The Bangles – If She Knew What She Wants
He's crazy for this girl
(But she don't know what she's looking for)
If she knew what she wants
He'd be giving it to her
Giving it to her
#Bangles #TheBangles #IfSheKnewWhatSheWants
Sometimes certain details prove to be crucial in determining whether a project, an idea, a song, a film is successful or not. And then of course, if we are in the 80s, we know that due to small details anything can happen, and completely unexpected things can arise from there.
If we think of the songs of the 80s, there were many that initially weren’t very successful, and then shortly after with a few small details of difference, they became historical songs. Perhaps the most striking case was a-ha‘s Take On Me, which went through a path of evolution that lasted years with different titles and arrangements, before reaching the version that everyone knows today. But also the beautiful West End Girls of Pet Shop Boys, in the initial version produced by Bobby O had had a moderate success, but rearranged by Tennant and Lowe after just one year became one of the most beautiful and iconic songs of the decade, the signature song of that group. A similar thing also happened to Paul Young’s Love of the Common People.
Sometimes it was necessary to change singer, to make a song successful, and this is more understandable, because the singer obviously does a lot in terms of performance and also visibility.
So, in a way, it may not come as a surprise that a song written by Jules Shear wasn’t very successful. You are now probably wondering who Jules Shear is, I guess. I’ll tell you: Jules Shear is an American musician who was highly appreciated in the 80s especially as an author, within the category of musicians, without ever becoming particularly famous for the public. For example, the first song that gave him visibility was All Through The Night, later sung by Cindy Lauper. Many artists and producers called Shear to ask if he had a song ready to be sung, and Shear diverted them to his manager. Shear, in fact, was a very reserved guy, who did not like to do much public relations, and above all he had one thing in mind at that time, he wanted to work on his album, with songs that he would sing.
And indeed Shear’s albums were out, but the songs weren’t very successful. It also happened in 1985 with the song If She Knew What She Wants, a love song in which the good Jules was in love with a girl, and he said, in the first person, if she knew what he wants, I’d be giving it to her. The song wasn’t bad, but if we hear the original version on YouTube it could actually seem a bit improvable: between verse and chorus there are some gaps that are a bit too evident, as if they were different songs, and maybe Jules’ voice doesn’t make the most of the song.
And in fact, things turned out quite differently the following year, in early April 1986, when the Bangles version of If She Knew What She Wants came out. The Bangles were experiencing a golden moment: their second album, Different Light, had been released in January, driven by an irresistible song written by Prince: Manic Monday. The success was immediate, and in April the song was still at the top of the charts when the second single was released which was precisely If She Knew What She Wants, which prolonged the success of the Californian girls until the end of the summer, when also Walk Like An Egyptian would come out to get their careers off the ground forever.
The Bangles version was certainly more accurate than Jules Shear’s, and certainly Susanna Hoffs’ voice fits better to the song’s melody. The Bangles then also changed a small detail: since the protagonist was a man in love with a girl, the Bangles sang the song talking about the protagonist in the third person, saying “if she knew what she wants, he’d be giving it to her”. It was probably not this detail that determined the success of the song, but it made the version of the four girls more particular.
For this song, the Bangles even shot two videos. The first, the one in which Susanna Hoffs has a blue dress, was filmed while the Bangles were on tour in England, and was broadcast mainly in Europe, and for this reason it is called “UK Version”. At the end of the tour the girls returned to the United States, and the producers wanted to shoot another video, produced by Susanna Hoffs’ mother, with a prevalence of black and white scenes. Actually the two videos are not that different, and personally I prefer the first one, the one of the blue dress.
One last curious detail: the version recorded by Jules Shear was contained in his second album, which was titled The Eternal Return. A title that recalls another great success of the Bangles that will be released in 1989, Eternal Flame, and also a single that brought together some of their hits called The Eternal Mix.
The Bangles on Wikipedia