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Say Anything: The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” (1986)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 24, 2007

Way oh

Recently, IITS’s brother-in-arms Victor Lee wrote about the ’86 Mets anthem “Let’s Go Mets,” the so-called “second greatest sports team song of all-time,” over at his excellent, if extremely lazy blog Victor Sells Out. Talking about the song’s video, he compares it to the fairly famous clip for The Bangles’ 1986 #1 hit “Walk Like an Egyptian,” claiming that the same New York extras were in each (without the Mets uniforms in the Bangles vid) and speculates that “there was just a period in the mid-80s where you couldn’t walk down a street in New York without being filmed for a music video.” It got me thinking about the song and video, which I find to be among the most interesting of their time period. Some thoughts:

  • A frequent topic of debate in pop culture spheres is about which 80s all-girl band was cuter, The Go-Gos or The Bangles. To me, the clip for “Walk Like an Egyptian” makes this answer extremely obvious–I mean yeah, Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlin were both cute in their own sort of paradigms (chipmunky spunk and cool-for-her-age mystery, respectively), but Susanna Hoffs’ shifty-eyed wonder neutralizes all competition (plus, even well into middle age, she’s still surprisingly hot). I bet the eye thing drives ball-and-chain / Austin Powers auteur Jay Roach wild.
  • Whistle breakdowns–every 80s hit should have at least one.
  • How many other rock hits use the different-singer-on-each-verse method? Sure, Boyz II Men used to do it all the time, but you never heard John, Paul and George trading off lead on any one Beatles song. Though very cool, it’s sort of hard to understand why they just didn’t give the whole song to Hoffs, who clearly gets the song better than Vicki Peterson or Michael Steele (who particularly fails to properly sell the chorus chant). While we’re on the subject, who the hell names their daughter Michael?
  • The song’s lyrical content–particularly Hoffs’ verse–hasn’t dated particularly well. “All the Japanese with their Yen / The party boys call the Kremlin / The Chinese know / They walk along like Egyptians.” Most distressing of all, however, is her assertion that “If you want to find all the cops / They’re hanging out in the donut shop.” C’mon guys, plenty of our boys in blue prefer danishes.
  • Though it’s hardly surprising, I was a little bit disappointed to find out that there’s no historical basis whatsoever for the popular conception of Walking Like an Egyptian. What else would be the point of living in Ancient Egypt?
  • A large percentage of the New York extras in the video clearly fail to grasp the general concept behind the Walk. I mean, really, this isn’t the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies or whatever–how hard is it to rotate your wrists and move them back and forth a little bit? Even the Statue of Liberty totally fucks it up, and don’t get me started on that old woman towards the end–she just sorta glides down the street. Must’ve been Steele’s grandmother or something.
  • The song’s groove is ridiculously underrated–surprisingly funky for a bunch of ex-Paisley Undergrounders. A little tambourine really goes a long way.
  • “Walk Like an Egyptian” was apprently one of the dozens of songs Deemed Inappropriate After 9/11, presumably because Americans were not yet ready to be reminded that other countries still existed. Tragic, though not quite astragic as the banning of Everclear’s “Santa Monica” and Zager & Evans’ “In the Year 2525” (?????)
  • The Bangles wore some big fucking earrings.

Hope you’re enjoying your Costa Rica trip / Home Improvement pilgrimage, Victor. Write more shit when you get back.

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One Response to “Say Anything: The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” (1986)”

  1. Sonja said

    Haha, although I especially like the wikipedia caption “Egyptians walked just like everyone else”, I’m pretty sure the whole thing comes from ancient Egyptian paintings, in which people are posing that way (and they look like they’re walking that way)…and since none of those wikipedia people were there, isn’t it possible that walking like that was some sort of weird ritual or, I don’t know, macarena-style pop/dance sensation?

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