Jul 13

SHAGGY – “Boombastic”

Popular45 comments • 5,856 views

#727, 23rd September 1995

The key to dealing with hot weather is economy of effort – do the things you really have to with the least possible fuss, and the rest of the time, slow down, refrigerate. Which makes “Boombastic” a great heatwave hit, whenever it actually reached #1: there’s a ton of space in this record; shady, cooling space. Around the space, snatches of instrumentation: a bric-a-brac of sounds, almost unrelated, all doing the minimum. A hammered piano note; a plink higher up the register; a repeating see-saw noise; a loping bass. Drums snap and sometimes boom; a guitar confines itself to a terse lick or two then gives a sudden, thrilling squeal. It’s pop production as a fairground dark ride, a set of looping mechanisms forming themselves into a world for all the family to enjoy (or imitate in the playground).

And Shaggy is the benevolent monarch of this world, giving a comical, flirtatious, crowd-tickling performance, his army of mechanical instruments dancing in and out of his phrasing. His main trick here is using his voice like a yo-yo, winding his vowels out on “rohhhhhh-“ before he flicks the word back “-mantic!”. But every few bars he does something entertaining, endearing or teasing with that gruff, rubbery voice of his. The Gee whiz-please-breeze-keys-ease-sneeze-cheeze-peas verse is probably the highlight, but the whole thing is a summertime delight whose cheerful vibe hides its elegant construction.



1 2 All
  1. 31

    tempted simply to claim that the common source predating both is the restlessly punful human imagination!

    this would anyway be (nearly) the natural way to pronounce “bombastic” in many places, plus jamaican (esp.rastafarian) wordplay is pretty ruthlessly plastic with vowels (and indeed consonants)

  2. 32
    James BC on 17 Jul 2013 #

    Probably right. Either way it’s inspired – imagine how much worse the song would be if it was “bombastic”.

  3. 33
    Nixon on 17 Jul 2013 #

    #31 “pretty ruthlessly plastic” scans perfectly to this, and is now stuck in my head as an alternate lyric

  4. 34
    James BC on 17 Jul 2013 #

    Just listened to the Let’s Get It On version for the first time, and I’m not keen. It’s too smooth, and it sounds more like a mashup bit of fun than a track in its own right. The buzzing, stop-start dub version’s the one for me.

  5. 35
    logged out Tracer Hand on 17 Jul 2013 #

    boombastic also provided the obvious inspiration for this unforgettable level in parappa the rapper:


  6. 36
    swanstep on 18 Jul 2013 #

    This is new to me and, at least initially, I’m quite impressed both by the track and at the imagination of the UK public for embracing it. ‘Boombastic’ reminds me of later (acclaimed) Missy Elliot records that (at the time) defied characterization. Like those M.E. tracks, Bombastic feels like it’s scratching an itch in a place you didn’t know existed before. It’s an amazing gift of ears (did Shaggy self-produce? M.E. had Timbaland.) to be able to hear all those timbres and place them in space so well, and then have them by some alchemy still belong together. Will need to live with the track for a while to be sure of what I feel about it (it took me a while to digest M.E. too), but that B’s one of the better #1s of the year seems a certainty.

  7. 37
    flahr on 18 Jul 2013 #

    ARGH curse this holiday I can’t BELIEVE I was beaten to the Parappa the Rapper reference

    flahr: u commenting BAD

  8. 38
    Steve Mannion on 18 Jul 2013 #

    A little curious as to why this didn’t come out before the Mungo Jerry cover (having misremembered ‘In The Summertime’ as the follow-up to ‘Boombastic’ for a long time).

    After an uninspiring cover and a jeans ad song the next single ‘Why You Treat Me So Bad’ (more influenced by Brooklyn hip hop, can hear it as a Gang Starr cast-off at least) a decent attempt at a hit with the stabilisers fully off and only just missed the top 10. Already Mr Orville Burrell had become one of the most successul Jamaican acts in the UK.

    anto referenced ‘The Joker’ but a much later Shaggy hit derives from it more directly.

