Single Review: Bananarama “Trick of the Night”

Trick of the Night
Album: True Confessions
Year: 1986

Bananarama cautions a male friend of the risks of prostituting himself in the watchful “Trick of the Night.”

Winsome keyboards open the song. However, the innocent pop is contrasted by a grim saxophone, which creates a shadowy tone.

Siobhan Fahey, Keren Woodward, and Sarah Dallin remark that people may seem like ordinary hard-working people during the day but could the opposite once the evening begins. They warned their male friend not explore the seediness of life. (“When the day is over/And the work is done/Well it’s a different story/As the darkness comes around/I tried to let you know/You’re going the wrong way.”)

He thought he would’ve had a successful career and his dreams would be reachable. However, times have been tough and he’s resorted to being a male prostitute. He’s been making the wrong decisions (“And the streets you thought/Would all be paved with gold/ But when the wind cuts through/ You’d even try to sell your soul/Everywhere you go/ It’s the long way.”)

He was raised well in a nice family. People fell for his charm and complimented him on earning good grades. He insists the prositituiton is only temporary. (“Now you’re no longer/Just the boy next door/When they were falling in love/With that clean cut smile/Change of style/Just for a little while”).

Bananarama reach out to him, inquiring as to why he would endanger his health and shame himself for money. He’s familiar to the nighttime. But ultimately he’s another person to his friends.(“Whatcha doing, hey whatcha doing/Walking through danger/Can’t see the wrong or the right/Whatcha doing, tell me whatcha doing/Can’t be a stranger/Must be a trick of the night”). There’s a terrific wordplay in the chorus. Trick has two meanings: 1) “can’t be a stranger/must be a trick of the night” alludes to his double life and 2) it states quite blatantly what he’s doing.

The moody saxophone has a solo while the keyboards accompany it.

He’s tense as a customer approaches him. Bananarama remarks that he tries to make the encounters sound like fun. However, he’s torn between the money he knows he will receive and queasiness he feels inside. But he has a poker face and keeps quiet, even if the person is insulting him. (“Well it’s a laugh a minute/And you can’t decide/Between the burning question/And the fortune in his eyes/You never let it show/Or take it the wrong way.”)

He’s forgotten about why he thought the city was such a wonderful to place to live. He’s been lying to his family. He’s told them he has been promoted, has a beautiful girlfriend and an apartment that overlooks the park. If his family ever found out, they would disown him. But he’s disappointed as to how he became the person he is. (“Sometimes you wonder/What you came here for/Oh, they could tear you apart/With those bare faced lies/Can’t disguise/All the hurt you’re feeling inside.”)

The saxophone returns but this time, Bananarama sings “of the night/of the night/must be a trick of the night” over it.

The first verse is sung twice to end the single.

Bananarama continue to defy the rules of pop. They tackle difficult topics in a smart and ironic way. Another positive aspect of their social message songs is that they are not preachy and judgemental.


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