One of the earliest Bangles tracks, "The Real World" was part of a 5-song EP the band released after signing with Miles Copeland's I.R.S. Records. It didn't make much impact, but did help get the band signed to the major label Columbia Records (Copeland remained their manager), which issued their first album in 1984. Two years later, they became one of the biggest acts on the label, thanks to their album Different Light.
The Bangles and a few other Los Angeles acts, Rain Parade and The Dream Syndicate among them, referred to themselves as part of the "Paisley Underground," a moniker that helped music journalists describe their sound, which didn't fit the New Wave or rock stylings. This song exemplifies the genre, with a jangly guitar and '60s-style reverb reminiscent of The Byrds or early Beatles.
The first Bangles music video was for this song. A mix of performance and candid footage, it's clearly going for a '60s feel, with the group dressed in vintage duds. Susanna Hoffs sang lead in the track, but screen time is shared equally among the four band members, something that became harder to do later in the decade as Hoffs became the focal point.
Bangles guitarists Susanna Hoffs and Vicki Peterson
wrote this song. Young love is often dismissed by elders as "not real," but the girl in this song believes she has found it right here in the real world.
This is one of the few Bangles tracks bassist Annette Zilinskas played on; she left the group soon after, replaced by Michael Steele.
Rain Parade covered this on a 2018 compilation called 3 x 4, where four Paisley Underground groups - Rain Parade, Bangles, The Dream Syndicate and The Three O'Clock - cover each others' songs.