Cruel Summer (song)

"Cruel Summer" is a song recorded by the English girl group Bananarama. It was written by Steve Jolley, Tony Swain and Bananarama and produced by Swain and Jolley. Released as a single in 1983, it was initially a stand-alone single but was subsequently included on their self-titled second album which was released a year later, thus it is considered the album's first single. The song reached number eight on the UK Singles Chart in 1983, and after its inclusion in the 1984 film The Karate Kid it reached number nine on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

"Cruel Summer"
Bananarama - Cruel Summer.jpg
Picture sleeve for European and Australasian 7-inch releases
Single by Bananarama
from the album Bananarama
Released27 June 1983 (UK)
2 July 1984 (US)
RecordedApril 1983
Producer(s)Jolley & Swain
Bananarama singles chronology
"Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"
"Cruel Summer"
"Robert De Niro's Waiting..."


"Cruel Summer '89"

"Megarama '89"
Music video
"Cruel Summer" on YouTube
Audio sample
"Cruel Summer"

Bananarama singer Sara Dallin said the song "played on the darker side (of summer songs): it looked at the oppressive heat, the misery of wanting to be with someone as the summer ticked by. We've all been there!"[1] It was ranked number 44 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s.[2] Billboard named the song #13 on their list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.[3]


"Cruel Summer" was not an immediate international success when it was released. Although it reached No.8 on the UK Singles Chart, its international popularity soared after its inclusion in the 1984 feature film The Karate Kid; this was a year after the song's original release (the song was released in 1984 in the U.S.). The group did not allow the song to be included on the film's soundtrack album, but it still reached No. 9 in the U.S., their first top ten hit there. When Bananarama were still struggling to make money in their early years, they even performed the song at a beauty contest in Hawaii. The song's biggest chart success was in South Africa, where it peaked at No. 3.

The song has since been revived in various forms. It has appeared in several television commercials, and was covered by other acts, such as Ace of Base, who scored an international hit with it (their version reached gold in the US). Blestenation sampled and remixed the song to make their own, also named "Cruel Summer" but with radically altered lyrics and structure; there are two edits of this song, one of which appeared on the 2002 Blue Crush soundtrack. In 2003, Swedish electronica artist Sophie Rimheden sampled the beat and bassline from the song on the track "In Your Mind" of her album HiFi. In 2011, Athens, Ohio-based rock band Downplay covered the song on their album Beyond the Machine.

Since its success, the group have recorded another three versions of the song. "Cruel Summer '89" was recorded with new member Jacquie O'Sullivan in 1989, and given a new jack swing makeover. It reached number 19 on the UK singles chart in June. This version was not included on any Bananarama album until 2005's Really Saying Something: The Platinum Collection.

Another version of the song was recorded and featured on their 2001 album Exotica. This version featured Latin instrumentation and additional lyrics, but it was not released as a single. They released another updated version in 2009, as a B-side of their single "Love Comes".

The song was also featured as the theme tune of the first series of Trouble's reality show of the same name, where a group of young adults was sent off to a holiday camp, only to be tortured and humiliated in an attempt to win a large sum of money.

Music videoEdit

The music video was directed by Nigel Dick, and shot in New York City in the summer of 1983 and features a take on the American TV show The Dukes of Hazzard, with a bumbling cop duo who chase the girls as they make their escape in a truck (at one point, Bananarama members throw bananas at a trailing police car).

"[It] was just an excuse to get us to the fabled city of New York for the first time," Siobhan Fahey has said. She recalled the shoot, conducted during a heatwave, as a difficult experience. "It was August, over one hundred degrees. Our HQ was a tavern under the Brooklyn Bridge, which had a ladies' room with a chipped mirror where we had to do our makeup."[4]

After an exhausting morning shooting in the city in brutal August heat, the band returned to the tavern for lunch. They made the acquaintance of some local dockworkers, who, upon learning of their situation, shared vials of cocaine with them. "That was our lunch," said Fahey, who had never tried the drug before. "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."[4]

The music video for the 1989 remix was a compilation of different shots from Bananarama's earlier videoclips. Notably missing are clips from the original 1983 video. Fahey is only featured in a pair of frames. Bananarama were unable to record a proper video for the song, because they were in the middle of a world tour at the time of its release.

