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Mar 16

DJ OTZI – “Hey Baby (Uhh, Ahh)”

Popular97 comments • 5,903 views

#909, 22nd September 2001

otzi So the cruddiest number one of 2001 lands at the top in a week when a lot of people were not caring about music. And certainly, spending £1.99 on “Hey Baby” is one of the more aggressive ways you could find to not care about music. The song is a mugging of a rather sweet #2 hit from 1962 by Bruce Channel: his “Hey Baby” was hayseed bubblegum, a bag of folksy candyfloss with a harmonica hook hot enough that people assumed the Beatles swiped his idea.

Channel’s song does nothing to deserve this monkey’s paw resurrection, except be catchy. Otzi preserves that property – “Hey Baby” became an instant terrace hit – and puts the song on steroids, before welding on any 90s sample he can locate. Even our old chum “Uno, Dos, Tres, QUATRO!” gets a turn. Otzi’s main innovation is significant enough to land in the title – “Hey Baby (Uhh, Ahh!)” – the two-note crowd participation hook he inserts. Anyone fortunate enough to have been on a bus or train when groups of men give lusty voice to the song will know how effective, and painful, this alteration is.

Crassness isn’t really the problem here though, it’s the marriage of crassness with a total severing of imagination. Add a touch of surreal invention to amped-up cover versions and you have the reliably entertaining Scooter, whose crossover audiences wouldn’t be as distinct from DJ Otzi’s as I’d like to believe. But there’s no invention in “Hey Baby”, just a brute force ramming of song into forebrain in the service of parties you wouldn’t want to be at. This kind of Eurostomp has a heritage (inevitably, Otzi turned in a cover of Opus’ deathless schlager-rocker “Live Is Life”) and a tenacity. People were buying it on the 10th of September. People were buying it on the 12th of September. Like the cockroaches set to survive armageddon, “Hey Baby” was resilient.

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Comments

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  1. 76
    Neil C on 31 Mar 2016 #

    [Reposted from the Populist page – to make it more relevant, I’d give DJ Otzi a 4, bumped up due to warm memories of a communal singsong at chucking-out time at Strathclyde Uni roundabout my 21st birthday…]

    Hello all – I’ve been reading Popular for the last 3 years (came in around the time of Earth Song) and it has fast become my favourite music site, particularly after reading Mr Lineman’s wonderful history of pop, Yeah Yeah Yeah.

    I was really taken aback by my own anticipation levels for an upcoming bunny this Easter (one that I Find Hard To Expunge From My Mind), and it got me thinking about the whole Popular enterprise, and how much it’s enriched my appreciation of music.

    Over the years I’ve generally relied on my memory of these songs while reading Popular, playing them back in my mind rather than actually listening to them. That changed recently when I discovered the option to list the entries by score – I put all the 9s and 10s on a playlist, LOVED it, added the 8s and 7s, in quick succession, and suddenly I had 10 hours of wonderful pop music spanning 50 years!

    As someone who listens mainly to albums, hearing these hits back-to-back has been a revelation. No filler tracks to grimly push through – every song sparkles with vitality, and the range of styles is astonishing, even in a single year. I’ve rediscovered many songs I thought my Uni disco had ruined forever (ABBA, The Buggles) and songs that my teenage indie self would have dismissed out of hand (Backstreet Boys and, unbelievably, Livin’ Joy), as well as digging some old favourites out for the first time in far too long.

    I’ve now cut the list down even further to my own selection of the 100 best, and it’s just terrific. I’m going to get so much fun out of these songs – soundtracks to exercise, making my siblings mix CDs that they’ll actually play, and (most importantly) introducing my baby daughter to the wonder of pop music.

    So thank you Tom and all you marvellous comments people – you’ve reminded me how amazing pop music can be!

  2. 77
    Rory on 1 Apr 2016 #

    Very good to have you with us, Neil C and Girl With Curious Hair. One of the nice things about the project is how it has an in-built way of attracting new blood, as Tom reaches each successive era of hits.

  3. 78
    Patrick Mexico on 3 Apr 2016 #

    God, this is pish.

    But we’ll get back to more important issues for now.

