It’s been just a few days past a year now since I’ve been assaulting your very eardrums each and every Monday with another song that may or may not be more enjoyable to listen to than someone scratching a jackhammer down a chalkboard. I’ve got a bunch of excellent songs from the latest Mecca CD (which I hear may be the last one… gasp!) to show off when I get back to that, but there’s still plenty of business to be taken care of first in my Top 30 Cover Songs of All Time countdown! DJ Scratchy’s got Sponkeys One and Two digging into the 8-track collection right now to showcase yet another song that got a much needed mulligan…
#17. “Venus” – Bananarama
The Netherlands hasn’t exactly been a supernova of new pop stars over the years. Sure, the low country gave us Golden Earring, Diesel, Focus, and the legendary Urban Dance Squad… but before each and every one of them came a group by the name of Shocking Blue. In 1970, they did what no other Dutch act had ever done… they topped the Billboard charts with a nifty little ditty called “Venus.” Not bad since you probably thought Dutch boys were only good at painting your house and plugging up dykes…
While the Shocking Blue version of “Venus” is certainly nothing to sneeze at, like most rock from that era, it never stood a chance when it fell into the hands of 80’s pop stars looking to liven up their father’s records. Enter the all girl trio Bananarama, an act that much like last week’s honoree Kim Wilde, was much more popular in their native UK than across the sea in the US. Their long string of British hits pales in comparison to the few songs they hit the American charts with… but one of those was a chart-topping smash. Their cover of “Venus” not only matched Shocking Blue’s accomplishment in 1986, but to my finely tuned 80’s ears, blew the blades of its fucking windmills!
And a super awesome video to go with it!
I actually learned two things while I was watching the videos for both versions of this song!
First of all, I had absolutely no idea Shocking Blue was fronted by a woman! I guess all those years of listening to “Hot Child in the City” and trying to wrap my head around the fact that a man was actually singing it made me never question that the voice of the original “Venus” wasn’t exactly all that masculine.
Second, despite the hundreds of times I’ve seen the Bananarama video since it debuted in 1986, I just noticed this time that Siobhan Fahey (dancing for your pleasure on the far right) had a very visible arm tattoo. While there’s hardly a twenty-something gal these days without an ink stain somewhere on their body, it was practically unheard of three decades ago. Hell, Madonna grabbed her crotch, french kissed little boys, and burned crosses in her videos… but in the 80’s still didn’t have the gall to flash any tats…
Come back next Monday for more of the same!
I just clicked “like” as fast as I could without reading the post obviously heh heh. Do I win a prize?
I’ll go back and read the post now and comment in a sensible manner.
You would have won a prize had this not been a scheduled post, meaning I was not around to notice the instalike! I do see your comment was one minute after it was set to go live, so I’ll have Buster pick out a booby prize from The Nest’s dumpster for you!
Yay! And darn… I was so excited when I happened to have my email on the screen and your post came in. I thought, hah, here’s fun…
I’ve read it now!
I was always a fan of Bananarama (like you say, they were pretty huge in the UK and had a number of top-ranking songs). “Venus” was one of my favourites (I didn’t actually know it was a cover version until now).
While I’m not sure, it’s likely Bananarama’s version came out before I knew the Shocking Blue version existed. There’s just too much awesome in this song for any early 70’s band to contend with…
I liked Bananarama, but I dislike that they put them in the same bucket with the Spice Girls… that’s not fair, Siobhan can sing :o) I never noticed the tat, you’re right it was a scarilege in the 80’s as we wore our sweaters around the neck and put moneeh in our shoes :o)
I think Bananarama had more talent among its trio than The Spice Squirrels had in their quintet. That is a very unfair comparison….
Finely tuned ears, my bahonka! Shocking Blue RULZ!!!!!11
I still gave you a like though, just for the Bananarama girl having the guts to sport a tattoo back in the bad old days. Is she the one that’s married to the guy from Wham?
I knew this wouldn’t be on your list, because I distinctly remember you were the other one besides T-Bone who gave me the business when I mentioned how this was a slam dunk case of the cover being better than the original.
I didn’t read much about her bio other than noticing she had punk roots (likely why the tat), and left Bananarama when they became too poppy to form Shakespeare’s Sister. She doesn’t seem like the kind of gal who’d be hanging around with someone from Wham…
I always said penis instead of Venus…
Who hasn’t sung this song with “penis” in the lyrics? Anus also works… 😉
And anus was her name. 🙂
My granddaughter looks like the illustrated teenage and this is not counting the belly ring and nose piercing. I never say a WORD. Good to know when to shut up, eh?
Is this the same Venus that Frankie Avalon made popular? Just checking.
Wow, not the same venus. I wonder how long it will take me to forget that? Phew. I’m SO glad I was out of the country during the 80s.
LOL, I would normally feel bad for anyone who missed the glory days of MTV… but it’s probably a good thing you did since this was one of the pinnacles of 80’s awesomeness. I don’t know if anyone from the 80’s ever covered Frankie Avalon… but there was Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Frankie and the Knockouts….
These continue to be educational. I never knew this was a remake and “Hot Child in the City” is sung by a man????
I don’t think Nick Gilder’s voice ever cracked. Either that or he’s hiding something…
I have always wondered, what is the proper attire when attending a Bananarama?
Dole sticker pasties….
I always cranked up the volume when Venus came on the radio but I didn’t have any idea it was a cover. And I always thought Bananarama came from LA. Shows you what I know about music!
Funny how few people were aware Venus had been done before. It wasn’t exactly one of the most replayed oldies of its time… so those of us who were born after it didn’t get many chances to hear it. I always assume any group whose origin I’m unaware of and who doesn’t sing with an accent comes from LA…
I loved Bananarama as a kid.
Yes, I’m British. Deal with it! 😉
Nothing wrong with Bananarama… I’m surprised they weren’t popular for more than just this song and Cruel Summer over here.
That was a decadent vid for it’s day therefore also making it very popular. It was great dance music. 😀 La la la la!
Yes and yes! A great song does not always mean a great video, and vice versa, but this one definitely had both!
Bananarama for the song and the audaciously long band name both, Bill!
This is an upset I didn’t expect! There seems to be a lot of loyalty to Shocking Blue from those who could say they heard their version when it was new. I can’t count how many times I’ve been whomped over the head by a cane for even suggesting Bananarama’s cover might be better…
Yes, but I am the oldie with an open mind!