Bananarama may have started as a joke, but no one's laughing now.
With 14 Top 40 singles to their credit from 1982 to 1988, Banana-rama has become the most successful all-female British band of all time. One more hit single and the group will equal the Supremes - the most successful female group ever.Still, with all that recognition in Britain, it took the 1986 hit "Venus" to make Bananarama a hit in the United States. Even with the release last fall of "The Greatest Hits Collection," though, Bananarama still hasn't caught on like it should.
So like any band in search of world-wide fame and fortune, Bananarama is taking to the road. The band will perform Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Kingsbury Hall on the University of Utah campus.
Bananarama comprises Sarah Dallin, Keren Woodward and Jacquie O'Sullivan, who joined the band after original Banana Siobhan Fahey left the group to marry Dave Stewart of Eurythmics.
Most of Bananarama's songs are peppy dance tunes, which might tempt some to label the band as merely shallow personalities. "Everyone thought we were just three girls having a good time," Woodward told the Associated Press. "Everyone has two sides. We've got past the point where we have to prove things. We've got feelings of a social or political nature."
But when it came time to put those feelings into their music, it didn't work. They tried songs about the political violence in Northern Ireland, about heroin addiction. "I don't think we were good at writing those sort of songs," said Dallin.
Bananarama has had its best success with covers of tunes written by other people, like the immensely successful "Venus," first a hit for the Shocking Blue, Sy Oliver's "It Ain't What You Do" and the Supremes' "Nathan Jones."
The band's first single, sung in Swahili, was a cover of Black Blood's "Aie A Mwana," or translated "Mothers, fathers, children get up and dance."
In fact, it was that single, in a round about sort of way, that led to the name Bananarama. "Out first single was in Swahili," explained Dallin. "Banana sounded tropical. Our favorite group, Roxy Music, had a song we liked called `Pajamarama.' So we combined the words."
And Bananarama was born.