Thursday, November 3, 2011

2 Unlimited

2 Unlimited is a Eurodance/Hi-NRG act formed in 1991. The project was the brainchild of Belgian producers Jean-Paul DeCoster and Phil Wilde, and was fronted by a Dutch duo, rapper Ray Slijngaard and singer Anita Doth.During five years of enormous worldwide popularity, the act scored 16 chart hits, including "Get Ready For This", "Twilight Zone", "No Limit" and "Tribal Dance".During their career, they have sold more than 18 million records worldwide.On 11 April 2009, Slijngaard and Doth performed together for the first time in 13 years at the "I Love The 90s" concert in Hasselt, Belgium. In January 2010, they released a new single together called "In Da Name Of Love", under the name of Ray & Anita.It has become a top 5 hit in the Netherlands.
Jean-Paul DeCoster and Phil Wilde met in their hometown of Antwerp, Belgium, and their first collaboration under the name of Bizz Nizz, the single "Don't Miss The Party Line", was a substantial hit across Europe, including in the United Kingdom where it reached no. 7 in the national singles chart in April 1990. Its success came as a great surprise to the duo and encouraged them to continue working together.In early 1991, a 19-year-old Ray Slijngaard was working as a chef in Amsterdam.Ray was a friend of rapper Marvin D, and whilst attending one of their gigs he took a microphone and started to rap in order to hype up the unenthusiastic crowd. Marvin was impressed and introduced him to DeCoster and Wilde, who got him to record a rap for "Money Money", a track that was being planned as a future Bizz Nizz single. Meanwhile, Anita Doth, In her spare time she performed in a female rap group called Trouble Sisters and she was spotted by Marvin, who asked her to be a backing singer for him. Ray and Anita became good friends, and some people believe they had a relationship.DeCoster and Wilde created an instrumental track called "Get ready for this" and they decided that it needed some vocals. They asked Ray for his input and he duly recorded a rap for it. The band was initially meant to be a solo project with Ray fronting the act but then he added female vocals from Anita. They were so pleased with the result that they agreed to work with them as a duo, and thus 2 Unlimited was born.They were signed to Byte Records and were licensed to many other record labels, including PWL Continental in the UK, run by Pete Waterman. "Get Ready For This" was an instant hit, peaking at no. 2 in the chart and was the twelfth best-selling single of 1991, earning a silver sales certificate. It went on to reach no. 4 in Belgium, no. 10 in the Netherlands and no. 2 in Australia. It also worked its way up to no. 7 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.A follow-up single, "Twilight Zone", followed in January 1992 also reached no. 2 in the UK, selling 234,000 copies. It topped the chart in the duo's homeland and was certified gold, and it was also a hit in the United States where it charted at #49 on the Hot 100.Two further singles were released, "Workaholic" and "The Magic Friend", which helped the album go on to sell 2.6 million copies worldwide.Although Ray and Anita were sceptical about the track DeCoster and Wilde wanted to push as the lead single from the act's second album, "No Limit" was released in January 1993 and the repetitive nature of the song helped it become their most successful single ever, and by far the best remembered by the general public even now. The single topped the charts in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and in the United Kingdom where it sold 532,000 copies and ended up the fourth best-seller of 1993.But despite the phenomenal success that the duo were enjoying, they were criticised heavily by the music industry and the British press dubbed them "2 Untalented". Ray and Anita were dismissed as "puppets" and the lyrical depth of their songs was questioned. However, it should be noted that both performers took an active part in writing their material and Ray's raps were cut from the UK album release, being once again deemed, in Jean-Paul DeCoster's words, "too clumsy for the British market".The No Limits album was even more successful than the first, selling in excess of 3 million copies. At the MIDEM convention, 2 Unlimited were presented with 80 platinum and gold awards from 26 different countries, as well as winning "World's Best-Selling Benelux Act" at the World Music Awards 1993.In May 1994, the duo's tenth single "The Real Thing" was released and it proved that their fans were still interested as they sent the single to no. 1 in the Netherlands and no. 6 in the UK. The title was aimed as a dig at the several other similar sounding eurodance acts who had appeared to copy the 2 Unlimited sound.Their third album, called Real Things, was instantly certified gold in the UK and 2 Unlimited became the first dance act to achieve two number one albums.Only two continental European acts have had more UK number one albums - Pavarotti and ABBA.By the end of 1994 they had sold another 322,000 singles in the UK.Whilst they were very popular all around the world, major success continued to elude 2 Unlimited in the United States. Three years after it was originally released, "Get Ready For This" started getting major radio support and charted at no. 83 on the Hot 100 in October 1994, eventually peaking at number 38.In October 1995, 2 Unlimited released their first compilation album Hits Unlimited, prompting rumours that they were about to split up. The rumours continued when Pete Waterman announced that Ray and Anita had split up when in fact they hadn't, and Ray expressed his aspirations to be a record producer. In February 1996, the band performed at the Vina del Mar International Song Festival in Chile, topping the bill alongside Ace of Base. Despite their insistence that they were planning a world tour, in April 1996 both Ray and Anita announced that 2 Unlimited was over.Anita went on to DJ for Dutch radio station Radio 538, recorded a single with reggae artist Mad Cobra and in 2000 released a solo album called Reality. Ray created his own label called X-Ray Records, which scored a Top 10 hit in the Netherlands with T.O.F.'s "Funk It Up". He also released two solo singles in 1997 which failed to chart but found more success in 1999 with the group V.I.P. Allstars. Ray now lives in Monte Carlo with his wife and his son Rayvano, and Anita continues to tour clubs as part of the group Divas of Dance. An Internet petition to reunite Ray, Anita, Jean-Paul and Phil in 2005 was unsuccessful.

