“Walk Like an Egyptian” was dubbed to be the number one song in the US in 1987. Sang by American all-female pop group, The Bangles, the song reached #1 on the Billboard 100 for four weeks between the end of 1986 to January of 1987.
Even if you didn’t grow up in the 1980s, this catchy tune is one you’ve likely heard before, and it consistently makes top 100 lists of greatest songs of the 1980s.
The Bangles were a big part of the 1980s music renaissance, and “Walk Like An Egyptian” is one of those songs that encompasses the cool yet sometimes goofy 80s sound.
Walk Like An Egyptian
The song was written by songwriter Liam Sternberg. The story behind the song began when Sternberg was on board a ferry crossing the English Channel. When reaching choppy waters, passengers on the boat walked carefully with their arms outstretched to maintain balance, and Sternberg thought they looked like Egyptians on ancient hieroglyphics. He then wrote the phrase, “Walk Like an Egyptian” on a notebook, and later on, created a melody to the song title.
Sternberg then composed an up-tempo song with the title and wrote lyrics about the Nile River, Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Middle East, and then segued into modern times, singing about cops, waitresses, and school kids. He composed and recorded the song with Marti Jones in 1984 and offered it to Toni Basil, who rejected the demo.
David Khane, producer of The Bangles’ second album, “Different Light,” somehow got hold of the demo and had members of the band sing the song. They then included the song on the album, making it the third single released by the band.
Why the Song Became Popular
The song was one of The Bangles’ singles that became a worldwide hit. Their first hit was “Manic Monday,” written by Prince, and reached #2 on the US Billboard charts. But it was “Walk Like an Egyptian” that cemented the band into global pop superstars.
The song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1986 and reached the peak of #3 on the US Singles Chart in November of that year. It then reached #1 by December 20, and it stayed there until January 1987, staying on top of the charts for 4 consecutive weeks.
Upon the single’s release, the song reached number 1 in several countries, such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, South Africa, and Spain.
The music video for the song also made The Bangles superstars, where they were seen playing the song live, and scenes of regular people doing mundane daily things dancing to the song.
The “Walk Like an Egyptian” dance craze also happened, with virtually anyone referencing the dance move to the song and the band.
Walk Like An Egyptian Today
Since the song was released, it has been featured innumerable times on TV shows, videogames, and movies. Even in modern times, contemporary artists use the track in their new songs, such as Diplo, M.I.A., dancehall great Mad Lion, and many other artists.
“Walk Like an Egyptian” is The Bangles’ most famous song and in reunion tours and concerts, the band still play the song as part of their repertoire.
The song wasn’t just an upbeat, catchy, and commercial pop song, but it unintentionally caused a unique dance craze in the 80s that everyone could do. All it took was a goofy hand movement that virtually any regular person could do, which was part of its charm.