May 09

BONNIE TYLER – “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”

FT + Popular114 comments • 10,559 views

#517, 12th March 1983

Pop repeats itself first as the sublime then as the ridiculous. “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” – especially when you watch the gauzy video – comes across as a big budget remake of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”. Pianos, crescendos, abstraction, abjection. But bigger isn’t always better.

Or isn’t it? Jim Steinman is pomp rock’s master of scale: why settle for a delicate bas-relief when you could have Mount Rushmore every time? The avowed models for his colossal effects are Springsteen (I’m guessing not “Nebraska”) and Spector, but he takes them very much as pencil sketches for the absurd canvases he wants to create. Inevitably, what’s generally missing is heart: Steinman records have mightily entertained me but very rarely thrilled me in the way “Born To Run” or the Christmas Album have. In “Born To Run”, the record is big because the protagonist’s dreams are big. In “Bat Out Of Hell”, the record is big because it can be.

There’s honour in that, mind you, and when Steinman’s on, he is on. “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” may replace emotion with scale, but at the top end scale is its own emotion. That being “OMG”, and this record’s gasping, OMG, needles-in-the-red moment is when Bonnie shreds herself to pieces on “We’re living in a powder keg and GIVING OFF SPARKS!” before that toweringly preposterous arpeggio and her spent, release-filled “I REALLY NEED YOU TONIGHT!”. And then the planet she’s standing on explodes, or something.

Actually one of the great things about this monstrous balladosaurus is how even Steinman overreaches himself – the record buckles when it hits its climax and I get the (almost poignant!) impression he wanted it go to even bigger. This despite the fact that for the whole of that climactic verse the track already sounds like Zeus using his thunderbolts to play a drumkit made of atom bombs. Tyler herself does a terrific job in riding this song – even though it wastes the smokier gifts heard on “It’s A Heartache”, most other singers would have simply been jetsam flung into insignificance by the production’s bow wave.

A grand folly, then – with a title like “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”, how could it not be? – but a very loveable one. I was awfully tempted to write this post in all caps.



  1. 1
    Tom on 20 May 2009 #

    I actually love this record more than “Billie Jean” even though I don’t think it’s as good. I have disgraced myself to it at Club Popular on occasion too I believe.

  2. 2
    peter goodlaws on 20 May 2009 #

    “Turn around…” for a rare case of stadium rock from a girlie, albeit a bit of a scary one. As Tom suggests, this is a good production and smoky old Bonnie really flings herself into it. For me it lacks the class of “Wuthering Heights” but this is a mighty fine blast from “the female Rod Stewart” so that one is not minded to attempt to chase this woman back over the Severn Bridge from whence she came (unlike many other artists from the Principality, past and present) and many hard men would probably not have the balls to try anyway.

  3. 3
    poohugh on 20 May 2009 #

    This is a brilliant song! You won’t have reviewed or will review a song on this blog that has such an insane structure. There isn’t really a verse or a chorus it’s one massive Caps Lock. Wuthering Heights begins, middles, bridges, and ends; Total Eclipse…. explodes then explodes again, then shrapnel rains down, then it explodes again. 9

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 20 May 2009 #

    Hm, yes, I can see how you might admire the gargantuan scale of Steinman’s creations, but they just sound so UGLY to me! Caterwauling vocals and thumping and booming.

    I suppose that I can find the comic overreach in the lyrics alone, which have got a pleasing join the dots lunatic escalation of metaphor and larger and larger delivery (falling in love/ falling apart!/ “Once upon a time there was light in my life/But now there’s only love in the dark!”/ total – eclipse – OF THE HEART!”. But this is always overwhelmed by the sheer discomfort of having to actually listen to it.

    The only times when I can really find value in what Steinman does is when he’s orchestrating the work of somebody else with some sort of artistic vision of the world that I can engage with, be that Andrew Eldrich or Gary Barlow (‘This Corrosion’ may be my favourite hit of the eighties).

    I slightly prefered the nineties rave version of this by Nikki French, if only because it seemed to wind up rock purists.

  5. 5
    lonepilgrim on 20 May 2009 #

    I think I hated this at the time (on principle) but having watched the video again for the first time in ages I quite enjoyed it in a ‘I ♡ the 80s’ kind of way. The video has big hair, shoulder pads and images of privileged youth with glowing eyes which epitomise a decade of excess.

  6. 6
    Billy Smart on 20 May 2009 #

    #2 Watch: A week of Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’. A bit over-familiar, but certainly preferable to my ears.

  7. 7
    Tom on 20 May 2009 #

    I absolutely LOATHED this at the time, by the way. The first of quite a few records I’ve come around 180 on.

    Nikki French is great too!

  8. 8
    wildheartedoutsider on 20 May 2009 #

    I think I must have had something against Bonnie Tyler (more of that later!) because this was another Number One I remember pretty much loathing at the time.

    Strangely enough I’ve come to despise it less as a song with the passing years having seen it performed at karaoke bars so many times – I can understand the appeal of singing it. Listening to Bonnie Tyler, however, is something which remains a particularly painful experience for me.

  9. 9
    pinkchampale on 20 May 2009 #

    heart or not, this is an absolutely glorious (ridiculous, of course) record. actually, i think there is heart of a sort – it doesn’t seem to me that bonnie tyler has the slightest inkling that what she’s singing isn’t really of planet-stopping importance and it’s her lunatic, lung-busting commitment keeps you transfixed. and the video is just something else. ludicrous certainly – the choirboy suddenly zooming toward camera is a particular treat – but also so dramatic, so mad, that it actually ends up being a genuinely powerful peice of art.

    three was once a great piece of (presumably accidental) programming on the late (and actually lamented, by me at least) mojo radio where ‘bat out of hell’ was followed by ‘born to run’ was followed by ‘fast car’, each making the claims of the former seem hollow.

  10. 10
    Billy Smart on 20 May 2009 #

    TOTPWatch: Bonnie Tyler twice performed Total Eclipse on Top Of The Pops;

    24 February 1983. Also in the studio that week were; Spandau ballet, The Thompson Twins and Eurythmics, plus Zoo’s interpretation of ‘She Means Nothing To Me’. The hosts were Dave Lee Travis and Andy Peebles.

    17 March 1983. Also in the studio that week were; Bananarama, Mezzoforte, Bucks Fizz and Joan Armatrading. Tony Blackburn and Gary Davies were the hosts.

    (I was wrong to say that Zoo had been mothballed at the end of 1982. They still turn up, very infrequently, until July 1983)

  11. 11
    Erithian on 20 May 2009 #

    More on this later, but circa 1977’s sultry “More Than A Lover”, I would have rather liked to have had something against Bonnie Tyler. Mind you I was only 15.

  12. 12
    wildheartedoutsider on 20 May 2009 #

    #9 “it doesn’t seem to me that bonnie tyler has the slightest inkling that what she’s singing isn’t really of planet-stopping importance”

    I was just thinking exactly the same thing while I was trying to fathom out why I might prefer karaoke versions of a song to its original. I think anyone I’ve seen singing it in a bar on a drunken night out has clearly realised that it’s a piece of over-blown fun and have performed it accordingly. Bonnie Tyler doesn’t give any indication that she understands that it’s a ‘fun’ song, and that makes her performance feel (unkowingly) pompous to me.

