Total Eclipse of the Heart

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For the episode of "The Vampire Diaries", see Total Eclipse of the Heart (The Vampire Diaries).
"Total Eclipse of the Heart"
Single by Bonnie Tyler
from the album Faster Than the Speed of Night
B-side "Take Me Back"
Released 11 February 1983 (UK)
31 May 1983 (US)
Format 7", 12"
Recorded 1982
Length 7:02 (Album version)
5:53 (2013 re-recording for the album Rocks and Honey)
5:32 (Music video version)
4:35 (2011 single version)
4:30 (Single version)
3:49 (2005 re-recording for the album Wings)
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Jim Steinman
Producer(s) Jim Steinman
Certification Platinum (RIAA, CRIA)
Gold (SNEP, BPI, FIMI)
Bonnie Tyler singles chronology
"Sayonara Tokyo"
(1981)
"Total Eclipse of the Heart"
(1983)
"Faster Than the Speed of Night"
(1983)

"Total Eclipse of the Heart" is a song recorded by Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler. It was written and produced by Jim Steinman, and released on Tyler's fifth studio album, Faster Than the Speed of Night (1983). The single was released as a single by Columbia Records on 11 February 1983 in the United Kingdom, and on 31 May 1983 in the United States.

"Total Eclipse of the Heart" became Tyler's biggest career hit, hitting number one in several countries including the UK, where it was the fifth-best-selling single in 1983, and the US, making her the first and only Welsh singer to reach the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100. It was Billboard's number-six song of the year for 1983. With physical sales in excess of 9 million copies, Tyler's recording is one of the best-selling singles of all time.[1] The song has been certified Platinum—for US sales of more than 2 million copies—by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Background[edit]

After her contract with RCA Records ended in 1981, Tyler found a new manager in David Aspden and after seeing Meat Loaf perform "Bat Out of Hell" live on The Old Grey Whistle Test, approached Jim Steinman and asked him to be her producer.[2] Tyler visited Steinman in his apartment in New York in April 1982 with her manager, where she was presented with two tracks — "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" and "Goin' Through the Motions". She stated that had she not liked the songs Steinman played for her, he would have rejected Tyler.[2] She returned to his studio apartment weeks later, where Steinman and Rory Dodd presented "Total Eclipse of the Heart" to her. He also hand-picked the recording band for the song.[3]

"Total Eclipse of the Heart" had to be shortened for radio play. Tyler did not believe that the song was radio-friendly at its full length; the song was reduced from seven minutes and two seconds to four minutes and thirty seconds.[4]

The power ballad remains Tyler's most successful song, peaking at No. 1 in the United States, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom. At its peak, it sold 60,000 copies per day, and approximately 6 million copies in total.[5] It won the Variety Club award in the UK for best single of 1983.[6] The song also made number 82 of VH1's top 100 love songs.

Composition[edit]

A sample of "Total Eclipse of the Heart", performed by Bonnie Tyler.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Steinman said in an interview with Playbill, "with Total Eclipse of the Heart, I was trying to come up with a love song and I remembered I actually wrote that to be a vampire love song. Its original title was Vampires in Love because I was working on a musical of Nosferatu, the other great vampire story. If anyone listens to the lyrics, they're really like vampire lines. It's all about the darkness, the power of darkness and love's place in dark..."[7] He also told People magazine that he thought Tyler sounded like John Fogerty, and wrote the song "to be a showpiece for her voice."[8] Tyler described the song as "a challenge [to sing]," stating that she "[doesn't] like songs that anybody can sing. I like songs that need a lot of energy." After Steinman presented her with the song she told The Times, "I just had shivers right up my spine... ...I couldn't wait to actually get in and record it."[9]

According to Meat Loaf, Steinman had written the song, along with "Making Love Out of Nothing at All", for Meat Loaf's album Midnight at the Lost and Found; however, Meat Loaf's record company refused to pay Steinman and he wrote separate songs himself. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was then given to Bonnie Tyler and "Making Love Out of Nothing at All" to Air Supply.[10] Tyler has denied this claim to be true.[11] "Meat Loaf was apparently very annoyed that Jim gave that to me," Tyler stated. "But Jim said he didn’t write it for Meat Loaf, that he only finished it after meeting me."[12]

The song's melody originally appeared as part of the soundtrack for the 1980 film A Small Circle of Friends.