    I was exactly a week into my first year at Clitheroe Grammar Sixth Form, when I followed my parents’ separation a year before with a desperate but successful Alamo salvage job to get me back into education round my way, and I was generally very happy really; just appreciating having a normal, suburban/semi rural English teenage life, with girls, football, MTV2, The Box, the weekend, and very occasional exams and coursework to think about… the world was at my feet (or so I thought). Ten days before I’d watched England stick five past Germany in the house on my own (an hour later, watching the highlights roll in to the tune of Buck Rogers by Feeder in the Chinese takeaway, is an unglamorous, but fantastic memory that’s always stuck with me.) Nine days before I was at Valley Parade, watching a ramshackle Burnley side roar to the top of the Championship (then Nationwide Divison 1) table with a last-minute screamer by veteran striker Tony Ellis (unfortunately marred by our fans making racist chants about the city of Bradford – more – much more – unfortunately on those issues later :( ) Seven days before it had been my first day back at school in the Ribble Valley for nearly three years, after I’d been persona non grata at Bowland High aged 12/13, sometimes because Aspergers + adolescence = hell, but mostly because I was a charmless dweeb who had no idea how to make friends or show any passion or individuality in life. I somewhat smashed that when I named all the hip bands I was into (I was 16, hey!) and friends from my old school said “God, I can’t believe how much you’d changed.” I also thought I had a chance with the girl of my dreams.. who shall obviously remain nameless but who was the spit of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen in the Kelly from Saved by the Bell years.. with a sprinkling of Zooey Deschanel.. but that chance fizzled out as my mind was warped, sickened and howled, streaked and spurned by much more important issues.. as we will find out now..

    September 11, 2001, was a glorious, unseasonably hot day, and I think I finished early with a free period and just went home to Whalley*. I remember the skinny Goth builder’s radio next door talking about a plane crash in New York, but like others have commented, thought it was a minor thing with a light aircraft and no serious casualties so… that all changed when I switched the TV on. There have been plenty of horrible events I’ve stood open-mouthed at when they have been introduced on television, but this was a real-life horror and disaster movie it was difficult to believe it was real, and my eternal naive optimist kept telling me the towers or even planes must have been empty, it was just a political statement or even publicity stunt for some company, utterly, utterly naive and stupid thinking, but I was 16 and high on Prozac (that didn’t help me at other times in my life, but it did help in 2001.) Gradually, the horror began to drip-feed in, as the BBC said “The death toll could reach tens of thousands.” That night I think I went to sleep about 7.30 as everything was just too much to take in, as if I’d had a bang on the head. I had heard of Osama Bin Laden, and was aware of America’s precarious role in the Middle East, plus suicide bombing in the Israel-Palestine conflict, but never thought there would be an attack on US soil this dramatically evil. At first I thought it was by some screwed up far-right white supremacist or Christian fundamentalist group (too detailed to explain here, but much of nu-metal and even pop punk reminded me of that side of America – a country I have love and affection in so many other ways – and that put me off such genres for many years..)

    I was deeply, deeply upset about the idiocy, hatred, and complete disregard for innocent people who the attackers never even knew personally – and sadly it would happen again, and again, and again, worse some incidents less reported on and cared about by the casual Western observer than others… god that was a bleak time last December when friends wrote to my local MP’s Facebook page re. Syria air strikes saying “Hope you can cope with the innocent blood on your hands Nigel (Evans)”…

