643. ‘The Power’, by Snap!

The spring of 1990 truly was an age of interesting intros. Well, I don’t know if two songs quite make an ‘age’, but following on from Beats International’s famous rap, our next #1 kicks off with a burst of Russian LW radio. Something something transceptor technology…

The Power, by Snap! (their 1st of two #1s)

2 weeks, from 25th March – 8th April 1990

Then boom: a riff that sounds like an electric shock, and (another) dance diva with big lungs bellowing about having the power. So far so famous, a hook that pretty much everyone of a certain age knows. Unfortunately, the less-remembered remainder of the song struggles to match the energy of the title line.

It’s much lower-tempo than you’d think: I’d mis-remembered it as a madcap ride, akin to S-Express, but it’s nowhere near as fun. There’s a rapper – in fact this might be the most rap-heavy chart-topper so far, at the start of the decade in which hip-hop will finally go mainstream. Turbo B has a couple of good lines: Maniac, Brainiac, Winnin’ the game, I’m the lyrical Jessie James… and a real clunker: So peace, Stay off my back, Or I will attack, And you don’t want that… While Penny James, the female lead, has a voice that contrasts with him well.

Both the rap and the vocals were based on earlier songs, by a Chill Rob G and a Jocelyne Browne respectively, and for a while it seemed there might be lawsuits on the horizon when the producers tried to use the originals without permission. The record was quickly re-recorded by Turbo B and James, inadvertently setting up Snap! as an actual band with a hit making future rather than a one-hit wonder.

There’s another good moment, when the electric shock riff takes over and performs a bit of a solo; but for me, as a whole, this record struggles to build up a head of steam. I can’t imagine dancing to it, unlike recent dance bangers from Black Box and Beats International. Snap! (note the Wham!-like exclamation mark) were a German creation, and I get “Boney M for the ‘90s” vibes, what with their nationality, their take on Eurodance, and the questions over whose voices you’re actually hearing… (Though both Turbo B and Penny James were American.)

‘The Power’ was Snap!’s first release, and they would go on to have an impressive nine further Top 10 hits between 1990 and 1994. So popular were they that their fifth single was a medley of the previous four, which still made #10. And while this record may not reach the heights of ‘Ride on Time’, you could argue that it was just a warm-up for Snap!’s globe-humping second, and definitive, chart-topper: one of the biggest dance records of all time. Until then, then…


4 thoughts on “643. ‘The Power’, by Snap!

  1. Great record, great intro, great hook and Jocelyn Browne is on it in spirit if not actual voice. The follow-ups werent as good for Snap! Mark 1 – I went to see them on tour and they were decent enough. Snap! Mark 2 didn’t tour as far as I know as they never had any singers hang around for long enough, and were basically an early DJ/producer act with guest vocalists after hit 5. More or less…

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