Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Monograms Cover Bananarama’s 1983 Classic ‘Cruel Summer’ on their Latest Project

Cruel Summer’ is undoubtedly a 1980s classic. Penned by one of the biggest and most era-defining artists of the time, Bananarama, this song truly encapsulates the musicality of this decade. 

So, in deciding to cover this song in 2021, Monograms set themselves a challenge to not anger or disappoint long-time fans of this iconic track. Monograms is the musical alias of multi-instrumentalist Ian Jacobs, who has been releasing projects under this name since 2017. 

His latest project, ‘Floors and Ceilings’, released June 18th, contains his take on one of Bananarama’s most well-known songs. 

When stacking both versions up against one another, we can see from the intro that there is a tone shift in this reimagined version. Monograms has cut the tropical pop keyboard melody in favour of deep synths and angsty guitars. This gives the instrumental a much more melancholic quality that rings truer to the lyrical content than the original. The loneliness of a single voice featuring on the track as opposed to the three distinct voices and background vocals also adds to the sombre tone. The isolated vocal creates a sense of solitude which marries well to the world Monograms creates sonically. In spite of this, the tempo has been considerably upped. The cover clocks in at just 2 minutes and 23 seconds, coming in at around 60 seconds shorter than Bananarama’s original.


Sonically, this song doesn’t actually stray too far from the original. The infectious main guitar hook is identical to that of Bananarama’s, giving the song a vintage 80s flair. It is clear that Monograms has carefully toed the line between staying true to the musicality of the time and dipping into modern sounds and techniques to put a fresh spin on this track. 


Choosing to publicise a cover is always a brave move for an artist. They have pressures to display creativity and originality without completely overhauling the original and detracting from its charm. Monogram’s cover of ‘Cruel Summer’ is a perfect example of balancing these tasks. Both old and new listeners will enjoy his take on this quintessential Bananarama track. 


Ellie Callaghan


Image: Official Single Artwork (PaperCup Music)

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