May 10

TIFFANY – “I Think We’re Alone Now”

Popular76 comments • 4,474 views

#603, 30th January 1988, video

Listening to it now, what strikes me most about “I Think We’re Alone Now” is how discofied it is. Its clipped drums and chunky bass synths mean it starts like a low-rent “Always On My Mind”, and it looks set to head down a similar hi-NRG path. Only a couple of the very mildest rock touches – that tiny organ flourish leading into the chorus, a very diffident bit of electric guitar over the coda – and its rather sluggish pace divert it.

Oh, and the way Tiffany Dawlish herself never lives up to the gusto of that opening – “Children behaaaaave”. You hear that and you think she’s going to belt the song out, grab onto of its urgency, ride its hormonal high stakes. Original singer Tommy James knew why being alone was a good idea: so most certainly did his band the Shondells, who play “I Think” with a hopping, blue-balled desperation. But that single-mindedness is missing from Tiffany’s version and so her “alone” seems a little more academic. You don’t really believe anything terribly naughty is going to happen, and actually the comforting swell of strings towards the end just seems to underline that Tiff’s parents don’t have a great deal to worry about: that trademark denim jacket is staying firmly on.

Teenpop stars are often accused of pushing a wholesome image to mask a less squeaky-clean reality, but actually remarkably few do: the people buying them want some level of glamour from even the most reputable star. This era is the larval stage of modern teenpop, but compared to 00s and 10s pop acts Tiffany seems quaint, hokey almost, and even at the time there was a sense of the amateur about her which served her quite well. Her record sleeves seemed defiantly basic, and all that homespun mythmaking about her touring malls was more endearing from her than similar gimmicks would be from anyone else after. Nothing wrong with the song either: it’s very strong and always fakes me into thinking I enjoy the record more than I do. But for me song and singer don’t really fit, and the arrangement drains the potential from both.



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  1. 51
    wichita lineman on 17 May 2010 #

    Smash Hits watch: two covers for Tiff, 27 Jan and 4 May 1988. She revealed that the last thing she did before going to bed was to eat home made cookies (on a tray, no crumbs in the bed), and that at school she was called Whiffany.

    I wanted to like Tiffany more. She seemed as unforced and endearingly amateurish as anyone since Bananarama. No enduring classics, though (anything I’ve missed, anyone? Frank?). This record is a strawberry Chewit next to the box of popcorn that followed it, but – as everyone bar Kat has said – the song is imperishable.

    I have a strong, gleeful memory of the TOTP programme with Tiff and Debbie Gibson – it felt like a brisk pop breeze after the heavy air of the mid 80s, and all the hollow self-importance; I heard (almost) no rock moves. What’s more, both girls seemed entirely unpretentious. Clearly neither wanted to be prematurely middle aged like Tina Turner or as hard-assed as Madonna (who already seemed old beyond her years). In retrospect, it was as significant an episode as the Roses/Mondays one 18 months down the line – a victory for Pop where the latter was a hard-won battle in the Indie wars.

  2. 52
    Mark M on 17 May 2010 #

    Re 9 & 46: Belinda Carlisle also made a long after the years of fame appearance in Playboy, which I presume makes a unique sequence of No1 artists taking Hugh Hefner’s dollar.

  3. 53
    Erithian on 18 May 2010 #

    Not the customary use of these pages, but a shout-out to Rosie of this parish who suffered a brain haemorrhage on 12 May and is recovering in the Royal Preston Hospital. Get well soon Rosie, we need your take on the next number one as soon as you’re fit to give it.

  4. 54
    MikeMCSG on 18 May 2010 #

    #53 Amen to that

  5. 55

    :( That’s awful news!! All the best Rosie, quick recovery and warmest wishes!

  6. 56
    Mike Atkinson on 18 May 2010 #

    Co-signing the virtual “get well soon” card. All best wishes for a speedy recovery, Rosie.

  7. 57
    thefatgit on 18 May 2010 #

    I enjoy reading Rosie’s comments on here, so I too wish a speedy recovery. Get well soon Rosie.

  8. 58
    Tim on 18 May 2010 #

    :( Get well soon, Rosie.

  9. 59
    Tom on 18 May 2010 #

    God, how terrible – get well soon Rosie!

  10. 60
    koganbot on 18 May 2010 #

    Yes, hope you have a good recovery.

