Katrina and the Waves were a British rock band active from the early 1980s to the late 1990s. Originally, the band was a pop cover band called Mama’s Cookin’. Later, it renamed itself the Waves because of an older band of the same name that two of the band members – Alex Cooper and Kimberly Rew – had been in. It was Rew who started writing more and more original material, which in turn, meant Katrina Leskanich became more and more important as the one who sang that original material. Eventually, the band went through one last line-up change when Vince de la Cruz took over as the bassist because of Bob Jakins’ departure. It emerged from that change as Katrina and the Waves. In total, the band released 10 studio albums, though it tends to be remembered for just a small number of songs.
Top 10 Katrina and the Waves Songs
#10 – Red Wine and Whiskey
“Red Wine and Whiskey” came out on the band’s third studio album, which was also their self-titled album. It seems safe to say that is no coincidence because that was their debut with a major record label. Rew wrote “Red Wine and Whiskey” in much the same way he wrote most of the songs on the self-titled album. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to have caught on anywhere outside of Germany where it managed to reach the number 41 position. That is a real shame because it is an entertaining little song in which the singer does her best to remain optimistic despite some less-than-wise spending decisions.
#9 – Que Te Quiero
Generally speaking, people remember Katrina and the Waves as a British band. As a result, it can seem strange to learn that the band has several songs referencing Texas and Texans. Everything becomes much more understandable when one learns that both Katrina Leskanich and Vince de la Cruz are American. “Que Te Quiero” is a charming love song from Katrina and the Waves in which the singer continues heading south to Mexico because of her Mexican boyfriend despite the external pressures on her to end the relationship.
#8 – We Gotta Get Out of This Place
Originally, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” was a hit for the Animals in 1965. The song resonated with a wide range of people in a wide range of places. That is because the narrator describes being trapped under miserable circumstances that will kill him and his lover before their time, meaning he is determined for them to get out so that they can live a better life somewhere else. Katrina and the Waves did a cover of the song with the Animals’ one-time lead vocalist Eric Burdon for the TV show China Beach in 1990. The show was set in an evacuation hospital during the Vietnam War. As such, the choice of song was no coincidence because it is well-known that a lot of U.S. soldiers during that conflict identified with “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.”
#7 – Walk on Water
“Walk on Water” was the title track from Katrina and the Waves’ final studio album. All four members of the band contributed to its songwriting. Unfortunately, “Walk on Water” failed to find the same kind of success as the other single from the studio album. It reached the number 47 position in Austria and the number 38 position in the Netherlands. Elsewhere, the response was muted. Katrina and the Waves broke up just a short while after Walk on Water because of internal disagreements. Both Katrina Leskanich and the rest of the Waves attempted to continue using the name, but the failure of their respective efforts resulted in everyone going their separate ways in 1999.
#6 – Is That It?
“Is That It?” came out on the band’s fourth studio album Waves. Generally speaking, the latter wasn’t regarded as highly as its predecessor Katrina and the Waves. Some have said that is because Rew did less of the songwriting for the studio album. However, that seems a bit of a stretch considering the performance of the four singles. “Is That It?” was the Rew single that did well, but there was another Rew single that did not. Similarly, there was a non-Rew single that did well and a non-Rew single that did not. Regardless, “Is That It?” has a nice bit of fury to it, which comes from the narrator being in the midst of an acrimonious breakup.
#5 – Do You Want Crying?
“Do You Want Crying?” is yet another breakup song. It has three critical differences from the last one mentioned on this list. One, it came out on Katrina and the Waves. Two, it was one of just two songs penned by Vince de la Cruz on that studio album. Three, “Do You Want Crying?” expresses a very different kind of emotion because the singer seems absolutely crushed rather than infuriated by the breakup. The constant repetition of the title in the lyrics almost makes it seem as though she is bargaining in between rapidly shifting expressions of anger, grief, and confusion.
#4 – Sun Street
As mentioned earlier, “Sun Street” was the non-Rew single from Waves that did well. Indeed, one can argue it did better than “Is That It?” because it reached the number 22 position in the United Kingdom whereas its counterpart peaked at the number 82 position in the same country. In any case, “Sun Street” is interesting because of the sheer ambivalence in Vince de la Cruz’s lyrics, though Katrina Leskanich’s vocals helped out as always. On the one hand, the narrator knows very well that neither the titular location nor its other visitors are any good for her; on the other hand, she finds the world a bit more bearable once she has gotten drunk and high at the same.
#3 – That’s the Way
People sometimes remember Katrina and the Waves as a one-hit-wonder. That is unfair because the band did have hits other than “Walking on Sunshine.” For instance, Leskanich and Rew teamed up to write “That’s the Way” on the band’s fifth studio album Break of Hearts in 1989. It didn’t meet with much enthusiasm in the United Kingdom, though it did manage to place on the charts. Meanwhile, it did quite well in North America, as shown by how it climbed to the number 16 position in both the United States and Canada.
#2 – Love Shine a Light
Amusingly, Katrina and the Waves also had a song that was a hit in Europe but overlooked in North America. That would be “Love Shine a Light,” which was the other single released from “Walk on Water” in 1997. Much of the song’s momentum comes from the fact that Katrina and the Waves won Eurovision in 1997, which was the first time that the United Kingdom had done so since 1981. Moreover, “Love Shine a Light” was well-received, as shown by how it was the United Kingdom’s highest scorer until Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” in 2022. The song didn’t reach the top of the charts anywhere, but it was a Top 5 hit in five European countries.
#1 – Walking on Sunshine
“Walking on Sunshine” was always going to be at the top of this list. Simply put, it is the song that Katrina and the Waves are best known for, so much so that they are sometimes mistaken for a one-hit-wonder because of it. On top of that, “Walking on Sunshine” was the lead single on Katrina and the Waves, meaning it played a huge role in propelling the band into mainstream prominence. It climbed to the number 8 position in the United Kingdom, with the result that it wouldn’t be surpassed in that country until “Love Shine a Light” towards the end of the band’s career. Similarly, it climbed to the number 9 position in the United States, making it the band’s most successful song in that country ever. The funny thing is that the band members didn’t like the song very much at first. Reputedly, they didn’t think that its simple optimism was a good match for them.
Feature Photo: Foto: Jonn Leffmann, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Katrina And The Waves Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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