Walk Like an Egyptian
||It has been suggested that Gehn wie ein Ägypter be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since June 2013.|
|"Walk Like an Egyptian"|
1986 cover art
|Single by The Bangles|
|from the album Different Light|
|B-side||"Angels Don't Fall in Love"
"Not Like You"
|Released||August 28, 1986|
|Format||7" single, 12" maxi|
|Recorded||Sunset Sound Factory (1985)|
|The Bangles singles chronology|
Liam Sternberg wrote the song after seeing people on a ferry walking awkwardly to keep their balance, which reminded him of figures in Ancient Egyptian reliefs. The opening lyrics state, "All the old paintings on the tombs/They do the sand dance don't you know". The reference to the sand dance possibly refers to a music hall routine performed by Wilson, Keppel and Betty where Wilson and Keppel danced around in the postures portrayed on the reliefs wearing the fez while Betty watched.
By January 1984, Sternberg was finished cutting a demo version of the song with Marti Jones singing the lyric. He offered his song to Toni Basil, who turned it down. From Peer Southern Publishing, David Kahne, the producer of Different Light, received a copy of the demo and liked it, especially Jones's "offhand quality". Kahne took the song to the Bangles who agreed to record it. He had each member of the group sing the lyrics to determine who would sing each verse, with Vicki Peterson, Michael Steele, and Susanna Hoffs singing lead vocals on the first, second, and third verses, respectively, in the final version. Kahne did not like any of Debbi Peterson's leads, and so she was relegated to backing vocals. This angered Debbi and caused tension within the group, as she felt the rest of the band was not supportive. The situation was exacerbated by the drumming in the song being done by a drum machine instead of by her, further diminishing her role in the song.
"Walk Like an Egyptian" was released as the third single from Different Light. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1986. The song reached a peak of number three on the UK Singles Chart in November 1986 and reached number one in the U.S. on December 20, staying at the top of the Hot 100 for four weeks, carrying it over into January 1987. The song is the first song by an all-female group playing (mostly) their own instruments to top the Billboard singles chart. The success of the song and "Manic Monday" propelled Different Light to number two on the Billboard 200 chart, making it the group's most successful album.
On the American Top 40 Top 100 of 1987 radio show, host Casey Kasem reported the song was added to the album as a joke, to which he added, "Some joke. Here's the punchline: The Bangles' sand dance of the ancient pharaohs walks away with the pyramid prize of the year!" contrasting how the song was added to the album with how popular it became, as it topped the year-end Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, which is the chart the American Top 40 was using at the time.
The song was also the Bangles' last non-cover Top 40 hit that wasn't co-written by at least one band member. Subsequent charted singles (with the exception of "Hazy Shade of Winter", which is a cover) were co-written by Susanna Hoffs and Debbi Peterson.
The music video for "Walk Like an Egyptian" was nominated for Best Group Video in the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards. It featured people dancing in a pose similar to the pose depicted in the Ancient Egyptian reliefs that inspired songwriter Liam Sternberg; while most of them are ordinary people, some famous figures were depicted dancing in that same pose through the use of simple special effects, like Lady Diana and Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In a popular scene from the video, Hoffs was filmed in a close-up where her eyes moved from side to side, looking left and right. When asked about the scene in an interview with online magazine PlanetOut.com, Hoffs explained that she was actually looking at individual audience members during the video shoot, which took place with a live audience. Looking directly at individual audience members was a technique she used to overcome stage fright, and she was unaware that the camera had a close-up on her while she was employing this technique, switching between one audience member on her left and one on her right.
In 1990, "Walk Like an Egyptian" was re-issued as a single in the UK to promote the Bangles' Greatest Hits album. It featured new remixes for the song called Ozymandias Remix. With the group having parted ways by then, little promotion was made and it charted at a poor #73 in the UK.
In 1987, the German rock band Die Ärzte covered the song in the German language as Geh'n wie ein Ägypter, which was released as a single and was placed on the compilation album Ist das alles? (13 Höhepunkte mit den Ärzten). In 1988, The Chipettes covered the song for the album The Chipmunks and The Chipettes: Born to Rock. The Norwegian band Bjelleklang covered it in 1991 as "Kamel fra Lillestrøm" on their first album "Dæng Dæng". In 2000, the German pop singer Jasmin Wagner also covered the song in the German version as Geh'n wie ein Ägypter, which was released on her fourth studio album Die Welt gehört Dir. In 2007, on their album The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo, the European all-girl vocal harmony group (similar to those of the 1940s) The Puppini Sisters covered the song.
Clear Channel memorandum
"Walk Like an Egyptian" was one of the songs deemed inappropriate by Clear Channel following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Charts and sales
End of year charts
"The Way It Is" by Bruce Hornsby
|Hot 100 Airplay
List of number-one Hot 100 Airplay hits
December 27, 1986 – January 17, 1987
"Shake You Down" by Gregory Abbott
"In the Army Now" by Status Quo
|German number-one single
December 19, 1986 – January 9, 1987
"Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)" by Mel & Kim
"The Way It Is" by Bruce Hornsby and the Range
|Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
December 20, 1986 - January 10, 1987
"Shake You Down" by Gregory Abbott
"Funkytown" by Pseudo Echo
"You Keep Me Hangin' On" by Kim Wilde
|Australian (ARIA) number-one single
February 9, 1987
February 23, 1987
"You Keep Me Hangin' On" by Kim Wilde
- BBC Liverpool article on the Empire Theatre where Wilson, Keppel and Betty performed regularly
- Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits (5 ed.). Random House Digital. p. 656. ISBN 0-8230-7677-6.
- Classic Tracks: The Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian"
- http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/unfit-for-aunties-airwaves-the-artists-censored-by-the-bbc-765106.html Unfit for Auntie's airwaves: The artists censored by the BBC, The Independent, 14 December 2007
- Stichting Nederlandse Top 40, 500 Nr. 1 hits uit de Top 40, Page 234, 9023009444
- Billboard.com The Bangles album chart history Accessed: November 4, 2006
- "1987 MTV Video Music Awards". MTV. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- Jenny Stewart (2009-08-08). "PlanetOut Talks to Susanna Hoffs". Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- Murphy, Heather. "It's the End of the World as Clear Channel Knows It - Slate Magazine". Slate.com. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
- Australian No.1's Accessed: September 13, 2009
- "Bangles – Walk Like an Egyptian – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
- "Ultratop.be – Bangles – Walk Like an Egyptian" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
- "Walk like an Egyptian in Canada Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Lescharts.com – Bangles – Walk Like an Egyptian" (in French). Les classement single.
- "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
- IrishCharts.ie Irish chart search (Accessed: November 2, 2006)
- "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: B". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
- "Nederlandse Top 40 – Bangles search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
- "Charts.org.nz – Bangles – Walk Like an Egyptian". Top 40 Singles.
- John Samson. "Walk like an Egyptian". Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
- "Bangles – Walk Like an Egyptian – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart.
- Everyhit.co.uk UK Top 40 database Accessed: November 4, 2006
- allmusic.com The Bangles singles chart history Accessed: November 4, 2006
- "Single top 100 over 1986" (PDF) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
- "Single top 100 over 1987" (PDF) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
- BPI.co.uk Certification "Walk Like an Egyptian" Accessed: November 4, 2006
- NVPI.nl Dutch certification database Accessed November 4, 2006
Additional sources used:
- Allmusic song review
- Jay Warner, On This Day in Music History: Over 2000 Popular Music Facts Covering Every Day of the Year Hal Leonard 2004 ISBN 0-634-06693-5 pages 272, 321, 356