Vengaboys – Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!

Released: 14th June 1999

Writers: DJ Delmundo / Danski

Peak position: #1

Chart run: 1-3-3-5-5-7-10-14-18-23-36-42-54-62-74

The Vengaboys’ rapid transformation from Eurodance act to fully-fledged pop group saw them unleash Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! and claim – with some inevitability – their first #1 single.

Although ostensibly part of the same album campaign in the UK, this track marked a subtle transition behind-the-scenes. Prior to an international breakthrough, the Vengaboys had released Up & Down – The Party Album! in the Netherlands, which housed their first two singles. Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!, however, was one of several new tracks composed for the group’s international debut The Party Album. This felt – quite intentionally – like the moment where everything clicked into place for the Vengaboys as the two albums were woven together into one hybrid.

Every aspect of Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! feels bigger. From a production standpoint, it’s like a slightly poppier take on 2 Unlimited, with perfectly crisp, dizzying Wurlitzer-synth melodies and a thumping beat that evokes the spirit – if not quite the reality – of mid-‘90s club nights. To top it off, the whole thing feels like it’s been subject to a slight increase in speed and pitch, with relentless energy giving the impression that the song is stuck in a permanent key-change.

Needless to say, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! is awash with hooks, but one of its more interesting features is the homage to ABBA’s Lay All Your Love On Me during the first verse. The tune of: “If you’re alone and you need a friend, someone to make you forget your problems…” is remarkably similar to: “I wasn’t jealous before we met, now every woman I see is a potential threat”. It gives the song an immediate sense of familiarity and seems entirely deliberate as well…but apparently not to a point which required Benny and Björn to be formally credited. Elsewhere, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! also introduces a new gimmick with the digitised chants of: “Vengaboys are back in town”, which would become a trademark for the group in later material.

The track is a relentless tour-de-force of Eurodance, which – like the Vengaboys earlier singles – plays on the strength of repetition as one of its critical assets. As it turns out, the first verse is the only verse. From there, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! cycles back and forth through the: “Woah-oh-oh” refrain and the chorus (with a short: “Woo! Woo!” interlude) for the best part of two and a half minutes. Yet, remarkably, it never feels apparent that the song is merely trading on the same elements over and over again. And quite frankly it would scarcely matter if it did when each one is crafted with such pop brilliance.   

One of the most eyebrow-raising aspects of Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! is the music video. Even the most family-friendly pop acts toyed with sexuality, but here it was taken to a far more explicit level. The video makes no pretence of modesty; this is the Vengaboys going big. The first shot features a swirling helicopter shot of the group projected against New York’s Citicorp Center. Short of outwardly declaring their position, the expression of A-list dominance could not have been more apparent. Then things take a rather unexpected diversion to the red-light district, where scantily-clad women stand in scarlet-bathed windows and straddle car bonnets while aggressively cupping their breasts. It stops short of being X-rated, but only just. Shots of champagne frothing over naked skin leave absolutely nothing to the imagination; unsurprisingly the video required a significant number of cuts for pre-watershed broadcast.

Bizarrely, in the middle of all of this, the Vengaboys are just there performing the song without a care in the world. But these shots – with one of the most effective uses of dry ice ever seen in pop music – are arguably some of the most important of the video, and indeed the Vengaboys’ debut album. For this was the only (non-animated) music video during the campaign that portrayed them and their personas. Gone is the posse of extras and random dancers; instead, we see the group defined as a collective. It’s unsurprising then that the dance sequences became a synonymous reference point for the Vengaboys. What the video does incredibly well is to ensure the group was able to toe the line between two distinct markets. With songs that were as popular in school discos as they were in nightclubs, it would have been so easy for the Vengaboys – with their cartoon alter-egos – to lose their edge and become perceived as an act for kids. Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! maintained that precarious balance and maximised the potential audience for the single.

To see the track debut at #1 in the UK was an utter delight, although not remotely surprising. It went up against some chart heavyweights as well, knocking S Club 7 from the top spot and finishing ahead of new entries from Britney Spears, Adam Rickitt and *NSYNC (what a glorious time to be alive). But there was real momentum behind the Vengaboys and Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! encapsulated everything the group was already doing so well while adding that final bit of polish to fine-tune the overall package. The single was a massive hit across Europe and even reached #84 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also drove sales of The Party Album, which ascended to a new peak of #6 and spent several months lodged in the top ten, which is the sort of success that set the Vengaboys apart from other Eurodance acts.

In one fell swoop, the group positioned themselves as significant pop players. But what on earth next? After all, it was becoming increasingly clear that the Vengabus was not going to be able to keep up the pace, so they did what any act in their position would do and boarded a plane to Ibiza

Related posts:

Post Author: cantstopthepop