Venus (Shocking Blue song)

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One of cover arts for Dutch releases
Single by Shocking Blue[1]
from the album At Home
B-side "Hot Sand"
Released 2 October 1969
Format 7" vinyl
Genre Folk rock, psychedelic 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"
"Mighty Joe"

"Venus" is a 1969 song written by Robbie van Leeuwen. In 1970, the Dutch rock band Shocking Blue took the song to number one in nine countries. In 1981 it was sampled as part of the Stars on 45 medley. In 1986, the British female pop 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 version[edit]

Shocking Blue in 1970


Released in late 1969 as a single from the group's second 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 US, 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 goddess on the mountain top..." as "...the godness on the mountain top...". This was corrected in later versions. The Hohner electric piano on the release was played by Cees Schrama.

Van Leeuwen was inspired by "The Banjo Song", a composition by Tim Rose that set Stephen Foster's lyrics to "Oh! Susanna" to a completely new melody.

"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.[4] The single began with a sample from James Brown's 1988 hit "The Payback Mix (Part One)". This release of "Venus" peaked at number 4 on the UK Singles Chart[4] and number 8 in Australia in 1990.

In advertising[edit]

In film[edit]

The song has been used in several films:

In music[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1970) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[6] 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
Swiss singles chart 1
Spanish singles chart 1
UK Singles Chart[7] 8
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1

Bananarama version[edit]

Single by Bananarama
from the album True Confessions
B-side "White Train"
Released 19 May 1986
Recorded December 1985
Genre Dance-pop
Length 3:50
Label London
Writer(s) Robbie van Leeuwen
Producer(s) Stock Aitken Waterman
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Bananarama singles chronology
"Do Not Disturb"
"More Than Physical"
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 US, 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 (number 8 on UK Singles Chart). It also went to number one for two weeks on the US Dance chart.[8]

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]

UK / USA / Canada 7" vinyl single

UK: London Records NANA 10 / USA: London Records 886-056-7 / Canada: London Records LDS 227 / Australia: Liberation Records LS 1789

  1. "Venus" 3:30
  2. "White Train" 3:50
    S.Dallin/S. Fahey/K. Woodward/P. Bishop/P. Seymour

+ some copies released in picture disc format NANPD 10

UK / Australia 12" vinyl single

UK: London Records NANX 10 / Canada: Liberation Records LMD 474

  1. "Venus" (Extended version) 7:23
  2. "Venus" (Dub) 8:15
  3. "White Train" 3:50
2nd UK 12" vinyl single

London Records NANXR 10

  1. "Venus" (The Hellfire Mix) 9:20 #:Remixed by Ian Levine
  2. "Venus" (Hellfire Dub) 6:55
  3. "White Train" 3:50
3rd UK 12" vinyl single

London Records NAXRR 10

  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
USA 12" vinyl maxi-single

London Records 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)


Additional personnel

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

Chart performance[edit]

Other versions[edit]

  • 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 1986, a cover was released by J-pop idol singer Yōko Nagayama and it became her first big hit.
  • 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 model.
  • 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.[11]
  • 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.
  • 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.


"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.[12]


  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. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 164. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  5. ^ "Zonder Zelda (1997)". Retrieved 2016-10-02. 
  6. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). Sydney: Australian Chart Book. p. 273. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  7. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 496. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 28. 
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). Sydney: Australian Chart Book. p. 25. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between 1983 and 26 June 1988.
  10. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 41. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  11. ^ "Seduced - Venus - Music Charts". Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  12. ^ Archived January 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Jingle Jangle" by The Archies
Canadian RPM number one single (Shocking Blue version)
January 31, 1970 - February 7, 1970 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Without Love" by Tom Jones
Preceded by
"I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5
Billboard Hot 100 number one single (Shocking Blue version)
February 7, 1970 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)"/"Everybody Is a Star" by Sly & the Family Stone
Preceded by
"Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" by Johnny Farnham
Australia ARIA Singles Chart number one single (Shocking Blue version)
March 9, 1970 – March 16, 1970 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin
Preceded by
"Nature" by The Fourmyula
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart number one single (Shocking Blue version)
March 20, 1970 – March 27, 1970 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" by Edison Lighthouse
Preceded by
"Higher Love" by Steve Winwood
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Bananarama version)
September 6, 1986 (1 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 (2 weeks)
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 (4 weeks)
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 (7 weeks)
Succeeded by
"You're the Voice" John Farnham