Different Light, by The Bangles
Suggested by Dreena Jane (Guilty Pleasure)
At certain times in my life, I’ve become obsessed with single songs.
Usually, that obsession takes the form of my desire to memorise the lyrics and delivery, and it’s usually reserved for songs with a modicum of vocal dexterity on display. I’m unsure what drives this need, other than a misguided desire to impress any passing strangers at which I might bark the songs like a yelping seal. I mean, who wouldn’t be impressed with a word-perfect rendition of REM’s It’s The End Of The World And We Know It, sang by a wide-eyed stranger on a packed bus?
I remember buying Smash Hits at age sixteen to scoop up the lyric sheet for Ice Ice Baby, which I can still rap pretty much word-for-word on command. I was similarly fixated on One Week by the Barenaked Ladies at age twenty-five, and Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise at age twenty-two.
And at age thirteen, it was Walk Like an Egyptian.
I remember winding and rewinding my recorded-off-the-radio copy, back and forth, back and forth, scrabbling for misheard phrases, committing them to memory, rinse, repeat. I’d practice, line after line, verse after verse, hour after hour, until I got the timing just so. Aptly, the song was and my routine was the very definition of a guilty pleasure. There’s more red-faced revelation to come, because I’ll admit that at the ripening age of thirteen, this song was the sexiest thing I’d ever heard. Susannah Hoff’s third verse, in particular the breathily intimate second whispered Walk Like An Egyptian, with that delicately delicious intake of air just after… full disclosure, it makes me bite my lip to this day.
What can I tell you? Literal hours of my life spent with this. Ob. Sessed.
My standout song on Different Light? Walk Like an Egyptian.
I quite like other Bangles songs. Manic Monday is a classic, of course, and it kicks this album off in fine style. Other than that, the remainder of my Bangles knowledge I like yours: Eternal Flame, Hazy Shade of Winter, and that’s it. Neither of those appear on Different Light.
That doesn’t mean the remainder is without merit, of course. There’s a great deal to enjoy in this poptastic and largely inoffensive fare (I say ‘largely’ inoffensive, because in 1991 the BBC did ban Walk Like an Egyptian during the Persian Gulf War). I was pleasantly surprised at the rocky nature of some of the tracks, especially In a Different Light and Angels Don’t Fall in Love, and overall there was nothing on here that gave me a second’s pause. Solid pop, through and through, that’s aged remarkably well.
Having not consciously attempted a singalong in years, I tried matching the ladies word-for-word in Walk Like an Egyptian. I smashed the first verse (foreign types with the hookah pipes), floundered a little in the middle of verse two (all the kids in the marketplace), before storming back to form at the end of verse three (all the cops in the donut shop). Considering all the time I spent replaying Susannah’ verse, both on tape and in my head, that comes as no surprise.
Different light gets 7/10, with a full point awarded by a thankful thirteen-year-old boy.