Ma Baker

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"Ma Baker"
Single by Boney M.
from the album Love for Sale
B-side"Still I'm Sad"
Released1977
GenreDisco
Length4:51 (1st 7" version)
4:36 (album / single version)
LabelHansa (West Germany)
Atlantic (United Kingdom)
Atco (United States)
Composer(s)original melody:
based on "Sidi Mansour"
(traditional Tunisian folk song)
rearrangement:
Frank Farian, George Reyam
Lyricist(s)Fred Jay
Producer(s)Frank Farian
Boney M. singles chronology
"Sunny"
(1976)
"Ma Baker"
(1977)
"Belfast"
(1977)
Music video
"Ma Baker" (Sopot, 1979) on YouTube

"Ma Baker" is a song by disco group Boney M., released as a single in 1977. It was the first single of their second album Love for Sale and their third consecutive chart-topper in Germany.

The song was a huge success in Europe and Latin America, topping the charts in many countries there. It was a number 2 hit in the UK (only surpassed by Donna Summer's "I Feel Love"). In the U.S, the song only reached number 96.

Composition and structure[edit]

Frank Farian's assistant Hans-Jörg Mayer discovered a popular Tunisian folkloric song, "Sidi Mansour" while on holiday, and rewrote the song into a disco track.

The lyrics by Fred Jay were inspired by the told story of legendary 1930s US outlaw Ma Barker, although the name was changed into "Ma Baker" because "it sounded better".[1]
The story of Ma Baker is controversial, and many details on the song are based on what was told at the time, instead of recorded history. Some differences are the fact there are no records that she introduced any of her sons to crime (the opposite is more probable), and only one of them died with her. Similarly, their death didn't happen during a bank robbery; instead, they were found in a vacation house and died on a day-long shootout with the FBI.

With a structure similar to Boney M.'s breakthrough single "Daddy Cool", using the same gimmick percussion, alternating answer-back vocals, and a spoken mid-part, the song opened with a snarling "Freeze, I'm Ma Baker, put your hands in the air and gimme all your money". Although it has never been officially credited, the voice was that of Linda Blake, the wife of Frank Farian's American friend Bill Swisher, who was a soldier in Germany at the time. Bill Swisher performed the spoken mid-part, announcing a bulletin from the FBI. He was used on several later Boney M. recordings, including "Rasputin" and "El Lute".

Farian re-recorded the song with Milli Vanilli in 1988, and reused both spoken voiceovers from the original song in the cover. Boney M.'s version was remixed the same year, 1993 and again in 1998. The song has been covered a number of times, including Banda R-15 and Knorkator. The "ma ma ma ma" chorus vocals were also sampled in Lady Gaga's "Poker Face".[2]

Charts[edit]

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Germany (BVMI)[35] Gold 500,000^
Netherlands 250,000[36]
Sweden (GLF)[37] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[38] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

1993 remix[edit]

"Ma Baker (Remix '93)"
Single by Boney M.
from the album More Gold – 20 Super Hits Vol. II
Released1993
LabelBMG (FRG)
Boney M. singles chronology
"Brown Girl in the Ring (Remix)"
(1993)
"Ma Baker (Remix '93)"
(1993)
"Papa Chico"
(1994)

Following the remix of "Brown Girl in the Ring", Farian remixed "Ma Baker" in 1993. While a modest club hit, it failed to enter the European charts. "Borsalino" and "The Most Wanted Woman" are two dub mixes of the track. The new remix was included in the compilation album More Gold - 20 Super Hits Vol. II.

