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The Bangles - If She Knew What She Wants (1986)

  • Video Views 6,102,933
  • 80's Score 80's score: 1.44
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"If She Knew What She Wants" is a song written by American singer-songwriter Jules Shear and introduced on his 1985 album The ...

"If She Knew What She Wants" is a song written by American singer-songwriter Jules Shear and introduced on his 1985 album The Eternal Return. The Bangles recorded the song for their 1986 album Different Light. That version, a call-and-response rendition with Susanna Hoffs as the main voice, was issued as a single and became a Top 40 hit. A mid-tempo ballad, it is sung from the viewpoint of someone, per songwriter Shear, "who wants to satisfy someone else but doesn't quite know how to do it because the other person is capricious." The song, especially The Bangles' version, is typically described with such adjectives as "bittersweet", "plaintive" and "wistful".

The Bangles recorded "If She Knew What She Wants" for their 1986 album Different Light. Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times would opine that "on... 'If She Knew What She Wants' the Bangles' voices blend with the kind of seductive charm that you swore disappeared the day the Mamas & the Papas called it quits."

The Bangles had spent the autumn of 1984 as the opening act on the Fun Tour by Cyndi Lauper, the singer through whose patronage Jules Shear had first come to the fore, chiefly through Lauper's hit version of Shear's composition "All Through the Night". The Bangles themselves would subsequently assist Shear in the promotion of his The Eternal Return album. When Shear had mimed his single—the Lauper co-written "Steady"—on an American Bandstand episode broadcast on 8 June 1985, The Bangles served as faux-backup band. Shear would also co-write The Bangles' track "I Got Nothing" included on the 1985 The Goonies soundtrack. Mark Jenkins of The Washington Post would opine that "The Bangles wisely didn't second-guess Shear's version of 'If She Knew What She Wants'; their arrangement of that song... echoes his faithfully—except that they sing better." Vicki Peterson of The Bangles has noted that the group did slightly change Shears' arrangement. Lyrically, some first-person clauses in Shear's recording (ex. "I'm crazy for this girl") are third-person in The Bangles' version (cf. "He's crazy for this girl"). The positioning of the bridge also differs—in Shear's recording the bridge (which begins with "Some have a style") follows the verse that starts with "No sense thinking I could rehabilitate her"; in The Bangles' version, the bridge comes before that verse.

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