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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Jukebox - I Heard A Rumour by Bananarama

One of the most annoying things that one can be faced with being the subject of something called a rumour.

Rumours are funny things.  Sometimes they can turn out to be the absolute truth.  Quite a few instances, they can be complete fabrications.  In most cases, the rumours that most of us might have to face are those ones that are filled with half-truths and misinformation.

More often than not, those rumours end up being the ones that can hurt people the most.  Because rumours are not usually based in fact, and details get changed around as they pass from person to person, rumours have the ability to damage a person's reputation forever.

I can recall some really terrible ones about people I knew over the years, and I've even been the subject of some nasty rumours going around about me.  Some of them I won't even bother to repeat, as a couple of them are disgusting in nature, but here are some of the more tamer (and funnier ones).

Apparently, there was a rumour going around my school that I was gay.  For the record, I am not.  Believe me, if I were, I would own it.

Another rumour that I heard about me was that I apparently sucked up to teachers in order to get good marks.  First of all, I never played that card.  I can tell you quite a few people that I know for a fact did just that, but I was not one.  And secondly, I didn't need to suck up to teachers because I was confident (even a bit cocky) about my homework skills and notebook evaluations.  If anything, my school grades were one thing that I seldom worried about.

And then there's the awkwardness of someone else confronting you about a rumour they heard about themselves, and how they themselves heard a rumour that YOU were the one who started the rumour in the first place.

This happened to me in college when a girl who lived on my floor angrily confronted me about how I had said that she was easy, and how I wasn't going to get away with defaming her reputation.

First off, I have been the victim of rumours myself.  The last thing I would do is knowingly spread false information about anyone else.  I know the damage it can cause first hand.

And secondly, I know for a fact that the whole thing blew up because of an off-the-cuff remark that I made to a group of people, and that remark certainly wasn't directed at HER at all.  It was more of a generalized sense in a conversation between us that I had felt was justified because of the ambiguity of my statement.  Apparently, somehow, that statement got twisted into one of those 'he said/she said' tales, and in the end, we both ended up looking really silly.

I still never did get an apology from her.  It's been ten years, so I'm not holding my breath.

And don't even get me started on the various rumours that fly around any workplace that I've ever been at.  As I grow older, I tend to tune most of those rumours out.  Most of them don't have anything to do with me, and even if they did, I'm at the point where they can believe what they want to about me.  If they choose to see me differently because they believe a whole bunch of half-truths and half-lies about me, that's their problem. 

The point that I am trying to make is that rumours are things that should not be taken lightly.  Certainly in 95% of cases, the rumours are about menial things, and don't even deserve a second glance.  But the other 5% are like unexploded grenades, where one false move can end a life's work before you get a chance to blink.

You hear stories like this in the news all the time.  People who end up losing everything because of a rumoured stock tip that turns out to be a dud.  People losing their jobs because vengeful co-workers start a smear campaign against them in order to get fired.  People going to jail because of rumoured crime connections.  Some have even resorted to taking their own lives because they are unable to deal with being bombarded by rumours that they hear on a day-to-day basis.

And that's depressing, sad, and cruel.

I guess the only thing that we as human beings can do to minimize the damage caused by rumours is simply to stop spreading the news.  Most cases, that news tends to hold as much merit as an article in the National Enquirer.  The further a rumour spreads, the more damage it can cause.  Unless you know for a fact that what people are saying is one hundred per cent the truth, it's better that you just don't spread it.

It's funny that I talk about rumours in this entry because the band featured in this blog for today have also had to deal with rumours about them.  Specifically the reason why one of them ended up leaving the band at the peak of their popularity.  It also seems fitting that the song we'll be talking about has to do with rumours.

ARTIST:  Bananarama
SONG:  I Heard A Rumour
ALBUM:  Wow!
DATE RELEASED:  July 11, 1987

Bananarama was an all-girl group from the UK that formed in 1979, when all three band members were in their late teens/early twenties.  Above are the three original members of the band.  From left to right, you have Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey, and Keren Woodward.    Sara and Keren were childhood friends, and Sara and Siobhan met while they were both students of fashion journalism.  In 1981, the band started to record demos, and after a couple of false starts secured a record deal by the first few months of 1982.  Under the production team of Jolley & Swain, Bananarama released three albums - Deep Sea Skiving, Bananarama, and True Confessions - all with huge success in the UK.

A few of Bananarama's songs managed to hit the shores of North America as well.  Cruel Summer became a hit for them after it was used in the soundtrack for 'The Karate Kid', and in 1986, their cover of Shocking Blue's 'Venus' topped the charts globally.

By 1986, the trio began to work less with Jolley & Swain, and signed up to work with the hit making production company of Stock/Aitken/Waterman.  After the success of 'Venus', which was the band's first creation with the famed dance-pop team, the decision was made to have the team entirely produce the band's fourth studio album.

The Wow album was released in the fall of 1987, and the first single to kick off the album's release was 'I Heard A Rumour', which was released two months earlier in July '87.  The song would inevitably be the last single that would reach American charts, peaking at #4 on the Billboard charts (although in Canada it reached its highest chart position at #2).

