The earliest recordings from The Bangles came in 1982 when the group released an EP. At the time, The Bangles consisted of Susanna Hoffs on vocals and guitar, Vicki Peterson on guitars and vocals, Debbie Peterson on drums and Annette Zilinskas on base. Eventually, Annette Zilinskas would be replaced in the band by Michael Steele. The band’s new bassist had been an early member of the all-female group The Runaways. Many years later, Annette Zilinskas would rejoin the Bangles on tour in the 2010s to replace Michael Steele who had left the band in the 2000s.
The Bangles released their first full length album on Columbia records in 1984 entitled All Over The Place. Their follow-up album was released two years later in 1986 titled Different Light Their third album was released two more years later entitled Everything in 1988. After the release of Everything in 1988 the band eventually broke up. Susanna Hoffs went on to explorer solo career, As the girls entered their 30s, life got in the way. Families and all that comes with it, took the place of The Bangles.
The band returned in 2003 with a new album entitled Doll Revolution. From that point on The Bangles would become a trio with the exit of MicHael Steele. In 2011, The Bangles returned one more time to release the album Sweetheart Of The Sun.
Our top 10 Bangles songs list takes a look at some of the band’s best material they released during their 1980s dominant period. The Bangles songs list also takes a look at the material they released in the 2000s and 2010s that while might not have been commercially successful, was just as brilliant as the material they released in the 1980s.
# 10 – Going Down To Liverpool
There is no better way to start out are top 10 Bangles songs list than with the incredible cover version of Kimberley Rew’s “Going Down To Liverpool.” The song was released on The Bangles first full length album entitled All Over The Place. The album was released in 1984. The song was originally written by Kimberly Rew for his band Katrina and the Waves. However, The Bangles had more commercial success with the song than Katrina and the Waves had. The Bangles won a British Music award for their recording of the song. “Going Down To Liverpool,” was released as the second single from their Columbia Records debut album.
“Going Down To Liverpool,” is one of only two singles in the entire Bangles catalogue in which the lead vocals was performed by Bangles drummer Debbi Peterson. The video features Leonard Nimoy as the driver in the car who plays the role of being annoyed by the girls in the back seat. How a man could ever be so annoyed by a backseat full of four of the most beautiful women in the world is unbelievable. The video ended with The Bangles departing the car in a tunnel and then performing in front of a red backdrop.
# 9 – Hero Takes A Fall
Looking back at the history of popular music, 1984 stands as one of the most spectacular years of the genre. It was a year in which Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen Prince and Madonna released their most successful commercial albums of their careers. Albums like Purple Rain, Born In the U.S.A., 1984, and Like A Virgin dominated the airwaves. Huey Lewis and the News, The Cars, Tina Turner, ZZ Top, Billy Joel, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar and Stevie Ray Vaughan all had huge albums with mega hit singles. With all those stars releasing some of the best music of their career, it’s incredible that there was any room for new artists to thrive in such a competitive atmosphere. Nonetheless, when a band as talented and exciting as The Bangles arrived on the scene with their debut album in 1984, heads still quickly turned.
The Bangles song “Hero Takes A Fall,” was their first single released on a major label. The song was not a huge commercial success but it did garnish intense interest in the band. One of those who noticed was the legendary Prince. His interest fueled his desire to compose a song for the band entitled “Maniac Monday.” It was a song that would soon catapult the band to an entire new level of fame.
# 8 – “Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s a Doll Revolution)”
The Bangles song “Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s A Doll Revolution)” was released on their fourth studio album entitled Doll Revolution. The record was released in 2003. It was the band’s first studio album since they had released 1988’s Everything. The song “Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s A Doll Revolution)” was written by Elvis Costello. It was the only song on the 15 track album that was not written by The Bangles.
# 7 – Anna Lee (Sweetheart of the Sun)
The beautiful song “Anna Lee (Sweetheart of the Sun)” was the opening track on The Bangles 2011 album entitled Sweetheart of the Sun. The album featured Debbi Peterson, Vicki Peterson and Susanna Hoffs. The album did not feature former Bangles bassist Michael Steele who had left the band after the release of the Doll Revolution album in 2003. Once again, the influence of 1960s pop melodies and spirit had resonated deeply throughout the album. “Beautiful and natural as could be.” It pretty much summed it all up. It was a line and a theme inspired by the book Girls Like Us written by Sheila Weller. The book was read by Debbi Peterson, Vicki Peterson and Susanna Hoffs. In interviews, the three remaining members of the Bangles talked about the stories written in the book about Carole King, Joni Mitchell and other female pop stars of the classic rock era that inspired their own careers.
