“Copywritten lyrics so they can’t be stolen”
German and Italian production team Snap! had their first UK No.1 single on March 31, 1990 with “The Power.” It was released that January as the first single from their debut studio album “World Power” and went on to top additional charts in Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart in the U.S.
The song was an instant party starter and club banger back in the day, but couldn’t quite knock Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love” off of its Billboard Hot 100 perch. “The Power” stalled at No. 2 for two weeks behind Mimi.
Those of us who were in our prime during the 90s remember that this song, which featured a rap by Turbo B and vocals by Penny Ford, had a twin version with a rap by Chill Rob G. However the “I got the power” hook in both versions is not from Ford. It was sampled from a different song by 80s R&B singer Jocelyn “Somebody Else’s Guy” Brown.
In this EUR Video Throwback, let’s bang the bass, turn up the treble on how this monster hit was pieced together like Frankenstein and crushed everything in its path to start off the dance-heavy decade.
Snap! was primarily the production duo of Michael Münzing and Luca Anzilotti (under the pseudonyms Benito Benites and John “Virgo” Garrett III). They started off “The Power” with a man speaking Russian. It translated to, “The American company Transceptor Technology has started production of the ‘Personal Companion’ computer.” Transceptor Technology, out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, released the first voice-controlled computer in 1990 that could download articles from USA Today, the country’s first nationwide newspaper, using a built-in-modem. What this has to do with the rest of the song remains a mystery.
The beat for “The Power” was sampled from this 1988 Mantronix track, “King of the Beats,” (beginning at the 3:46 mark).
King of the Beats – Mantronix
Münzing and Anzilotti then took the line “I got the power” from Jocelyn Brown’s 1986 dance single “Love’s Gonna Get You” (at the 3 min. mark).
Love’s Gonna Get You – Jocelyn Brown
For the rap, Münzing and Anzilotti decided to take some bars from rapper Chill Rob G’s song, “Let the Words Flow,” off of his 1989 album “Ride the Rhythm” (beginning at the 0:18 mark).
Let the Words Flow – Chill Rob G
In Germany, Snap’s label Arista Records had a deal with Stu Fine, the former owner of Chill Rob G’s label Wild Pitch. So there was no drama when the original Chill Rob G version was released in Europe. But Arista didn’t have a deal with Wild Pitch in the U.S. for Chill Rob G’s sample to be included legally. So Münzing and Anzilotti re-recorded the track and recruited Durron Butler, a.k.a. Turbo B, to deliver a whole new rap. They also brought in vocalist Penny Ford to sing Chill Rob G’s repeated line, “It’s Gettin’ Kinda Hectic,” as well as the line “He could break my heart,” and the “ohh, ohh, ohh, ohhs.”
Eventually, all of the samples were cleared in the U.S. for the re-recorded Snap version, which exploded upon its release here in the States.
The Power – Snap
But wait … Simultaneously, Chill Rob G gave his permission for the song with his vocals to be released in the U.S., thinking it would result in a big personal payday. This put the pressure on Arista to iron out the legal snags with Wild Pitch, which they eventually did. This is why the U.S. suddenly had two versions of “The Power” at the same time.
The Power (Chill Rob G version)
It took nearly two decades, but Jocelyn Brown sued Snap in 2009 for 10 million pounds, which equates to half of the song’s revenue. This is when it was discovered that “Love’s Gonna Get You,” her 1986 song at the root of the lawsuit, was produced by Jellybean Benitez, who actually gave permission for Münzing and Anzilott to use the sample.
For those still reading this, here’s your reward – the true power behind both versions of “The Power” and real hero of this story, Jocelyn Brown.
Here she in 2014 with the New Amsterdam Orchestra performing “Somebody Else’s Guy.”
Below, Brown 20 years earlier, lip-syncing the album version of “Somebody Else’s Guy.”