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It’s a “Cruel Summer” With the 80s Girl Group Bananarama

It’s #SongLyricsSunday! Today’s prompt is to find a song or lyrics with the words “Brutal”, “Cruel”, “Frenzy”, “Savage”, “Violent” in it. So, I choose the word “cruel” because tomorrow is the first day of summer, and summers in Japan are SUPER cruel. I am crying as I type this because I am not ready for the severe humidity (it is about 80% here) and the high temperatures. Just last week, as I went to work at 8:30 am, I broke into a sweat about five minutes after leaving my apartment because the humidity was super high that day. Summers are really cruel here in Japan.

To celebrate (or to commiserate) the start of the cruel summer season here in Japan, I choose the 80s song “Cruel Summer” by one of my favorite 80s girl groups Bananarama. Let’s dive into the song’s background and also listen to other versions and covers of this classic 80s pop tune!

It’s a Cruel, Cruel Summer

Bananarama during the filiming of "Cruel Summer"

“Cruel Summer” was released on June 27, 1983 by Bananarama. It was one of the group’s earliest top ten hits and was made before they were making music with the legendary 80s producer trio Stock, Aiken, and Waterman (SAW). The song was written by the members (Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey, and Keren Woodward) with Steve Jolley and Tony Swain. According to Sara Dailin, the song plays “on the darker side (of summer): it looked at the oppressive heat, the misery of wanting to be with someone as the summer ticked by.”[1]

Although the single reached #8 on the UK Singles Chart when it was originally released, it had a very hard time getting traction internationally. They performed it anywhere and everywhere as they were struggling to become popular and making money in other countries. They even performed it at a beauty contest in Hawaii. However, when the song was featured in the iconic 80s film Karate Kid, it became a top ten hit on the US Billboard charts. “Cruel Summer”‘s number one success was in South Africa as it reached #3 on that country’s charts.

It was a huge hit in the US. I’ll always remember coming out of our hotel in LA when we first became famous and seeing Mike Tyson sitting there. He burst into Cruel Summer when he saw us. It was unbelievable. Summer songs do that to people. When the sun’s out, anything goes.

Sara Dailian on how the song became a hit in the US [1]

“Cruel Summer” was remixed in 1989 to feature a new jack swing makeover. It also features Dallin and Woodward’s vocals as a duo. The song has been covered over the years with the most notable cover was by Ace of Base in 1998.

Although I am more of a SAW-era Bananarama fan (My favorite song will always be “I Heard a Rumour”), “Cruel Summer” does have some merits with its dark synth vibes, the summery motifs in the lyrics (with the heartbreak and heat), and the splendid, harmonious vocals by the group members. How about you, what do you think about the song? Listen to the song below and let me know what you think in the comments!

About the Music Video

[It] was just an excuse to get us to the fabled city of New York for the first time, It was August, over one hundred degrees. Our HQ was a tavern under the Brooklyn Bridge, which had a ladies’ room with a chipped mirror where we had to do our makeup.

After an exhausting morning shooting in the city in brutal August heat, we returned to the tavern for lunch. We made the acquaintance of some local dockworkers, who, upon learning of their situation, shared vials of cocaine with us. That was our lunch. When you watch that video, we look really tired and miserable in the scenes we shot before lunch, and then the after-lunch shots are all euphoric and manic.

Sara Dailian on the music video’s shooting in New York City[2]

Other Versions

Here are other versions and covers of the song. By the way, did you know the song is called “Chigireta Heart” (ちぎれたハート; Torn Heart) in Japan?

Here is “Cruel Summer ’89”:

Here is a cover version by the Swedish pop group Ace of Base that was released in 1998:

Amy Lee and Troy McLawhorn of Evanescence covered the song last year at home for MagentaMusik 360:

Lyrics for “Cruel Summer”

Hot summer streets and the pavements are burning, I sit around
Trying to smile, but the air is so heavy and dry

Strange voices are saying (What did they say?)
Things I can’t understand
It’s too close for comfort, this heat has got right out of hand

It’s a cruel (Cruel), cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel (It’s a cruel), cruel summer
Now you’re gone

The city is crowded, my friends are away and I’m on my own
It’s too hot to handle so I got to get up and go

It’s a cruel (Cruel), cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel (It’s a cruel), cruel summer
Now you’re gone

You’re not the only one

It’s a cruel (Cruel), cruel summer
(Leaving me) Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel (It’s a cruel), cruel summer
Now you’re gone

It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Now you’re gone

You’re not the only one

It’s a cruel (Cruel), cruel summer
(Leaving me) Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel (It’s a cruel), cruel summer
Now you’re gone

You’re not the only one

It’s a cruel (Cruel), cruel summer
(Leaving me) Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel (It’s a cruel), cruel summer

The Rules for #SongLyricsSunday

(This challenge is currently hosted by the generous Jim Adams.)

