:43
    Found on the 1989 German CD single "Megarama '89", Remixed by Phil Harding and Ian Curnow
  3. "Venus" (2001 version)
    Found on the album Exotica
  4. "Venus" (Marc Almond's Hi-NRG Showgirls mix) 6:02
    Found on the 2005 album Drama, Remixed by Marc Almond
  5. "Venus" (From Soundtrack Sugar & Spice: Stuck in the 80's)

Personnel[edit]

Bananarama

Additional personnel

  • Andrew Biscomb – Sleeve design
  • Peter Barrett – Sleeve design

Bananarama version in popular culture[edit]

In film[edit]

In games[edit]

In television[edit]

In videos[edit]

In advertising[edit]

Bananarama version on the charts[edit]

Other cover versions[edit]

  • In 1970, Tom Jones covered the song on his album Tom.[12]
  • In 1976, the Stockley Sisters, a South African duo, took their recording of the song to number 5 on the South African singles chart.
  • In 1980, Nervus Rex, a largely forgotten power pop band of the CBGBs/Max’s era downtown NYC scene, recorded their own cover version.
  • In 1984, Dutch rock and roll band Claw Boys Claw included a cover on their first album, Shocking Shades Of Claw Boys Claw.
  • In 1986, a cover was released by J-pop idol singer Yōko Nagayama and it became her first big hit.
  • In 1986, the song was covered by Italian singer Mina in her 1986's album Si, buana.
  • In 1988, a version of the song by The Chipettes, done in their signature style, was included on the album Born to Rock. They would also cover the Bananarama version for the 1998 album The A-Files: Alien Songs.
  • When auditioning for the Spice Girls in the early '90s, Victoria Beckham recorded a version of the song for a demo tape, never intending for it to be released, though it has since leaked onto the Internet.
  • In 1990, italo house act Don Pablo's Animals released an instrumental cover version of the song.
  • In 1994, Czech band Dunaj recorded a cover version for their album IV.
  • In 2002, Singaporean singer-songwriter Stefanie Sun (Simplified Chinese: 孙燕姿; Traditional Chinese: 孫燕姿) covered the song for her album (Start自選集) as well as covers of "Hey Jude" by The Beatles and "Silent All These Years" by Tori Amos.
  • In 2003, various hi-NRG/eurodance cover remixes by Obsession was released through Almighty Records. Audio samples can be heard on the official Almighty Records website.[13]
  • In 2003, No Angels, the first season winners of German Idol series Popstars, covered it for their album Pure. This version was used in TV spots for ladies' razor Gillette Venus
  • In 2004, Belgian girl group Seduced recorded a cover which incorporated elements of both the original Shocking Blue version and the Bananarama cover. The song peaked at #25 on the Belgian Singles Top 50 that year.[14]
  • In 2004, Polish rock band IRA covered the song on their album Ogień with some slight lyric changes in the chorus.
  • In 2005, Japanese rock legend Kiyoharu covered the song for his album Layra.
  • In 2005, Russian children's band Street Magic (Volshebniki Dvora) (Волшебники Двора) cover the song on their album Hit Parade (Хит-парад), featuring lead vocals by band member Denis Uzkov (Денис Усков).
  • In 2005, Japanese singer Hitomi featured a cover as the B-side to her "Japanese Girl" single. This version was the theme to commercials for the Gillette Venus razor in 2006 featuring Hitomi on a rock of a lagoon in Hawaii.
  • In 2007, Kumi Koda recorded the song for Japanese Gillette commercials that year and included a full version of the cover on her 2009 studio album Trick.
  • In 2011, Venezuelan band EraSound released a cover of the song.
  • Between 2011 and 2012, Jennifer Lopez was the spokesperson for Venus razors and recorded her own version of the song for "The Venus Goddess Fund for Education". Her song was featured in the TV commercials for the products.
  • Mexican singer Niñel Conde recorded a Spanish version of the song, on her new album "Ayer y Hoy", with the same name, Venus.
  • Filipino singer Tirso Cruz III covered the song on his album PIP under Vicor Records.

Foreign language covers[edit]

  • In 1969, Bulgarian singer Lili Ivanova recorded her version of the song, called "Venera" (Bulgarian: "Венера").
  • During the 1970s, Cambodian singer Ros Serey Sothea recorded a cover of the song in her native language of Khmer.[15]
  • In 1970, Greek band Olympians recorded the song "To koritsi tou Mai" (Greek: "Το κορίτσι του Μάη", meaning "Girl of May") with the melody of "Venus" and lyrics written by Sevi Tiliakou.
  • In 1980, Malaysian group Ideal Sisters recorded a cover version which was retitled as 'Wanita' or Women in English. Although the lyrics were modified, the melody was the same as the original song.
  • In 1984, Finnish group Belaboris recorded the song in Finnish for their album ...Olipa Kerran.

