King Of The Jungle

Album: Bananarama (1984)

Songfacts®:

  • The most well-known song from Bananarama's second album is the smash hit "Cruel Summer," but the girls had more serious matters on their mind than a summertime breakup and wanted more of their songs to reflect heavier issues. "King Of The Jungle" is dedicated to their close friend Thomas "Kidso" Reilly, a 22-year-old road manager who was fatally shot in the back by a British soldier during a conflict known as The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Bananarama's Siobhan Fahey, who was dating Reilly's brother, Stiff Little Fingers drummer Jim Reilly, explained to Smash Hits in 1984: "The song is about how ridiculous it is that 18-year-old boys are given guns and are endorsed by the government to go out and kill people." The lyrics explore how the title figure is patiently waiting for someone to kill. Even though he knows it's wrong, he's willing to do what it takes to improve his standing: "He's working harder, gotta make another, make another martyr."

    The group was disgusted by the media's fascination with the famous people at Reilly's funeral rather than the injustice of his murder (the soldier responsible was sentenced to life in prison, but was released after serving nearly two years). The tragedy made the group take a hard look at their image. "I felt silly being in a pop group," said Fahey. "I felt like I was wasting my life and that I should be doing something worthwhile."
  • Reilly's death was also one of the inspirations behind the Spandau Ballet song "Through The Barricades."

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