  13. 13
    lonepilgrim on 20 May 2009 #

    ♯7 I think this song requires at least a 540 degree turn around

  14. 14
    Billy Smart on 20 May 2009 #

    TV Sketchwatch: Was it Little & Large who did a parody of this where the guitarist kept of telling the singer to “Turn around” because her back was to the camera?

    It might have been Kenny Everett. Either way, it made me laugh when I was ten (I didn’t care for this at the time, either)

  15. 15
    Conrad on 20 May 2009 #

    An interesting run of number 1s (and they seem to have inspired some great reviews and comments) after the low-key end to 1982, and Janine-from-spinal-tap’s big sister hollers away to good effect here on what is nonsense, but enjoyable nonsense nonetheless.

    It’s a lot more fun than meatloaf anyway.

  16. 16
    Billy Smart on 20 May 2009 #

    Light entertainment watch. Bonnie has appeared on a really mixed assortment of shows over the years;

    THE FREDDIE STARR SHOWCASE: with Bonnie Tyler, Phil Thornalley, Otiz Cannelloni, Gonzalez, Steve Lange, John Themis (1983)

    LADYBIRDS: with Bonnie Tyler (1983)

    LENNIE AND JERRY: with Patrick Moore, Doctor Magnus Pyke, Bonnie Tyler (1979)

    LEO: with Peter Skellern, Tina Turner, Bonnie Tyler (1984)

    LIVE FROM THE PALLADIUM: with Victor Borge, The Shadows, Bonnie Tyler, Mike Oldfield (1987)

    THE MONTREUX ROCK FESTIVAL: with Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Art Of Noise, Belouis Some, Bronski Beat, Eighth Wonder, E.L.O., Paul Hardcastle, Marilyn Martin, Ready For The World, Bonnie Tyler (1986)

    NEVER MIND THE BUZZCOCKS: with Simon Amstell, Bill Bailey (Team Captain), Phill Jupitus (Team Captain), Melanie C, Bonnie Tyler, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Adam Buxton (2007)

    REVOLVER: with Roy Hill Band, The Vibrators, Chris Hill, Les Ross, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Bonnie Tyler, The Buzzcocks, Sore Throat, Kandidate (1978)

    RUSSELL HARTY: with Sadie Galvin, Bonnie Tyler, Toby Halick (1977)

    THREE OF A KIND: with Bonnie Tyler (1983)

    WOGAN: with Norman Tebbit, Anthony Andrews, Julie Walters, Shakin’ Stevens, Bonnie Tyler (1984)

    WOGAN: with Michael J. Fox, Ian Botham, Bob Carolgees and Spit the Dog, Bonnie Tyler, Stevie Wonder (1985)

    WOGAN: with Clive Dunn, Bonnie Tyler, Roy Walker, Jane Walmsley (1986)

    WOGAN: with Michael Buerk, Ron Eyre, Lucy Knowles, Rebecca Branford, Mike Oldfield, Bonnie Tyler, Emma Thompson (1987)

  17. 17
    lonepilgrim on 20 May 2009 #

    the other thing that struck me about the video was how BT resembles Nessa from Gavin and Stacey with a blonde barnet

  18. 18
    pinkchampale on 20 May 2009 #

    #12 but wouldn’t it be even better to see an absolutley serious karaoke singing really going for it? actually there’s a good greil marcus piece about a karaoke performer investing huge emotional weight in a song that was pretty much a joke to its original performer. but we’ll see about that in six months, bunny time. oh, and again in twenty-odd years, i think.

  19. 19
    wichitalineman on 20 May 2009 #

    I always wanted the East Enders writers to work the phrase “turn around, bright eyes” into a script, whispered in some unfortunate’s ear by Phil Mitchell on a foggy night in the square.

    This was a single that sounded like a no.1 the first time I heard it; though I loathed Bat Out Of Hell the (relative) light and space on TEOTH, plus Bonnie’s career-altering performance, meant I had to tip my hat.

    Though I couldn’t love it because it’s basically too silly, like all his productions, I think it’s the ONLY Steinman hit with any heart – the falling in love/falling apart couplet really works.

    Tom, you’re right about Steinman wanting to make this even bigger – the percussive thunderclaps on the instrumental verse are something even Spector didn’t dare to use on the Ronettes’ Walking In The Rain.

    Erithian, good call on More Than A Lover, much darker, saucier, and Welsher than TEOTH.

  20. 20
    Martin Skidmore on 20 May 2009 #

    I disliked it at the time – maybe it’s my changing tastes, but when a record like this is so prevalent, you do feel rather bludgeoned by it. With Steinman, I dislike his pomp on all but a few tracks – when something works, I can love it, as I do on this and Bat Out Of Hell. (I’ve always liked bike/car crash songs, for some reason.)

  21. 21
    Tom on 20 May 2009 #

    Big shout out for the sleeve, which looks like a mid-70s sci-fi novel.

  22. 22
    Andrew Farrell on 20 May 2009 #

    #12: Bonnie Tyler doesn’t give any indication that she understands that it’s a ‘fun’ song

    Dear God man, why should she? I can see most of the arguments against this song, but surely you’re not saying it would be improved by a sneer or a smirk?

    As regards the comparison in the first sentence, show me something as awesome as this video inspired by Wuthering Heights, and we’ll talk.

    (but then it will surprise no-one who knows me that I don’t consider sublime vs ridiculous to be a difficult choice, or even a proper choice at all).

  23. 23
    rosie on 20 May 2009 #

    Oh come on guys, I came back from my bowls match this afternoon (I won, for once) fully expecting to have to fight a one-woman rearguard action in defence of this record, and you all like it! Thank you for stealing my thunder!

    This really is the last single I ever bought, complete with that excellent picture sleeve but disappointingly black vinyl pressing. And I bought it because I really liked it at the time, not only because the first week of its number one-ship coincided with my turbulent sojourn in the little pit village of Bearpark in County Durham and the second week coincided with my total deflation at my mother’s house in Hitchin.

    I’ll cheerfully admit to something else, too. I really enjoy Jim Steinman. I love his unmistakeable, totally individual joyfully over-the-top take on rock. I love his absurd rock operas including, and especially, the first Bat Out Of Hell album. I even have my own copy of Jim Steinman’s own album, Bad For Good (his own voice is much too thin and weedy to carry the Wagnerian epics but it’s enjoyable all the same. Rivalling the Bat for my favourite Steinman album is Original Sin, attributed to “Pandora’s Box” which is actually the regular Steinman ensemble with a quartet of big, raunchy female voices in the Meat Loaf role.

    Steinman works best with big, raunchy female voices, and even a heavy-duty Welsh accent helps it along, which is why I think this record is the best of the lot. A big nine from me.

  24. 24
    wildheartedoutsider on 20 May 2009 #

    #20 You can’t beat a good car crash song! Personally my favourite is “I Want Me Baby Back” by Jimmy Cross in which we hear the story of the other vehicle involved in the leader of the pack’s fatal accident. Admittedly it’s a little short on the ‘song’ element but it’s worth it for the lyrics: “well… when I come to I looked around… and there was the leader… and THERE was the pack… and over there was my Baby …and over THERE was my Baby …and WAY over there was my Baby!”