    I definitely felt “things will never be the same again” and though at least until the October half term I was in the form of my life and did brilliantly both academically and socially at CRGS Sixth Form, a numb, end-of-the-world, “the world is a piece of crap, and however hard I try I can’t do much to change it as I’m just an insignificant crappy dot on the map” feeling hung over me like a dark cloud for some months. But so did 12/10/02 in Bali, 7/7/05 in London, 15/4/03 in Boston, 22/7/11 in Norway, 7/1 and 13/11/15 in Paris, 22/3/16 in Brussels, 27/3/16 in Lahore, to name but a few atrocious and pointless incidents.. it’s been a vicious circle of misery that sometimes just seems to be getting worse and worse what with the various ISIS conflicts and God knows what will happen come November if America elects an even more right-wing, reactionary version of Bush Jr… and the rise of social media has given rise to even more depressing Islamophobia and nationalism nonsense plus what about this country’s tragedy “grief hipsterdom” that depresses me no end.. thank the good Lord I quit Facebook on 28 December last year, have no real plan to go back.. and I haven’t even started on the Afghan and Iraq conflicts that followed… I clearly remember Damon Albarn yelling “bombing one of the world’s poorest countries is wrong.. IT’S WRONG” at the 2001 MTV VMAs… and though, especially in light of the tragedies in Belgium and France, I strongly believe we need to distance the fucked up, inhuman activities of ISIS etc. from ordinary Muslims just living everyday, decent lives like you and me, and nip these people in the bud, at the root – wherever hate is preached, fucked up messages are spread online – it’s beyond scary knowing ISIS supporters could be living in the same town as you, and a deeply sad irony having close friends from many different backgrounds, several who are practising, and proudly, Muslim, in a region where cultural relations are shall we say, questionable – those words have left a lasting legacy. I strongly doubt fighting fire with fire is a good idea, especially if it’s from right-wing America. Having said that, it was an awful event and I had been to the World Trade Center two years previous, and even though I was a depressed, socially inept 14-year-old, New York left a charm, a romance and a character as a city that will always be with me and I must visit again someday. My sister has a photograph of the Twin Towers from that holiday – just like 9/11, a clear, sunny autumn day – with a quote carefully glued to it – “People can take everything away from you except memories.” I think, on the day of the incident itself, it’s difficult to express the multitude of feelings any better.

    The reaction at CRGS Sixth Form was awkward and strange. There were certainly a few sick jokes going around from the students, even on September 12, though I remember one of my most happy-go-lucky Jack-the-Lad type friends, punching and giving the Vs to a newspaper picture of Osama Bin Laden, with a sense of genuine pain and fury. We held a three minute silence during English Language class though I think at least one of the pupils sat down, who was a friend of mine due to his fanatical love of the Manics but sometimes expressed extreme left politics in a very cold manner (i.e. “You don’t give a shit about famine in Africa, you only get upset when rich white Westerners die, capitalist mofos!”) and though the silence was impeccably observed, I remember tensions flaring up in a History class when people put their hand up and said “It’s not a war on terror, it’s a war on Islam.” There were also rumours a year later of an Asian Muslim girl queuing up for a class saying “I hope Bin Laden can come around and kill all the white people” but that might have just been some of my idiotic LAD Bible type, pseudo-Jeremy Clarkson friends at the time making up ridiculous stories for effect… but East Lancashire at the turn of the century was a messed up place. Still is in parts, but from recent evidence, less bigoted and more integrated than it once was (my college wasn’t too bad but fecked up things still went on.. more on them when we get there though.) Sometimes, as has been the case at the darkest times in history, we resorted to gallows humour to get us through. I remember sitting in a pub in Birmingham a week later after we’d beaten them 3-2 with a Glen Little wondergoal with my dad’s mates saying “OK, I’ll be Bush, you be Bin Laden, you be Blair, you be Saddam, and we’ll try and sort this whole bloody mess out!” And though the risk of terror wasn’t exactly non-existent – the IRA did terrible things in the 1990s – I was in Warrington today, the bombing in 1993 the second story which deeply upset my naive childhood self on the news (the James Bulger murder being the first) but of course, I wish none of this tragedy had happened in the first place. You can repeat that through history though… I have nothing else to say other than that it was horrific and may the 2,977 rest in peace.

    * * * * *

    It seems incredibly facetious to return to a record like this after such serious discussion, but Tom can only review what history puts in front of him, so here’s my two penn ‘orth on Hey Baby.

    It’s charmless, lowest-common-denominator drivel, I don’t mind the original as it’s likeable pre-Beatles bubblegum and I’m sure the chorus has a great hook, but so does Agadoo. It’s meaningless, forcing-you-to-have-a-good-time, veiny cocktail sausage and cucumber sandwich naffness in the same way The Chicken Song parodied, but it is actually funny in its crapness conflicting with Otzi’s ridiculous “look at me! I want you to love me! Wunderbar” court jester idiocy, so for making me laugh rather than want to drown myself, it’s a 2/10 to a tee. I never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever want to hear it again, and I was distressed beyond words when a woman down the pub at the Mark Duckworth album launch (more, much more on him later) in Clitheroe started singing it in a throaty Catherine Cawood style.

