Jump to content

Brown Girl in the Ring (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Brown Girl in the Ring"
Single by Boney M.
from the album Nightflight to Venus
A-side"Rivers of Babylon"
Released3 April 1978
Length4:00 (2nd single version / without steel drums)

4:01 (Album / 3rd single version)

4:20 (1st single version)
Songwriter(s)Frank Farian
Producer(s)Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Brown Girl in the Ring"
Audio video
"Brown Girl in the Ring" on YouTube
"Brown Girl in the Ring (Remix '93)"
Single by Boney M.
from the album Gold – 20 Super Hits
Released1 April 1993
LabelBMG (FRG)
Songwriter(s)Franz Reuther (Frank Farian)
Producer(s)Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Brown Girl in the Ring (Remix '93)"
"Ma Baker (Remix)"

"Brown Girl in the Ring" is a traditional children's song in the islands of the West Indies. Originally said to have originated in Jamaica,[1] as part of the children's game also known as "Brown Girl in the Ring". The songs lyrics instruct the game's performance: as a girl enters the ring, formed by children holding hands, and performs a dance.

The song became internationally known when it was recorded by Euro-Caribbean vocal group Boney M. in 1978. Originally it was the B-side of their hit "Rivers of Babylon" but soon became a hit in its own right and included on their third album, Nightflight to Venus (1978). The song had previously been recorded in 1975 by the group Malcolm's Locks, leading to a dispute over royalties. Bahamian musician Exuma also recorded a version of the song that appears on his 1972 album Reincarnation. The Boney M. version was remixed in 1993 by Frank Farian.


Children play ring games in many parts of the world, especially during their pre-teen years. In There's a Brown Girl in the Ring, an anthology of Eastern Caribbean song games by Alan Lomax, J.D. Elder and Bess Lomax Hawes, it is suggested that ring games are a children's precursor to adult courtship.[citation needed]

Boney M. recording (1978)[edit]

Arguably the most popular version of the song, Boney M.'s recording was originally the B-side to the group's number-one hit single "Rivers of Babylon" (1978). In July 1978, following ten weeks in UK Top Ten, five of them at number one, "Rivers of Babylon" slipped to number 18 and then to 20, when radio stations flipped the single. Airplay for "Brown Girl in the Ring" resulted in a happy chart reversal, with the single re-entering the Top Ten, where it spent an additional nine weeks, peaking at number two in September.[2] Liz Mitchell had previously recorded the song in 1975 with the group Malcolm's Locks, as the B-side of their single "Caribbean Rock". Mitchell's ex-boyfriend Malcolm Magaron was the group's lead singer. Arranger Peter Herbolzheimer accused Frank Farian of stealing his arrangement for the song, for which Farian claimed credit on the single.[3] The court case ran for more than 20 years in Germany.

The early single version (1st pressing) released on the Diamond CD box-set in 2015 includes the full-length 4:18 version. The single mix is also slightly different from the album version: the latter makes use of steel drums on the outro riff of the song whereas the single mix does not. The four-minute single hit version (2nd pressing) has yet to appear on CD (as of July 2018). Rivers of Babylon/Brown Girl in the Ring single is the sixth best-selling single of all time in the UK with sales of 2 million.[4]

1993 remix[edit]

Following the successful sales of the compilation album Gold – 20 Super Hits, Frank Farian remixed "Brown Girl in the Ring" for a single release in April of 1993 with new lead vocals by Liz Mitchell. The single reached number seven in Denmark and 38 in the UK, while failing to chart in Germany. The single also included a new remix of "The Calendar Song". A "rap version" with vocals from Marlon B was the B-side to most versions of the 1993 remix single.

12" single

  • "Brown Girl in the Ring (Remix '93)" (MCI/BMG 74321 13705 1, 1993)

Side A

  1. "Brown Girl in the Ring" (Funny Girl Club Mix) – 5:45
  2. "The Calendar Song (January, February, March...)" (Remix '93) – 3:24

Side B

  1. "Brown Girl in the Ring" (Club Mix – Rap Version) – 5:45
  2. "Brown Girl in the Ring" (Radio Version) – 3:58


  • "Brown Girl in the Ring (Remix '93)" (MCI/BMG 74321 13705 2, 1993)
  1. "Brown Girl in the Ring" (Radio Version) – 3:58
  2. "Brown Girl in the Ring" (Funny Girl Club Mix) – 5:45
  3. "Brown Girl in the Ring" (Club Mix – Rap Version) – 5:45
  4. "The Calendar Song (January, February, March...)" (Remix '93) – 3:24

Recordings by other artists[edit]

  • Lord Invader, a calypsonian from Trinidad, recorded a version circa 1946–1947 in New York. The recording is now part of the Smithsonian Folkways collection and was only released in 2000 on Lord Invader Calypso in New York CD.
  • Lord Invader also recorded a new version of the song in the late 1950s, released on the There's a Brown Boy in the Ring and Other Children's Calypso Songs (1959).
  • Jamaican poet, actress and singer Louise Bennett recorded the song in 1957 on an album of Children's Jamaican Songs and Games, re-released by Smithsonian Folkways (2007)
  • The Italian movie Il Bisbetico Domato features a cover of the song as part of the soundtrack.
  • Children's musician Raffi recorded the song for his 1987 album Everything Grows.
  • Boney M.'s version was covered in the 1990s by the Australian children's artist The Wiggles and by the German pop group Liquido.[5]

In popular culture[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Brown Girl in the Ring – Jamaican Children's Songs – Jamaica – Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World". Mamalisa.com. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  2. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 75 – Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 October 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Ami Sedghi (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  5. ^ "Covers of Brown Girl in the Ring by Boney M. On WhoSampled". WhoSampled.
  6. ^ "Song of the week". The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 November 2023.
  7. ^ "Brown girl in the ring in Canadian Top Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on 25 October 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  8. ^ "Brown girl in the ring in Canadian Adult Contemporary Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  9. ^ "Boney M. – Brown Girl in the Ring (Remix '93)" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  10. ^ "Top 10 Sales in Europe" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 10, no. 20. 15 May 1993. p. 24. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 10, no. 19. 8 May 1993. p. 23. Retrieved 24 March 2024.
  12. ^ "in Irish Chart". IRMA. Archived from the original on 2 June 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2013. 1st result when searching "Brown girl in the ring "
  13. ^ "Boney M. – Brown Girl in the Ring (Remix '93)". Top 40 Singles.
  14. ^ "1993 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive – 17th April 1993". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 10 July 2013.