As they still owned the rights to the name "2 Unlimited", DeCoster and Wilde recruited two new (again Dutch) singers, Romy van Ooijen (b. 18 November 1971) and Marjon van Iwaarden (b. 18 June 1974), in order to capitalise on previous success. "Wanna Get Up" did well in the Netherlands, reaching no. 10 and the single, which was remixed by Sash! for UK release, reached number 38.

The album II, was released in April 1998. It was not as successful as previous studio albums, nor were the subsequent singles "Edge Of Heaven" and "Never Surrender". In 1999, both Romy and Marjon left 2 Unlimited.

Having both continued to perform their old hits separately in nightclubs and university student unions around the world, the original performers Ray and Anita reunited on 11 April 2009, to perform together for the first time in 13 years at the "I Love The 90s" concert in Hasselt, Belgium.According to a radio interview with Ray, Jean-Paul DeCoster did not give permission for the duo to perform under the name 2 Unlimited; however Phil Wilde attended the gig and provided help with preparing backing tracks.

On 30 April, Ray and Anita performed five songs at the Radio 538 Queen's Day concert at Museumplein in Amsterdam.On 8 June, they were awarded "Most Popular Act of the 1990s", based on number of weeks in the Dutch Top 40, and on 25 September, they performed as a support act for Milk Inc at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp.

During an interview on Dutch television in 2009, both Ray and Anita admitted they had a relationship with each other during the era of 2 Unlimited.

On 29 December, it was announced that the duo would release a new single in 2010 called "In Da Name Of Love", as Ray & Anita. It was released as a CD single in the Netherlands through Spinnin' Records on 22 January 2010. It has so far reached number 4 on the official singles sales chart.

In addition, Romy and Marjon, the singers of the second incarnation of the band, will also release a new single at around the same time called "" Wonder why" under the guise of "2".

On 11 January, it was announced that Anita has breast cancer. She is currently undergoing treatment but has decided to continue working as much as possible.

On 13 March 2010 2 Unlimited was featured on Mtv Russia's Superdiscoteka 90s nostalgia open-air live show. All former members appeared. They performed No Limit and Tribal Dance.

On 30 April 2010, a new single was presented during the Dutch Queensday called "Still Unlimited" (still under Ray & Anita).

No comments: