Released today in 1985: Cruising

Fanfare FAN2

Fanfare FAN2

Sinitta’s first appearance in Smash Hits was in ‘Bitz’, the news section, in the issue of 30 July 1986 – where her age was given as 19. Which made her 18 when Cruising was released. And 17 when she was a Eurovision hopeful with the song Imagination. And 16 when she released her first single. And – wildly implausibly – 14 when she filmed her scenes as ‘Frankie’ in the movie Shock Treatment. 25 years later, the sleeve notes for the reissue of her debut album gave the year of her birth as 1968, which revises those estimates of her age down by two years. I suppose what I’m trying to say is: Sinitta has been around for a while, and today, to account for her long career in showbiz, her website gives her date of birth as “The 1960’s”, which is absolutely accurate.

She was born in America and came to the UK when her mother, singer and actress Miquel Brown, won a role in the London production of the musical Decameron. (Brown’s single taken from the show, Something To Do With Love, was released on Sinitta’s tenth birthday.) Sinitta attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and followed her mother in to the entertainment industry, her career beginning in earnest in the 1980s. The previously mentioned Shock Treatment was filmed in November 1980 and released on Halloween the following year; she made an early television appearance as a backing dancer for Imagination in 1982; that debut single, titled Never Too Late, appeared on Midas Records in 1983; and she came fourth with the track she hoped to take to the Eurovision Song Contest when she performed it on A Song For Europe in 1984. In between she joined the stage casts of musicals such as The Wiz and Cats and was briefly a member of Hot Gossip, singing on a couple of their singles.

Her time as a pop star began when she signed with Simon Cowell’s fledgling Fanfare record label. Cruising was Fanfare’s second release (the first was a Hot Gossip single, Don’t Beat Around The Bush, which also featured Sinitta), and it failed to chart. The following year it was issued again as the B-side of So Macho, but before long this single was being promoted as a double A-side with equal billing for both tracks. Although it was a long time coming it eventually made #2, becoming one of the best-sellers of 1986. She then went on to place one single a year in the Top 10 for the rest of the decade. Ideally suited to the role as pop star in many respects, she was the classic ‘triple threat’: she had trained in dance at ballet school, learned her craft as a singer by performing backing and ghost vocals for a number of acts including Imagination’s Leee John, and paid her acting dues on stage and film. She was as hardworking and professional as she was attractive and bubbly, and the latter qualities led to her regularly being found in the gossip columns, often photographed with a handsome suitor. One of these, dancer and model Sam Connery, attracted enough tabloid interest to inspire the lyrics for her 1987 hit Toy Boy. And her appeal was wide: she dedicated her debut album Sinitta! “to all the MEN who first accepted me [probably an acknowledgement of her loyal gay following]; to all the KIDS who bought my singles and supported us; to all the GIRLS who felt the same; to all the BOYS who danced around the world with me.”

The hits started to dry up with the demise of Fanfare in the early 90s. A brief spell with Arista brought only entries in the lower reaches of the chart and her third album, Naughty Naughty was granted a limited release in Asia only. Sinitta returned to stage work, touring with the cast of the “rock n’ pop musicals in concert” show What A Feeling!. But it was her continued association with Cowell that brought her back to public attention. Since its inception in 2004, she has been involved with The X Factor as part of the contestant mentoring support for Cowell’s acts; she remained with the programme during Cowell’s absence from series eight to ten to assist Louis Walsh. She has appeared on numerous other reality TV shows while The X Factor has been on air. Last year she also returned to the recording studio, releasing a cover of a song her mother had had a major club hit with in the 80s, So Many Men, So Little Time.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Feb. 22
1980
ORANGE JUICE (Edwyn Collins) Falling and Laughing (Postcard 80-1)
SKIDS Animation (Virgin VS323)
1985
The JESUS AND MARY CHAIN Never Understand (Blanco Y Negro NEG8)
SINITTA Cruising (Fanfare FAN2)
1988
BOY GEORGE Live My Life (Virgin BOY105)
INXS (Michael Hutchence) Devil Inside (Mercury INXS10)
SIMPLY RED (Mick Hucknall) I Won’t Feel Bad (WEA YZ172)  

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