Anyone can participate in #SongLyricsSunday, even if you aren’t a music blogger! If you want to participate, here are the rules:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Pingback to this post will eventually work, as long as you are being patient, but you can also place your link in the comments if you don’t like to wait.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Have fun and enjoy the music.

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It's a "Cruel Summer" With the 80s Girl Group Bananarama


[1] Rogers, Jude. “What Makes a Great Summer Pop Hit?” The Guardian, 25 Nov. 2017,

[2] Marks, Craig; Tannenbaum, Rob (2011). I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. New York, NY: Dutton. p. 271.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Jeff Cann

    Ace of Base does such interesting things vocally. I was interested in hearing their version (disappointing – barely distinguishable from the Bananarara version). I was a huge Bananarama fan in the 80s – to the extent that I still think of Under the Boardwalk as their song and not the Drifters. Great selection.

  2. Jim Adams

    Bananarama is such a fun group and I love this song Amy. I didn’t realize that there were so many covers of this song.

  3. Janis

    Grew up listening to Bananarama because of my teen aunts who loved them!
    Love this song!

  4. Joline

    I grew up listening to them! They have such catchy songs. I will have this song in my head for weeks LOL.

  5. Aimee AMALA

    My sister is a lot older than me and an 80′ kid. I love this song she used to listen to them a lot. Great post! Thanks for the nostalgic memories.

  6. Stephanie

    I didn’t realize summers in Japan are so similar to south Texas summers. It’s incredibly hot here, too. I’ve always loved Evanescence and didn’t know they covered the song.

  7. Neely Moldovan

    In high school I worked at Old Navy one summer and I swear they played this song on repeat!

  8. John

    Absolutely tune this. Loved it back then and it’s just brought back memories now. Thank you!!

  9. Sondra Barker

    Wow! This post brought me down memory lane, I grew up listening to this song!

  10. yeah! This is a good group that I have enjoying their songs, totally love this sharing here. cheers, siennylovesdrawing

  11. Dominique

    I remember this song. I didn’t know about all the cover either. I like the original best — the tone seems to fit the song better! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Dipika Singh

    Oh yes, I have heard Bananarama a couple of times, great quirky music. Also found other numbers from them today, thanks.

  13. Fransic verso

    Great song, looking at the picture and going through old memories haha. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Marjie Mare

    That is such a good one to reminisce on. Thanks for sharing.

  15. alita pacio

    I’m a fan of this song. I love how they tried hard and slowly gained success over international recognition. Also, I have been reading your blog for a while but I just knew that you live in Japan too. I am not looking forward to the humidity, even today was humid and I know it`s going to get worse soon.

  16. Kenneth

    As an 80’s batch or baby maybe I can relate a bit here and honestly I must say its a good post to share with co-80’s babies hahaha, thanks for this as it brings back memories!

  17. knycx journeying

    Bananarama is a very iconic girl group and they have so many classics. Thanks a lot for sharing about their music to the modern day world who didn’t get the joy from their music yet! – Knycx Journeying

  18. mel

    I really like Bananarama, they had some great songs including this one, perfect for the summer!

  19. mel

    I really like Bananarama, they had some great songs including this one ofcourse, perfect for the summer!

  20. Candle

    You are so gifted in music! Ironically I’ve been bing watching Cruel Summer on Hulu and I couldn’t remember how I knew this title. This post! I loved this song as a kid. Thanks for reintroducing me to it.

  21. Khushboo

    This group is really beautiful I really love listening to it.

  22. My Kitchen

    Never heard of them because I was born in the late 90s but reading the lyrics makes me think that the people who grew up in the 80s really enjoyed the group’s music.

  23. I can’t believe I forgot Bananarama originally sang this song. Now I really only hear the Ace of Base cover. Either way, I am fine. I love the song no matter who sings it.

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