The premise of the song was simple enough.  Listening to the lyrics of the song, it's about a girl who had heard some rumours about the man that she was seeing playing her for a fool.  When she found out that those rumours were true, she finds it very difficult to give him a second chance.  There also appears to be some sort of self-blame evident in the song's lyrics, with the subject of the song saying that she could have been spared a broken heart had she found out about his unfaithfulness earlier.  To add to the confusion, she is now hearing rumours that the man who broke her heart has changed, and is no longer the cheating cad he once was.  In short, she's not exactly sure what to believe.  So, in the long run, she looks inside her heart, and weighs all the options in her mind.  Though we don't really know what choice she makes, she does state that she has been hurt by him in the past, and is afraid of giving him a second chance in fear that he'll hurt her again.

Classic case of contradictory rumours by two different sources colliding to cause unnecessary drama. 

The Wow album quickly rocketed up various charts in 1987, and part of that success was because of 'I Heard A Rumour'.  The music video, which showed the trio decked out in costumes that were black, white, and red all over, had the group dancing in front of giant movie screens that aired footage from classic films.  The video was clean, fresh, and high-fashion for 1987, some even saying that it was ahead of its time.  Two more singles 'Love In The First Degree' and 'I Can't Help It' also managed to make headway in the United Kingdom.

But then something stunning happened.  As the band prepared to release their fourth single from Wow (a song called 'I Want You Back'), one of the band members quit the band.

By the beginning of 1988, Siobhan Fahey had decided that she no longer wanted to be a member of Bananarama, and decided to leave the band for other ventures.

Now, this didn't mean the end of Bananarama.  When Siobhan left the band, the single 'I Want You Back' was released, but with a different band member.  Jacquie O'Sullivan was brought into Bananarama to replace Siobhan, and managed to stick around the band for four more years before she left, and Bananarama became a duo.

But what exactly happened here? 

Why did Siobhan Fahey decide to leave Bananarama?

Would you believe that true to form in regards to the subject of this blog, a plethora of rumours began swirling around the singer's departure?  Rumours that ranged from whopper sized to a little white lie?

One rumour that popped up was that Siobhan had left the band to focus on being a wife and mother.  At the time, she had just gotten married to Dave Stewart (who was a member of the band Eurythmics), and her commitment to Bananarama was preventing her from being able to spend time with her own husband.  I don't doubt that a musician being married to a musician of a rival band is hard work, and that it's hard to see each other, but it doesn't mean that it can't work out.  Heck, Keren Woodward has been with her current partner (Wham member Andrew Ridgeley) for well over two decades, and they're still going strong.  I tend not to believe this wholly, but I can see how it might be a factor...even if Stewart and Fahey's relationship crashed and burned in the mid-90s.

Then there was the rumour that Siobhan quit Bananarama because she couldn't stand working with her Bananarama bandmates.  It's hard to say whether that was the sole factor behind it, although it has been confirmed by Siobhan that the relationship between Sara, Keren, and Siobhan was frayed around the time she left the band.  Fans of the band sort of stirred up that rumour upon further examination of the band's music video.  They noted that Keren and Sara would often do things together and have fun playing around in the various clips, but Siobhan seemed to be off by herself.  In a lot of cases, Keren and Sara ended up getting more close-up shots than Siobhan.  Even Keren and Sara would be dressed similarly, while Siobhan had her own look going on.  These could just be merely a coincidence, and in all probability, it was just that.  Some fans however seemed to think that what happened in the videos seemed to mimic the real-life relationship between the three members.  They seemed to think that Keren and Sara got along well, while Siobhan was...well...the second banana.

Whether or not this is the truth...well, only Sara, Keren, and Siobhan know the answer.  Although considering that Siobhan eagerly agreed to reunite with Bananarama briefly for a 2002 concert, either time healed all wounds, or there wasn't any wounds that were worth making a big fuss over.

Here's what I believe to have happened.  I believe that while Sara and Keren seemed eager to continue to work with the Stock/Aitken/Waterman production team (as the songs produced by that team became bigger hits than anything else they had done before), Siobhan wasn't as keen to share that opinion.  I honestly believe that the direction that Stock/Aitken/Waterman had envisioned for Bananarama contradicted what Siobhan wanted for her career.  I think Siobhan quit Bananarama because she felt as if it wasn't her original vision for what she wanted, and felt like she had to leave to achieve the musical career that she knew she wanted.  And there are many places and research outlets that seem to suggest that this is the real reason why she decided to call it quits with Bananarama.

But worry not for one Siobhan Fahey.  In 1989, she would find life after Bananarama.  In fact, it would be through this new project that she would finally find her own way and break free from the group once and for all, carving a name out for herself.  It even scored her a number one hit...the first after leaving the group, in 1992.

But, I'm not going to tell you what it is'll have to tune into the next version of 'Across The Pond and Beyond Wednesday' to pick up the story.

For now, it is...

Part 2 of this will be posted Wednesday, August 24, 2011.

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