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Music

The Story Behind The Song: How The Bangles created 'Manic Monday'

Los Angeles pop-rock group The Bangles formed in 1981 under the name ‘The Bangs’ and were part of the Paisley Underground scene; a genre of music that was generally associated with California during the 1980s and seemed to revive some of the psychedelia of the 1960s with a darker hippie hang-over feel to it by incorporating elements of punk rock. The Bangs changed their name and had become more popular in the mainstream by 1984 with the release of their debut album All Over the Place. It was around this time too that the group would receive a leg-up from their friend Cyndi Lauper who asked them to join her as an opening act during her ‘Fun Tour’ in 1983-4. All Over the Place seemed to provide the power-pop foundations from which they would grow moving into their subsequent sessions in the recording studio.

After their first album and touring partnership with Lauper, the group seemingly had fallen onto the desk of none other than Prince. In the early ’80s Prince had been working with a group named Apollonia 6, a trio of singers that he had been mentoring; he had written a song for the group named ‘Manic Monday’ under the pseudonym Christopher and had recorded some early demo takes before subsequently abandoning the idea when he had fallen out of favour with the lead singer Vanity (Denise Matthews). 

Two years later, after The Bangles had fallen under his radar, Prince had a fantastic idea. In a 1989 interview with MTV, Debbi Peterson of The Bangles recalled: “[Prince] really liked our first album. He liked the song ‘Hero Takes a Fall’, which is a great compliment because we liked his music. He contacted us, and said, ‘I’ve got a couple of songs for you. I’d like to know if you’re interested,’ and of course, we were. One of the songs Prince brought to the group was ‘Manic Monday’, written under the pseudonym of Christopher.”

The group accepted Prince’s offering with gratitude and set about recording the song to be released as a single from their upcoming album, 1986’s Different Light. The Bangles’ singer and guitarist Susanna Hoffs described their recording of Prince’s ‘Manic Monday’, revealing: “When I first heard that ‘oh whoa’ melody I thought of the Velvet Underground. Then when I heard the title I thought of Jimi Hendrix [who sang ‘Manic Depression’]. But then with the Monday part and the harmonies, I thought of The Mamas & the Papas. It has a lot of the elements of emotion and style that [The Bangles] connect to. And [young people] really pick-up on the nursery rhyme appeal – like ‘Sally Go ‘Round the Roses’, [there’s] a nice simplicity to it.”

Peterson described the track to MTV in 1989, stating: “It was a Banglefication of a Prince arrangement. He had a demo, that was very specifically him. It was a good song, but we didn’t record it like ‘This is our first hit single! Oh my God! I can feel it in my veins!’ We just did the song, and the album, and then sat back and thought about it.”

Alas, the single would become the group’s first major hit upon its release. ‘Manic Monday’ soared up to number two on the US singles chart and was ironically beaten to the top spot by Prince’s ‘Kiss’. The track would help to buoy Different Light through the album charts upon its release later in the year with a helping hand from their second hit and global number one single ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’. 

Revisit the perfect Banglefication of a classic Prince composition below.