    P.S. I think I know the reason you like songs about bike/car crashes, by the way …they skid more!?!

  25. 25
    Tom on 20 May 2009 #

    #22 well pop’s key lesson about ridicule has been discussed here at length already so I hardly thought it needed repeating!

  26. 26
    wildheartedoutsider on 20 May 2009 #

    #22 I think I’m saying it would be improved by a singer who isn’t Bonnie Tyler! I’d probably prefer it if it was sung by Meat Loaf, to be honest – he seems to have mastered the requisite ‘twinkle in his eye’ to carry off even the most emotionally overwrought of Steinman compositions with a warmth (and, dare I say, ‘sense of irony’) which I feel Tyler’s performance lacks.

    And none of that is an argument against the SONG, by the way. As a piece of song-writing I think it has its merits. This is one of those instances where I have a more positive view of the SONG than I do of the RECORD.

    I wonder if anyone has ever done a light wistful acoustic version of this? (like Beth Orton’s cover of the Ronettes’ Wall of Sound epic “I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine”) I think I’d quite enjoy that.

  27. 27

    link followed in wikipedia’s meat loaf article supplies material for long-delayed answer record: “a syndrome of pre-excitation of the ventricles of the heart due to an accessory pathway known as the Bundle of Kent. This accessory pathway is an abnormal electrical communication…”

  28. 28
    Kat but logged out innit on 20 May 2009 #

    I was going to comment going AWESOME WONDERFUL BRILLIANT A++++ earlier but didn’t think I could do it justice in the 30 seconds I had to spare – the song is epic and bombastic and totally THUNDEROUS. The video is just as good! Argh words are still failing me now – I think this is the musical equivalent of Galactus eating universes. Dudes, the choirboys have glowing eyes :-O

  29. 29
    Weej on 20 May 2009 #

    The review and comments here all make a lot of sense to me, but I still don’t like the song. It just does nothing for me at all, and I can’t say exactly why.

    This version, however, I like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIaz6zBz1go

  30. 30
    Rory on 20 May 2009 #

    (Damn, you’ve got to be quick around here. I wrote this on my laptop this afternoon after reading the first few comments, and come back after dinner to post it only to see half its thunder stolen. Ah well. Here’s what I wrote a few hours ago:)

    It’s impossible to choose one song to sum up the 1980s, but if I were choosing one to sum up 1983 it would have to be this. The most striking thing about the UK charts compared to the Australian ones is how briefly your number ones reigned compared to ours; it’s a rare exception indeed that dominated your charts for as long as this did ours (I won’t be mentioning the obvious parallel for fear of the Bunny). ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ sat on top in Oz for six weeks: six weeks of backlit big hair and over-literal bright-eyed kids on Countdown; six weeks of lyrics that seemed meaningful when puffed up with musical bombast but fell flatter than a flathead on the floor of a flat-bottomed boat on closer inspection. But what bombast! Has a number one ever felt more over-the-top than this? And shouldn’t that be the aim of every glory-obsessed hitmaker?

    It was clearly Jim Steinman’s aim. First he masterminded Meatloaf, another performer Aussies took to their hearts (Bat Out of Hell sold a gazillion copies there, like everywhere), and when Meatloaf over-the-topped his vocal chords one time too many Steinman released Bad for Good, the Meatloaf album you have when you aren’t having meatloaf. One of my high school art teachers was obsessed with that, and played it all the time in class; I’ve since seen it described as a notorious turkey, although really only the vocalist had changed (‘Meatloaf’s off, love – it’s turkey tonight’). And this, too, could have been a Meatloaf track, or a Steinman solo track, though I doubt it would have been as endearing without Tyler’s rasp – as if she were ruining her vocal chords in the act of recording, that’s how devoted she was to wringing totally the last drop out of this eclipsed heart.

    ‘Total Eclipse’ holds a special place for me in this Popular journey, because it’s the first actual single I helped push to number one back in the day. My three dollars went towards that first week or two of Australian chart dominance, and is no doubt helping keep Steinman (if not Tyler) in the gaudy rock-star luxury that such a hit demands. No one involved in ‘Total Eclipse’ could possibly go on to a quiet retirement of carefully managed investment portfolios: Steinman and Tyler today must either be living it large in coastal mansions or living in poverty after burning through all their cash, there can be no in-between. And I’m not about to look them up to prove myself wrong.

    Naturally, I was part of the backlash, and palmed this single off on my brother too, so I couldn’t even tell you what the b-side was. But 26 years later I can still remember the whole thing without checking YouTube, and now know that there a lot worse ways to reach number one than this: a lot of sillier, weedier, less infectious and less impassioned ways. I hope you kept your millions, Jim and Bonnie, because you earned them. 9, before I lose my resolve and listen to it again and award it 6.

  31. 31
    Tracer Hand on 20 May 2009 #

    This was my first “favorite song”.

    I was crushed when it didn’t win Casey Kasem’s year-end Top 100 countdown, which I heard on a portable radio in the woods behind my house in a clearing that my dad had spent several grunting months creating, and which we called “the holler”. We made a bonfire for New Year’s Eve, had neighbors and friends around, and everything in my own history seemed to be building to this moment, in which I would be somehow validated and vindicated by such a clearly superior song as this topping them all. It lost to “Every Breath You Take”.

  32. 32
    Rory on 20 May 2009 #

    Meat Loaf, not Meatloaf, sorry. For some reason I think of him as someone with no space.

  33. 33
    Mark G on 20 May 2009 #

    Never liked it, still dont.

  34. 34
    Elsa on 21 May 2009 #

    UK and US charts temporarily converging at this point… Last five entries also huge hits in US… 10 of last 13 entries, in fact, dating back to “Fame.” Meanwhile US press talking about a “Second British Invasion”…

  35. 35
    Jonathan Bogart on 21 May 2009 #

    The following only goes to show how many possible interpretations there are in the world….

    Goodness me, I honestly had no idea. I first heard the song because Guatemalan radio stations were playing it after the Nikki French version became a hit, but somehow I never heard it as anything other than a decidedly minor work, something in the range of “Bette Davis Eyes” or “Jessie’s Girl” (and now you’ll tell me that they, too, are timeless masterpieces) — I certainly never thought of it as a MASSIVE GARGANTUAN RECORD on a Loafian scale.

    My primary association with it is playing Jesus in a church skit set to the song, where I came in and saved the protagonist from faceless all-black figures wearing signs like DEPRESSION and ALCOHOLISM and SELF-HATRED and SEX. Whenever Tyler starts thundering “forever’s gonna start tonight,” I expect to hear a wildly distraught “JESUS!” (the only word in the otherwise-silent skit), and start feeling to make sure my borrowed alb is properly velcroed. (A similar but inferior production can be seen [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sI0bCfj7FI]here[/url].)

    Then Old School came out and none of the teenagers the skit was supposed to be affecting could take it seriously. As, to be frank, neither could any of us who were putting it on.