# 6 – Hazy Shade Of Winter
The Bangles released this great cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Hazy Shade Of Winter,” in 1987. The song was released on the soundtrack to the motion picture Less Than Zero. The song was only released on the soundtrack to the film. The recording was produced by Rick Rubin. The Bangles took the beautiful Simon and Garfunkel song to an entire new level defined by their take no prisoners rocking performance. One of the best cover songs The Bangles ever performed.
# 5 – Eternal Flame
As we continue our top 10 Bangles songs list we turn to five of the band’s biggest hits. These songs were not just hits, they were incredible recordings that displayed the band virtuous vocals and musicianship while showcasing a preeminent level of songwriting by the band’s members and some outside writers. In the case of “Eternal Flame,”, the songwriter duties belonged to both a member of the band and outside writers. The song “Eternal Flame,” was written by Bangles member Susanna Hoffs and outside writers Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg. Kelly and Steinberg were an incredible successful songwriting team who had penned huge hits for artists such as Madonna (Like A Virgin), Heart (Alone), Pat Benatar (Precious Time), Linda Ronstadt (How Do I Make You) and so many more.
“Eternal Flame,” was a smash for The Bangles. The song was released on the band’ third album entitled Everything. “Eternal Flame,” hit number one on the mainstream music charts in multiple countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, The Netherlands, Ireland, Portugal and Australia.
# 4 – If She Knew What She Wants
The wonderful Bangles song “If She Knew What She Wants,” was released on the album A Different Light. The album was released in 1986. The song was written by Jules Shear. The song “If She Knew What She Wants,” was the follow up single to the album’s big hit “Manic Monday.” The Bangles song “If She Knew What She Wants,” was a successful single reaching the top 40 on the mainstream charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
We have placed “If She Knew What She Wants,” this high on our top 10 Bangles songs list not just because of the brilliance of the song, but rather the incredible vocal performance of Susanna Hoffs on this one. While Susanna Hoffs always killed it on every track she recorded, on “If She Knew What She Wants,” she found a space she had never reached before. It was not about hitting the highest notes, it was about finding a soulfulness and spirit that not many singers ever attain. It was a soulfulness filled with as sense of originality and depth that artist that mirrored the works of artists such as Stevie Nicks and Maria Mckee. That’s good company to keep.
# 3 – Manic Monday
In 1986, The Bangles released the album A Different Light. The album’s first single was entitled “Manic Monday.” The song was written by Prince. Although at the time, the songwriting credits to the song was credited to Christopher on the album. Prince would often not credit himself on songs that he had written for other artists. Prince would use a pseudonym often.
“Manic Monday.” would be the song that turned the Bangles into a household name. While the song never reached the number one position anywhere with the exception of South Africa, it came mighty close. “Manic Monday,” hit number two in both the United States and the United Kingdom. It had gotten the band noticed on a worldwide level like never before.
# 2 – In Your Room
As we come close to the number one spot on our top 10 Bangles songs list we turn once again to the mesmerizing Bangles album Everything. The first single released from the album was the straight ahead rocker “In Your Room.” This is a great one. The song was written by the same songwriting team who composed “Eternal Flame,” – Susanna Hoffs, Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg. If ever there was a Bangles song that defined their 1960s sensibility and inspiration it was “In Your Room.” It was the perfect song that managed to combine their 1960’s spirit with a modern day sound. If you don’t hear it, just take a look at the video. This one is our favorite.
# 1 – Walk Like An Egyptian
It’s one thing to have a number song on the U.S Billboard Hot 100, but there’s only one band a year that can claim to have the number one single of the entire year. In 1987, The Bangles lay claim to that wonderful prize. In 1987 The Bangles “Walk Like An Egyptian,” became the biggest hit the band would ever have. It was a monster hit. It went far beyond being just a popular radio hit. The song became ingrained in culture the way songs like Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” had done before. The goal of any songwriter and or artist is to have a hit, but to have a year ending number one single is a dream that not many achieve.
“Walk Like An Egyptian,” was written by songwriter Liam Sternberg. The song was originally offered to Toni Basil who a few years earlier had a monster hit with the song “Mickey.” Fortunately for the Bangles, Basil did not like the song. When The Bangles recorded the song, three members of the band including Vicki Peterson, Michael Steele, and Susanna Hoffs all took turns singing lead vocals. Vickie took the first two verses, Michael the second set and Susanna took the songs final verses.
While the Bangles may not have released a large amount of albums, the material that they did release made its mark in popular music culture. Their legacy remains strong many years after their initial album release.
Updated Dec 9, 2020
Top 10 Bangles Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2020
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