Why Bananarama, the singers of “Cruel Summer,” Haven’t Heard Taylor Swift’s Same-Named Song Yet (Exclusive)


In 1984, the British pop act Bananarama’s original “Cruel Summer” became their breakout U.S. smash.

Bananarama’s Keren Woodward (L) and Sara Dallin (R). Pictured: Alma Rosaz

Four years after making its debut on Taylor Swift’s 2019 album Lover, the enormously successful synthpop ballad “Cruel Summer” soared to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 last October. She is not the only performer, though, who has penned a popular song with that poignant title. Six years even Swift was born, in 1983, the renowned British pop duo Bananarama released their own “Cruel Summer” hit. They deserve the distinction.

Although co-founders and co-singers Bananarama, Keren Wood and Sara Dallin, are aware of Swift’s new hit song (which has entirely different lyrics from Bananarama’s song), they admitted to PEOPLE in a recent conversation that they haven’t heard it yet.

Isn’t that a fantastic title? When questioned about the Swift song, Dallin answers.

Woodward continues, “I have to admit that I haven’t been paying attention to it.” I’ve listened to a good number of her tunes, but there was something about that one that kept calling out to me. However, I haven’t. I must be among the select few.

“Cruel Summer,” now regarded as one of Bananarama’s hallmark songs, became the band’s first U.S. top-ten smash after it was featured on the 1984 soundtrack for the Karate Kid movie. Along with composers Steve Jolley plus Tony Swain, Woodward, Dallin, and former member Sina Fahey co-wrote the song.
Dallin remarks, “We really enjoyed the imaginative work that Jolley and Swain did.” They produced a preliminary backing track, over which we composed the lyrics and melody.

She goes on, “We just kind of made it pretty big at that moment, so it consisted of our friends.” We’re doing a ton of promotion because we’ve been on Bottom of the Pops. We were accustomed to taking our short yearly vacation, but due to our heavy schedule of promotions, we were unable to go. We were just whining about how we couldn’t go on vacation like all of our pals were, and how hot it is in London, New York, or any other place. That served as some sort of motivation for it.

We’ve been moaning for forty years, says Woodward in jest. It sounds like half-laughing, half-groaning.

The trio of Woodward, Dallin, and Fahey was seen dancing in public and taking in the scenery for the “Cruel Summer” video, which was shot in New York City. Forty years later, Dallin and Wood still remember it with fondness.

In 1983, Bananarama featured Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin, and Siobhan Fahey (L-R). PICTURE ALLIANCE WITH FRYDERYK GABOWICZ VIA GETTY

We associate certain locations with specific tunes, obviously with the United States,” adds Woodward.It was remarkable that “Cute Summer” became a hit with us in the United States. It’s as if you exclaimed, “Oh God, we made it.” Even if we’d achieved success in many other nations in addition to this one [the UK], that one is kind of the major one. And when we initially traveled to New York to shoot the film, it was really exciting for me to see your area.

I mean, it almost feels like the song is about America, especially with Dallin’s addition to the song. You people have truly taken it to heart.

“Cruel Summer” has remained popular forty years after it was first released, thanks to its 1998 cover by Ace of Base and its incorporation into a number of films and television programs, including Romy and Michele’s Junior High Reunion, Cobra Kai, and The American Horror Story.

According to Dallin, “They just adore it exceedingly and play it constantly and request for it to be in Youtube things and movies and movies,” which is fantastic. The marimba-accompanied little song was truly unique and unusual. I’m not sure what captivated people’s attention, but it did, and it remained impressive over time. It’s simply timeless.

Over the years, Bananarama’s live set has included this song frequently. It is quite likely that the duo will play it during their next three-night engagement at London’s Palladium theater, which begins on April 3. The group’s most recent greatest hits compilation, Glorious, which includes singles like “Venus,” “I Heard a Rumor,” “Love in the First Degree,” and of course “Cruel Summer,” spans their legendary ’80s output and beyond. The gigs coincide with this collection.

According to Woodward, “there’s this deep affection for the ’80s.” “I believe that each group has its own uniqueness, and you can tell right away who is speaking.” Although there is a lot of amazing music these days, I think it was less standardized in the 1980s, perhaps because everyone was free to experiment and express themselves.

We’re going to do shows today, and when you look out, you think, ‘They seem a little too young for us,’ she says. Then, they are familiar with every song. They are fully versed in every song’s lyrics. All it is is the decade that refuses to die. It’s outstanding.


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