  36. 36
    The Intl on 21 May 2009 #

    I dislike this so much, and the same goes for Steinman & Lunch Meat & I’ve never understood how those records became hits, but that’s another story. Aside from the bevy of modern-thinking 12″ funk singles of the day, I really hate 80s music. Bonnie shoulda quit after “It’s A Heartache”. And thanks #24 for making me remember “I Want My Baby Back”. HOT DANG – PAYDIRT!!!

  37. 37
    peter goodlaws on 21 May 2009 #

    # 32 – You’re quite right, Rory. As has so often happened before he was due on stage: “TELEGRAM FOR MR LOAF!…TELEGRAM FOR MR LOAF!”

  38. 38
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 21 May 2009 #

    my mum was a big fan of the loaf, for some reason — i think she was tickled by the notion of a big fat sex symbol (my dad has always been gaunt and wiry)

  39. 39
    intothefireuk on 21 May 2009 #

    This is a travesty – Bonnie Tyler ? Meatloaf ? Jim Steinman – in the words of Catherine Tate’s Nan – ‘what a load of old sh*t’. A complete load of nonsense that doesn’t entertain on any level. Strangely enough I did actually go through a period of fancying Bonnie and my record of choice was ‘More Than A Lover’ but that was a million miles away from this over-blown piece of fluff. Meatloaf elicits a similar reaction in fact it all makes me physically sick. I can’t listen to it. I haven’t forgiven Todd Rungren either. If I could award zero I would.

  40. 40
    mike on 21 May 2009 #

    For someone as resolutely Steinman-averse as myself (there’s a Number One of his coming up many years from now which I find almost impossible to sit through), I can’t offer any rational explanation for why I love this record so much. Although I like what wichitalineman says at #19: “I think it’s the ONLY Steinman hit with any heart.”. Overblown, overstuffed, operatic, like Punk Never Happened – all my principle aesthetic objections to Bat Out Of Hell were re-stated, and yet I still fell hard. Maybe it’s just the added diva-ness, and I’m just a total sucker for a screaming diva playing the victim…

    Incidentally, I have long fantasised about sneaking into the backroom of a gay club, and addressing the heaving throng with Bonnie’s killer couplet: “Once upon a time there was light in my life, now there’s only love in the dark…” Oh, I’m sure they’d all see the funny side.

  41. 41
    peter goodlaws on 21 May 2009 #

    # 38 – Blimey! That’s us telt, then!

    # 39 – Just Blimey!

  42. 42
    Rory on 21 May 2009 #

    #38 – Oddly enough, I can empathize with your reaction and the other God-it’s-horrible ones here, to the point where it feels as if my score is oscillating between 9 and 1; but Tom’s wonderful “balladosaurus” phrase and “then the planet she’s standing on explodes, or something” put me in such a good-natured frame of mind that I could only recall it fondly, a feeling that persisted even when I did finally listen to it again this morning. It’s weird, though; out of thousands of CDs and records and MP3s, I own nothing with Steinman’s name attached, and the only one I ever did was this single, which I gave away within months of buying it 26 years ago. It seems really strange that I feel so well-disposed towards a song that bears no relation to 99.9% of my adult musical tastes. The only reason can be that it so thoroughly sums up the feeling of being fifteen for me, which is totally contingent on the time and place that I happened to be fifteen. But that’s been the fascination of Popular to me as a reader all this time: seeing Tom and the rest of you retracing your own personal journeys through these songs, and trying to figure out how your subjective impressions and memories relate to their actual quality, if any.

    I still think that bombast can be entertaining, though, even if one spends one’s middle-aged evenings listening to Bon Iver and the National (ahem); and this has to be one of the best examples of pull-out-all-the-stops, set-the-controls-for-the-heart-of-the-Sun bombast in chart history.

    And actually, this probably has left a bigger impression on my tastes than I’d acknowledged, because I’ve spent most of the last decade as a huge fan of Muse.

  43. 43
    Doctor Casino on 21 May 2009 #

    Haven’t read anything yet and I’m curious to see if someone can win me over to this song, which I resent on general principle of its being so universally popular at karaoke. I realize this makes me a cantankerous old fun-hater, but certain songs (Don’t Stop Believin’ and Bobby McGee are the other ones) have just been run into the ground for me on this count…

  44. 44
    rosie on 21 May 2009 #

    Well well well, what a difference a day makes! All the bile and venom that I was confidently expecting for this magnificent specimen of theatrical pop, now oozing out of the wood work! I mean, how dare anybody like this, say the Cool Police!

    I say again, I love it.

  45. 45
    Erithian on 21 May 2009 #

    Another one where my appreciation of its initial impact was muted by having to listen through radio interference from Vannes. My reaction to it now is akin to standing alongside a monumental building – you admire it, you appreciate the ambition behind it and the work that’s gone into it, although somehow you don’t love it quite as much as the smaller building next to it. The smaller buildings are the hits from her earlier career, which somehow I come to associate with Noel Edmonds!

    The elegant and pretty “Lost In France” featured on the Top Ten Swaps board in the very early days of Swap Shop, while she made a memorable appearance on the programme shortly after “It’s A Heartache” had been a hit. Noel, ever fond of a misheard lyric, had renamed it “It’s A Hard Egg”, so Bonnie came on and said, “Noel, here’s the difference between a hard egg and a heartache!” and threw an egg at him. At his feet sadly rather than his head, but the point was made. All in good humour though.

    In between times came “More Than A Lover”, which I utterly adored and is high on my list of late 70s “shoulda been a monster” contenders. Warm, sexy, atmospheric and sadly stopped in the low 20s. On the strength of that I got her album “The World Starts Tonight”, which included a very passable version of Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart” (hello LondonLee!)

    Her career seemed to have stalled post-“Heartache” – J Edward Oliver in Record Mirror included in his Tips for 1978: “Bonnie Tyler: from superstar to housewife in just 6 weeks!” – so it was gratifying and surprising to see this comeback. No objection to it, a terrific kitchen-sink production and deserved number one, but I just enjoyed those smaller-scale hits from earlier on that bit more.

  46. 46
    mike on 21 May 2009 #

    #43 – Heh! Well, we’d hate to let you down, Rosie! That said, I took something of a sabbatical from the Cool Police during 1983 – hence perhaps the fondness for “Down Under”, the unqualified love for Phil Collins’ “You Can’t Hurry Love”… and that year’s guiltiest pleasure of all (takes deep breath), Mike Oldfield’s “Moonlight Shadow”. (Inescapable on German radio in the autumn, as someone said on another thread.) My first six-to-nine months of 1983 were all about embracing the mainstream. Hell, I even bought a pair of trousers from Top Man, to match my lovely “Limahl” hairdo…

  47. 47
    peter goodlaws on 21 May 2009 #

    Erithian – It’s a mighty shame that Bonnie didn’t ignore both “heartache”and “hard egg” and simply administered to Noel a “dead leg” by kicking the bearded little dwarf right in the knackers. Try calling the Banker after that one, you irritating little c**t!

  48. 48
    Rory on 21 May 2009 #

    #45 – Don’t worry, mike, we Oldfield fans find your pleasuring Not Guilty. (I was resisting the opportunity to wax lyrical on Bonnie Tyler’s 1987 appearance on an Oldfield single, the unexciting “Islands”, but now you’ve forced me to come out. But my fandom has been pretty muted for the past decade, so I can’t see any reason to bother you all with it from here on.)

