Under the Spotlight – Bonnie Tyler
October 6, 2023
This year we are celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Bonnie Tyler’s mammoth hit, Total Eclipse of the Heart. One of Wales’ most notorious voices, Bonnie was originally discovered in 1975 singing in a Swansea nightclub. Since then she has released eighteen albums, been nominated at both the Brit and Grammy Awards and even received an MBE. She’s collaborated with the likes of Rod Steward and Giorgio Moroder and performed all over the world. Here, she picks out five of her favourite songs from across her incredible career to go under the spotlight.
Total Eclipse of the Heart
Bonnie’s biggest song and the song which helped turn everything around, this monster of classic rock is as omnipresent as oxygen. Recorded for her fifth album Faster Than The Speed of Night, it marked a shift in sound for Bonnie. She had just chosen to work with American producer and songwriter Jim Steinman who brought in members of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band to play on the recording. After its release in 1983, the song became an international hit reaching number one in the UK and the US, selling sixty-thousand copies a day at its peak.
In its iconic video Bonnie wanders through a gothic mansion turned boarding school, haunted by the memories of young men. It was long rumoured that Italian footballer Gianfrano Zola featured in the video as a boy, but he dispelled the myth in 2012. Although the mansion has continental flair, the video was not filmed in Sardinia, but in Surrey.
Faster Than the Speed of Night
The title track from her breakthrough fifth record, Faster Than The Speed of Night is an epic journey through the tropes of classic rock that showcases Bonnie’s striking and formidable voice. It’s got swagger, glamour and a soaring power. Moving away from her softer, country-leaning sound having been inspired by the music of Meat Loaf, Bonnie reached out to his producer, Jim Steinman, to collaborate on a new rock approach. The result was a number one album in the UK in 1983, which also won her the title of the first British female to debut at the top spot. The record went on to become platinum in the United States.
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
The opening track from Faster Than The Speed of Night, Have You Ever Seen the Rain? is a glam reworking of the original Creedence Clearwater Revival hit. Not only did the track reinforce Bonnie’s new direction, it contextualised her against the US rock greats. While the original boasts lighter delivery and is rooted in country-rock, so too were Bonnie’s previous releases. From its glistening piano intro to stadium drums, the album opener acted as a statement of intent, Bonnie’s voice ripping above the tapestry of multiplying guitars. It also stands as one of the many amazing interpretations from across her career, which includes reworks of artists like Tom Petty, R.E.M. and the Beatles.
If You Were a Woman (And I Was A Man)
In 1986, Bonnie followed up the huge success of Holding Out For a Hero, her track for the seminal movie Footloose, with her sixth record Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire. Working again with Jim Steinman, he brought in songwriter and producer Desmond Child to deliver two tracks. If You Were a Woman (And I Was A Man) was the third single to be released from the record. An adrenaline rush of power ballad rock with a middle eight that defies logic, it again showcased Bonnie’s raucous voice as well as complementing her commanding aesthetic. Later that year, Desmond worked with Bon Jovi, re-shaping the chorus into You Give Love A Bad Name. The music video, scripted and directed by Jim, continued Bonnie’s surreal and gothic narratives by pitching Rambo and Marilyn Monroe against each other in an absurdist adult Labyrinth-like world.
In 1988 Bonnie released her seventh album, Hide Your Heart, continuing her work with Desmond Child who produced the record and closing with this Janis Joplin cover. Alongside Tina Turner, Bonnie has credited Janis as being an early influence on her music. She even recorded this track in the same vocal booth that Janis used to record the original! On her version, Bonnie keeps the groove and attitude of its predecessor but ramps up the flare. In recent years, artists like Adam Lambert and Miley Cyrus have given Bonnie a similar treatment, paying homage to their hero with dynamic cover versions.
Ministry of Sound have today released a brand new remix for Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 hit ‘Total Eclipse of The Heart’ – the Full Moon Remix!Read more
This year we are celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Bonnie Tyler’s mammoth hit, Total Eclipse of the Heart. Bonnie picks out five of her favourite songs from across her incredible career to go under the spotlight.Read more
The video for Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’ has just exceeded a billion views on YouTube, making it one of the few videos of its era to achieve that landmark figure.Read more
Bonnie Tyler will release a 40th anniversary vinyl edition of her landmark album ‘Faster Than The Speed of Night’ on September 15th.Read more
Take a look back over the years to see which songs were in the Top 10 on the Official UK Chart this week…Read more
Originally appearing on the soundtrack for the 1984 film, ‘Footloose’, and then on Bonnie Tyler’s 1986 album, ‘Secret Dreams And Forbidden Fire’, the video to this classic 80s single nonetheless makes absolutely no reference to Kevin Bacon…Read more
From Jimi Hendrix to Elvis Presley, The Stone Roses to Bonnie Tyler and more, we run down the history of your favourite artists – it’s This Week In Rock.Read more