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Pop Rewind: Bananarama “Cruel Summer”

Hey! Anyone remember that scene in The Karate Kid when Ralph Macchio’s character is trying to figure out the rules in a new high school, and that blond-haired kid that knows karate keeps bullying him? Remember the bouncy-but-sad song playing in the background while that’s going on? That’s how most of America originally became familiar with “Cruel Summer” by UK girl group Bananarama.

Actually, that song is a textbook example of how the movies can propel a song to fame. First released as a single in 1983, “Cruel Summer” achieved a modest amount of chart success in the UK, but didn’t become a worldwide smash until it was heard on that film—this despite the fact that Bananarama didn’t even permit it to be included on the official soundtrack. From that point, the group’s popularity continued to soar, and even though today most Americans associate Bananarama with 80’s dance-pop, in fact the group still holds the Guinness World Record as the all-female band with the most chart occurrences worldwide.

Bananarama is still officially in business, although now a duo rather than a trio (with two original members Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin). The two recently announced they are working on new material.

The interesting thing to me about Bananarama (as you’ll hear in the video) is their unique sound, formed primarily from the girls singing in unison (most vocal groups highlight their harmonies). Another point of note: the video below mistakenly places “Cruel Summer” on the group’s debut LP Deep Sea Skiving, when actually it appears on their self-titled sophomore album, released in 1984.

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About the Author


Tim Ferrar's interest in pop and rock started as a child, listening to Top-40 radio for hours on end while playing air guitar in his bedroom. Eventually air guitar led to electric guitar, and Tim began playing in bands and writing his own songs. With an admitted weakness for "a great hook or a great guitar riff," Tim's musical tastes are broad and varied, ranging from Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga on the pop side to Bon Jovi and Foo Fighters on the rock side- making him the ideal guy to cover our Rock and Pop categories. By day, Tim is a mild-mannered accountant in Chicago. By night, he rocks out on electric guitar in a cover band in various clubs around town- much to the surprise of some of his clients.

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Posted in: Pop Music


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