Live cover performances[edit]

Sampling[edit]

  • On July 18, 1981, Dutch act Stars on 45 reached #1 in the U.S. with a medley including the guitar riff from "Venus". With the original Shocking Blue and the later Bananarama cover both going to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, this arguably made it the only song in that chart's history to hit #1 by three different artists, though the Stars on 45 medley only included a portion.
  • In 1986, "Weird Al" Yankovic included the Bananarama version in his polka medley "Polka Party!" from the album of the same name.
  • Norwegian act Erlend Øye recorded part of the song in a medley on his album that was part of the DJ-Kicks series.

"Shizgarah", or "Venus" in Russian urban folklore[edit]

Despite the fact that the heavily controlled Soviet mass media totally ignored much of Western popular culture, the Shocking Blue song quickly become a popular hit in 1970s Russia, especially among street youth akin to Western hippie and "hooligan" subcultures. Due to the song's simple arrangement and danceable rhythm, "Venus" was adopted and performed by thousands of underground amateur performers, both those who accompanied themselves on acoustic guitar and full contemporary bands who performed it with electric guitar at dance parties. Thus, the English language song of a Dutch band become a prominent phenomenon of Russian urban folklore and was considered by many an unofficial "anthem of the generation".

The English language in the song, however, was only very loosely approximated, and the song was not even known by its title, "Venus". A countless number of variants of Russian lyrics existed for this song, but traditionally it was performed using gibberish or scat singing phonetically inspired by the sounds of original English lyrics which had become hardly intelligible after being passed along via repeated duplicate copying on cheap, low-end tape recorders. In the Russian variant, the first line of the chorus, "She's got it", was usually pronounced as "Shizgarah" ("Шизгáра") [sheez-GA-rah], and it was this word which became a commonly adopted name of the song in the USSR, even among those who could understand the original English text.

In modern times, a few disco clubs and a musical show on Nashe Radio are named "Shizgarah" after this song.

Also, "Shizgarah" ("Шизгара") is a novel of Russian writer Sergey Soloukh portraying the life of young Soviet hippies in the 1970s.[16]

Legacy[edit]

The Canadian teenage drama series program Degrassi: The Next Generation, which is known for naming each installment after an 1980s hit song, named a two-part installment after this song.

References[edit]

  1. ^ In spite of the name mentioned on this cover, the band's name was Shocking Blue, without "The".
  2. ^ "VENUS". GEMA – Members — Online Database – Musical Works. Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Billboard Vol. 84, No. 49. Nielsen Business Media. 1972-12-02. p. 40. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  4. ^ urbandictionary.com
  5. ^ Video on YouTube[dead link]
  6. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 164. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 496. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 28. 
  10. ^ imdb.com
  11. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 41. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  12. ^ "Tom Jones - Tom (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Obsession — Venus — Almighty Records". Almightyrecords.com. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  14. ^ "Seduced - Venus - Music Charts". Acharts.us. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  15. ^ "Komloss Srey Jowm (Venus) - Ros Sereysothea". YouTube. 2008-09-28. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  16. ^ lib.ru

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5
Billboard Hot 100 number one single (Shocking Blue version)
February 7, 1970 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)"/"Everybody Is a Star" by Sly & the Family Stone
Preceded by
"Higher Love" by Steve Winwood
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Bananarama version)
September 6, 1986 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Take My Breath Away" by Berlin
Preceded by
"Rumors" / "Vicious Rumors" by Timex Social Club
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single (Bananarama version)
August 9, 1986 – August 16, 1986
Succeeded by
"Ain't Nothin' Goin' on But the Rent" by Gwen Guthrie
Preceded by
"I Wanna Be a Cowboy" by Boys Don't Cry
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart number-one single (Bananarama version)
September 12, 1986 – September 26, 1986
Succeeded by
"Slice of Heaven" by Dave Dobbyn
Preceded by
"Touch Me (I Want Your Body)" by Samantha Fox
Australia ARIA Singles Chart number-one single (Bananarama version)
September 15, 1986 – October 27, 1986
Succeeded by
"You're the Voice" John Farnham