Cruel Summer

Album: Bananarama (1983)
Charted: 8 9


  • In this song, the singer finds herself alone in a hot city, as her boyfriend has left. For her, it's a cruel summer. Like most tracks on the album, the song was written by the the three group members - Sarah Dallin, Siobhan Fahey and Keren Woodward - and their producers, Steve Jolley and Tony Swain.
  • This did well when it was released in the UK in 1983, but it wasn't a hit in the US until 1984, when it was used in the movie The Karate Kid. The group had four Top 10 UK hits to that point, but "Cruel Summer" was their first to make an impact in America. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • From the Beach Boys' "Surfin' U.S.A." to Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime," certain songs work best in the summer. Sara Dallin of Bananarama told The Guardian July 22, 2009: "The best summer songs remind you of your youth: what you did in your holidays, how it felt when you first kissed a boy, going away without your parents."

    She added that this song "played on the darker side: it looked at the oppressive heat, the misery of wanting to be with someone as the summer ticked by. We've all been there!"
  • Directed by Brian Simmons, the video was shot in New York City, primarily because the group had never been there and wanted to go. In the video, somehow the girls end up in a truck on the run from the law. As they're pursued, they get away by throwing banana peels at the sheriff, because they're Bananarama. Later, they go to a rooftop party where they dance with the officers that were pursuing them.

    For the shoot, they used a tavern in Brooklyn as their base camp, which is where they first discovered cocaine. Siobhan Fahey recalled in the book I Want My MTV: "When we repaired to the tavern for lunch, we met a bunch of dockworkers. They were intrigued by us and started chatting, and they all had these little vials of coke. I'd never done coke - I was aware of its existence, but I didn't know anybody who could afford it. We were exhausted and they gave us very generous bumps. 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."
  • Ace of Base recorded a cover version in 1998 that hit #8 in the UK and #10 in the US. It was the last big US hit for the Swedish pop group.
  • In 1989, this was released as "Cruel Summer '89" with a hip-hop beat. This version hit UK #19.
  • Dallin recalled to The Guardian: "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."
  • Blestenation did a rap mix off of this song with the singer Diana that was featured on the movie Blue Crush and appears on its soundtrack. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Nessie - Danville, VA
  • In addition to The Karate Kid, this song also appeared in the movies Fraternity Vacation (1985) and Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997), as well as the "K.I.T.T. vs. K.A.R.R." episode of the TV show Knight Rider.
  • In a nod to The Karate Kid, this was used in the 2019 season 2 finale of the Netflix series Cobra Kai, which follows the main characters from the movie. The version used on the show is a cover by Kari Kimmel.
  • 2020 was indeed a cruel summer as the coronavirus pandemic canceled concerts and left us socially distanced. Evanescence covered the song during this time, putting it together from quarantine. "So many songs have taken on a new and deeper meaning during this time, and that's one of them for me," lead singer Amy Lee said.

Comments: 8

  • Tr from Fernandina Beach, Fl.'Vicki from Osteen, Fl' - You aren't the only one who thought that was a bad choice of words. I've always been puzzled by it. Generally if the air is said to be heavy, it is extremely humid!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 16th 1984, Bananarama performed "Robert DeNiro's Waiting" and "Cruel Summer" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    May 20th was the last day on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart for "Robert DeNiro's Waiting"; that was at position #95 and it had spent two weeks on the chart, the first week it was at #96...
    But in their native England on March 25th, 1984 it peaked at #3 for two weeks…
    While the following month on July 15th "Cruel Summer" entered the Top 100 at position #76; ten weeks later on September 23rd it would peak at #9 for one week...
    Between 1982 and 1989 the British female trio had eleven Top 100 records; three made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, a covered version of the Shocking Blues' "Venus", it was #1* for one week on August 31st, 1986...
    * On February 1st, 1970 the Shocking Blues' original version of "Venus" also peaked at #1 for one week.
  • Vicki from Osteen, FlOK, this may sound rather picky, being my first post and all, but I always wondered about those lyrics, "The air is so heavy and dry." Now, how in the world can that be? If the air was dry, what would it be heavy *with*? Guess that's why I'm not a poet.
  • Megan from Stevenson, AlHA!!! Reminds me of the Karate Kid! <3 Great song!
  • Mike from Hastings, NeThe song was also featured as the theme tune to the first series of UK channel Trouble's reality show of the same name, where a group of young adults were sent off to a holiday camp, only to be tortured and humiliated in an attempt to win a large sum of money.
  • Linc from Beaumont, TxI believe Ace of Bace did a cover of wasn't very good, but then neither was they!
  • Reza from Shiraz, Irana cool song from a cool band. i loved them when i was 16. i still listen 2 them and get excited. reza kiania iran
  • Nessie from Danville, VaBlestenation did a rap mix with this song with singer Diana for the Blue Crush Soundtrack
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