Betty Boo

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Betty Boo
Boo at Let's Rock Liverpool on 31 July 2021
Boo at Let's Rock Liverpool on 31 July 2021
Background information
Birth nameAlison Moira Clarkson
Born (1970-03-06) 6 March 1970 (age 54)
Kensington, London, England
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • rapper
Years active1987–present

Alison Moira Clarkson (born 6 March 1970 in Kensington, London), better known as Betty Boo, is an English singer, songwriter and rapper. She first came to mainstream prominence in the late 1980s following a collaboration with the Beatmasters on the song "Hey DJ/I Can't Dance (To That Music You're Playing)". Between 1990 and 1992 she had a successful solo career, which spawned a number of chart-placing singles, most notably "Doin' the Do", "Where Are You Baby?", and "Let Me Take You There".


1987–1999: Betty Boo[edit]

Clarkson studied sound engineering at the Holloway School of Audio Engineering[1] before having several hits between 1989 and 1992. Originally nicknamed "Betty Boop"[1] for her similarity to the cartoon character, she changed it to avoid trademark disputes. Of mixed Dusun and Scottish ancestry,[2][3] she had an unusual, striking Emma Peel-like look,[1] dressed in mildly revealing outfits and proved to be an influential pop music figure whose "sassy, powerful music and image launched a thousand wannabe's [sic]".[4] Writing for The Guardian in August 1990, Lucy O'Brien noted the difference between the "quietly spoken" Clarkson and her "lovable toughie" pop star alter-ego, describing the latter as "a cartoon combination of Betty Boop, Barbarella and Buck Rogers".[3]

Whilst still at school, Boo began her musical career in hip-hop groups such as Hit ’N’ Run[5] and the She Rockers, the latter act who were signed to the British independent record label Music of Life. The She Rockers'[3] success led her to New York and work with Public Enemy,[3] who encouraged her to pursue a solo career.[4] Commenting on her time spent supporting Public Enemy on tour in the US, as well as working with Professor Griff in the recording studio on the song "Give It A Rest",[3] Boo revealed that things did not go as expected: "They were producing our single and I thought it would sound like their stuff, but it didn't at all. And some of the crowds were hostile to us. They didn't throw anything, no, but they wanted to see Public Enemy and they just weren't interested in us."[6]

Her big break came when she appeared as a guest vocalist on the 1989 number 7[7] UK hit single, "Hey DJ – I Can't Dance (To That Music You're Playing)" by The Beatmasters,[4] which was included in original form on their album Anywayawanna. Boo's first solo single, "Doin' The Do", followed and was also a UK number 7 success for her in 1990,[7] selling 200,000 copies[3] and reaching number one on Billboard's dance chart in the United States. One year later, the song was used as the title tune for Magic Pockets video game by the Bitmap Brothers. Boomania, her platinum-selling debut album,[1] was largely self-written and self-produced in her bedroom.[4] Her second solo single, "Where Are You Baby?", which reached number 3 in August 1990,[7] is her biggest solo hit to date. "24 Hours" was the third and final single to be issued from Boomania, and although it was a hit, it was less so than previous releases, stalling at number 25 in December 1990.[7] Her initial success was compounded at the 1991 BRIT Awards ceremony where she was voted that year's best British Breakthrough Act.[2][8] In 1991, her "Why, Oh Why?" 1950s-style love ballad featured on the soundtrack to the American film A Rage in Harlem.[9]

Her career suffered a setback when in July 1991, while touring Australia, Boo was revealed to be lip-synching at a concert rather than performing live. The 21st Century Dance Club in Frankston, Australia received "hundreds of complaints" after her performance, during which Boo fled the stage after dropping her microphone, revealing she was miming to a backing track.[10] The incident was widely reported, and Boo cancelled the remainder of her tour, citing influenza and fever.

Boo returned with a new record deal in 1992 having signed to WEA. Her follow-up album, GRRR! It's Betty Boo, suffered very disappointing sales in the UK, peaking at number 62.[7] It did, nevertheless, spawn another UK hit single titled "Let Me Take You There", which reached number 12 in August 1992.[7] A further single, "I'm on My Way", featured a musical quote from The Beatles' "Lady Madonna" which, unusually, was not a sample—the song's brass riff was re-created using all the original players[citation needed]. However, the single did not sell well and entered the chart at number 44 in October 1992.[7] Her next single, "Hangover", fared even worse, barely scraping the Top 50 upon release in April 1993.[7] Following the release of GRRR!, Clarkson turned down an offer to sign with Madonna's Maverick Records,[4] and in 1999 a Best Of compilation album—effectively an expanded version of Boomania with extra remixes and a different running order—was released and sold moderately well.

