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Nov 14

THE VENGABOYS – “We’re Going To Ibiza!”

Popular38 comments • 2,984 views

#835, 18th September 1999

vengabiza The Vengaboys’ revival of Typically Tropical beats “Barbados” in significant ways just by switching locations. At a stroke the song is no longer two white sessionmen pretending to be a black British guy longing to go back “home” (at a time when the far-right would have been keen for him to do just that). Instead it’s just but a bunch of European partygoers wanting to go party. This doesn’t make “Ibiza” distinctive, let alone good, but at least it redeems the very obvious issues with its original. In Tumblr terms, the song is no longer problematic. It’s just somewhat rubbish.

But it’s a workable kind of rubbish, flatly performed with barely more craft than its dreadful cartoon video, but fit for what it’s made for. The thing I would never take away from Typically Tropical is that they wrote a really good novelty hit chorus – the “Whoa! We’re going to [x]” hook is brainless and infectious and, yes, properly captures the feeling of stupid glee as you hype yourself up for a holiday. You could sing it in a car, on a plane, in a Vengabus. And even if the verses are delivered with sweet vacuity, the Vengaboys can’t screw the chorus up. Just as in 1975, this is a classic summer holiday smash – heard in European discos, brought back home. It’s just that, sandwiched between two far more memorable examples, it seems a particularly pointless one.

The Vengaboys are unlikely to have deliberately set forth as social justice crusaders on a righteous mission to subvert the cultural politics of 1975. Instead, the positive changes to the song follow smoothly and logically from its Venga-isation. What do we know about the Vengaboys? They like their vehicles, so “Venga Airways” is a fine escalation of the Vengabus – making the unchanged first line the best gag in the song. And they like to party, which gives us a destination, even if it isn’t one the band can pronounce. Though “Ee-bitser” surely is intentional – something for people to remember the record by.

Would the island have welcomed the Vengaboys? Perhaps not. But though Ibiza is up there with Hamburg as a place that tilted the axis of UK pop, by this time its role as the spiritual home of club music was fading. “We’re Going To Ibiza” is a cheap holiday in other people’s ecstasy: in the Vengaboys’ song Ibiza is what it always had been – a party island and nothing more.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Tom on 28 Nov 2014 #

    Though check out the Bill Clinton scandal joke in the video – v. topical! Well, topical for the European release maybe.

  2. 2
    jeff w on 28 Nov 2014 #

    That’s weird. Site’s giving me permission to edit your comment, Tom.

  3. 3
    Mark G on 28 Nov 2014 #

    Isn’t their pronounciation closer to “Eivissa”anyway?

  4. 4
    DanH on 28 Nov 2014 #

    Woah! We’re going to eat pizza!!

    All I can say about this. Eh.

  5. 5
    thefatgit on 28 Nov 2014 #

    We’re going to eat pizza.

    Well, that’s how I heard it. Actually, there are some neat ideas buried in the vid; the electrified Stonehenge, and the Capitol Hill knocking shop. I’m of the generation that still cringes at the thought of Typically Tropical, so this smoothing out and and retrofitting of “Barbados” for the party crowd is, to paraphrase Marcello, like kissing Marmite covered lips.

    Trouble is, the execution is still cheap & cheerful, and there’s nothing here to suggest I might want to fly Venga Airways to the White Isle, any more than I’d want to get on board a minibus with The Dooleys to Rhyl. (2)

  6. 6
    Mark M on 28 Nov 2014 #

    Re: 3: No, there’s definitely a ‘t’ sound lurking in there, so that indeed (as suggested by DanH), it rhymes with ‘pizza’. I feel this is deliberate, somehow. In any case, it puts these Europoppers in line with the Brits and their unbreakable determination to pseudo-Italianise words in assorted foreign (‘cheritzo’ for chorizo, ‘Skwilachi’ for the French footballer Squillaci).

    There’s a weird charm to the Vengaworld…but this is still a terrible record.

