22 November 2009

Brown Girl In The Ring - Boney M

So, Brown Girl in the Ring is a playground game, thought to have originated in the Caribbean. The players, both boys and girls, form a ring around one child. As the song is sung, the child in the middle of the ring skips around the inside until a specific point in the song: 'Show me your motion', at which point the centre child performs a favourite dance. Alternately, they may be asked 'Show me your partner', and a friend is picked to join them in the circle.
Which explains an awful lot. Arguably the most popular version of 'Brown Girl In The Ring' is by disco superstars Boney M, who released it as a B-side to their 1978 hit single Rivers Of Babylon. The A-side had torn up the UK charts, but as its success slowed and it made its way down to number 20, DJs began to flip the disc over, instantly mystifying an entire generation of ignorant Brits. Britain of 1978 wasn't the most socially aware culture, and traditional West Indian children's songs hadn't really registered. Indeed, a friend of mine recently confessed that they had but one black child at their school, and they would form a ring and sing this very song at her. That's not funny, by the way - it's sad.
Boney M aren't the only group to have released a version of Brown Girl In The Ring, of course, though it might be argued that their version is undeniably the best ever, depending on whether you're a die-hard Boney M fan or not. Regardless, see Waterloo And Robinson for a German version which uses the same arrangement as Boney M, or The Wiggles for an Australian feel. There's also a remixed '93 version from Boney M, if you're really, really interested.
Let's not forget Joe Simpson from Touching The Void: 'Bloody hell... I'm gonna die to Boney M!'

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