2006: WigWam[edit]

In 2006, Clarkson formed a pop duo called WigWam,[2] with Alex James, bassist from Blur. Together, they worked with music producer Ben Hillier, along with former Boo collaborators The Beatmasters.[4] Despite working to create "an album of experimental yet accessible 21st century pop",[4] just one single emerged from their musical partnership, the self-titled "WigWam" released on 3 April 2006 via Instant Karma Records.[2]

2007: Collaboration with Jack Rokka[edit]

In August 2007, she released a new single titled "Take Off". The song, which was playlisted on Radio 1's dance-orientated shows, was a joint project with the London-based dance act Jack Rokka and, as such, is much more dance-orientated than her previous work. She went on to perform the collaboration in a live set at Manchester Pride in 2007, along with some of her other songs. The video sees Betty Boo's trademark look resurrected and even features the 'Boosters' – Betty Boo's backing dancers, who always appear with identical hair and outfits to hers – and the Betty Boo spiral. Clarkson appeared on ITV's Loose Women on 16 October 2007 to promote the single, and has also appeared as an interviewee on BBC Three's The Most Annoying Pop Songs... show, passing comment on several songs that made the Top 100 list.

2009: England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton[edit]

In July 2009, historian Kate Williams reported on BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House that she is working with Clarkson to develop a musical version of Williams' biography England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton.[11]

2011: The Feeling[edit]

In June 2011, Clarkson featured as Betty Boo (and is credited) on the track "Virtually Art" by The Feeling on the double-album edition of their 2011 release, Together We Were Made (disc 2 track 2).

2014: Penn Festival and Let's Rock[edit]

In July 2014, Betty Boo performed on stage at the Penn Festival, while in 2021 she was announced as one of the artists performing as part of the Let’s Rock retro music festival line-ups, at various dates throughout the UK.[12][13]

2022: Return[edit]

On 10 January 2022, the artist announced the release of the single "Get Me to the Weekend".[14] The second single "Shining Star", was released on 12 May 2022. Her first album in 30 years, Boomerang, was released on 14 October 2022.[15][16][17]


After her solo career effectively ended when her mother contracted terminal cancer in the early 1990s,[18] Clarkson turned to songwriting, at the request of Chris Herbert,[8][18] who was in the process of forming a new, all-girl group. Herbert asked her to contribute to the project after revealing that she was his inspiration in forming one of his previous projects, the Spice Girls:[4] "He told me that when they were auditioning for the Spice Girls, they were looking for five Betty Boos – larger-than-life cartoon characters. He asked me to get involved in this other band he was putting together, Girl Thing, because he wanted this signature Betty Boo sound, a bit of hip-hop."[18]

Clarkson went on to co-write a number of songs for Girl Thing, including "Pure and Simple". Although the group's A&R man, Simon Cowell, initially rejected her song,[18] it was included in the Japanese edition of Girl Thing's self-titled debut album, released in 2001. The song became a huge, record-breaking hit single when it was re-recorded and released as the debut single of Hear'Say—winners of the reality TV show, Popstars—in March of the same year. On the release, Clarkson commented: "The arrangement they used was almost identical. I never met the band. It was a bit disheartening".[18] The song went on to win the Ivor Novello Award for the biggest selling single of 2001,[2][4] however despite finding renewed success by writing for other artists, Clarkson criticised the audition-based, manufactured pop process which created them.[18]

Clarkson has also written songs for Girls Aloud[4] (reunited with the Beatmasters), Louise Nurding, Dannii Minogue, The Tweenies[18] and for Sophie Ellis-Bextor's fourth studio album.[19]

Awards and Nominations[edit]

Award Year Nominee(s) Category Result Ref.
Brit Awards 1991 Herself British Breakthrough Act Won [20]
British Female Solo Artist Nominated
"Where Are You Baby?" British Video of the Year Nominated
Ivor Novello Awards 2002 "Pure and Simple" Best Selling UK Single Won [21]
NME Awards 1991 Herself Object Of Desire Won [22]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
  • Released: September 1990
  • Label: Rhythm King
4 68 88 25
GRRR! It's Betty Boo
  • Released: October 1992
  • Label: WEA International
62 97
  • Released: 14 October 2022[28]
  • Label: Betty Boo Records

Compilation albums[edit]

Title Album details
Doin' the Do: The Best of Betty Boo
  • Released: 1999
  • Label: BMG, Camden

Video albums[edit]

Title Album details
Boomania – The Boomin Vids
  • Released: 1990
  • Label: Virgin Music Video