Track listingEdit

7" vinyl single

  1. "Cruel Summer" (Album Version) 3:35
  2. "Cruel Summer" (Summer Dub Edited) 3:30

12" vinyl single

  1. "Cruel Summer" (Extended Version) 4:55
  2. "Cruel Summer" (Summer Dub) 5:15
  3. "Cairo" 3:15

Cruel Summer '89Edit

UK CD single
  1. "Cruel Summer '89" (Swing Beat Version) 3:22
    Remixed by Freddy Bastone
    Also available from CD the albums The Works, Now That's What I Call Music 15 and Really Saying Something: The Platinum Collection.
  2. "Venus" (The Greatest Remix Edit) 3:42
    Remixed by Phil Harding & Ian Curnow
  3. "I Heard a Rumour" (Corporation of Bananarama Remix) 5:44
    Remixed by Freddy Bastone
Japanese 3-inch CD single
  1. "Cruel Summer '89" (Swing Beat Dub) 5:20
    Remixed by Freddy Bastone
    Also available from the CD albums The Greatest Remixes Collection and The Very Best of Bananarama.
  2. "I Heard a Rumour" (Corporation of Bananarama Remix) 5:44
    Remixed by Freddy Bastone
  3. "Venus" (The Greatest Remix) 7:57
    Remixed by Phil Harding and Ian Curnow
Other versions
  1. "Cruel Summer" (2001 Version) 4:05
    Taken from the album Exotica
  2. "Cruel Summer" (Digital Mix) 6:03
    Taken from the album The Twelve Inches of Bananarama
  3. "Cruel Summer '09"
    B-Side of "Love Comes" single



Chart performanceEdit

Original versionEdit

Ace of Base versionEdit

"Cruel Summer"
Scandinavian cover
Single by Ace of Base
from the album Flowers and Cruel Summer
B-side"Into the Night of Blue"
Released7 July 1998 (1998-07-07)
  • 4:05 (Big bonus mix / Normal version)
  • 3:33 (Cutfather & Joe mix)
Ace of Base singles chronology
"Life Is a Flower"
"Cruel Summer"
"Whenever You're Near Me"
Music video
"Cruel Summer" on YouTube

In 1998, the Swedish pop group Ace of Base recorded the song at the request of their German and American record labels PolyGram and Arista Records.


It was released as the second single from their third album Flowers and as the lead single from the American version of the album titled Cruel Summer. A different "dancier" version of the song (known as the Big Bonus mix on the album), produced by Stephen Hague, Jonas "Joker" Berggren, Ulf "Buddha" Ekberg, and Johnny Jam & Delgado, was released on mainland Europe. The original album version, produced by Cutfather & Joe, was released in North America and UK.

"Cruel Summer" reached number 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold. In the United Kingdom, the song reached number eight on the UK Singles Chart, matching the peak of the original Bananarama version. It also became Ace of Base' fifth and final top 10 single in the UK.

Critical receptionEdit

Billboard wrote about the song: "The act that gave the such Abba-esque ditties as "All That She Wants" and "The Sign" turns its attention toward Bananarama, faithfully covering one of that group's bigger '80s-era hits. Producers Cutfather & Joe bring a few new rhythm ideas to the table dropping the tempo to a jeep-inspired funk beat and injecting an ear-tickling keyboard twist or two. However, the vocals hold few surprises, which is exactly what fans of both Ace Of Base and the original recording will want. In all, a potential smash that could keep this Swedish quartet on the front burner of top 40 radio for much of the summer."[23]

Entertainment Weekly wrote: "It’s clear what Ace of Base Svengali Jonas Berggren is aiming for — the iridescent sonic symmetry of Swedish forebears ABBA. A pretty lofty ambition. But he and his seraphic singing sisters, Linn and Jenny, actually attain ABBA’s perfect pop-Euro-disco balance on this third outing. There isn’t a note out of concordant place, no potential hook overlooked. Excepting the pointless title track (a hit for Bananarama in 1984), Berggren has done his homework. Just don’t hate him because they sound so pretty."[24]

Music videoEdit

A music videos was filmed and directed by Nigel Dick. It was shot in Rome between 27 and 29 June 1998. There are three versions of the video:

  • "Cruel Summer"
  • "Cruel Summer" (Big Bonus Mix)
  • "Cruel Summer" (Frenglish version featuring Alliage)

The original video and the video using the Big Bonus Mix contain identical and similar footage, whereas the Frenglish version contains completely new footage.

