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Mar 16

DJ OTZI – “Hey Baby (Uhh, Ahh)”

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#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. 1
    flahr on 8 Mar 2016 #

    HEEEEEEEEY!
    HEEEY TOTTENHAM!
    (HOT! SPUR!)
    I WANNA KNOOOOOW
    WHERE YOUR CAPTAIN’S GONE

    I have nothing further to add about this record. [2]

    EDIT: On further researching to make sure I had the last two lines right I discover the version Google remembers is, er, considerably more unpleasant. That’s not how the South London inner-city primary school I was at rendered it, though. I assume we were all just too young to be anti-Semetic. Or possibly it being firmly Millwall locality rendered the idea of getting vile at Tottenham pointless.

    *I know because I did a survey

  2. 2
    Tom on 8 Mar 2016 #

    Two extra, positive things I have to say about DJ Otzi:

    One is that his LP was called Never Stop The Alpenpop.

    The other is that I heard this record played just before the lights went down at a cinema showing of Moulin Rouge, and assumed it was part of the film’s soundtrack. Every time I’ve heard it since then I’ve been quietly pleased with my unintentional insult to Baz Luhrmann.

  3. 3
    23 Daves on 8 Mar 2016 #

    Oddly, I always thought it was the World Cup remix of this (“I wanna see-eee England score a goal!”) which reached number one, but I got my facts mixed up. That actually only reached number ten. The version of chart history I have in my head is bleaker than the reality for once.

    Suffice to say I wasn’t really paying much attention to the charts in this particular week. I went away on holiday to Berlin to celebrate my birthday – my first trip abroad in many years – and DJ Otzi wasn’t really on my agenda and was, quite happily, totally avoidable.

    Unfortunately for me, I’d eventually move to a horrible flat above a cafe in London which was a few doors down from an equally horrible pub – the kind that always sees its windows kicked in at least once a fortnight, and probably isn’t in business anymore – and DJ Otzi was a big jukebox hit with the locals there, so I’d hear this on most weekend evenings, just drifting into my bedroom on the summer breeze. Normally I’m quite happy with the moderate noise of people having a good time, but bloody hell, nobody needs to hear “Hey Baby (Uh, Ah)” every bloody weekend, possibly three or four times in the space of an evening.

    The flat was above a Spanish cafe which had an Eighties Eurohits compilation on a loop during weekend days as well, playing FR David’s “Words”, Ryan Paris’s “Dolce Vita” and Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy” straight through our ceiling. The flat had cockroaches for awhile and they almost wiggled their antenna in time to the rhythm of “Words”. Top that for an unwanted soundtrack to your life, readers (apart from “Tarzan Boy”. I actually really like that one, even after the hammering it got from the cafe). Suffice to say, we didn’t renew our rental contact once the year was up, and I don’t think I’ve heard DJ Otzi much since. Or FR David for that matter. But I’ll forever associate both of them with living in skanky accommodation.

  4. 4
    lonepilgrim on 8 Mar 2016 #

    I’m happy to say I hadn’t heard this before and I’m sad to say that I now have. (1)

  5. 5
    CriticSez on 8 Mar 2016 #

    I’m not reviewing this yet, but this is the first 1 you’ve given for the 21st century #1s (2000 was actually in the 20th century, just to let you know).

    After the atrocity we’ve been discussing for the past two posts, people were turning to whatever they could find for comfort. But this? Nah! (This was made before the proliferation of bad music seen today was common.)

  6. 6
    Shiny Dave on 8 Mar 2016 #

    Maybe it’s because I’m a Scooter fan – a bit in spite of myself at times, but I am – but I don’t find this nearly as bad.

    I certainly think it’s at least the equal of most of the 1999 Eurodance tracks, and he’s picked a pretty impressive song to give the schlager treatment to. As a terrace chant, it’s terrific.

    Is it anything more than that? No. Is it high on irritation factor? Goodness yes. But frankly, I don’t even think it’s as bad as the other song that straddles the impending Kylie megabunny. And if this is going to be the first ever 1/10 combination, I think this is far less deserving of being on the wrong end of that pairing than the astoundingly nasty “Coward of the Country,” the closest we’ve come so far.

