Bomfunk MC’s ‘Freestyler’: Looking Back at Iconic Dance Music Hit
In the late 1990s, a Finnish hip-hop group known as the Bomfunk MC’s took the music world by storm with their electrifying track, “Freestyler.” Released on October 30, 1999, as the third single from their debut album “In Stereo,” the song quickly became a global sensation. “Freestyler” was more than just a chart-topping hit; it was a cultural phenomenon that left an indelible mark on the music industry. Let’s explore the achievements, success, and the unforgettable music video that helped shape the legacy of this iconic track.
Musical Innovation and Global Success
“Freestyler” is a remarkable fusion of musical genres, primarily characterized by its breakbeat foundation. The track draws influence from the UK dance culture and electronic dance music while incorporating elements of drum and bass and hip hop. Written in the key of E minor and with a tempo of 164 beats per minute, the song’s unique sound set it apart from the musical landscape of its time.
Upon its release, “Freestyler” quickly climbed the charts in various countries. It peaked at number four on the Finnish Singles Chart and went on to top the charts in over 10 countries, including Australia, Germany, Italy, and New Zealand. It also achieved top-10 positions in Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The song’s global success showcased the universal appeal of the Bomfunk MC’s unique musical style.
Critics praised “Freestyler” for its infectious energy and innovative composition. The Daily Record described it as a “cracking old-skool track,” while CMJ New Music Monthly hailed it as “a housed-up hip-hoppity mélange of sampled slide-guitar, rubbery synth bass, and Caribbean-inflected dance instructions; a dancefloor natural.” These reviews highlighted the song’s ability to bridge the gap between different musical styles and create a sound that resonated with a broad audience.
The Iconic Music Video
One of the key factors contributing to the song’s success was its unforgettable music video. The video was primarily filmed at the Hakaniemi metro station, an underground station in Helsinki, Finland, known for its unique architecture. The video prominently featured Marlo Snellman, a Finnish model and musician who portrayed the main character. At just 15 years old at the time of filming, Marlo was chosen for the role through the influence of his mother, Laila Snellman, a prominent figure in Finnish modeling.
The video opens with Marlo dancing extravagantly to the instrumental intro of “Freestyler” while catching a train and listening to the track on his MiniDisc player. What makes the video iconic is the concept of Marlo gaining the power to pause, rewind, or fast-forward individuals with the remote controller for his MiniDisc, imbued with these powers by Raymond Ebanks, the lead singer of the Bomfunk MC’s. The video showcases Marlo’s ability to manipulate passersby and dancers in the metro station, creating a visually striking and captivating narrative.
However, Marlo’s efforts to control the Bomfunk MC’s prove futile, and when Raymond Ebanks approaches him, he accidentally rewinds himself, sending the video into a backward rewind sequence. This twist in the video’s storyline adds depth and intrigue to the overall concept, emphasizing themes of empowerment and the transfer of musical power.
The music video for “Freestyler” also featured a cameo appearance by the main character from the music video of the Bomfunk MC’s song “Uprocking Beats,” enhancing the connection between the band’s music videos and their storytelling. This interwoven narrative added an extra layer of engagement for fans of the group.
“Freestyler” and its iconic music video are a testament to the Bomfunk MC’s‘ innovative approach to music and storytelling. The song’s global success and the enduring influence of its music video make it a timeless classic that continues to be celebrated by fans and artists alike. The track remains a shining example of how music and visuals can come together to create a lasting cultural phenomenon.
Image Credits: Bomfunk MC’s (Official Music Video)