Had a bit of a shock today… I heard “Walking On Sunshine” on a TV show and took a look to see when it was originally released.
If you’d asked me to guess, I’d probably have said it was early 90s…I knew it was a while ago, but I never consider “Walking On Sunshine” to be an “oldie” — it always sounds so fresh, it could have been recorded yesterday.
But it astounded me…and, I hope, you too or I really have lost all sense of the passage of time…to discover “Walking On Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves was originally recorded in 1983…35 years ago.
I know!…35 years!…that’s nearly a lifetime ago!
And despite all the songs that have been written and recorded in the intervening 35 years, “Walking On Sunshine” is still one of the most cheerful, upbeat songs I know.
If I want to hear a tune that’s guaranteed to cheer me up, I have to track back to either 1974 for my all-time favourite cheerful song (“Beach Baby” by First Class, if you’re asking…) or to 1983 for “Walking On Sunshine”, the silver medallist on my happy song list.
That feels like a statistic which should make us pause to wonder what’s been going on with the music industry over the last few decades if two of the happiest tunes ever to hit the charts came from (ulp!) 44 years ago and 35 years ago respectively.
“Walking On Sunshine” has been a such a long-time favourite of mine for several reasons…the relentlessly upbeat feeling… the punchy brass — I’m always a sucker for a well-arranged brass section…and the slightly strange video.
The video features Katrina walking by the Thames in a short-sleeved shirt whilst her bandmates follow along, huddled up in lots of jumpers and coats, before arriving at a backstage dressing room somewhere, apparently just before they’re due on stage.
Katrina, it seems, is literally “walking on sunshine”…the video director perhaps slightly over-labouring the metaphor…so she doesn’t need loads of jumpers or a big coat despite the inclement weather because, as the lyrics say…
I used to think maybe you loved me, now, baby I’m sure
And I just can’t wait till the day when you knock on my door
Now every time I go for the mailbox, gotta hold myself down
’Cause I just can’t wait till you write me you’re coming around
Katrina then goes on at some length about how being in love makes her feel like she’s “walking on sunshine”….which, let’s face it, is a pretty good metaphor for the feeling you get when you fall in love with someone. Who among us wouldn’t feel like they were floating above the ground on a sea on sunbeams if we knew someone loved us absolutely and unconditionally.
If I’m honest, the lyrics are perfectly fine, but what makes today’s song into such a favourite is Katrina’s infectious enthusiasm…she really sells this song as hard as it can be sold…together with the aforementioned punchy brass section.
The music and lyrics for “Walking on Sunshine” were written by Kimberley Rew, who was one of the Waves.
He also has the distinction of writing the song which won the Eurovision Song Contest by the largest-ever winning margin for a UK entry (70 points ahead of second place for Katrina and the Waves with “Love Shine A Light” in 1997). So the guy knows how to write a pretty decent song.
And of course, the feel of “Walking On Sunshine” is such a great, positive one that the tune, or more often snatches of it, has been used in countless TV commercials and films and is something of a staple of classic rock radio….which is indeed how it came to my attention again the other day as I was casually watching a programme on TV.
It’s such a popular tune, I’m sure Kimberley Rew is one of his bank manager’s favourite people due to the royalty cheques he’s banked in the last 35 years. But he deserves every penny for writing a song as good as “Walking On Sunshine”.
The video below is for the international hit version of “Walking On Sunshine” which was actually recorded in 1985, although the original, slightly shorter, version was a hit in Canada in 1983.
If you’d like to give the original a listen, you can find that here… https://youtu.be/-W6m6nUNaiI
It’s still recognisably the same song, but the original release doesn’t have the wonderful brass section that the international hit version did…which just goes to show the extra budget for some session players was well worth the investment. It ramped up an already upbeat song to something that was almost beside itself with upbeatedness… (if that’s a thing).
Whether you prefer it with or without brass…although I think it’s better with…today’s song has lasted through the years. “Walking On Sunshine” has become a “go to” song that TV producers, film scorers and oldies radio planners reach for when they want to lift the mood in an instant.
Please enjoy one of the greatest “feel good” songs in popular music history…
It’s Katrina and the Waves with “Walking On Sunshine”…
The video is below or, if you prefer, you can enjoy the song on Spotify here… https://open.spotify.com/track/05wIrZSwuaVWhcv5FfqeH0
PS — just before we get to the video, if you enjoyed this article, please give it a “clap”…or even more than one if you’re feeling kind. You can also follow me on Medium (here) or Twitter (here) to get new articles as soon as they’re published.