'Boom Bang-a-Bang' by Lulu: The making of the quirky Eurovision joint-winner

9 May 2024, 15:29

Lulu breaks down her biggest songs | Gold's Hall of Fame

By Mayer Nissim

"My heart goes boom bang-a-bang, boom bang-a-bang..."

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At the time of writing the UK has come second at Eurovision a whopping SIXTEEN times, more than anyone else, and only won the competition five times.

The first of those wins was Sandie Shaw's wonderful 'Puppet on a String' in 1967, and the second didn't actually take too long to come.

Already an established star at that point, Scottish singer Lulu won our second crown just a couple of years later with 'Boom Bang-a-Bang'.

But do you know who wrote the song, where it got in the charts, and why Lulu left it off her album that year?

Read on for all the heart-thumping facts you need about 'Boom Bang-a-Bang'.

Who wrote 'Boom Bang-a-Bang'?

Lulu - Boom Bang a Bang (Official Lyric Video)

'Boom Bang-a-Bang' was written by the team of Alan Moorhouse (music) and Peter Warne (lyrics).

Warne had already had some success as a songwriter, when under his real name Michael Julien he co-wrote 1958 Shirley Bassey hit 'Kiss Me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me'.

How did 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' get chosen as Lulu's song for Eurovision?

Come September (2005 Remastered Version)

Back in its early years, the BBC made an internal decision as to who would be singing our Eurovision entry, and they had already decided on Lulu.

But there were plenty of contenders for what the Scottish singer would be singing in the final in Madrid, Spain.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice even pitched a song,'Try It and See', which failed to make the final six.

Waste not, want not, they passed it over to Rita Pavone and later reworked it into 'King Herod's Song' for Jesus Christ Superstar.

Lulu - Can't Go On (Official Lyric Video)

Six songs did make it through to the shortlist, and they were all sung by Lulu on her own self-titled TV show, with a decision made on the Michael Aspel-hosted A Song for Europe 1969 on February 22.

The contenders that missed out to 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' were 'March!', 'Come September' (co-written by Mark London - Lulu's manager Marion Massey's husband), 'Bet Yer', 'Are You Ready For Love?', and, in last place 'I Can't Go On Living Without You'.

'I Can't Go On Living Without You' was written by the then-fledgling songwriting partnership of Elton John and Bernie Taupin (actually entirely written by Elton, lyrics included, though he shared the credit with Bern).

What does 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' mean?

Lulu in 1969
Lulu in 1969. Picture: Getty Images

Pop has been full of nonsense words since "A-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-lop-bam-boom!" and probably even before, but 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' is a pretty straightforward onomatopoeiac heartbeat.

As the lyric goes, "My heart goes boom bang-a-bang, boom bang-a-bang when you are near".

And it's not the first or last time a singer has wrestled the sound of a heartbeat into a song title, with Edith Piaf ('Padam Padam') and Kylie Minogue (er, a different 'Padam Padam') doing the same.

How did 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' do at Eurovision?

Lulu at Eurovision
Lulu at Eurovision. Picture: Getty Images

'Boom Bang-a-Bang' won Eurovision with 18 points... but it wasn't the only winner of the 1969 Eurovision Song Contest.

For the first time in the competition's history there was a tie – a four-way tie, in fact, sharing the spoils with Spain's 'Vivo cantando' by Salomé, the Netherlands' 'De troubadour' by Lenny Kuhr, and France's 'Un jour, un enfant' by Frida Boccara.

When was 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' released and where did it get in the charts?

Lulu - Boom Bang-A-Bang
Lulu - Boom Bang-A-Bang. Picture: Alamy

'Boom Bang-a-Bang' was released as a single in March 1969, and reached its peak of number two in mid-April, a couple of weeks after the final.

All of the failed Song for Europe tracks were eventually released by Lulu in some form of another. 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' had 'March!' on the B-side, while 'Come September' featured on that year's Lulu's Album, thanks to its connection to her manager ( 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' did not).

The song remained a Eurovision classic, with Lulu performing it at the 25th anniversary Songs of Europe in 1981.

It had another life when it was used as the ending theme for the sitcom Him & Her in 2010.

What does 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' have to do with Monty Python?

Monty Python - Europolice Song Contest

While there have been few covers of 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' of note, it did inspire a classic parody when Monty Python clearly took a nod from Lulu's winner for the Europolice Song Contest sketch.

It was Inspector Zatapathique, the forensic expert from the Monaco Murder Squad, who performed the classic 'Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong'.

All together now... "Bing tiddle tiddle BANG / Bung tiddle tiddle bang / Bung tiddle tiddle tiddle tiddle tiddle / Bung tiddle tiddle BONG!"