Thursday, September 1, 2011
25th Anniversary of "Venus" by Bananarama
This weeks marks the 25th anniversary of Bananarama's version of "Venus" hitting the #1 spot in America. It was no small feat for the British all-girl trio. Here is the history behind the song ...
The 1986 single cover.
"Venus" was written by Robbie van Leeuwen, who was the guitarist for the Dutch group Shocking Blue. The song was originally released in 1969 and went to #1 in America in February of 1970. Yes, it was at the #1 spot just a few weeks prior to my birth. Perhaps it is possible that I heard it while in my mother's womb? Ha! But the original song was very much a rock song.
"Venus" by Shocking Blue.
Fast forward to the 80s. Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward and Siobhan Fahey formed Bananarama in London after doing back-up vocals for the Sex Pistols. They started performing some covers like "Venus", "Really Saying Something" and "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)." The latter two being singles off their first album. The group didn't cover "Venus" on their first two albums because they didn't want to be known for only doing cover versions.
Bananarama took to writing their own songs like "Cruel Summer" and "Robert De Niro's Waiting." They were working with producers Jolley and Swain. Bananarama and their producers made their third album and presented it to the record company. Unfortunately, the record company didn't hear many hits. And, the group also felt like things had become a bit stale. So they were put to the task to come up with some hits!
Bananarama's third album "True Confessions" contains "Venus."
Bananarama really liked a Dead Or Alive single and told their producers that they wanted to remake "Venus" in a hi-nrg way like "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)." Their producers said they couldn't do it. So, the girls went to the producers of "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)", who were Stock, Aitken & Waterman (SAW). Again, they said they wanted to do a hi-nrg "Venus" and SAW said it couldn't be done. The girls insisted! And the record was made.
This song inspired Bananarama to do a hi-nrg version of "Venus."
Apparently, Bananarama went into the studio and only sang the song through twice. The result was a hit. To go along with the amazing cover version, the girls set out to make one the campiest videos ever. They dressed up as goddesses, a she-devil, and vampires. Along with a lot of shirtless men! And a campy dance routine choreographed by future Dancing With The Stars judge, Bruno Tonioli. I remember seeing the video for the first time and my jaw dropped. It was amazing. Bananarama used to wear overalls, and now they were glamorous!
Bananarama's AMAZING video for "Venus."
The song was worldwide hit, and at the time, had a rare distinction of having been to the #1 position twice, by the Shocking Blue and Bananarama.
Unfortunately, there have been some really bad covers of the song like the latest one from Jennifer Lopez, that seems to copy the Bananarama version without any of the fun. I won't even bother posting them here.
Bananarama's version was used at a crucial point for the movie Romy & Michele's High School Reunion.
"Venus" in Romy & Michele's High School Reunion.
Bananarama are now a duo composed of Sara and Keren. They always get a great crowd reaction when they perform the song live. And you better believe all the gay guys know the dance routine. I could probably do it in my sleep.
Bananarama as a duo performing "Venus."
If you don't have "Venus" in your music library, head over to iTunes now and buy it! As well as "The Very Best of Bananarama!" You won't be disappointed!