    I’m actually going to go as far as a 5, as I think it’s as good as or maybe better than “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!” and I gave that a 4.

  7. 7
    flahr on 8 Mar 2016 #

    Incidentally, I went to the Tate this weekend and one of the artworks was constructed using, among other things, Scooter lyrics. Not a single Otzi School painting to be found, by contrast.

  8. 8
    katstevens on 8 Mar 2016 #

    No long after this song came out, I gave up drinking for 6 weeks, for a bet. Nothing at stake except pride in proving that I could do it. Unfortunately this six weeks coincided with most of the autumn term of my 2nd year at uni, so I had to endure this song 100% sober many, many times over. I remember one evening out ‘cheese’ clubbing, hearing first ‘Uptown Girl’ (a surefire [0]) and then this song, and deciding there and then to smoke as many cigarettes as I possibly could in order to hasten death’s swift relief. Do you still get cigarette vending machines in nightclubs these days? I was certainly glad of them then.

  9. 9
    Adam Puke on 8 Mar 2016 #

    Re. 2: “the kind that always sees its windows kicked in at least once a fortnight”

    Presumably kicked in with an Uhh! and an Ahh! in rapid succession. Many times I’ve heard this come on the jukebox in a crap pub and with depressing predictability the “two-note crowd participation hook” will be accompanied by rhythmically-appropriate stampings/slappings/gropings/sectarianish abuse. What could be a more appropriate 9/11 number one than a song that continues to enable violence 15 years on and shows no sign of abating? I’m amazed Laibach haven’t had a bash at it.

  10. 10
    cryptopian on 8 Mar 2016 #

    Usually, I’ve found myself with a lot of generosity towards the 2000-ish school disco staples, but this is one that never did anything for me. DJ Ötzi reminds me of that overenthusiastic kind of DJ, desperately begging the audience to dance, clap and “MAKE SOME NOISSSE!” That quiet seat in the corner suddenly looks very inviting. The original isn’t something I’d go crazy for, but I’ll take it over this [2]

  11. 11
    AMZ1981 on 8 Mar 2016 #

    I’m glad most people seem to agree that this is one of the most offensively bad chart toppers of all time; although the thing I find most unpleasant is the nasally tone of the vocal. To be fair the unfortunate timing of this song’s release wasn’t DJ Otzi’s fault but it’s worth noting that the second biggest selling song for this most terrible of weeks was Bob The Builder. One dreads to think what future generations will make of that.

    Still to quote Edmund Blackadder (not for the first time on here), `You can’t argue with the box office`. As noted on the Mambo No 5 thread it wound up the sixth biggest seller of the year overall with an initial 1-2-3-2-3-3-3 chart trajectory and even when it finally dropped to six the wretched thing lingered a few more weeks in the top ten. And now we come to the worst horror of all – when it finally sunk to number 11 it was only because DJ Otzi himself entered at 9 with the follow up; a cover of Do Wah Diddy that makes Hey Baby almost bearable by comparison.

    So who the hell bought it? It seemed to have a particular appeal to the older generation and thus became a staple of work parties, mainly due to the call and response of the Uhh Aah. Thankfully it seems to have died a death in recent years but we shouldn’t let ourselves forget that this abomination would have dominated the September 2001 chart if not for a genuine pop smash.

  12. 12
    weej on 8 Mar 2016 #

    The backbeat is straight out of Jive Bunny, the synths are pure k-tel covers compilation, the band are from Michael Barrymore’s My Kind Of Music, DJ Otzi himself has no apparent character at all, and the whole thing is rancid, but it’s not actively grating enough to warrant a 1 – which is perhaps one more failure to add to the heap.

  13. 13
    weej on 8 Mar 2016 #

    And what is he supposed to be doing on the CD cover? Does his jacket not fit? Why does he look so serious?

  14. 14
    thefatgit on 9 Mar 2016 #

    I might be mistaken, but I think the original shows up on the Dirty Dancing LP.