  49. 49
    mike on 21 May 2009 #

    Well anyone who played with Kevin Ayers automatically earns a get-out-of-jail-free card from this Cool Cop. (And Ommadawn was always my favourite too.) Hmm, wonder if I’ve still got that old “Don Alfonso” 7-inch…

  50. 50
    wildheartedoutsider on 21 May 2009 #

    I must admit I didn’t mind Bonnie Tyler so much during her “Lost in France” phase …I just couldn’t stand the various phases after they found her again and she kept releasing all those god-awful records!

  51. 51
    pinkchampale on 21 May 2009 #

    #42. Dr C. we obviously go to different karaokes – i’ve never even *heard of* either ‘don’t stop believin’ or ‘bobby mcgee’

    ah. research reveals dsb is by journey. a band i have certainly heard of, though i think have never knowingly heard.

  52. 52
    Erithian on 21 May 2009 #

    Rory #41 – that pretty well nails one of the great things about “Popular”, and which makes it so much more than the sum of its parts. You said you’d been lurking for ten Popular-years before joining us, so you probably remember a prime example of this – your new-found fellow Oldfield buff, Mike, recalling his London days in the “Brass in Pocket” thread.

  53. 53
    will on 21 May 2009 #

    Loved it at the time. To these ears this is Steinman´s high point just because, unlike his later work with Meat Loaf and Celine Dion, it´s at least (fairly) succinct and doesn´t outstay its welcome.

  54. 54
    Rory on 21 May 2009 #

    #51 – ah yes, I do remember that one, and Mike’s surprise that it wasn’t universally loved, which I shared. That was indeed some great reminiscing. But we’ve seen so much of it here – as you say, Erithian, it’s one of the great things about the place. I remember seeing “Popular” back when it was brand spanking new, thinking “hmm, that could be interesting if he keeps it up”, but not really following along because the ’50s hits meant little to me; and then being seriously impressed to see what it had become when I checked back at around the 1973 mark (but was a bit preoccupied to join in at the time, as the father of a then-six-month-old). Mad props to you, Tom, you’ve built one of the highlights of the personal-blog-community-web-o-sphere. But I should have expected no less from someone who wrote one of my favourite things ever written about same.

  55. 55
    johnny on 21 May 2009 #

    when i was young my parents would take my sister and i to the shopping mall every friday night and let us pick out one current single we wanted. they smartly instituted a rule of alternating weeks, to best avoid any tears or slapping. if i picked one week, the next week was my sister’s choice. a few years ago while cleaning the basement of my parents’ house, i came across a shoe bag of roughly a hundred of these records. most interesting was how markedly clear the difference was in tastes between my sister and i. most of them i don’t remember buying, but i knew which were mine (“rock the casbah”, huey lewis), and which were hers (culture club, duran duran).

    you’ve no doubt heard of Dad Rock. this record is the epitome of Sister Rock. i was only four at the time and i can still remember how much my ten year old sister liked this song. she played it all the time. it seemed to fit perfectly with her whole aesthetic at the time – ballet slippers, “Les Mis” poster, puffy stickers. needless to say, my parents eventually hid the record without telling her. i don’t really blame them. obviously it’s a great song and brings back many warm memories. but it’s not exactly background music, is it?

  56. 56
    AndyPandy on 21 May 2009 #

    Billy at 4 and liking Nikki French because it wound up the rock purists that’s similar to be liking that pop-rave version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”….well actually I didn’t like it having never even heard it but it was great that it existed just to piss off all these pompous rock snobs who I heard getting upset about it at the time…(“it’s disgusting”, “should be banned” etc)

  57. 57
    AndyPandy on 21 May 2009 #

    Billy at 4 and liking Nikki French because it wound up the rock purists that’s similar to me liking that pop-rave version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”….well actually I didn’t like it having never even heard it but it was great that it existed just to piss off all these pompous rock snobs who I heard getting upset about it at the time…(“it’s disgusting”, “should be banned” etc)

  58. 58
    wildheartedoutsider on 21 May 2009 #

    I think the Rolf Harris version of “Stairway To Heaven” must surely be the ultimate “piss off” for “pompous rock snobs”… although I found his version of “Satisfaction” more fun. We once played it in the record shop I used to work in and there was a wonderful contrast between the line of sales assistants behind the counter almost wetting themselves laughing …and the vaguely bemused looks on the faces of the customers on the other side of the counter! A very fond memory.

  59. 59
    LondonLee on 21 May 2009 #

    The other side of that coin was “serious” artists covering “silly” pop songs. Was it Travis who did ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’? Now that I’d find offensive and call for public flogging. Not that I ever heard it.

    Re: 54. This is all foreground isn’t it? Makes ELO sound like the Young Marble Giants. It almost renders taste irrelevant, like a Cecil B. DeMille movie, you know it’s daft but you can’t help but be sucked in by the spectacle.

  60. 60
    wildheartedoutsider on 21 May 2009 #

    Yes, it WAS Travis… and actually, it’s not a bad recording! Slightly reminded me of Aztec Camera’s light acoustic cover of Van Halen’s “Jump”!

    Not as good as Erma Franklin’s cover of that Janis Joplin song though!

  61. 61
    JonnyB on 22 May 2009 #

    Late in again. Well, I agree with most others’ views of Meat Loaf. Bat out of Hell is one of the longest three days, four hours and fifty-one minutes in pop – although my next door neighbour, Short Tony, does a terrific karaoke version. I never really understood how something that pretended to rock so hard could be so glossy. Plastic theme-pub metal.

    ‘Dead Ringer for Love’ ambushed me on the radio the other day, however, and I can’t deny it’s very exciting.

    I love TEOTH however. It’s tight – although it moves on within the song, it doesn’t wander off – and sung heroically. Some high marks from me.

  62. 62
    JonnyB on 22 May 2009 #

    #58,#59 – I’ve not heard the Travis version and sort of assumed it was done a bit mockingly, which always put me off. It was (as I remember – might be wrong) a bit too soon after Richard Thompson was including stuff like that in his 1000 years of popular music show.

    Didn’t Coldplay do ‘Stayin Alive’? Or was that some horror nightmare that I’ve semi-blocked from my mind?

  63. 63
    adam on 22 May 2009 #

    #59 – Aztec Camera’s cover of ‘Jump’ is one of the very best things in the world.

    I like this a lot, now, although at the time from what I remember I probably would have sighed and said ‘what’s the point’ before going and trying to find something more from ‘Twenty Of Another Kind Chapter 2’ than was actually there. In fact soon after first finding an mp3 of it I stuck it on play on my laptop on the train on the way home, was worried that my earphones weren’t working properly as I could only hear it faintly however high I turned up the volume, and then realised that I’d put them in the wrong socket and I was playing the song out loud to the carriage. Who were nodding and smiling. It’s just tremendously good fun, it does what it sets out to do very very well indeed.

  64. 64
    Billy Smart on 22 May 2009 #

    #55. In about 1994 you were spoilt for choice when it came to interesting pop varients of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. Not only Abigail, but also the towering ’18 Strings’ by Tinman. And, on a slight tangent, ‘Call It What You Want’ by Credit To The Nation – plaid-shirted youths would rush the floor when that started, only to flee in horror once guitars were replaced by rapping.