  7. 7
    punctum on 28 Nov 2014 #

    Another Vengaboys record; but this one is markedly less charming. Although Captain Tobias has changed name and gender to “Captain Kim” and, mercifully, Coconut Airways to Venga Airways – it doesn’t quite scan but anything would count as an improvement – “We’re Going To Ibiza!” is essentially a rewritten cover of “Barbados” by Typically Tropical with all of its “whoa!”s intact, even if one can’t quite picture Our Kim as a frustrated bus driver, and thanks to her idiosyncratic pronunciation the chorus sounds much more like “Whoa! We’re going to eat pizza!” Perhaps this underlines 1999 as another 1975; certainly for number ones (despite the thirty-five different singles which topped the chart this year) it has proved a year of comparable listlessness and inertia. The record brings new meaning to the adjectives “torpid” and “turgid,” even if the inane Vengagrins would be sufficient foundation for a delta, let alone the perhaps unfortunate malapropism of having a party “in the Mediterranean Sea.” That doesn’t quite scan, either.

  8. 8
    hectorthebat on 28 Nov 2014 #

    Sample watch: surely the opening riff is just a lift of “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate?

  9. 9
    Chelovek na lune on 28 Nov 2014 #

    There a couple of Venga Records I’m prepared to stick up for. The first has already been discussed here, the other (which does make Caribbean references) won’t be. (And doesn’t deserve to be). No, actually, scrap that, “Boom x4″” is the only one whose cheesiness really can be wallowed in even a little.

    This, though,l is irritatingly catchy, but is otherwise difficult to defend. (I also just thought to google “Coconut Airways” – blimey. I kind of reckon it unlikely there will be a flight training school in Ibiza (however mispronounced) named “Venga Airways” in 30 years hence, or the song thought with such fondness, or even remembered there, after such a duration of time.)

    Very much sub-2 Unlimited pap, if not without a certain entertainment value. But still (3)

  10. 10
    jg on 28 Nov 2014 #

    > Though “Ee-bitser” surely is intentional

    Highly doubt it. Ee-bitser is how we say Ibiza in Dutch. Don’t think they realized they pronounce it differently in English-speaking countries.

  11. 11
    lonepilgrim on 28 Nov 2014 #

    whatever (limited) appeal this record has for me is down to the catchiness of the original melody – this sounds like the demo tune from a cheap synthesiser – one of the worse records I’ve had to listen to as part of Popular (2)

  12. 12
    Cumbrian on 28 Nov 2014 #

    Arsenal’s youth team go abroad. Get spanked 5-1. Whilst the local brand of the game was coming down from European winning peaks, they still have too much for a team mired in tactics that are positively antediluvian. They have it all to do in the second leg Brian.

  13. 13
    Phil on 29 Nov 2014 #

    a cheap holiday in other people’s ecstasy

    Excellent line. A more cynical visitor might suspect you designed the rest of the review to build up to it.

  14. 14
    mapman132 on 29 Nov 2014 #

    Hmm…I thought it was supposed to be pronounced “Ibitha” with the Spanish lisp, but maybe that’s my American ignorance? All I know about the place is it seems to be to partying young Brits what Cancun is to partying young Americans. Not gonna disagree with 3/10.

  15. 15
    Mark M on 29 Nov 2014 #

    Re:14 That is indeed the correct Castilian pronunciation. Although, as Mark G points out, it’s Eivissa in Catalan, but neither is anywhere near the Venga version.

    There’s a very different history to Ibiza and Cancun – Ibiza was a midcentury boho then hippy hangout that eventually helped give birth to the rave movement. Young Brits do love it, but lots of people also go there for 40th birthdays etc – it’s a ‘one last large one’ place.
    Cancun is a very successful example of something free-market purists insist never happens – a government-masterminded scheme to bring in foreign currency that actually works, in this case by creating – from scratch – an international resort. (There were – again – hippies hanging out just along the coast).

  16. 16
    Doctor Casino on 29 Nov 2014 #

    Disappointing. Even the previous Vengahit sounded a little more varied and dynamic. I recall – way back when Popular introduced me to “Barbados” in the first place – a classmate overhearing it and immediately joining in with “Woah! We’re going to eat pizza!” Where has the time gone? I can no longer recall the feeling of never having heard “Barbados,” so I can now hear the Vengaboys rendition the way it must have sounded to many Brits of a certain age: a thin, repetitive, flourish-free take on an ill-conceived but well-made recording. If only this had mustered the oomph of Typically Tropical’s performance of their (noxious) song – the really hearty, booming WOAHs!, the little drum fill coming into the chorus, the swell from the airy opening to the thickness of the chorus and the (aimless) musical break – then the Vengaboys could have obviated the original and displaced it from the center. As it is, they just provide a footnote to it.

