Walk Like an Egyptian
Writer(s): Liam Sternberg (see lyrics here)
Released: September 1, 1986
First Charted: September 13, 1986
Peak: 14 US, 11 CB, 12 RR, 1 CO, 3 UK, 11 CN, 12 AU, 5 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.25 UK, 1.3 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 132.6 video, 187.45 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Liam Sternberg was part of the Akron, Ohio, music scene in the ‘70s. He worked with Jane Aire & the Belvederes and wrote songs for Rachel Sweet, but didn’t find any real success. He did, however, find one-hit wonder status as a songwriter with “Walk Like an Egytian.” While riding a ferry boat across the English Channel, he noticed that as people struggled to maintain their balance, they held up their arms like they were doing Egyptian movements. SF
He recorded a demo of the song with singer Marti Jones in 1984. He offered it to Toni Basil, who had a #1 hit in 1982 with “Mickey,” but she turned it down. Lene Lovich recorded the song, but she decided to take a break from music to raise a family and the song went unreleased. Dave Kahne, who produced the Bangles’ Different Light album, got a copy of the demo and presented it to the Bangles.
He had each of the four members sing the song, eventually opting to have Vicki Peterson, Michael Steele, and Susanna Hoffs each sing a verse. WK Kahne didn’t like Debbie Peterson’s vocal, so he relegated her to backing vocals. She was even more angry when a drum machine was also used instead of her drumming. WK As for the whistling in the song – none of them do it. It was done by machine. WK
The band didn’t think the song would be released because it was “a goofy romp” and “too weird.” SF However, it was the third single from the Different Light album, following the success of the #2 hit “Manic Monday” and “If She Knew What She Wants” (#29). It became their best-selling album with 3 million copies and highest charting, reaching #2. Not only did “Walk Like an Egyptian” go to #1 in the U.S., but became Billboard magazine’s top song of the year.
First posted 12/8/2020; last updated 3/11/2023.