    #59. You’ve probably been listening to the abridged Aztec Camera version of ‘Jump’ – the full length version ends up with a howling guitar solo that reminds me of Crazy Horse, and is considerably heavier than the Van Halen original. Definitive great cover version that – exposes all of the underbelly of vulnerability that is latent in the original song’s strutting tumescence.

  65. 65
    mike on 22 May 2009 #

    I saw Aztec Camera perform the full length “Jump” at a miners’ strike benefit at the Brixton Academy in early 1985. Roddy Frame introduced the song with a pious, prissy, finger-wagging little speech about how “it’s not good to like these things”, and – witheringly – that “this song has done about as much for women in rock as Madonna“. (Like A Virgin had just been a hit, and it was the generally accepted party line that Madonna was A Very Worrying Development. He practically spat her name out in disgust.) And then he went into that aforementioned howling guitar solo at the end of the song, and totally rocked out… unironically! Ooh, we were confused. They were dogmatic times.

    Abigail’s Hi-NRG cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was the work of Ian Anthony Stephens, whose biggest hit was “Searching” for Hazell Dean. I met him later that year, and he told me that it had been a deliberate attempt to wind up rock snobs…. and that Steve Sutherland had promised to forward him all the hate mail that the NME had received about it!

  66. 66
    Erithian on 22 May 2009 #

    JonnyB #61 – you’re not thinking of Coldplay’s Glastonbury performance of “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”, are you? Included as a tribute to Kylie, who of course had had to pull out of the festival due to illness, and in no way mocking – nor was the Travis performance at the same venue.

    There was a doo-wop cover version of Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” by a jazz vocal group called Big Daddy – not helped by one of the papers including a picture of Big Daddy the wrestler in their preview of that night’s TOTP. Now that I’d have liked to see.

  67. 67
    wildheartedoutsider on 22 May 2009 #

    #63 I probably just forgot about the ending – I don’t think I’ve actually got that recording on anything I own, I just remember playing it in the shop I used to work in. We often set ourselves challenges – like having a ‘let’s find the least-likely cover version’ day. It’s quite possible my memories of hearing this are from the same day I heard Rolf’s “Satisfaction”.

    Now, if there was an Aztec Camera version of “Total Eclipse of The Heart”… I’d pay good money to hear THAT!

  68. 68
    wildheartedoutsider on 22 May 2009 #

    #65 “Dancing In The Dark” by Big Daddy is on YouTube:

    P.S. …and how ironic, there’s a cover of “Billie Jean” by Big Daddy on there too! Michael Jackson meets Gene Vincent – it shouldn’t work, but somehow it does!

  69. 69
    mike on 22 May 2009 #

    I’ve just been revisiting my Which Decade Is Tops For Pops write-up for Nicki French’s 1995 cover of “Total Eclipse” – and I discover that four years ago, Tom said “Obviously the song itself is a masterpiece of cosmic proportions”. So, do masterpieces of cosmic proportions still only warrant 8 out of 10? Such rigour!

    (Sorry, a cheap but irresistable point…)

  70. 70
    Tom on 22 May 2009 #

    Actually when I started Popular back then I remember thinking “god this is a ridiculous project but eventually I will get to Total Eclipse Of The Heart” so it’s been a kind of internal milestone and I do feel a bit of betrayal not slapping a 10 on it.

    I think “among songs of cosmic proportions, this is a masterpiece” might be a more accurate way of putting it ;)

  71. 71
    Erithian on 22 May 2009 #

    That’s strange, Tom – why was this one such a milestone even from the perspective of 1952? You’ve spoken before of how you loved just about everything from 1983, but didn’t align this one to a personal memory.

    And when you were thinking what a ridiculous project it was, did you think you’d have such a following by this time?!

  72. 72
    JonnyB on 22 May 2009 #

    Erithian – I could have been (although it’s a long way removed) – I’m sure it’d have been on Youtube or something if they’d have done the Bee Gees.

    ‘Mocking’ was in retrospect the wrong word. I guess I’m searching for ‘clever-clever’ or something – the subconscious implication that a group does a song because – fine – it’s a good song, but actually ‘we’re serious artistes, and we’re doing this song to make everybody smile and dance, but at the end of the day we ARE serious artistes and they’re not’ sort of syndrome. As I said, I didn’t hear the Travis one, so that was my own prejudice lumping them in to all that.

    I loved The Darkness doing Street Spirit (Fade Out)…

  73. 73
    wichita lineman on 22 May 2009 #

    K-Tel alert: Bonnie’s flop follow-up Faster Than The Speed Of Night (which might have flopped because it doesn’t really make any sense, does it? And it sounded like an atmos-free Meat Loaf out take) was on Chart Stars, sandwiched between Twisted Sister’s I Am (I’m Me) and the Teardrop Explodes’ farewell single You Disappear From View.

  74. 74
    Tom on 22 May 2009 #

    #70 – it just seemed a really long way off and when I was downloading all the tracks it stood out as “yes, I am really keen to discuss that”. There are a couple of 90s ones I feel similarly about which I guess are my new ‘milestones’ :)

  75. 75
    Lex on 22 May 2009 #

    ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’ is one of those songs that I appreciate and in the right setting will absolutely love, but I’d never choose to listen to it in my own time and I don’t think of it as a particularly personal connection (partly over-familiarity, partly the OTT nature of it). I couldn’t even tell you what any of the non-chorus lyrics are.

  76. 76
    Malice Cooper on 22 May 2009 #

    I don’t begrudge Bonnie a number one as she made a lot of good songs that didn’t chart at all and she comes across as a lovely person. However I’d be happy never to hear this again.

  77. 77
    DV on 22 May 2009 #

    I bet this is great in karaoke bars.

  78. 78
    Jonathan Bogart on 23 May 2009 #

    I had a comment on this a few days ago, but it seems to have got lost to the spam filter — and in the process I realized I wasn’t registered!

    Anyway, all I had to contribute was to note that my primary association with this song is of a church skit I’ve several times been corraled into performing in, all set to TEOTH. (Something like this.) The year that Old School came out was the year that skit no longer worked for the teenage audience it was aimed at, and we mothballed it gratefully.

  79. 79
    Tom on 23 May 2009 #

    Sorry about yr comment Jonathan! I have done a bit of tinkering with the FAQ this morning to mention the occasional spam filter issues and the reader-votes system. Nobody ever reads the FAQ mind you!

  80. 80
    admin on 23 May 2009 #

    I have a nasty feeling that the ‘login guarantees no spam filter’ promise broke again in a WP upgrade. Will check that

  81. 81
    admin on 23 May 2009 #

    Retrieved your comment – but it’s at #35 and has knocked all the numbered replies out

  82. 82
    David Belbin on 23 May 2009 #

    1983. The year I met my partner (and, shortly afterwards, her friend Mike TD, by then shorn of his Limahl haircut). I played this single a lot (it was before we all came to hate Steinman) and am disappointed to find that somebody has nicked my copy. I had to settle for ‘The Bottle’ by the Tyrrel Corporation just now, a disc I have no recollection of buying and which, two minutes after it ended, I can barely remember. Whereas I’m earworming TEOTH, 26 years on. Weird.