Germany[edit]

12"[edit]

  • "Ma Baker (Remix '93)" (BMG 74321 15940 1, 1993)

Side A – Gangster

  1. "Ma Baker (Remix '93)" (Bonnie & Clyde mix) – 5:25
  2. "The Most Wanted Woman" – 3:30

Side B – Fashion

  1. "Borsalino (Trainee Mix)" – 4:55
  2. "Ma Baker (Remix '93)" (Radio Edit) – 3:58

CD[edit]

  • "Ma Baker (Remix '93)" (BMG 74321 15940 2, 1993)
  1. "Ma Baker (Remix '93)" (Radio Edit) – 3:58
  2. "Ma Baker (Remix '93)" (Bonnie & Clyde mix) – 5:25
  3. "Borsalino (Trainee Mix)" – 4:55
  4. "The Most Wanted Woman" – 3:30

1998 remix[edit]

"Ma Baker (Boney M. vs. Sash!)"
Single by Boney M.
Released1998
LabelBMG (FRG)
Boney M. singles chronology
"Papa Chico"
(1994)
"Ma Baker (Boney M. vs. Sash!)"
(1998)
"Daddy Cool (Remix)"
(1999)
Sash! singles chronology
"Move Mania"
(1998)
"Ma Baker"
(1998)
"Colour the World"
(1998)

In 1998, a new remix of "Ma Baker" by Sash! started to chart as a 12" single. Just as the CD-single was about to follow, it was withdrawn, and a new version appeared, re-titled "Somebody Scream! Ma Baker" featuring Horny United. The single was a Top 30 hit in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and even peaked at no. 6 (two weeks) in Finland and no. 10 in Sweden. When released in the UK in April, it peaked at no. 22. The accompanying video featured a young woman, kickboxing, training with a gun, the only relation to the original group being her watching the original 1977 video of "Ma Baker" on a TV set.

EU[edit]

12"[edit]

  • Boney M. / Horny United Feat. Boney M. - "Ma Baker" / "Somebody Scream - Ma Baker" (2 x 12", Logic Records/Lautstark/BMG 74321 64561 1, 1999)

Side A

  1. Boney M. "Ma Baker" (Extended Vocal Edit) – 5:26

Side B

  1. Boney M. "Ma Baker" (Disco Dub Edit) – 5:35

Side C

  1. Horny United "Somebody Scream" (Massive Mix) – 7:30
  2. Horny United "Somebody Scream" (Screamless Mix) – 6:16

Side D

  1. Horny United "Somebody Scream - Ma Baker" (Full Vocal Mix)
  2. Horny United "Somebody Scream - Ma Baker" (Ma Baker House Mix)

CD[edit]

  • Boney M vs. Sash!: "Ma Baker" (BMG 74321 63942 2, 1998)
  1. "Ma Baker" (Tokapi Radio Edit) – 3:24
  2. "Ma Baker" (Original Edit) – 3:35
  3. "Ma Baker" (Extended Vocal Edit) – 5:26
  4. "Ma Baker" (Disco Dub Edit) – 5:35
  • Boney M. vs. Sash!/Horny United Featuring Boney M.: "Ma Baker"/"Somebody Scream" (BMG 74321 64561 2, 1999)
  1. Boney M. vs. Sash! "Ma Baker" (Extended Radio Edit) – 4:54
  2. Boney M. vs. Sash! "Ma Baker" (Disco Dub Edit) (5:32)
  3. Horny United Featuring Boney M. "Somebody Scream (Ma Baker)" (Radio Edit) (Oliver Wallner, Re-Run) – 4:17
  4. Horny United Featuring Boney M. "Somebody Scream (Ma Baker)" (Massive Mix) (Oliver Wallner, Re-Run) – 6:59

UK[edit]

12"[edit]

  • Boney M. vs. Horny United "Ma Baker/Somebody Scream" (Logic Records 74321 65387 1, 1999)

Side A

  1. "Ma Baker" (Club Mix by Horny United)

Side B

  1. "Somebody Scream" (Beatroute Star Bar Mix by DJ Slammer & Mark Bambach)
  2. "Somebody Scream" (Cosmic People Mix)

CD[edit]

  • Boney M. vs. Horny United "Ma Baker/Somebody Scream" (Logic Records 74321 65387 2, 1999)
  1. "Ma Baker/Somebody Scream" (Radio Edit) – 3:06
  2. "Ma Baker" (Sash! Radio Edit) – 3:27
  3. "Somebody Scream" (Massive Club mix) – 7:31
  4. "Ma Baker" (Sash! 12" Mix) – 4:55

Charts[edit]