    To my classmate of course, they mainly had “eat pizza” going for them. Who knows what I’d think if I were just joining the Popular bandwagon this year, free of Typically Tropical? But then I’d probably also be free of the “eat pizza” reading, which may be the best lyric any version of the song has to offer. I do like the idea that, one or two smash hits in, the Vengaboys are already weary of their Vengabus. Me, too.

  17. 17
    Ed on 29 Nov 2014 #

    @14, @15 FWIW, I think Latin Americans pronounce ‘z’ like the English ‘s’, and to their ears the Castilian lisp sounds a bit stuck-up and affected.

    Not that that is particularly relevant in the Balaeric Islands, or to the Vengaboys…

    More detail than most people will probably want on Spanish “coronal fricatives” here. None of it offering ‘tz’ as an acceptable rendering of ‘z’, it seems: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonological_history_of_Spanish_coronal_fricatives#Castilian_.27lisp.27

    @13 Seconded!

  18. 18
    Mark M on 29 Nov 2014 #

    Re17: Broadly – the Latin American ‘z’ is softer than the English ones – in Spanish z and soft c (e.g., ‘cynical’ in English) are interchangeable.But yes, if you’ve grown up hearing Mexicans speak, all that CadiTH stuff can sound absurd.

  19. 19
    thefatgit on 29 Nov 2014 #

    “Rainbows down the drain” would be a fantastic lyric in another song. The front-ending of the better ideas just highlights how meagre the rest of the song is.

  20. 20
    Izzy on 29 Nov 2014 #

    One notable thing about this record is that it marks Yorick’s debut in the group, taking over the naval role from Robin.

    In truth the importance lies less in who was wearing the sailor suit – it was always, along with whatever Denise was supposed to be, the most peripheral of the group’s archetypes – than in the consequences for group dynamics.

    Where Robin brought a dreamy, blue-eyed charisma, Yorick’s presence was more as an anonymous, healthily muscular gym type. The result being that Roy becomes unquestionably the dominant male figure in the group.

    From now on cowboy Roy starts moving front-and-centre stagewise, and from memory on their later work occasionally assumes a rapping vocal co-presence going beyond his earlier exhortation that ‘Everybody get on down … Benga boys are back in town’ (another pronunciation enigma here, and I confess that I may be confusing him with Ray Slijngaard on the rapping point).

    Interestingly, Robin has been on the bus/plane since the 2006 reunion, but neither Roy nor Yorick have ventured aboard. Donny now fills the other male role – sadly I’m unaware of how that affects the group’s dynamic today.

  21. 21
    JLucas on 29 Nov 2014 #

    Like a turn-of-the-century Boney M, the Vengaboys made a limited musical spectrum go a very long way, even by the standards of pre-fab Europop. It feels like they were supposed to put a face to a couple of essentially faceless dance hits, then accidentally became a proper pop group.

    Ibiza is the fourth of seven top ten singles, all of which are cheap, cheerful and sound more or less the same. I always found the way they ended their chart career quite bemusing though. First they broke their run of top tens with the utterly bizarre ‘Cheekah-Bow-Bow (That Computer Song)’ which appeared to be a less-than-subtle song about the dangers of STD’s ‘sung’ by a heavily vocodered CGI frog. I have to quote the whole lyric because it really is a very strange song.

    “I saw you at the disco
    Last night in San Francisco
    The way you used your joystick
    It really made my mouse click
    Come sit upon my Laptop
    And do a little hiphop
    Let’s go into a chat room
    And do a little boom boom

    I saw you at the disco
    Last week in San Francisco
    The way you used your joystick
    Has really made me feel sick
    The doctor checked my hard-drive
    A virus in my archive
    My disc was not protected
    And now I am infected”

    Chilling.

