“Cruel Summer” is a pop song written and originally performed by Bananarama that was a top ten hit in Britain (1983) and the U.S. (1984). 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!”
“Cruel Summer” was not an immediate international success when it was released. Although it hit #8 on the UK 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 US). The group did not allow the song to be included on the film’s soundtrack album, but regardless it was their first top ten hit (#9) in the USA. 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 has since been revived in various forms. It 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 even reached gold in the US), and Blestenation on the Blue Crush soundtrack. In 2003, Swedish electronica female artist Sophie Rimheden sampled the beat and bassline from the song on the track “In Your Mind” of the 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 make-over. It reached number nineteen in 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. In 2009 they released another updated version as a B-side to their single “Love Comes”.
The song was also featured as the theme tune to the first series of Trouble’s reality show of the same name, where a group of young adults were sent off to a holiday camp, only to be tortured and humiliated in an attempt to win a large sum of money.