    Has there ever been a great Austrian act who’ve done well on the UK singles or albums charts? Live is Life can feck reyt off, and as he’s a fully paid up Governor of California we can’t exactly count the Terminator soundtracks :) I like it as tinned peaches-standard 80s pop, but I’m sure there’s better out there than Unique II’s Break My Stride. However, I will always be an ally of neighbouring Switzerland for Double – The Captain of Her Heart. Smooth as melting Toblerone, that one.

    * You’ll probably recognise that street – http://bit.ly/1qojyjc – as it was on worldwide news last Boxing Day, chest-deep in water (the floods receded and things have slowly got better since, but God, going there that day was a desperate time)

  4. 79
    Girl with Curious Hair on 5 Apr 2016 #

    I don’t remember much about 9/11 at all. I was 10, and my biggest memory is of being in school and there being a rumour going around that America was being bombed by aliens. So my recollections of that day probably aren’t worth all that much.

    I do remember it affecting my dad though. We’re from Sarajevo, and I’m sure you all know what happened there in the 1990s. As I say, I never really made the connection at the time (kids are resilient I suppose), but I think the footage of NYC under attack was uncomfortable viewing for my dad.

    My dad was, and I am, Muslim too – something else I didn’t really make the connection with until much later is the surge in anti-Muslim sentiment after 9/11 (by this point we were living in London). As far as I know we weren’t personally on the receiving end of any trouble – we didn’t look the part, shall we say – but again this must have been very uncomfortable for my old man. Especially considering what happened back home a few years earlier. Poor fella couldn’t catch a break. (Especially since he was saddled with me lolz etc.)

    But hey, at least there were some great tunes at the top of the charts to take his mind off of all of this… argh…

  5. 80
    Erithian on 6 Apr 2016 #

    Patrick #78 – yes you referred to Opus, but – and I’m not saying the word “great” applies here – the biggest Austrian pop hit in the UK would be “Rock Me Amadeus”, Falco being a Viennese lad.

    I was at work on 9/11, and at a time when the internet wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now, and I wasn’t in the part of the building with TV news feeds, the news seeped through. My wife, in common with many, was watching the news and saw the second plane live – that moment when all doubt about the nature of what was going on was removed. At the time there were rumours that our department was about to be relocated to Canary Wharf, so that was one of the main thoughts on our minds. There was a stunned atmosphere among my fellow home-bound commuters, and we spent the evening watching the news coverage as our twins, two years and two days old, buzzed around us oblivious to our dread.

    As for the record, briefly, it’s pretty horrible.

    GWCH #79 – I fear this might sound patronising but please don’t take it as such – women are severely under-represented on here, and Muslims, as far as I’m aware, not at all. So although everyone is welcome, you are particularly so!

  6. 81
    Girl with Curious Hair on 8 Apr 2016 #

    Erithian (and also Rory) – thanks for having me!

  7. 82
    Lazarus on 10 Apr 2016 #

    Amidst all the talk of 9/11 I don’t think we’ve had a #2 watch on this – in the week that ‘Hey Baby’ ‘graced’ the number one spot it held off another new entry, ‘Starlight’ by Supermen Lovers – a song still, I suspect, best remembered for its video. If you don’t recall it, ‘potato man and rat’ might jog your memory. I don’t know the first thing about Supermen Lovers – the song came and went very quickly, I suspect that nowadays it would be hanging around like ‘Get Lucky’ or ‘Happy’ – but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that the people behind Stardust and Modjo were involved somewhere.

  8. 83
    AMZ1981 on 10 Apr 2016 #

    #82 Starlight by Superman Lovers was a week earlier and was beaten by Bob The Builder (I mentioned this on the Mambo No 5 thread).

  9. 84
    Lazarus on 10 Apr 2016 #

    Hmmm, yes, so it was – and Bob was runner-up to Otzi I see. Do I get a consolation point for mentioning Hey Baby’s leap from 45 to 1, or have I missed mention of that too? That beat Captain Sensible’s record I assume – does it still stand?