    After that flopped they wisely decided to call it quits, ending their career with an entirely uncharacteristic ballad ‘Forever As One’. I don’t know if there was an intention to position Kim as the sort of Diana Ross of the group or something (she’s even shot in front of a full Orchestra in a very Ross-esque sparkling ensemble), but the poor girl really wasn’t up to it vocally and it wasn’t a very good song anyway – although there’s something quite endearing about how heartfelt it is compared to their previous efforts.

    Anyway it limped in at #28 and that was the end of the Vengaboys – at least in terms of the UK charts. There have been the inevitable reformations, university tours and a collaboration with Perez Hilton a couple of years ago entitled ‘Rocket to Uranus’ which was unspeakably crass even by their standards. Bizarrely, the video used to get heavy rotation at my local gym.

  22. 22
    Billy Hicks on 29 Nov 2014 #

    Fun, upbeat song with a infectious synth riff characteristic of many 1999 Europop hits from one of the best groups of the year. and a great snapshot of its time.

    7.

  23. 23
    Andrew Farrell on 29 Nov 2014 #

    #21 – as this is indeed their last appearance here, it’s worth pointing out that they rereleased one of their first singles to cash in on the Brazilian World cup this year – now with (NSFW) video. Notable mostly for those who only know a particular air in the context of a particular film, who may find the experience a little disorienting.

  24. 24
    Rory on 30 Nov 2014 #

    #23: A rerecording, not just a rerelease – and not nearly as good as their first stab at it in 1998.

  25. 25
    Rory on 30 Nov 2014 #

    Until tonight I had no idea this was a cover – I must have missed the Typically Tropical discussion back when it happened – so only ever heard this as a Vengaboys original. Knowing its origins now makes sense of a couple of lyrical oddities (going “home” to the island; not wanting to be a bus-driver), but those didn’t stand out before because they could be read in other ways (Ibiza as the singer’s spiritual home; the bus in question being the Vengabus, parked in the long-term car-park at Venga International Airport while the driver takes a well-earned Venga break).

    Although the “eat pizza” reading was amusing (and common in Oz at the time too), I always figured it was the Dutch pronunciation of the name, and liked that: it underlined something it felt worthwhile to recognise, that no Mediterranean holiday destination is the exclusive playground of the British – that in any of these places you’d encounter Germans, Dutch, Swedes, and of course the people who actually live there. Eye-beeza is Ibeeza is Ibeetha is Elvissa is Ibitser.

    I’ve already written at length about why this frivolous but fun band meant a lot to me, and won’t repeat myself here, other than to note that I like this song, too, for the same reasons. Thinking of this all along as a Venga original, I never rated it as highly as some of the other tracks on The Party Album!, but for singalongs in proxy Vengabuses in exotic locations this was hard to beat. Logic might dictate a 5, a 4, maybe even less, but logic has nothing to do with it: hearing this takes me back to islands where the sky is blue and the beach is waiting, and that’s good enough for me. 7.

  26. 26
    weej on 30 Nov 2014 #

    I enjoy parts of this, but they were better in the original. The keyboards sound cheap in the most charmeless way possible, and the extra couple of minutes at the end is a complete idea vacuum. I was going to write a defence of Typically Tropical at this point, but I think I’ll save it for their entry – suffice it to say here though that descibing it as “noxious” is sheer hyperbole.

    By the way, just checked out Cheekah Bow Bow (That Computer Song) , as described by Jlucas above. Fucking hell. Just fucking hell.

  27. 27
    Rory on 30 Nov 2014 #

    I wouldn’t say “Cheekah Bow Bow” is a masterpiece, but with that vocoder effect on the vocals its cheesy lyrics are hardly its most prominent feature… apart from that, it’s just second-rate Vengaboys. As are most of the songs on their disappointing second album. The only ones that really do it for me are “48 Hours” and “Opus 3 in D#”, the two with flashes of the dancefloor brilliance of the album tracks from The Party Album!

    (I must have been pretty tired last night to read “Eivissa” as “Elvissa”. You are always on my mind…)

  28. 28
    Rory on 30 Nov 2014 #

    Stop press! Out now! Just in time for a Venga Christmas! We’re going to meet Santa…

  29. 29
    weej on 30 Nov 2014 #

    Rory – the “fucking hell” was more for the video than the music, though the music plays its part.

