Let the beat control your body folks – there’s no limit – are you ready for this?
Dutch dance duo 2 Unlimited formed in 1991 with Ray Slijngaard and Anita Doth, both born in 1971. They were signed to Pete Waterman‘s PWL Continental record label and began life with songwriters Jean-Paul De Coster and Phil Wilde, who released the single “Don’t Miss The Party Line” under the name of Bizz Nizz in 1990. The song was a top ten hit across Europe and later that year, the two wrote the song “Get Ready For This”. They chose not to release the song themselves, but this time lend it elsewhere.
Ray had been a vocalist on the Bizz Nizz follow up song “Money, Money” and was also friends with club singer Anita back in Amsterdam. They soon formed a performing duo and picked the name 2 Unlimited. The pair released “Get Ready For This” in September 1991 and it quickly became a huge hit the world over, reaching No.2 in the UK and No.38 in America. Wilde and DeCoster had a busy 1991, also co-writing the song “I Guess I Like It Like That” with Kylie Minogue, which featured on her album “Let’s Get To It” and was later released under the title “Keep On Pumpin’ It Up” with ‘The Visionmasters’ (whoever they were). The song samples “Get Ready For This”, so the pair were really cashing in on this!
From that moment, 2 Unlimited were unstoppable, notching up ten top ten hits over the next three years. Their follow up, “Twilight Zone”, came in January 1992 and matched “Get Ready For This'” chart position in the UK as well as topping the singles chart in The Netherlands. Two more singles came that year with “Workaholic” and “The Magic Friend” both going top ten across Europe. The duo’s ‘limit’ came at the beginning of 1993 with their fifth release, “No Limit”. The song became and remains their signature tune and went on to top the charts in sixteen countries worldwide, selling more than three million copies. It was held off the top spot by Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” in many countries for a number of weeks, before it could claim the top, thus ensuring big sales, even before its eventual peak.
For the next eighteen months, Ray and Anita dominated the charts with follow up singles “Tribal Dance”, “Faces” and “Maximum Overdrive” in 1993, “Let The Beat Control Your Body”, “The Real Thing” and “No One” in 1994, and “Here I Go” and “Nothing Like The Rain” in 1995, confirmed in their “Hits Unlimited” retrospective later that year. But despite this unprecedented run of success, following the release of “Jump For Joy” in 1996, Ray and Anita announced that it was all over. Arguments over creative input as well as tensions between them had lead to a refusal to carry on. But Phil and Jean-Paul, who still owned the name ‘2 Unlimited’, were not done yet! They simply recruited two new performers, Romy van Ooijen (b.1971) and Marjon van Iwaarden (b.1974), and carried on!
The ‘new 2 Unlimited’ released the single “Wanna Get Up” in 1998, but although it was a top ten success in The Netherlands, it flopped everywhere else. Two further singles came in 1998, “Edge Of Heaven” and “Never Surrender”, but following both’s abysmal performance, 2 Unlimited did indeed ‘surrender’, indefinitely. A number of repackaged hits collection then swamped the market for the rest of the century and into the next, before Ray and Anita reunited in 2009 for the first time in thirteen years. Even this caused controversy as their performance as ‘2 Unlimited’ was not authorised! Permission had not been given by Wilde/DeCoster to use the name, however, an agreement was made whereby DeCoster attended the gig and gave help ‘preparing backing tracks’!
Ray and Anita recorded a brand new track, “In Da Name Of Love”, in 2010 under the name of Ray & Anita and followed this with “Still Unlimited”. They re-released new versions of “Get Ready For This” and “No Limit” in 2013 and 2014 respectively, but in 2016, Anita quit the band seeking a solo career of her own accord. To this day, Ray continues, with Jean-Paul DeCoster with the project along with replacement singer Kim Vergouwen. The pair tour extensively and appear at 90’s reunion gigs where they are met with enormous applause. Apparently, Anita has given her total backing to her replacement and has called her “worthy”. Anita has primarily been a guest artist on a number of Euro dance hits, most recently on “Take Me to Your Rhythm” in 2018, with a certain Mr. Phil Wilde…!