  11. 61
    anto on 18 May 2010 #

    Get well soon Rosie.

  12. 62
    Rory on 19 May 2010 #

    Indeed, what awful news. Get well soon, Rosie.

  13. 63
    will on 19 May 2010 #

    Wishing you a full and speedy recovery, Rosie

  14. 64
    punctum on 19 May 2010 #

    Good heavens. I’ve only now just looked at this thread and found out the news. A brain haemorrhage is a terrible thing to happen no matter which way you look at it. My mum had an aneurysm back in 1996 and she was lucky to survive that (she was with friends when it happened; if she’d been alone at home, I shudder to think what might have happened).

    So, yes, Rosie, I hope you makes a full recovery, however long it takes. Deep down I miss arguing with you, you daft old bat ;-)

    (Paging Waldo: if you’re in a position to do so please pass on all of our good wishes to R. Thanks.)

  15. 65
    pink champale on 19 May 2010 #

    Get well soon, Rosie

  16. 66
    LondonLee on 19 May 2010 #

    Best wishes and good thoughts to you, Rosie.

  17. 67
    Billy Smart on 19 May 2010 #

    Get well soon, Rosie.

  18. 68
    Martin Skidmore on 21 May 2010 #

    I echo the best wishes to Rosie.

    For me, this song illustrates why I am so in favour of cover versions as a general principle. I loved the song so much in the Tommy James and Rubinoos version that a lot of the feeling (which is very similar to that evoked by some great Shangri-Las singles) simply carried over for me, and the powerful emotions that Tiffany and the backing do so little to actually express are solidly embedded in the song, so I get them anyway even in a lacklustre version. Not that we needed a version as uninteresting as this, but when it was played everywhere I was able to enjoy it enormously more than if this had been the only version I’d heard.

  19. 69
    Waldo on 24 May 2010 #


    Thanks for the paging, MC.

    I’ve only now had this opportunity to access Popular having been in Italy for a few days and then suffering loss of Internet at work.

    The news about Rosie is most encouraging after what were truly alaming events. She was moved back from the Royal Preston to her local hospital in resplendant Barrow over the weekend and the last text I received mentioned something about a romance with a chocolate orange. She particularly forbade me from exchanging jokey obituaries with Erithian (whenever someone of note edges one to the keeper, he and I are on a race to get the gag in first) as she assures everyone that she doesn’t intend to check out (of life) just yet.

    I would like to thank everyone for your messages of support, which I have passed on to Rosie. Her contributions to the Popular project have been considerable and the bunfights with Marcello, in particular, entertaining for a variety of reasons. I’ll let you all know when there is an update and copy this to whatever number one we are discussing at the time.

    Cheers, everyone.

  20. 70
    Tom on 24 May 2010 #

    That’s very encouraging Waldo – thanks so much for updating us!

  21. 71
    rosie on 24 May 2010 #

    What are you all gawping at? Have you go enough work to do?

    Carlin, my office. Now!

  22. 72
    Mike Atkinson on 24 May 2010 #


    Welcome back, Rosie. You have some overdue coursework, but we are prepared to be lenient in this instance.

  23. 73
    Caledonianne on 1 Jun 2010 #

    I’ve been AWOL (for all sorts of reasons to complicated to explain), but – phew! – it’s great to scroll down, and have Rosamundo ‘erself dishing out the orders, just a few minutes after first learning of the incident.

    Hope the convalescence continues to go well.

  24. 74
    Billman on 15 Dec 2013 #

    Tiffany was good in the 80’s but now she is even better just listen to rose tattoo album to find out how good Tiffany is now

  25. 75
    Adam on 28 Mar 2015 #

    Any pop fans out there who find celebrity culture fascinating will enjoy this eponymous documentary, which matter-of-factly deals with two Tiffany stalkers long after her career had waned. Similar subject as Scorsese’s King of Comedy, I guess, but doesn’t try to judge; just shines a light on “the people behind the idolatrous comments”. https://vimeo.com/16528127

  26. 76
    Edward Still on 10 Feb 2018 #

    I just stumbled across the original version of this song and it’s….absolutely fantastic, especially that tippy toe bass line in the bridge which is entirely lost in this version. It’s amazing how much more fun the 60s teenager seems like he’s having compared to the 80s one. Solid 8 for me.

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