Bananarama 2
The original sheet music for Bananarama’s I Heard a Rumour

 

‘Rumour’ Has It

By Keeley Moss

 

‘I Heard a Rumour’ was the first Bananarama song I remember hearing on the radio as a child, listening in via the lifeline of my closest childhood friend, the humble Sony Walkman. I heard the song again for the first time in years during the past year and suddenly it dawned on me that it wasn’t just a good song. Nor is it simply a great song. It is one of the greatest pop singles ever. By anyone. And as subjective as these things invariably tend to be, I actually think I can prove it.

The opening verses are as follows:

 

Who needs friends who never show?

I’ll tell you what you wanna know

I could have saved a broken heart

If I’d found out long ago

I’m just thinking about those lonely nights

When I waited for your call

‘Til I found out all my friends were right, oh, oh!

I didn’t know you at all

 

That’s not just a pop lyric. It’s an entire education. Practically everything there is to learn about love can be gleaned from the lyrics of this song.

And then there’s the chorus:

 

I heard a rumour

Ooh, ooh, I heard a rumour

They say you got a broken heart

I heard, I heard a rumour

Yes I did boy

Ooh, ooh I heard a rumour

Oooh!

 

In its bare printed form it may not look like Shakespeare (or even Shakespear’s Sister) but listen to the same words in the context of the song and I would wager you’ll hear the true cost of the price of love. You’ll believe. I do, anyway. And I’m not alone. To paraphrase the one-time RCA marketing department: 5,000,000 Bananarama fans can’t be wrong.

 

IMG_20191223_214047_213
Wow Factor: The author with a copy of Bananarama’s 1987 album Wow! in Tower Records, Dublin. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2019

 

I Heard a Rumour is everything pop is, or ought to be, about. Magnificently melodramatic, it’s giddy rush of romantic allure touches me in a place no living person has ever reached. As a child I remember vividly how it spoke to the girl I wanted to be. And hearing it now, all these years later in adulthood, incredibly it does the same thing it did to me all those years ago. For the 3 minutes and 25 seconds it lasts, I believe in all the things I’m usually too cynical to believe in… True love, a guy falling hopelessly in love with me and me with him, without all the complications of life getting in the way. Then the song ends and I return to reality. But during those three minutes, I’m in another dimension. And THAT’S why pop music, in it’s finest form, matters. And why, even if it can’t change the world, it has the power to change your world. Albeit for only three minutes at a time. But what a three minutes.

 

 

I’ve gone with the Top of the Pops clip as I’m not mad about the official video which is all a bit Carry On, a bit too slapstick panto for such a brilliant song. It’s important to note that Siobhan performed here (and in the official video) while heavily-pregnant. What a trooper.

As keen-eyed observers will have noted at the start of the clip, I Heard a Rumour entered the UK Top 40 that week at #28, a ridiculously-low entry for one of the greatest pop singles of the decade, and what’s more by a group with five years of hits under their belts by that point. However even that curious fact pales in comparison next to the shocking truth of where I Heard a Rumour would eventually peak in the charts…

#14.

Fourteen. Four-f**king-teen. I’d always assumed it was a #1. Surely anyone in their right mind would bet it was a nailed-on Top 5 smash at least? Or at the absolute bare minimum, a stonewall Top 10?

But no.

The “Great” British public saw fit to send the record to… #14.

Even now, 33 years on, this travesty of jukebox justice ought to be subject to a belated public inquiry.

 

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Copyright: Keeley Moss ℗&©2020. All rights reserved.

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Acknowledgements

I Heard a Rumour written by Fahey/Woodward/Dallin/Stock/Aitken/Waterman. Published by Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., BMG Rights Management, A Side Music LLC D/B/A Modern Works Music Publishing ©1987

Published under Fair Use policy

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