Nov 14

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

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#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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  1. 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)

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 35
    Shiny Dave on 1 Dec 2014 #

    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…

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. 37
    ciaran on 14 Dec 2014 #

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

  8. 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.

  9. 39
    Mart Maxin on 24 May 2019 #

    I’m trying to think of a more unlikely political protest song and I really can’t.

  10. 40
    Gareth Parker on 24 May 2021 #

    The dreaded 1/10 here from me I’m afraid. Cheap and tacky in my opinion.

  11. 41
    Mr Tinkertrain on 20 Jun 2022 #

    3 is pretty fair here. I did enjoy B,B,B,B!! but this one is just half-arsed and irritating. And yes, like many others have commented, I remember the “we’re going to eat pizza” jokes of the time.

    I thought they’d had more number 1s than this but apparently not – I had a quick skim of their discography and realised I’d forgotten the track Uncle John From Jamaica (a #6 hit) which was a little better than their other later singles. They are still touring and (like many of the acts of this era) can be found at various 90s nostalgia festivals. Fair play to them I guess.

    Other chart highlights: Sixpence None The Richer followed up their classic Kiss Me with a cover of There She Goes which made #14 this week. Not quite as good as the La’s original but still rather lovely and a rare example of a proper two-hit wonder.

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