Bananarama was one of the biggest pop acts of the 1980s, known for their catchy dance hits and association with the MTV-fueled Second British Invasion. Though the British girl group continued having success after their peak hitmaking days, their story took some surprising twists and turns over the decades. Today in 2023, Bananarama looks very different from their 80s heyday.
How Did Bananarama Form and Achieve Success in the 1980s?
Bananarama began in 1979, when teenagers Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward, and Siobhan Fahey met as students at the London College of Fashion. Calling themselves a punk girl group, they performed backing vocals on tracks for other acts before signing their own record deal with London Records in 1982.
Their debut single “Shy Boy” reached the UK Top 5, followed by several more hits like “Cruel Summer” and their 1984 cover of “Venus” which hit #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Known for their exuberant dance-pop style and playfully sexy fashion sense, Bananarama embodied the effervescent fun of 80s music and culture. They racked up 10 UK Top 40 hits between 1982 and 1988.
How Did Bananarama’s Lineup First Change in the Late 80s?
In 1988 at the height of their popularity, a major lineup change shook the group when Siobhan Fahey left Bananarama. She soon formed the duo Shakespears Sister with Marcella Detroit. Fahey’s departure was reportedly due to creative differences and tensions within the band.
She was replaced by Jacquie O’Sullivan, keeping Bananarama a trio. But the new lineup did not recapture their previous success, especially in the US. Their last Hot 100 hit was 1989’s “Love, Truth and Honesty” which only reached #89.
What Happened to Bananarama in the 1990s and 2000s as a Duo?
After O’Sullivan’s exit in 1991, Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward decided to continue on as a duo. This two-woman lineup of Bananarama went on to release several albums between 1993 and 2001 containing top 30 UK hits like “Movin’ On” and “More More More.”
But their chart success and visibility faded, especially without the star power of Fahey. They focused extensively on touring and performing live shows, particularly in their native UK and throughout Europe where they maintained a steadier following.
Bananarama’s Transformation in the 2010s with Reunions and New Music
In the late 2010s, the original trio lineup of Bananarama reunited, much to fans’ delight. Siobhan Fahey rejoined Dallin and Woodward for a UK reunion tour in 2017 and 2018. This generated excitement and renewed interest in the group.
After the reunion, Dallin and Woodward went back to performing as a duo. They released a new album, In Stereo, in 2019 which marked Bananarama’s first studio album in a decade. Keeping up with current trends, it featured a modern electro-pop dance sound.
What Comeback Tours Has Bananarama Embarked on in Recent Years?
Capitalizing on nostalgia for the 80s, Bananarama has hit the comeback tour circuit repeatedly over the past 15 years. 2007 saw them join other acts on the Here and Now 80s revival tour. In 2012, they did a USA tour focused on breast cancer charities and released an EP Now Or Never.
In 2022, Bananarama launched The Masquerade Tour in support of their latest album Masquerade. 40 years after first forming, they continue to perform their classic hits live on stage alongside new material. Fans still love singing and dancing along to “Venus” and “Cruel Summer” decades later.
Additionally, on April 29, 2022, Dallin and Woodward released the taster track “Favourite” from their twelfth studio album Masquerade, which was then released on July 22, 2022. On June 15, 2022, the album’s title track “Masquerade” was released as the first official single, followed by its music video two days later. The second taster track “Velvet Lies” came out on July 18, 2022.
On August 12, 2022, “Forever Young” was released as the official second single. Then on October 14, 2022, “Running with the Night” was unveiled as the official third single. As part of celebrating 40 years since first releasing music, Bananarama put out “Cruel Summer 3AM” on July 13, 2023, followed by “Venus Boys Noize Remix” on August 18.
What Record Does Bananarama Still Hold After All These Years?
Remarkably, despite lineup changes and fluctuating popularity, Bananarama still holds the Guinness World Record for the all-female group with the most UK chart entries ever.
Their continued presence on the charts, even occasionally into the 2000s and 2010s, is a testament to the staying power and influence of their catchy pop hits. Even casual 80s music fans can likely sing the hooks to songs like “Venus” and “Cruel Summer.”
How Have Dallin and Woodward Kept Bananarama Going into the 2020s?
Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward have soldiered on as the core two members keeping Bananarama alive for over 30 years now. They have proven themselves determined and adaptable, updating their sound and look over time.
In 2022, Dallin and Woodward released the group’s 12th studio album Masquerade, showing their continued musical activity even as they approach their 60s. Bananarama also published an autobiography in 2020 documenting their long, tumultuous yet groundbreaking career.
What Legacy Has Bananarama Left on Pop Music?
At their peak, Bananarama were icons of 80s dance-pop, embodying fun, spirit, and just the right amount of cheekiness. They paved the way for subsequent girl groups like the Spice Girls.
Thanks to their string of charismatic hits and playful image, Bananarama left their mark on pop history. Even when out of the limelight, they kept performing for fans. Their staying power is a testament to the enduring quality of their catchiest songs.
Will Bananarama Keep Going with More Music and Tours?
Bananarama has proven their longevity time and time again. Given Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward’s commitment to keeping the group alive, more new music and tours seem probable.
As long as fans keep fondly remembering their favorite Bananarama songs from decades ago, Dallin and Woodward will likely keep giving concerts and making attempts at chart success. Diehard fans hopeful for another reunion with Siobhan Fahey may not want to hold their breath. But the pop icons who gave us “Cruel Summer” continue sharing their talents.
Where Are Bananarama Now in 2023 – FAQs
1. Who were the original members of Bananarama?
The original members were Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey, and Keren Woodward, who formed the group in London in 1981.
2. What was Bananarama’s biggest hit song?
Their biggest hit was “Venus”, a cover of the Shocking Blue song, which went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986.
3. Why did Siobhan Fahey leave Bananarama?
In 1988, Fahey left the group due to creative differences and tensions within the band. She went on to form the duo Shakespears Sister.
4. What was unique about Bananarama’s comeback tours?
In recent years, they’ve done several major reunion/comeback tours with partial or full original lineups, capitalizing on 80s nostalgia.
5. Are Bananarama still performing together today?
Yes, though now as a duo of original members Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward, Bananarama continues to tour and record new music today.