Walk Like an Egyptian

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"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 September 1, 1986
Format 7" single, 12" maxi
Recorded Sunset Sound Factory (1985)
Genre Pop rock[1][2]
Length 3:24
Label Columbia
Bangle-a-lang Music
Writer(s) Liam Sternberg
Producer(s) David Kahne
The Bangles singles chronology
"If She Knew What She Wants"
(1986)
"Walk Like an Egyptian"
(1986)
"Walking Down Your Street"
(1987)

"Everything I Wanted"
(1990)

"Walk Like An Egyptian (remix)"
(1990)

"The Eternal Mix"
(1990)
Alternative cover
1990 reissue cover

"Walk Like an Egyptian" is a number-one hit from the album Different Light by The Bangles in 1986.

Origin[edit]

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.[3]

Recording[edit]

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.[4] 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".[4] 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 Peterson 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.[2] (Peterson can be seen playing the tambourine during their 1986 performance on The Old Grey Whistle Test.[5])

Chart performances[edit]

"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 US 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.[6] 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.[7]

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.

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Walk Like an Egyptian" was nominated for Best Group Video in the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards.[8] The street scenes were filmed in New York City. 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 and objects were depicted dancing in that same pose through the use of simple special effects, like Lady Diana, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and the Statue of Liberty. 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.[9]

1990 re-release[edit]

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 number 73 in the UK.

Censorship[edit]

"Walk Like an Egyptian" was one of the songs deemed inappropriate by Clear Channel following the September 11, 2001 attacks.[10]

The song was on a "list of records to be avoided" drawn up by the BBC during the Gulf War, along with "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)", "Boom Bang-a-Bang" and "Sailing".[11]

Accolades[edit]

Year Publisher Country Accolade Rank
1986 Hot Press Ireland "Singles of the Year" (20)[12] 4
1986 The Village Voice United States "Singles of the Year" (25)[13] 16
2003 Giannis Petridis Greece "2004 of the Best Songs of the Century"[14] *
2003 Paul Morley United Kingdom "Greatest Pop Single of All Time"[15] *
2003 Pause & Play United States "Vault Of Fame" (Songs)[16] *
2005 Bruce Pollock United States "The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000"[14] *
2009 Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé France "3000 Rock Classics"[14] *
2009 Radio Veronica Netherlands "Best Of The 80's" (100)[17] 99

(*) indicates the list is unordered.

Track listings[edit]

Charts and sales[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"Funkytown" by Pseudo Echo
"You Keep Me Hangin' On" by Kim Wilde
Australian number-one single
February 9, 1987 (1 week)
February 23, 1987 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"You Keep Me Hangin' On" by Kim Wilde
Preceded by
"Don't Leave Me This Way" by The Communards with Sarah Jane Morris
Belgian Ultratop 50 Flanders number-one single
December 27, 1986 – January 10, 1987 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Suburbia" by Pet Shop Boys
Belgian VRT Top 30 Flanders number-one single (first run)
December 27, 1986 – January 3, 1987 (2 weeks)
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
December 6, 1986 – January 10, 1987 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)" by Mel & Kim
Single Top 100 number-one single
December 13, 1986 – December 27, 1986 (3 weeks)
Preceded by
"In the Army Now" by Status Quo
German number-one single
December 22, 1986 – January 12, 1987 (4 weeks)
Preceded by
"Suburbia" by Pet Shop Boys
Belgian VRT Top 30 Flanders number-one single (second run)
January 17, 1987 (1 week)
Preceded by
"Everybody Have Fun Tonight" by Wang Chung
Canadian RPM number-one single
January 24, 1987 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Can't Help Falling in Love" by Corey Hart
Preceded by
"The Way It Is" by Bruce Hornsby & the Range
US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
December 20, 1986 – January 10, 1987 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Shake You Down" by Gregory Abbott
US Billboard Hot 100 Airplay number-one single
December 20, 1986 – January 10, 1987 (4 weeks)
US Cash Box number-one single
December 20, 1986 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Everybody Have Fun Tonight" by Wang Chung
Preceded by
"The Lady in Red" by Chris de Burgh
South African number-one single
January 24, 1987 – February 14, 1987 (4 weeks)
Preceded by
"Shake You Down" by Gregory Abbott
Spanish number-one single
April 18, 1987 – May 9, 1987 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Multimix" by The Communards
Preceded by
"That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne & Friends
1986
US Billboard Hot 100 best-selling single of the year
1987
Succeeded by
"Faith" by George Michael
1988

References[edit]

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Alter, Gaby (September 1, 2009). "Classic Tracks: The Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian"". Mix Online. Retrieved February 15, 2014. The Bangles add grit with rock 'n' roll bass and guitars, and sweetness with deadpan pop vocals. 
  3. ^ "Variety Shows". BBC Online. Retrieved February 15, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits (5 ed.). Random House Digital. p. 656. ISBN 0-8230-7677-6. 
  5. ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test Vol. 3 (DVD). BBC Video. 2006. 
  6. ^ Stichting Nederlandse Top 40, 500 Nr. 1 hits uit de Top 40, Page 234, 9023009444
  7. ^ "Bangles – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved February 15, 2014. 
  8. ^ "1987 Video Music Awards". MTV. Viacom International. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  9. ^ Stewart, Jenny (August 8, 2009). PlanetOut Talks to Susanna Hoffs at the Wayback Machine (archived August 12, 2009). PlanetOut.com. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  10. ^ Murphy, Heather (September 17, 2001). "It's the End of the World as Clear Channel Knows It". Slate. The Slate Group. Retrieved October 16, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Unfit for Auntie's airwaves: The artists censored by the BBC". The Independent. December 14, 2007. Retrieved February 15, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Hot Press Albums Of The Year 1986: The Critics’ Choice". Hot Press. Rocklist.net. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Village Voice - Pazz & Jop Lists > 1986: Singles". The Village Voice. Rocklist.net. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
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  17. ^ "Radio Veronica". Radio Veronica. Rocklist.net. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
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  19. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Bangles – Walk Like An Egyptian" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved February 15, 2014.
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  31. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (B)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  32. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
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  34. ^ "Archive Chart: 1986-11-15" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved February 15, 2014.
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  36. ^ CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending DECEMBER 20, 1986 at the Wayback Machine (archived October 2, 2012). Cash Box magazine. Retrieved February 15, 2014.
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  50. ^ "British single certifications – Bangles – Walk Like an Egyptian". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Walk Like an Egyptian in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go
  51. ^ "American single certifications – Bangles – Walk Like an Egyptian". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH

Additional sources used:

External links[edit]