Vengaboys – Kiss (When The Sun Don’t Shine)

Released: 6th December 1999

Writers: Danski / DJ Delmundo

Peak position: #3

Chart run: 3-10-9-5-5-13-16-26-29-32-38-41-62-54-56-69-65-64

The gentle production line of ‘90s pop saw minimal turnaround time between albums. But when it came to the Vengaboys, that hamster wheel was more akin to a waltzer, with the first single from their second album arriving just three(!) months after the final release from their debut.

You might ponder that with such a tight release schedule, Kiss (When The Sun Don’t Shine) would have allowed little – if any – time at all for the group (by which we mean the production duo working behind-the-scenes) to exhibit any artistic growth. And yet, this single did feel like a slight evolution of the formula so successfully established on The Party Album. Perhaps most notably, it did seem that the Vengaboys were now being pushed primarily as a pop act; they still had a clear Eurodance flavour, but their market was now very clearly defined. It’s a subtle shift – and arguably one that would have occurred naturally anyway – but the Vengaboys knew what worked and there was little need to deviate from it. For now.

That wasn’t the only change, either. The group had very discreetly added a new member to their line-up: Yorrick Bakker had replaced Robin Pors with minimal fanfare. And while it might seem absurd that no-one was expected to notice one of the quartet suddenly had a new face, we’d wager that was exactly the thinking. Intentionally or otherwise, “the sailor” had always been a bit of a supporting role, and it felt that the line-up alteration only started to be acknowledged by the group after people started to realise it wasn’t just their eyes playing tricks on them and there had been an actual member swap between singles.

Lyrically, Kiss (When The Sun Don’t Shine)­ feels like a sequel-of-sorts to Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! in that we once again find ourselves in the territory of casual sex. Except this time, the track is more an assertion of it being a deliberate choice, with the group unapologetically owning the fact that casual sex is alright: “That’s when I see you with loving arms to fall into, but I’m not looking for full-time love, there’s still so much I wanna do”. Considering the context of this single within the ‘90s bubblegum pop sphere, it’s quite forward-thinking from a thematic point-of-view, and certainly offers a different perspective on the usual tropes surrounding love and relationships. Of course, the title of the song itself is knowingly cheeky, but there’s a bit more to it than some teasing wordplay. And lest we forget this is coming from a group who would later release a track titled Rocket To Uranus.

Elsewhere, there are some great production elements; the twinkling sprinkled atop the distinctive pounding Vengaboys-beat adds a touch of ‘90s shimmer to proceedings. Some of the more prominent instrumental sections have a slightly distorted reverb on them, which gives Kiss (When The Sun Don’t Shine) a maddening quality where everything feels a little bit zany and off-centre. But it’s the chants of: “Make some noise for the Vengaboys” – now a calling card for the group – that most stand out, as the production noticeably shifts and almost sounds like the beat is going into reverse. It’s elements like this where Kiss (When The Sun Don’t Shine) starts to mark a real shift for the Vengaboys; as a composition, it just feels a little bit more imaginative and adventurous. Although equally, we accept that many will have taken the song at face value and perhaps without such scrutiny, would have concluded that it was just more of the same from the Vengaboys. Either way, it’s not a bad thing.  

The music video for Kiss (When The Sun Don’t Shine) again marked something of an evolution – rather than a complete reinvention – for the Vengaboys. Some elements remain strictly the same as before, particularly the dance sequences featuring the group in a tight squad formation with Kim firmly at the front. But there feels like more of a considered effort to build personality and identity around the group. It certainly helps that the Tokyo location shoot felt very on-trend, coming just a few months after the European release of Pokémon. Cutesy Japanese cartoons were making moves into the mainstream and thus Kiss (When The Sun Don’t Shine) feels – however coincidental – like it has its finger on the pulse. Added to the package is a sense that everything this time around feels a bit more streamlined and dynamic. The result is a music video is neatly quirky, purposeful and looks like it has a decent budget behind it.

Kiss (When The Sun Don’t Shine) debuted and peaked at #3 in the UK; this was off the back of two consecutive #1 singles, but first impressions can be deceiving because far from marking a sophomore slump, the single held up incredibly well. Considering it was released into the busy festive market, there was every chance that the Vengaboys zeitgeist of summer ’99 could have fizzled out as quickly as the weather. Yet, Kiss (When The Sun Don’t Shine) wound up returning to the top five for a further fortnight several weeks after it debuted there, amassing four and a half months in the UK Top 75. That’s considerably longer than any other Vengaboys single, and a reminder that although their chart-topping spree was behind them, the group was still a commercial force to be reckoned with. And that would continue into the new year, for a little while, at least.

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