VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Shaggy & Conkarah Explain How They Knew ‘Risqué’ Song “Banana” Would Be A Hit
Shaggy and fellow Jamaican reggae singer Conkarah‘s new song “Banana” is a new take on the classic 1956 Harry Belafonte tune “Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” and was inspired by a very simple story. Conkarah and 50-year-old Shaggy explained to uInterview exclusively the inspiration for “Banana” and its music video.
Conkarah — who was born in Kingston to an English mother and Jamaican father — revealed the idea for “Banana” came while he was in Colombia trying to learn Spanish. The singer said he was laying in his hammock when he looked over and saw a cluster of the fruit on his dining table.
“I played my guitar and that was it,” said Conkarah. “I played it for Cheerytree [Records] and then Shaggy heard it and there was word of him potentially being on it and here we are.”
Shaggy said he quickly took a liking to the song because of how “risqué” it was and how it reminded him of his songs like “It Wasn’t Me.”
“It had some innuendos that really attracted me,” the two-time Grammy winner quipped. “It’s right up my ally,” he added before joking that he hopes the song teaches fans the importance of eating bananas.
The music video for “Banana” features scenes shot in an office in Los Angeles, but was also filmed in New York and in Australia while Conkarah was on tour. Conkarah said he was proud of the video’s international dimension, both in terms of its production and in terms of the countries shown and mentioned in the clip.
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Conkarah said he first became obsessed with the original song from Belafonte after he heard it on the popular cartoon Beetlejuice.
“I was just like, ‘I think this is a really catchy song’ so I said, ‘you cannot go wrong with it,” Conkarah said of the tune. “Since I’ve been performing it with Shaggy, everyone’s just been repeating it everywhere we go.”
Shaggy revealed he first recorded his own version of the “Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” on his first album, Pure Pleasure, in 1992. The singer recounted how he would receive incredible responses from audiences nearly every time her performed the song because of its “catchy” nature.
The “Angel” singer also revealed his simple criteria for what makes a song a hit: whether or not it touches on universal topics and themes.
“As long as it’s relatable to just general people alive, you got a shot,” said Shaggy of his idea of the perfect hit before adding he believes relationship songs are much more universally relatable than songs that discuss politics or religion. “It’s wordplay and great melody after that.”
Shaggy also explained that “getting to the point” as quickly as possible and not becoming side-tracked with other themes is key to writing a hit song. He cited his tune “Strength of a Woman” as an example of a song for which he felt that he initially struggled to achieve this goal.
Meanwhile, Conkarah confessed he has an even simpler approach to creating a hit song: checking the top ten tracks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and choosing one.
Conkarah and Shaggy also confessed the recurring theme of women and “girls” from all around the world was one of the aspects of “Banana” they enjoyed the most.
“You just got me from ‘girls,'” Shaggy told his collaboration partner, laughing.
Shaggy is also set to play Sebastian the crab in ABC Disney’s The Little Mermaid Live! on Nov. 5.