    This lager-drenched version, I have no patience for whatsoever. I’d rather listen to 5 hours of St. Winifred’s School Choir than put up with a single minute of this. Both might possibly send me completely batshit insane, but at least I’ll have some warm thoughts towards my late Grandmother to keep me on an even keel. DJ Otzi can kiss my fat arse. He looks how Guy Fieri would look if he was into bare knuckle boxing and bathtub vodka, rather than greasy diners. If FT had a Room 101, “Hey Baby (Uhh Ahh)” would be my nomination. I would call upon Cthulhu to lay waste to the entire world before listening to a single note of this sorry excuse for a plastic dog turd of a single. I loathe it.

    It’s definitely the worst single of the Noughties, in my very humble opinion. (1, but I sorely wish there was a zero score)

  15. 15
    Paulito on 9 Mar 2016 #

    @3: I can think of far worse life-soundtracks than that list of songs you mention. You’ve been particularly unkind to poor old FR David and “Words”, which is an amiably weedy Europop earwig (not cockroach!). It has a plaintive, unassuming feel that I really quite like. “La Dolce Vita” is almost as catchy and equally weedy, but again I actually rather enjoy that spindly synth sound.

    As for DJ Otzi, the passage of time has rendered this slightly less execrable to my ears than when it was inescapable (and it really was for a while). Its one small saving grace is that it affords the original some modicum of respect – and avoids being maddeningly repetitious – by preserving the verses and basic structure. 2

  16. 16
    Chelovek na lune on 9 Mar 2016 #

    Can’t add to this review at all. Utter charmless dross, as big and as fat a zero as could be, if such things existed in this realm.

  17. 17
    Mark G on 9 Mar 2016 #

    It’s the second (and last?) of the big Euro-pop hits that evokes that moment when (presumably) work is done, dinner (malzeit?) has been taken and now.. “It’s Party Time”.

    But whereas Whigfield is right there at the start of it, this DJ only notices about two-thirds of the way through that it’s Party Time. Up till then, I dunno it might have still been sitting down and finishing your beer time.

  18. 18
    James BC on 9 Mar 2016 #

    The original is actually on “More Dirty Dancing”. Trainspotting wasn’t the first film to get a second soundtrack album.

    For better or worse, the DJ Otzi version is certainly enduringly popular and somewhat versatile. When WWE’s NXT brand came to the UK at the end of last year the women’s champ (and possible phenomenon in the making) Bayley was serenaded with “HEEEEEY, HEY BAYLEY….”

  19. 19
    23 Daves on 9 Mar 2016 #

    @15 – Let’s just say that I was probably mostly indifferent to “Words” when I moved in, but grew to loathe it by the time I moved out. It’s weediness became a source of extreme irritation. If you live above (or work in) a shop or restaurant that plays the same CD or tape on a loop, anything less than a very good track starts to grate on your nerves eventually.

    Besides, I prefer FR David’s earlier work myself, usually under the name “FR David Explosion”: https://youtu.be/2oAr0xcLSuw

  20. 20
    Cumbrian on 9 Mar 2016 #

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this song was used on prisoners at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay. The worst jock jam of all time. It might well be the worst number 1 of all time. I think I’d rather hear St Winifred’s and Robson and Jerome, which is surprising to me, as I hated those records. I am shocked that there are people giving this above 2.

    Kylie is our saviour.

  21. 21
    glue_factory on 9 Mar 2016 #

    I have purely personal reasons for quite liking this. On the Tuesday of the week of the previous number one, I’d been on a plane flying to New York, for what was to be my first, much anticipated trip to that city. An hour before we were due to land, we were told there’d been a change and we were now landing in Boston. Naturally, we just assumed bad weather or a minor fault with the plane and that we’d have to face nothing more serious than the annoyance of having to make a further connection to complete
    our journey. Arriving in an utterly shutdown, deserted Logan airport suggested something else might be up and we started to hear rumours, along the queue, of planes crashing into buildings.

    Boston is a lovely city, and I can’t think of a better place in the US to have spent that time (waiting for Logan to re-open and seats home to become available) but it was an awful lot of hard-work for a holiday. So a stag-weekend in Amsterdam a month later ended up as my de-facto holiday. On the Saturday night myself and a couple of others had split from those seeking more hardcore sleeze and ended-up in a tiny, traditional Amsterdam bar. It was still contained a lot of visitors, but the solitary barman had no qualms about leaving us all in their alone with his stock while he went to change barrels. The main other bar-goers were a stag-party and a hen-party who bellowed along to Summer Loving (doing the respective male/female parts) and this. We sat, at the bar, between them, smiling indulgently.

