Released: 25th May 1998
Writers: Jerome Gasper / Mo Bounce Productions
Peak position: #18
Chart run: 18-28-32-54
It would be tempting to say that every girl group launched in the wake of Wannabe was modelled on the Spice Girls. But while they may well have reawakened record label interest in the concept, for a group like N-Tyce, a better initial comparison was Eternal, and later, All Saints. The latter launched after N-Tyce but rapidly overtook them in terms of success and exposure. Indeed, the internet is remarkably scarce on details about Ario, Chantel, Donna and Michelle. Perhaps their most high-profile exposure came in Geri Halliwell’s autobiography when she stayed in a hotel owned by Chantel’s father and complimented him on his hospitality. Seriously.
What we do know is that by mid-1998, the group had amassed three consecutive top 20 hits. Certainly not a bad performance, but with the Spice Girls yet to miss the top spot and All Saints having casually nabbed one of the best-selling singles of the decade, this was not the time for anything less than a stellar chart performance. Boom Boom was the fourth single from N-Tyce, released just before their debut album. There was most certainly a sense then that this was the last roll of the dice for the girl group and although it’s painfully evident where this story is heading, we absolutely must not overlook Boom Boom as a tremendous effort.
It might be dressed up as a quasi-R&B number (complete with rent-a-rapper), but Boom Boom is a perfect example of that late ‘90s pop song that just hits the sweet spot in terms of melody and composition. The track is concerned with the good old honeymoon period – and if you don’t know/remember what that naïve butterflies in the stomach phase felt like, then Boom Boom is about as good an aural recreation of it as you could hope to experience. Well, we’re presuming that’s what the song is about, but in the years since the single was released, we have certainly had intermittent cause to ponder on the lyric: “I try to hold it in, but here it comes and then there it goes again” in quite a different context. Let’s face it; the ‘90s was such a weird time in pop music that there is almost every chance Boom Boom could be inspired by troubling bowel issues as there is it being about young love.
Whatever your take on the lyrics, the production is light, bouncy and allows the track to blossom. There’s an almost immediate transition in melody from about halfway through the verse. This is a song primarily concerned with reaching the chorus – but getting there is arguably the most enjoyable part. Perhaps the highlight of Boom Boom comes during the second verse. The progression through: “It’s that steady pounding, I love the way it’s sounding, it makes me want you more and it’s just like I said before…” is so gratifying as a pop fan; the melody and lyrics flow effortlessly and set up the chorus perfectly. Credit also to the members of the group providing backing vocals; their: “Ooh”s are delivered with much gusto (and they certainly make the most of them in the video).
It’s that steady pounding
I love the way it’s sounding
It makes me want you more and it’s just like I said before
It’s the pounding of my heart
Ooh you made it start
When you do what you do to me
The chorus itself is a reasonably simple construct, mainly consisting of the phrase: “It’s boom boom” and peppered with a thesaurus’ worth of filler utterances to join each line. In the spirit of the ‘90s, it gets the message across perfectly and having been set up so well by the verses, it delivers what it needs to. The mid-section rap (performed by Damon Elliott – son of Dionne Warwick) feels somewhat superfluous, but it’s so brief that it certainly doesn’t hamper Boom Boom. If anything, it gives the track a nice little kick towards the final chorus when N-Tyce resume vocal duties.
The music video for Boom Boom features N-Tyce in what we would say is a reasonably unusual interrogation. We have never been arrested or formally interviewed, so perhaps we are not in a position to critique – however leaning seductively over a table in an open jacket and then smashing the tape recorder on the floor does not seem like correct procedure. Further into the video, there is also strong evidence that N-Tyce undertook no proper training because they are seen dancing towards a one-way mirror. It’s not entirely clear what they are trying to achieve with this since it offers no real benefit to their suspect who presumably cannot see them. Indeed, their treatment of this gentleman is questionable from start to finish; he has no solicitor present, and one would not think it appropriate to restrain someone and then pull up their top (even if the suspect does have impressive abs). Furthermore, if N-Tyce are going to conduct an interrogation without armed back-up, they should probably ensure the suspect can’t casually remove his shackles and stand up to deliver the rap segment. Mercifully, after a few rounds of the chorus, it seems everyone had a jolly good time and then lost interest in conducting a legal process and just went home. One thing we will commend is the rather impressive air conditioning unit fitted into the room where N-Tyce dance; pop music has a fascination with giant fans and the video for Boom Boom is no different.
When the single peaked at #18 in the UK, it pretty much confirmed what was already unavoidably evident. N-Tyce had consistent popularity with the record-buying public, but things weren’t moving in the right direction. Indeed, you’d struggle to argue that the group was moving decisively in any direction whatsoever. The final straw came a few weeks later when their debut album All Day Every Day reached #44 and spent a solitary week in the top 75. It was probably the only significant indicator of where N-Tyce were headed – and unfortunately, it was to pop music’s U-bend. We certainly can’t gripe that they weren’t given a chance. But four consecutive top 20 singles just weren’t achievement enough in 1998 when the pop stakes were heightened for everyone, particularly girl groups. That said, we do wish Boom Boom had was better remembered, even as a minor hit of the era because it’s an absolute bop and as gloriously nostalgic a track as you could hope to find.