  83. 83
    rosie on 23 May 2009 #

    David Belbin @ 82: But why waste emotional energy on hating JS? Can’t you just settle for disliking? And who is this ‘all’ of whom you speak?

  84. 84
    misschillydisco on 27 May 2009 #

    another defining pop moment for me. i think this may have been my very halcyon pop era. steinman’s work with the sisters of mercy also superlative – HEY NOW! HEY NOW NOW!

  85. 86
    Tom Lawrence on 4 Jun 2009 #

    @Rory: Oh so very yes! I saw that a few days back and LOVED it. There are a number of others, many just as good.

    “Mullet with headlights” hahahahah

  86. 87
    Matt DC on 19 Jun 2009 #

    It should not go unremarked that this is the most fun song in the world to sing when very drunk.

  87. 88
    DV on 12 Aug 2009 #

    also, has anyone ever done a mashup with Art Garfunkel’s ‘Bright Eyes’?

  88. 89
    punctum on 24 Sep 2009 #


    It isn’t about being “too shy.” It’s about having the will – both the will to give and accept real love, and the iron will needed to avoid the fatal illusion of complete perfection.

    Every now and then I get a little bit nervous that the best of all the years have gone by.

    Because perfection, as with pop music, is only ever aimed at the young and still can’t quite get used to ageing, or to the death of desire. Those songs she heard in 1964, Dusty, Sandie, Cilla – all troubled to varying degrees, yet balanced by this shining baton of hope; knowing that it was her time, so why can’t it be again?

    I get a little bit restless and I dream of something wild.

    They all had to grow up, just as she has done; to experience pain, rejection, illness, frustration, ecstasy and loss. She has grown up, but she needs that umbilical link, craves that initial radiant blast of new passion, since its absence may unmask and unravel the child who continues to cower.

    I get a little bit helpless and I’m lying like a child in your arms.

    The piano, single notes played with slow deliberation by Roy Bittan, and bittan as a made-up word would very accurately sum up the impotent raindrops plunking against her darkened bedroom window; bittan also like her tears.

    Every now and then I fall apart.

    She keeps trying to break out of the cycle, and at the same stage in each cycle she sees

    the look in your eyes

    terrified that she’ll fall off the cycle and spin endlessly through a blackened hole of sterile compromise. There is the hint of ascent, but still she gazes through that blank window and the clap of thunder nearly splits her mind apart as she falls back to square one. But still she climbs, until she gains a toehold on sanity and identity and cries:

    And I need you now tonight
    And I need you more than ever

    Grasp at the bulb, so there might be enlightenment, and yes,

    Forever’s gonna start tonight

    – she runs ecstatically to

    the end of the line

    but finds only a mirror, which sings back at her:

    Once upon a time I was falling in love
    But now I’m only falling apart

    It is a quietened battle being fought between light and darkness, and she doesn’t know who represents which –

    Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time

    – and is therefore uncertain about who she really is. And therefore her heart cannot feel because she has forgotten how it feels to come into the light.

    The piano comes down in slow, gathering avalanche and Max Weinberg’s drums thrash at the heart’s boundaries; halls redolent of hurtful memories of past joys (those sleighbells, Larry Fast’s monstrous avenue of synthesisers – all truer to the core of Trevor Horn than any feeble British impersonation)…

    …but of course there is this other voice all the way through the lament, at times overpowering her own – is this her conscience, or is it him, as desperate as she to break back through?


    She faces him and sees it from his perspective.

    I know you’ll never be the boy you always wanted to be.

    Perfection. The façade sold to us through so many pictures and too many damnable pop records. Be as good, or better, than what I’m being told is possible.

    But every now and then I know you’ll always be the only boy who wanted me the way that I am!

    She is trembling at her thoughts of him – she gives a truly poignant sob to the “u” of “universe” (and naturally makes it sound like “you”) when she says:

    I know there’s no one in the universe as magical and wondrous as you.

    – and further –

    I know there’s nothing any better
    (is she resentful?)
    There’s nothing that I just wouldn’t do.

    “I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that!”

    But then, she cries, screams, for all the Almas and Rubys who came before her, the Sandies, Dustys and Lulus still compromised, the woman’s voice still taken and condemned for granted, even her own when she bettered Rod in the throaty late seventies, and now – and you can tell that she has waited the entirety of her life to sing this song – and now she is singing for all of them, including those yet to be conceived, as she proclaims


    On the repeat of that line she holds onto that last “part” as a loosening toenail might cling to a cliff face as she again pleads for him to hold her tight:

    We’ll be holding on forever
    (to the same crumbling rock?).

    An organ rises to meet her climactic cry of:

    We’re living in a powder keg and giving off sparks.

    Again, however, the mirror cools, again and finally she returns to the shadows:

    Once upon a time there was light in my life,
    But now there’s only love in the dark.

    His voice – Rory Dodds, let’s give him his name and his dues – has previously been an octave above hers when singing (or intoning) the title, but now they sing at equal height, and Steve Buslowe’s bass rises compassionate to cushion the tears of the last chord change. All that stays is the piano rain, the thunderstorm now spent –

    I believe above a storm the smallest prayer can still be heard.

    – merging into the empty wind –

    Johnny, remember me.

    – the voice on the other side of the door, smaller but closer.

    Cathy, it’s me, Heathcliff. Come home.

  89. 90
    Josh Wyatt on 25 Sep 2009 #

    This is probably my favourite song of all time (ALL OF THE TIME)
    Yes ‘sparks’ is probably the most awesome of this songs lines.
    I was born in the early 90s, so don’t know what the mood was like when it was released, but to me the big hair, the huge emotions and the – let’s face it – friggin’ awesome vocals seem just like the 80s I’ve been told about.
    As for ‘Wuthering Heights’, I think that is what the video was based on (as well as some weird 80s twin peaks style thing or something)
    I personally love it.
    I wish it could be number 1 forever.
    Keep your eyes out for the re-release!

    P.S. let’s think for a moment of Rory Dodd, the man who gave us the back up vocals.

  90. 92
    lonepilgrim on 5 May 2010 #

    yet more pop grist for the Glee mill (Ep.17)

  91. 93
    john c on 31 Aug 2012 #

    I agree with the reviewer: “A grand folly, then – with a title like ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’, how could it not be? – but a very loveable one.”

    It’s a huge production, which I usually love, but . . . I would have better feelings about this song if the guy who lived across the tiny hallway from me in a rooming house where I lived in 1983 & 1984 had not bought this single. It was one of six singles he owned, and he played them over, and over, and over, everyday at about 5:30 pm . . . That can ruin even the greatest, most loveable pop folly, even for people like me who love pop follies.

  92. 94
    mintness on 7 Mar 2013 #

    Our 2013 Eurovision entrant, there.

  93. 95
    Jimmy the Swede on 18 May 2013 #

    So it’s good luck to cheesy ol’ Bonnie tonight in Malmo. She won’t win, of course, but winning this thing has not really been realistically within the UK’s reach since the turn of the millenium. So just enjoy the nonsense. And let’s have St Etts next time!

  94. 96
    Lazarus on 19 May 2013 #

    First 20 seconds killed it, I think … she sounded nervous and the understated, low-register beginning didn’t exactly grab the attention. Finished an underwhelming 19th. But does it matter?