Year Single Peak positions Certifications Album

US Dance
1989 "Hey DJ / I Can't Dance (To That Music You're Playing)"
(The Beatmasters featuring Betty Boo)
7 88 35 93 17 14 10 8 Boomania
1990 "Doin' the Do" 7 3 8 9 9 4 90 1
"Where Are You Baby?" 3 19 29 6 16 11 13
"24 Hours" 25 94 32 17 74 10
1992 "Let Me Take You There" 12 97 50 13 61 38 18 GRRR! It's Betty Boo
"I'm on My Way" 44
"Thing Goin' On" (US only) 5
1993 "Hangover" 50
"Catch Me" (US only) 14
2007 "Take Off" (Jack Rokka vs Betty Boo) 92 Non-album single
2022 "Get Me to the Weekend"[37] Boomerang
"Shining Star"[38]
"Right By Your Side"(featuring David Gray)[40]
"Miracle" (featuring Chuck D)[41]
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Smith, Giles (26 July 1992). "ARTS / Show People: This Boo is made for talking". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e Smith, Neil (3 April 2006). "Pop comeback for fun-loving Betty". BBC. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f O'Brien, Lucy. "Feature: Take-off for the girl from Planet Boo". The Guardian (22 August 1990): 20.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "WigWam – Check Out My WigWam Video". 28 February 2006. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  5. ^ "Betty Boo on how she made Doin' the Do". The Guardian. 21 June 2021.
  6. ^ Sawyer, Miranda. "Feature: The Spooky Double Life Of Betty Boo". Smash Hits (13–26 June 1990): 39.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j UK chart peaks:
  8. ^ a b "Where have all the newcomers gone?". BBC. 15 February 1999. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  9. ^ "Rage in Harlem by Lloyd Price @ – Shop, Listen, Download". Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  10. ^ "Ocala Star Banner > Betty Boo Cuts Short Tour (archived on Google News)". (original source published by James E. Doughton). 30 July 1991. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  11. ^ "Kate Williams, historian and author". Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Let's Rock Norwich". Let's Rock Norwich.
  13. ^ "Let's Rock Liverpool 2020".
  14. ^ Sachdeva, Maanya (12 January 2022). "Betty Boo announces comeback single 30 years after retiring solo career". The Independent. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  15. ^ "Betty Boo bounces back with long-awaited third album 'Boomerang'". Retropop. 29 June 2022.
  16. ^ "Betty Boo / Boomerang – SuperDeluxeEdition". 29 June 2022.
  17. ^ O'Brien, Steve (29 June 2022). "Betty Boo announces new album Boomerang". Classic Pop Magazine.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g Petridis, Alexis (23 November 2001). "The Power Behind Pop". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2 April 2009.
  19. ^ "Ellis-Bextor 75% done". Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  20. ^ "History".
  21. ^ "The Ivors 2002 - the Ivors". Archived from the original on 22 June 2016.
  22. ^ " Lists readers Pop Poll Results".
  23. ^ a b Australian (ARIA) peaks:
  24. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts > Betty Boo – GRRR! It's Betty Boo (album)" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  25. ^ a b " > Betty Boo in Dutch Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  26. ^ a b " > Betty Boo in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  27. ^ a b "BPI > Certified Awards > Search results for 'Betty Boo' (from". Retrieved 26 July 2016 – via (original source published by British Phonographic Industry).
  28. ^ "Betty Boo releases title track from comeback album Boomerang". Retropop Magazine. 29 June 2022. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  29. ^ "Ultratop Vlaanderen > Betty Boo in Ultratop Vlaanderen" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  30. ^ German singles chart peaks:
  31. ^ Irish singles chart peaks:
  32. ^ " > Betty Boo in Swedish Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  33. ^ " > Betty Boo in der Schweizer Hitparade" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  34. ^ "Betty Boo Chart History > Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  35. ^ "Betty Boo Chart History > Dance Club Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  36. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1990 Singles" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  37. ^ "Betty Boo returns with new single 'Get Me To The Weekend'". Retro Pop Magazine. 23 January 2022. Retrieved 5 November 2022.
  38. ^ "Betty Boo returns with new single 'Shining Star'". Retro Pop Magazine. 5 May 2022. Retrieved 5 November 2022.
  39. ^ "Betty Boo - Boomerang (Official Single Audio Static)". You Tube. 29 June 2022. Retrieved 5 November 2022.
  40. ^ "Betty Boo teams up with David Gray for new collaboration 'Right By Your Side'". Retro Pop Magazine. 7 July 2022. Retrieved 5 November 2022.
  41. ^ "Betty Boo teams up with Public Enemy's Chuck D on new single 'Miracle'". Retro Pop Magazine. 2 September 2022. Retrieved 5 November 2022.


External links[edit]