Thursday, August 29, 2019

"Walk Like an Egyptian" by The Bangles

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2875
Date:  09/27/1986
Debut:  82
Peak:  1 (4 weeks)
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  The Bangles' second album, Different Light, was in a precarious position at this time. It had peaked at a solid #12 thanks to the #2 lead single "Manic Monday," but sales started to quickly slide after the second single, "If She Knew What She Wants," faltered at #29. They needed something to turn the album around and they gambled on this near-novelty track for the third single. Bolstered by a quirky video that gained favor on MTV, the song began to take off. It moved its way up the chart and eventually hit the #1 spot. The single remained there for four weeks and that combined with its weeks on the chart would end up making it Billboard's #1 Pop chart song for 1986. In addition to being the band's first #1, it would also be their first gold single. They also made chart history by being the first all-female band to reach #1 on the Pop chart (The Go-Go's came close in 1982 when "We Got the Beat" hit #2). The hit certainly did turn the album around and it rebounded up the chart to #4. Over time it would become a triple platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  I didn't hate this song, but I did think it was just plain silly (and not in a good way). I was totally shocked that it got to #1. I think the video had a lot to do with that because it was all over MTV for quite a long time. People thought it was fun and it created an Egyptian-walking/dance craze for about a nanosecond, but I didn't buy into it. I especially thought it was just too quirky for the Bangles. They had real musical chops and songwriting skills that were far better than this novelty dreck. This is a song that should have been a one-hit wonder for some fledgling artist instead of a dorky chart topper for a talented band. However, the song pushed the band's star even further in the sky and it helped get them a triple-platinum album. That's not a bad thing.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by Liam Sternberg. Inspiration for the song came from a time when Sternberg was riding a ferry and observed people struggling to walk around the deck. They would hold out their arms to try and get their balance in check and they reminded him of ancient Egyptian figures. Sternberg wrote the song in '84 and recorded a demo of it with singer Marti Jones. The tune was sent to Toni Basil to record, but she declined. New Wave performer Lena Lovich picked up the song and actually recorded it, but in the end it got shelved. The Bangles' producer David Kahne presented the song to the band after finding the demo.  2) This song has been cited as one of the first cracks that would eventually cause the collapse of the Bangles. The four women saw themselves as a unit and shared lead vocal duties on their songs. For "Walk Like an Egyptian," drummer Debbi Peterson was to take the lead. However, producer David Kahne came up with the idea to have a different member sing a verse. He had them each sing the lyrics and then assigned a verse to a member. Since there were three verses, only three members got a lead vocal part. Kahne apparently didn't like Debbi's voice and she was relegated to the background. Adding insult to injury, Kahne also decided to use a drum machine instead of having Debbi perform. Kahne freezing Debbi out of the song caused tension in the group, yet it seemed they all acquiesced and moved on. They ended up with a #1 hit, but it came at a bit of a cost.


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