  95. 97
    thefatgit on 19 May 2013 #

    Every now and then she gets a little bit nervous, I guess.

  96. 98
    enitharmon on 19 May 2013 #

    thefatgit @97

    It’s just as well the competition wasn’t held in France this year.

  97. 99
    Jimmy the Swede on 20 May 2013 #

    Poor ol’ Bonnie’s performance was strangled at birth but it didn’t matter really. She got totally eclipsed.

    Best moment of the evening was when Petra, the wonderfully witty (as well as tasty) compere said: “Standing directly around me are the real hardcore fans. The real essence of the Eurovision Song Contest. And to you I have just one thing to say – You just haven’t met the right girl yet!” Just wonderful but I think it’s true to say that had that presenter have been in the UK, he or she would be facing charges for hate crimes this morning.

  98. 100
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 20 May 2013 #

    I am still grumpy that the Truth and Reconciliation Committee absolved Terry Wogan of his hatecrimes against Eurovision. NEVER FORGET! >:(

    Probably we will not win until he is in pokey. Ditto Eire, apparently.

  99. 101
    Jimmy the Swede on 20 May 2013 #

    Norton and Bruce are not exactly deferential towards the contest either. The great joy of Wogan, though, was that he went that crucial few yards (not metres) further. I can’t really agree that the Wogan Effect, which certainly did antagonise some sensitive souls on the continent, has been the reason we haven’t won since ’97 and Ireland the year before. I’d imagine that Terry would be tickled pink if he thought that it was.

    I repeat. We want St Etts next time. Come on, Bob, what do you say? Humiliate yourself for your country, mate!

  100. 102

    I’m not a vast fan of Graham Norton—Ana Matronic and Scott Mills handled the semis far more effectively—but (judging by my non-gritted teeth these days) he’s nowhere near so amazingly smugly boneheaded as Wogan had increasingly become, especially after the arrival of the many Easterlings, whose ambition and staging style immeasurably improved the competition and upped the ante. He was forever piffling on about voting blocks: yes I doubt he’s actually the reason we do badly, but I do think he’s part of the same whiny entitlement complacency.

    WHY NOT—you know—RISE TO THE CHALLENGE OF MAKING MUSIC THAT OTHER COUNTRIES ENJOY AND ARE AMAZED BY? Instead of spatchcock stunts with hasbeens (I <3 Boonie but the song didn't even bother to try to play to her quite specific strengths) followed by butthurt tantrums rooted in stupid and ignorant contempt. Grrrrr...

    [Edit: "tantrums" isn't at all referring to you here, Jimmy -- and actually I haven't encountered any yet. But I do kind of avoid reading the places they turn up.]

    (In fairness, Ireland did actually essay a kind of Ruslana-meets-U2 oiled-up pagan firedrum thing, but the U2 element was some way past its sell-by. It did badly because Jedward were grebt last year and everyone wanted them back to give them more votes.)

    Disappointing final result aside (TURBOMONTENEGRO I LOVE YOOOOU), this was seriously one of the best Eurovisions for some time—the overall level was pretty high—and the Swedes did a terrific job hosting it, particularly Petra in her evermore scary parade of couture architectonics. [Except for their pet comedienne, who was a bit of a trial...]

    Little Boots seemed to be floating the idea that she was up for it next year, which is at least in synch with the current Caliguloid convergence.

  101. 103

    It’s particularly maddening in a year where something like half the entries were cheerfully dubstep-inflected so it’s not as we’re not making music here that doesn’t excite Europeans north south east. Drops and VWORPS everywhere — the Sound of South London!

    (Also Ms Matronic correctly cited Klaus Nomi as a precursor for the Romanian falsetto extravaganza: obviously it’s easier to crowbar a little euroscholarship and related wisdom into the semis anyway, and knowing what you’re talking about isn’t what we hire Graham Norton for, but I don’t see why this is a virtue…)

  102. 104
    punctum on 20 May 2013 #

    On the UK side, nothing is going to change unless Eurovision is wrested away from Radio 2 and their 1985 idea of the type of music people want. If Radio 1 took it on they’d be perceived as tacky, so it’s a literal no-win situation*.

    *we listened to it on the radio, with Ken Bruce’s cheery, casual racism and philistinism evident throughout. Nearly three decades since Bronski Beat now and the stupid old battles are still being fought by a country which probably needs to be cattle-prodded into the future.

  103. 105
    punctum on 20 May 2013 #

    or, if not a country, then an establishment.

  104. 106
    Pete on 20 May 2013 #

    Maybe BBC3 could be the solution to the problem, rather than Radio. I thought the semi’s were presented well, and perhaps in line with their other documentary strands we could see a return of A Song For Europe in the guise of Britain’s Best Young Songwriters or something of that ilk. But I certainly don’t see us winning, or doing all that well, again unless we ourselves think the song is any good. It would have been nice to have a Matronic/Mills commentary on the red button. That said Eurovision seems to go in waves (cheers Katrina!) and all it will take is a half decent bounceback. That said it does strike me that dodging the Semi’s does seem to put us at a disadvantage. The “big five” all did pretty badly, and I went into the final knowing which I would vote for fromt he semi’s.

  105. 107
    punctum on 9 Jan 2014 #

    TPL on the parent album, an OK early eighties AoR record with a monolith of a single at its centre: http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/bonnie-tyler-faster-than-speed-of-night.html

  106. 109
    hectorthebat on 8 Nov 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010) 1002
    Blender (USA) – Top 500 Songs of the 80s-00s (2005) 386
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    VH-1 (USA) – Nominations for the 100 Greatest 80s Songs (2006)
    Dave Thompson (UK) – 1000 Songs that Rock Your World (2011) 327
    Wanadoo (UK) – The 20 Best Songs of the 80s
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  107. 110
    AMZ1981 on 19 May 2017 #

    Just having a dig around the Popular archives. Although Bonnie’s Eurovision tilt was mentioned, nobody noticed how this gave her yet another connection to Nikki French. Although the UK has been represented at Eurovision by many prolific performers and interpreters of song (and many obscurities as well) this appears to be the one example of two Eurovision entrants scoring a top ten hit with the same song.

  108. 111
    benson_79 on 23 Aug 2020 #

    Ken Bruce still gives the full-length version of this a regular spin in the post-Popmaster slot, but sadly it leaps over the line into self-indulgence (who’d’ve thought it of Steinman eh?); the radio edit is far superior.

  109. 112
    enitharmon on 20 Apr 2021 #

    So it’s goodbye Jim Steinman, totally eclipsed by a “sudden medical emergency”, which sounds like he went out the way he would have wished. Maybe his heart was eclipsed, maybe his head.

    RIP Jim, if rest is what you seek, and I hope you catch up with the Bad Girls.

  110. 113
    Maria Adebola on 26 Apr 2021 #

    Agree with Billy’s comment (#6) I would have preferred Sweet Dreams to reach the top. Echoing Enitharmon’s post (above) RIP Jim Steinman.

  111. 114
    Gareth Parker on 7 May 2021 #

    No more than a 4/10 I’m afraid. The song’s OK, but Bonnie’s singing style is just not for me.

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