  10. 85
    AMZ1981 on 10 Apr 2016 #

    #84 A bit of googling turned up the excellent everyhit.com which gives a definitive answer. Hey Baby did indeed set a record at the time; albeit on a technicality. The record managed to enter the lower reaches on import as a few other chart toppers around this time did (Lou Bega, Eiffel 65, Shaggy with It Wasn’t Me) but normally they changed catalogue number when officially released and were classed as a new entry. DJ Otzi kept his catalogue number and managed a bigger jump than the others had but Captain Sensible still held the record for an officially released single.

    The record would eventually fall in 2009 when Pixie Lott’s Girls And Boys (I know I’m bunnying but we’ll have forgotten this discussion by the time we get there) climbed 73-1. However given that Captain Sensible, DJ Otzi and Pixie Lott achieved their climbs in very different marketing climates I think it would be unfair to directly compare them.

    A 2005 chart topper did sneak into the very bottom of the industry top 200 when a tiny amount of copies were sold ahead of embargo and top the chart the next week.

  11. 86
    Billy Hicks on 11 Apr 2016 #

    We’re not too far away from Puretone’s ‘Addicted to Bass’ having one of the most unfortunate misses of #1 in chart history, up there with Dee-Lite. A few thousand sales were leaked the week before official release, meaning it debuted at #68 and then shot up to #2 a week later. Adding the leaked #68 sales to its #2 sales, it would have beaten a forthcoming – posthumous – bunny.

  12. 87
    Monkey on 14 Apr 2016 #

    THX that’s a great anwres!

  13. 88
    Patrick Mexico on 14 Apr 2016 #

    87: It was around this time you bankrupted my football club, you ITV Digital bastard.

  14. 89
    sbahnhof on 25 May 2016 #

    It’s surely essential to add that Ötzi’s name contains a rock ‘n’ roll umlaut like Motörhead.

    Nowadays I associate this with its alphabet neighbour, “Hey Boy Hey Girl”
    https://youtu.be/Bp0rQIHWFWI
    I know it’s irrational (I used to love it), but all of those “here we go”-s can become gratingly Ötziesque.

  15. 90
    Izzy on 25 May 2016 #

    Great, now I have this earworm:

    ♫♪♫ We’ve got Ötzi
    DJ Ötzi
    I just don’t think you understand
    ♫♪♫

  16. 91
    Mark G on 25 May 2016 #

    As in “Wildcat” Gene Vincent?

  17. 92
    Izzy on 25 May 2016 #

    I wish. Actually it’s as in Achy Breaky Heart, the Sloop John B of 2015/16.

  18. 93
    Mark G on 26 May 2016 #

    I did think I was missing something blatantly obvious.

  19. 94
    Izzy on 26 May 2016 #

    It’s weirdly easy to miss. I’ve been in crowds, enjoying a sing-song of it, yet didn’t place it myself until I heard Spurs fans being slated recently for having their own version.

    Thinking about it, I’m not sure I’d’ve placed Sloop John B either. And no doubt ‘by far the greatest team … the world has ever seen’ has a proud lineage too, but if it does I’m none the wiser?

  20. 95
    Erithian on 26 May 2016 #

    It’s The Wild Rover: “And it’s no, nay never / No nay never, no more / Will I play the wild rover / no never no more.”

  21. 96
    Patrick Mexico on 27 May 2016 #

    That “Will Grigg’s on fire / Your defence is terrified” Wigan Athletic/Freed from Desire chant is terrific – not heard as good a football chant since 1995 and “Toon Toon Toon, let me hear you say Geordie.”

    Was convinced it would be based on Kings of Leon’s rather cringeworthy bunny in seven Popular years’ time…

    Also, are we still alive here? I am still very much alive, I wrote a passionate, intense TOTP 81 blog last Thursday that seemed to be mistaken as spam! And TPL is very much resurrected. Can’t wait to read this, been listening to all the Top 100 singles of 1990 and just up to the bit when Thatcher did one.

    Not sure if people share as much love as me for Ways of Love by Claytown Troupe, A Man Called Adam – Barefoot in the Head and Bakerman by Laid Back, mind…

  22. 97
    Izzy on 27 May 2016 #

    That Will Grigg number is tremendous, thank you indeed for bringing it to my attention.

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