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I'm Your Venus: Lyrics And Meaning Of The Shocking Blue/Bananarama #1

Left: Shocking Blue. Right: single sleeve for Bananarama's 'Venus.' Sources: GAB Archive/Redferns; Discogs

"She's got it, yeah baby she's got it" -- the catchy chorus of "Venus" by Dutch pop group Shocking Blue was so infectious it topped the Billboard Hot 100 twice, thanks to a remake by British club music trio Bananarama. Nobody could have guessed that a song about a goddess (or “godness”) complete with mispronounced lyrics would have reached number one on the charts even once, let alone twice. By borrowing segments from other tunes, Shocking Blue crossed international borders when they released "Venus" in 1969. The bizarre tune has been through many periods to get to the point where it was even used in razor commercials for the brand of the same name Venus.

Shocking Blue Was Struggling To Achieve Fame Outside Of Their Home Country

Source: Pinterest

Shocking Blue, sometimes billed as "The" Shocking Blue, was a Dutch band that formed in The Hauge, in The Netherlands, in 1967. They were heavily involved in the popular hippie culture of the era and released many hits in their home country including "Send Me A Postcard" and "Love Voice."  Their female lead singer Mariska Veres gave an evocative tone to these songs with her haunting, Grace-Slick style voice that added incredible depth to the band’s music. Shocking Blue tended to lean towards a garage-sounding style that was fused with catchy melodies that added elements of pop. It was with the release of "Venus" that they finally received recognition on global scale.

Venus Contains A Few Lyrical Mistakes

Source: Tumblr

The lyrics to "Venus" were written by Shocking Blue’s guitarist Robbie Van Leeuwen, who knew how to speak English, but it was not his first language as shown in the numerous mistakes in the song. One of the lines about the Roman love goddess was accidentally written as “Godness of the mountaintop,” so Veres sang the lyrics as she saw written in broken English. Later versions corrected the verse, but the original features this glorious mistake. The slight blunder makes the song even more superbly magnificent and correlates with the rest of the absurd lyrics that don’t quite make sense. It’s difficult to guess whether the singer is taking the role of Venus or if she is just singing about the goddess, as the narrator switches between third and first person frequently throughout the song. Veres also seems to sing Venus’s weapon was her “crystal ass” instead of “crystal eyes.” Despite the mistakes, Venus made for the perfect pop song with an incredibly catchy hook that sent it soaring up the charts.

The Song Was Adapted From An Old Folk Tune

Source: Tumblr

When Shocking Blue released "Venus" in 1967, it skyrocketed to #1 on the charts not only in their homeland, but also in nine other countries including the United States. However, the song was not exactly an original. The melody, guitar riff, and bassline was actually taken directly from a 1963 folk tune "The Banjo Song" from a group called The Big Three. The Big Three included Cass Elliot, future singer of The Mamas & The Papas who would be nicknamed Mama Cass. The song was written by Big Three member Tim Rose, and still wasn’t even 100% original then as "The Banjo Song" was based around the old folk standard "Oh Susanna."  Rose had also earlier released the slow version of "Hey Joe," which Jimi Hendrix would soon popularize with his electrified style of the song.

Bananarama Morphed Venus Into A 1980s Dance Hit

Source: People

A decade later, a London-based all-female new-wave trio of Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward, and Siobhan Fahey emerged. They would become known by the fairly ridiculous name Bananarama. The group frequently sang one of their favorite songs "Venus" at the concerts they began performing in 1979. By the mid-80s, Bananarama had established themselves as a popular girl group in the UK with numerous top-10 singles, including "Robert De Niro's Waiting..." and "Cruel Summer," which reached #9 on the U.S. pop chart. They got the idea to celebrate their own past by turning "Venus" into a dance number. Their songwriting team of Steve Jolley and Tony Swain disapproved, as they couldn’t wrap their heads around how "Venus "could be popular in the ‘80s. Instead the group turned to the production team of Mike Stock, Matt Aiken, and Pete Waterman who had recently produced Dead Or Alive’s dance craze single "You Spin Me ‘Round (Like A Record)."

Source: Pinterest

With the three-man production team’s help in 1986, Bananarama successfully transformed the psychedelic tune into a dance hit by keeping the same melody but adding all of the beloved ‘80s elements and effects including staccato keys, synth bass, and a drum-machine. The song was extremely busy and chaotic with all of its new layers, but it worked and reached the #1 spot on the Hot 100 once again, making it the 4th song at the time to ever reach #1 separately as two different versions. (Interestingly, it was not as successful in their native England, where Bananarama have never has a #1 hit outside massive charity collaborations such as Band Aid and Ferry Aid.) 

Bananarama also released an iconic music video for the tune that involved she-devils, vampires, and, of course, a goddess. Although it sounds like this could be a horror video, it instead revealed the ladies simply having fun and dressing up like the young girls they really were inside. The video also exuded the excitement Bananarama added to the once melancholy "Venus."

The Lyrics To 'Venus'

Source: Stereogum

A Goddess on a mountain top

Was burning like a silver flame

The summit of beauty and love

And Venus was her name

She's got it

Yeah, baby, she's got it

Well, I'm your Venus

I'm your fire, what's your desire

Well, I'm your Venus

I'm your fire, what's your desire

Her weapons were

Her crystal eyes

Making every man mad

Black as the dark night she was

Got what no-one else had

Wow!

She's got it

Yeah, baby, she's got it

Well, I'm your Venus,

I'm your fire, what's your desire

Well, I'm your Venus,

I'm your fire, what's your desire

Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!

Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!

She's got it

Yeah, baby, she's got it

Well, I'm your Venus,

I'm your fire, what's your desire

Well, I'm your Venus,

I'm your fire, what's your desire

Tags: Bananarama | One Hit Wonders | Shocking Blue | Song Meanings, Lyrics, And Facts | Venus

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Emily Morenz

Author

Despite her younger age, Emily Morenz (Emo) is a serious 1960s/1970s enthusiast who is pretty much the Austin Powers of this decade. Through her all-vintage wardrobe, obsession with old time rock 'n' roll, and her mid century bedroom and 1,200+ vinyl collection you might think she just stepped out of a time machine. Emo plays the rare gems of the ‘60s and ‘70s on her radio show on OC’s 101.5 KOCI and teaches rock ‘n’ roll history on her podcast “The Rock & Roll Sweetheart.” When there's not a pandemic, she's rockin’ out with all the middle aged-men at every single classic rock concert happening around the town, and she will battle her away to front row and dance hard. Paul McCartney even once brought her up on stage to dance...while she was in a walrus costume. You also might find Emo surfing waves, skateboarding through a neighborhood, groovin' '60s gogo style, and pretending like she can play bass. And she's obsessed with peanut butter and corgis.