  30. 30
    Rory on 30 Nov 2014 #

    Weej @29: Hadn’t seen that before – ha! Tropes vs Women in Game-inspired Videos. Still, all credit to them for inventing Second Life three years before the fact.

  31. 31
    will on 1 Dec 2014 #

    I wouldn’t agree that the island’s role as spiritual home of club music was ‘fading’ by this point, Tom. On the contrary, summer ’99 was its very peak. Virtually every other TV-advertised dance comp had the prefix ‘Ibiza’. Radio One seemed to spend all summer there. By September I was heartily sick of all things Ibiza and I hadn’t ventured further south than Cornwall (for the eclipse, of course)

  32. 32
    Alan on 1 Dec 2014 #

    eclipse! August 11th (depending on how the dates work = Ronan). I bunked off work and went to Primrose Hill where it was cloudy enough not to be that great. Meanwhile work colleagues in Hammersmith got a great view.

  33. 33
    Tommy Mack on 1 Dec 2014 #

    Vengaboys on Rikki Lake around this time, Rikki lines up a bunch of ‘Vengaboys’ biggest fans’, “What do you think of the Vengaboys?” she asks a chubby, balding bloke, “oh, wow, they’re just awesome” he says with the enthusiasm of a man who’s just been told he’s got to unblock a backed-up toilet.

    I’ve always had a weird soft-spot for the blank delivery of the ‘Woah’ in the chorus. Especially followed by the pizza/Ibiza pronunciation. And the demo-setting synths. Real-time reactions: Christ, that’s some cheap production, not to mention the video. I’m guessing this was rushed out to capitalise on BBBB’s success since it makes even BBBB sound like Bohemian Rhapsody. I’m generally positive on VengaBoys’ Poundland fun, maybe because there was so much dreary, mopey music around this time in both pop and indie. Still, no more than a 5 absolute max.

  34. 34
    enitharmon on 1 Dec 2014 #

    Ah, the eclipse! I went up on Purdown in Bristol. It wasn’t total there of course but the weather was kind and it was still amazing.

  35. 35
    Shiny Dave on 1 Dec 2014 #

    #31
    I had the impression the Ibiza peak in 1999 was very much tied with trance music at that point. As such, though the Vengaboys namecheck the island, ATB was (easily) the better representative of Ibiza ’99 on Popular.

    Germany and neighbouring countries might have been an even bigger source of Balearic tourists than the UK – and most of the trance DJs/producers/remixers came from mainland northern Europe. (ATB was German, other big names like Ferry Corsten and Armin van Buuren were Dutch – Paul Oakenfold is the only big-name Brit in the scene I can think of.)

    In retrospect, the #1 that best represents late-90s trance is not “9pm,” as I thought, but one of next year’s bunnies…

    #34
    I was in Weymouth for the eclipse. Cloud cover was erratic, a fairly standard British summer’s day in many ways, and my overwhelming memory was that it felt like a day/night cycle sped up to practically movie-timelapse levels. Which was rather enjoyable in its own right.

  36. 36
    James BC on 2 Dec 2014 #

    We went out into the garden and projected the shape of the sun on to the patio with a colander. Quite a spectacle.

  37. 37
    ciaran on 14 Dec 2014 #

    Dismal. No fun at all. New Seekers positivity meets Jackson 5 computer generated dance moves.2

  38. 38
    Chinny Reckon on 28 Mar 2015 #

    @20- “The result being that Roy becomes unquestionably the dominant male figure in the group.”

    I would say that the dominant male figures were Danski and Delmundo to be fair, given that without them the ‘front’ for the ‘group’ would be nothing, just as Ray and Anita would have been nothing for 2 Unlimited without Phil Wilde and Jean Paul De Coster.
    Why do you think two of the Vengaboys are women? Answer- they are not the Vengaboys, Danski and Delmundo are. The women provided vocals, the men did little more than prance about in front of a camera.

    On an unrelated note, I see nothing wrong with the pronunciation of Ibiza. Even if it isn’t the normal English way, it’s closer to the Spanish. They don’t say “Ten-uh-reef” in Spain either.

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