    As well as the aforementioned Gaye-sampling version remix credited to (not that) Sting I note one by Firefox & 4-Tree who produced one of the best Jungle tracks ever in ‘Warning’ itself sampling the low-voiced Shabba, the high-voiced Junior Tucker (‘Don’t Touch My Baby’) and if not Mariah Carey’s ‘Hero’ then a cover of it I’m very keen to track down – so off to check that out shortly. The American release also included the b-side ‘Gal Yu a Pepper’ showcasing Shaggy’s harder toasting style.

  9. 39
    Doctor Casino on 18 Jul 2013 #

    For the longest time I knew only the Marvin Gaye version and sort of assumed it was the “primary” one – don’t know if this is a US/UK thing but I do much prefer that one. Yes, the sample is obvious so I do get the comparison to an undercooked mashup, but it also [i]works[/i] as one smooth package. I also find the guitar slashes in the reviewed version a little distracting, it feels a little too much like “OK, patch in some rock stuff, this is a genre hybrid” and it adds a little bit of aggression that I don’t think quite fits with Shaggy’s genial boasts.

    But – Tom’s review is a fair one! I’m willing to give it a few more spins. In the meantime though, the Gaye version is definitely a 7 or 8 for me. Joyous and clever, genuinely funny where it tries to be and great fun to sing along to.

    Very sad to realize “Like Glue” is not bunny-able, that would be a 9 or a 10 easily.

  10. 40
    Steve Williams on 19 Jul 2013 #

    #16 is right, Shaggy had a very odd kind of stop-start career with a big hit every few years and then very little in between. In fact I recall before playing one of his later hits for the first time, Jo Whiley invited Radio 1 listeners to guess who it was, then after it said “Amazingly that’s the new single from Shaggy!”, which certainly surprised me because he’d been off the radar for so long.

    Shaggy always seemed a very likeable pop star, and for a generation surely his finest moment was his collaboration with Zig, Zag and Cheggers.

  11. 41
    ciaran on 19 Jul 2013 #

    Only familiar with the radio hit.Had no idea of the Marvin Gaye version at all.

    Hit the top at the wrong time if you ask me.A mid July kind of single, not a back to school time reminder.

    Inspite of that I loved Shaggy. Boombastic was a perfect choice for the ad – Levis had got a the perfect modern hit after all the retros. The ace video made it better again.

    Not really heard it much over the years which is a shame.It really stands out from nearly every other 95 chart topper along with an unpcoming one we’ll get to very soon.

    A richly deserved 8.

  12. 42
    Patrick Mexico on 20 Jul 2013 #

    Unfortunately my problem with this record’s the reverse of nostalgic mark inflation. Had I been of a different age I’d probably have found Boombastic much more refreshing. But I was forced to enjoy this as a kid, so I struggle as an adult. Just like salad. Food or McObscureBritpopBand.

  13. 43
    hectorthebat on 21 Apr 2015 #

    Critic watch:

    1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010) 1002
    Freaky Trigger (UK) – Top 100 Songs of All Time (2005) 3
    Les Inrockuptibles (France) – 1000 Indispensable Songs (2006)
    Village Voice (USA) – Singles of the Year 10
    Melody Maker (UK) – Singles of the Year 38
    Spex (Germany) – Singles of the Year 17
    Rock de Lux (Spain) – Songs of the Year 41

  14. 44
    Gareth Parker on 20 May 2021 #

  15. 45
    Gareth Parker on 20 May 2021 #

    My mistake, the above indicates that this was the first single I bought. Loved it as a 10 year old, but not so much now. I agree with Patrick Mexico’s comment (#19), a 4/10 for me.

1 2 All

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)

If this was number 1 when you were born paste [stork-boy] or [stork-girl] into the start of your comment :)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page