The song was written by Bananarama members, Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey and Keren Woodward, along with successful songwriting and record production duo. Steve Jolley & Tony Swain. The single was released on 27 June 1983 (2 July 1984 in the U.S.) with “Cairo” on the B-side. “Cruel Summer” was initially a stand-alone single but was subsequently included on their self-titled second album in April 1984.
“Cruel Summer” peaked at #8 on the UK Singles Chart in 1983, and #9 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song was included in the 1984 film The Karate Kid
The music video was directed by Brian Simmons. It was filmed in New York City. The video opens with a shot of Manhattan in the background including the World Trade Center.
Bananarama recorded three more versions of the song. “Cruel Summer ’89” was released in 1989. It featured Dallin and Woodward’s vocals as a duo for the first time. It reached #19 on the UK singles chart in June 1989.
In June 1998, the song was covered by Swedish pop group Ace of Base, reached #8 in the UK, and #10 in the United States