Track listingsEdit

  • Scandinavian CD single
  1. "Cruel Summer" (Big Bonus Mix) – 4:05
  2. "Cruel Summer" (Cutfather & Joe Mix) – 3:33
  • Scandinavian CD single
  1. "Cruel Summer" (Big Bonus Mix) – 4:05
  2. "Cruel Summer" (Cutfather & Joe Mix) – 3:33
  3. "Cruel Summer" (Hartmann & Langhoff Radio Edit) – 3:23
  4. "Cruel Summer" (Hartmann & Langhoff Club) – 7:45
  5. "Into the Night of Blue" (bonus track) – 4:11
  • Scandinavian CD single
  1. "Cruel Summer" (KLM club Mix) – 10:27
  2. "Cruel Summer" (Hani Num Club Mix) – 8:13
  3. "Cruel Summer" (Soul Poets House Bust) – 3:40
  4. "Cruel Summer" (Hartmann & Langhoff Club) – 7:45
  1. Cutfather and Joe Mix
  2. Big Bonus Mix
  3. Hartmann and Langhoff Short Mix
  4. Hartmann and Langhoff Club Mix
  1. "Cruel Summer" (Cutfather and Joe Mix)
  2. "Don't Turn Around" (The 7" Aswad Mix)
  3. "Beautiful Life" (Single Version)
US Maxi CD
  1. Album Version a.k.a. Cutfather and Joe Mix
  2. Hani Radio Mix a.k.a. Blazin' Rhythm Remix
  3. KLM Radio Mix
  4. Hani Num Club Mix
  5. KLM Club Mix
US Promo 12" Vinyl
  1. KLM Dub 1
  2. KLM Beats
  3. Hani Dub
  4. KLM Short Dub
Digital download
  1. Album version[a]
  2. Normal version[b]
  3. KLM club mix
  4. Hani Num club mix
  5. Soul Poets House Bust mix
  6. Hartmann and Langhoff short mix
  7. Hartmann and Langhoff club mix
  8. Blazin' Rhythm remix
  9. Niv Cohen remix

Chart performanceEdit

Ace of Base and Alliage versionEdit

"Cruel Summer"
Single by Ace of Base & Alliage
from the album Musics
Released30 June 1998[47]
RecordedRock-stone Studios, London
  • Baxter
  • Mercury
  • PolyGram
Producer(s)Steve Mac
Alliage singles chronology
"Je sais"
"Cruel Summer"
"Je I'aime à mourir"
Ace of Base singles chronology
"Life Is a Flower"
"Cruel Summer"
"Whenever You're Near Me"
Music video
"Cruel Summer" (Ace of Base / Alliage version) on YouTube

Ace of Base united with the French boy band Alliage and re-recorded as a duet in a release designed specifically for the French markets. It is bilingual in English and French with added lyrics to the original. Ace of Base also performed the song live on French television joined by Alliage.[citation needed]

The joint version peaked at #24 in SNEP, the official French Singles Chart.

Chart Peak
France (SNEP)[48] 24

Rico Bernasconi vs Ace of Base versionEdit

"Cruel Summer"
Single by Rico Bernasconi vs Ace of Base
GenreHouse, progressive house, electronic dance
  • Sara Dallin
  • Siobhan Fahey
  • Keren Woodward
  • Steve Jolley
  • Tony Swain
Music video
"Cruel Summer" (Rico Bernasconi vs Ace of Base version) on YouTube

Rico Bernasconi released a remix EP with 8 remix versions of Ace of Base version of "Cruel Summer" which peaked at #69 in Germany.[49]

Track listEdit

  1. "Cruel Summer (Screen Mix)" (3:19)
  2. "Cruel Summer (Tom Pulse Sunshine Radio Mix)" (3:00)
  3. "Cruel Summer (Original Club Mix)" (6:21)
  4. "Cruel Summer (Tom Pulse Sunshine Club Mix)" (5:24)
  5. "Cruel Summer (Max Farenthide Remix)" (5:48)
  6. "Cruel Summer (DJ Tom Cut Remix)" (5:26)
  7. "Cruel Summer (DJ Tomekk vs. Anady Club Remix)" (6:10)
  8. "Cruel Summer (Chris Galmon vs. Christopher GrEy Club Mix)" (6:13)

Notable cover versionsEdit

  • Kari Kimmel recorded their version of their song and it is used as a promotional song in the season 2 teaser trailer of Cobra Kai, and it is included to the soundtrack album.[50]


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  19. ^ Danish Singles Chart 4 August 1989
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  1. ^ Plays the same at track 3 as Cutfather and Joe Mix
  2. ^ Plays the same at track 10 as Big Bonus Mix

External linksEdit