Chart (1998–1999) Peak
position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[39] 19
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[40] 24
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[41] 23
Canada Dance/Urban (RPM)[42] 4
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[43] 6
France (SNEP)[44] 11
Germany (Official German Charts)[45] 28
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[46] 26
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[47] 34
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[48] 9
Poland (Music & Media)[49] 3
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[50] 10
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[51] 21
UK Singles (OCC)[52] 22

In popular culture[edit]

The song's 'Ma-Ma-Ma-Ma' line is alluded in the opening lines and in between verses in Lady Gaga's hit 'Poker Face'. The song is also featured in the final episode of the sixth series of the television show Black Mirror, in which the demon character takes on the appearance of Boney M. member Bobby Farrell.[53]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Baker, Che (17 June 2017). "This Ma Baker has a little bone to pick". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  2. ^ McAlpine, Fraser (11 March 2009). "Lady GaGa – 'Poker Face'". The Chart Blog. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  3. ^ "International Best Sellers" (PDF). Cash Box. Vol. XXXIX, no. 41. 25 February 1978. p. 59.
  4. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  5. ^ "Boney M. – Ma Baker" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Boney M. – Ma Baker" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  7. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5430a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  8. ^ "UK, Eurochart, Billboard & Cashbox No.1 Hits". MusicSeek.info. Archived from the original on 14 June 2006.
  9. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
  10. ^ "Toutes les Chansons N° 1 des Années 70". InfoDisc (in French). Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  11. ^ "Boney M – Ma Baker" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  12. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Ma Baker". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  13. ^ 7 August 1977
  14. ^ Racca, Guido (2019). M&D Borsa Singoli 1960–2019 (in Italian). ISBN 9781093264906.
  15. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard. Vol. 2, no. 43. 14 January 1978. p. 90. ISSN 0006-2510.
  16. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 24, 1977" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Boney M. – Ma Baker" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Boney M. – Ma Baker". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Boney M. – Ma Baker". VG-lista. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  20. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard. Vol. 89, no. 50. 17 December 1977. p. 84. ISSN 0006-2510.
  21. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (B)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  22. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  23. ^ "Boney M. – Ma Baker". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  24. ^ "Boney M. – Ma Baker". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  25. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  26. ^ a b "Love for Sale – Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  27. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1970s". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 6 November 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  28. ^ "Jahreshitparade 1977" (in German). Austriancharts.at. Hung Medien. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  29. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1977" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  30. ^ "TOP – 1977". Top-france.fr (in French). Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  31. ^ "Jahrescharts – 1977" (in German). Officialcharts.de. GfK Entertainment. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  32. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1977" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  33. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1977" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  34. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1977" (in German). Hitparade.ch. Hung Medien. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  35. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Boney M.; 'Ma Baker')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  36. ^ "'Ma Baker' Top Dutch Single in '77 Chart Tally" (PDF). Billboard. 21 January 1978. p. 116. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  37. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1999" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  38. ^ "British single certifications – Boney M – Ma Baker". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  39. ^ "Boney M. vs. Sash! – Ma Baker" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  40. ^ "Boney M. vs. Sash! – Ma Baker" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  41. ^ "Boney M. vs. Sash! – Ma Baker" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  42. ^ "Top RPM Dance/Urban: Issue 8160." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  43. ^ "Boney M vs. Sash!: Ma Baker" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  44. ^ "Boney M. – Ma Baker '99" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  45. ^ "Boney M. vs. Sash! – Ma Baker" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  46. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 9, 1999" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  47. ^ "Boney M. vs. Sash! – Ma Baker" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  48. ^ "Boney M. / Horny United – Ma Baker / Somebody Scream". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  49. ^ "Major Market Airplay – Week 06/1999" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 16, no. 6. 6 February 1999. p. 21. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  50. ^ "Boney M. vs. Sash! – Ma Baker". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  51. ^ "Boney M. vs. Sash! – Ma Baker". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  52. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  53. ^ Connellan, Shannon (21 June 2023). "'Black Mirror' Season 6 referenced one hell of a disco song". Mashable. Retrieved 30 June 2023.