    Compared to the rather ugy, frightened world I now seemed to live in and the seamier size of Amsterdam I’d seen earlier, Hey Baby was rather charming and inncoent. Was this part of it’s wider appeal that sent it to number one at this point? Probably not. How much of the innocence was DJ Otzi responsible for and obviously lots of that innocence comes from its early 60s origin. -And I can’t really claim it’s any better than Bombalurina or any number of other records I loathe, but for a while it made everything seem
    a bit better.

    Predictably, our next bunny was also a permanent soundtrack in Amsterdam.

    (6)

  22. 22
    Rory on 9 Mar 2016 #

    Another song I knew only from a kids’ album, and those Australian cover artists did a more appealing job than DJ Otzi. The Bruce Channel original is a harmless slice of early-’60s pop, but Ozti’s additions are all pretty awful. I own one or two Schlager CDs as souvenirs of travels in Germany and Switzerland, but can’t say that I ever listen to them, and I wouldn’t ever choose to listen to this again either. 2, if only to preserve the 1s for songs from my own personal ninth circle of Hell.

  23. 23
    Andrew on 9 Mar 2016 #

    I was in Austria in early 2002 and saw a DJ Otzi bobble-head musical doll on sale.

    I swear I’m not making this up: http://l7.alamy.com/zooms/d247825a6839498aa41dcc2423455268/dpa-dj-oetzi-austrian-pop-singer-presents-two-dj-oetzi-doll-versions-d3a15f.jpg

  24. 24
    enitharmon on 9 Mar 2016 #

    I was on the great march against the invasion of Iraq on 15 February 2003. Walking up Haymarket a group of young women were singing “Hey Baby” with great gusto (at least they were singing the tune; the words were adapted to the occasion). Hearing it took me right back to my early awareness of pop with great pleasure. I guess that these young women were singing from the DJ Otzi songsheet, although I hope they got to hear the Bruce Channel original through it. I’d rather we’d had a chance to discuss that back in 1962.

  25. 25
    Mark G on 9 Mar 2016 #

    Well, the first version of the song I heard was Ringo’s. This came some time after he co-wrote “Devil Woman” which was one of his b-sides and had a near identical first-verse. I did wonder if he did the cover version as payback.

  26. 26
    enitharmon on 9 Mar 2016 #

    Mark G @ 17: Was Whigfield at the start of it? This sort of dross has its roots in James Last in the late 1960s, surely?

  27. 27
    Phil on 9 Mar 2016 #

    @25 – you’re right about the first verse, but I was distracted by the chorus;

    “you’re like the devil with horns in your head,
    The only way i’ll get you is to get you in bed.”

    What, as they say, the actual.

  28. 28
    DietMondrian on 9 Mar 2016 #

    When preparing a playlist for our wedding disco my fiancee and I invited all guests to put forward a request; this was the only song we refused. It was requested by my mum.

  29. 29
    JLucas on 9 Mar 2016 #

    I have a real fascination with the European phenomenon of Schlager music, which in its purest form (such as this song) is rarely seen in the UK charts, but has a huge popular following on the continent.

    This was Otzi’s first and breakthrough solo hit all over Europe, and while his chart career was predictably brief here, he’s released a mind-boggling 15 albums since, still routinely charting in the upper reaches of the German and Austrian listings.

    For a sense of how his sound has evolved over the past two decades, here is ‘Geboren um dich zu lieben’, which reached #6 in Austria and #11 in Germany just last month.

    https://youtu.be/kAABG09HNA4

    He’s no lone phenomenon either. It seems like every European country has an equivalent of DJ Otzi, if not several.

    Austria does seem particularly fond of them though. This song was in their singles chart for THREE YEARS

    https://youtu.be/US8mPmN-vro

  30. 30
    Mark G on 9 Mar 2016 #

    Enitharmon @17: I was meaning that Whigfield mentions “Party Time” early in the song, whereas DJO waits until the song is nearly over (It is nearly over, isn’t it?)

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