Critical reception[edit]

Mike DeGagne from AllMusic described "Total Eclipse of the Heart" as "one of the finest ballads ever to hit radio." He noted the "lush instrumentation" and said that Tyler's voice "produced the perfect type of "desperate lovelorn" effect to suit the romantic lyrics." He described Roy Bittan's piano playing as "dreamy" and described Tyler's voice as "wonderfully gritty."[13] Donald A. Guarisco, also from AllMusic, reviewed Faster Than the Speed of Night, and noted the song as an "epic ballad," describing the whole album as "rock at its most melodramatic."[14] Jim Beviglia from American Songwriter said that Tyler's raspy vocals helped to legitimize the "melodrama inherent in the lyrics," and described the song as a "garment-rending, chest-beating [and] emotionally exhausting ballad" that suits the throes of a turbulent relationship.[8]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was directed by Russell Mulcahy.[15] It was story-boarded by Jim Steinman and drew inspiration from the 1976 film Futureworld. The Gothic-themed video features Bonnie Tyler clad in white, apparently having an erotic dream or fantasy about her students in a boys' boarding school. Young men are seen dancing and participating in various school activities such as swimming, karate, gymnastics, football, fencing, soccer, and singing in a choir. The video was shot at Holloway Sanatorium, notable for its Gothic architecture and distinguished for the multi-arched grand entrance as seen at the end of the video. A long-running urban myth is that the boy who appears throughout the video and who shakes Tyler's hand at the end is former Italian footballer Gianfranco Zola. In a 2012 interview, Zola confirmed that he did not appear in the video.[16]

Live performances[edit]

Since the song's release, Tyler performs "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in every concert she performs.[17] "I sing it much better now than I used to," she told The Huffington Post. "I think my voice is probably not as husky as it was, I think it's mellowed a bit."[18] A very notable performance of the song took place at the 26th Annual Grammy Awards, held at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, on 28 February 1984.[19]

Live recordings of Tyler performing the song have been released on her live albums Bonnie Tyler Live (2007) and Live in Germany 1993 (2011). Video performances have also been released on Tyler's DVDs, Bonnie on Tour (2007) and the DVD edition of Live in Germany 1993.

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from AllMusic (from the album, Faster Than the Speed of Night):[20]

Other versions by Bonnie Tyler[edit]

Since the original release in 1983, Tyler has re-recorded the song several times for albums and subsequent single releases. Her first and most successful re-recording of the song was released in 2003. Tyler recorded a French/English duet version called "Si demain... (Turn Around)" with Kareen Antonn. It peaked at number one in France and Belgium.[21] Tyler released another version of the song in 2004 as a duet with Peter Brocklehurst on his album For You.[22] A solo version of the recording was released on her studio album Wings in the following year.

BabyPinkStar recorded the song with Tyler in a punk/electronic remix version that was released as a single in the UK in January 2007.[23] In 2009, Tyler released another version of the song with Welsh choral group Only Men Aloud! backing her.[5] In 2011, Tyler re-recorded the song on an EP named after the song, released by Cleopatra Records.[24] Her most recent recording of the song appears as a bonus track on her album Rocks and Honey (2013).

Charts and certifications[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"Electric Avenue" by Eddy Grant
Canadian CHUM number-one single
20 August 1983 – 27 August 1983 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Maniac" by Michael Sembello
Preceded by
"White Wedding" by Billy Idol
Canadian RPM number-one single
13 August 1983 – 20 August 1983 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Our House" by Madness
Preceded by
"I Was Only Nineteen" by Redgum
Australian number-one single
30 May 1983 – 4 July 1983 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Flashdance... What a Feeling" by Irene Cara
Preceded by
"Beat It" by Michael Jackson
New Zealand number-one single
3 July 1983 – 24 July 1983 (4 weeks)
Preceded by
"Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson
Irish Singles Chart number-one single
13 March 1983 – 27 March 1983 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Let's Dance" by David Bowie
UK Singles Chart number-one single
12 March 1983 – 19 March 1983 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Is There Something I Should Know?" by Duran Duran
Preceded by
"Tell Her About It" by Billy Joel
US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
1 October 1983 – 22 October 1983 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
Preceded by
"The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats
US Cash Box number-one single
8 October 1983 – 29 October 1983 (4 weeks)
Preceded by
"Främling" by Carola Häggkvist
Norwegian number-one single
22/1983 – 26/1983 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"The Heat Is On" by Agnetha Fältskog
Preceded by
"Up Where We Belong"
by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
South African number-one single
3 June 1983 – 15 July 1983 (7 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Drop the Pilot" by Joan Armatrading

Formats and track listings[edit]

UK 7" single[63]
  1. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" – 4:29
  2. "Take Me Back" – 5:05
US 7" single
  1. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" – 4:29
  2. "Straight from the Heart" – 3:38
UK 12" single
  1. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" – 6:59
  2. "Take Me Back" – 5:22

In popular culture[edit]

In a 2013 UK survey, the song came first in a list of most popular songs to sing in the shower, above songs by Justin Bieber, Robbie Williams, One Direction and Elton John.[64]

The Bonnie Tyler version was featured in the climactic conclusion montage in "Gleen", the second episode of the crime drama Cold Case. In a remarkable coincidence, the first episode of that series ended with the Creedence Clearwater Revival version of "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?"; Tyler's version of that song was also produced by Steinman for Faster Than The Speed of Night.

Cover versions[edit]

"Total Eclipse of the Heart" has been covered several times, and rewritten with Michael Kunze for the musical Tanz der Vampire as "Totale Finsternis". The Fox TV show Glee recorded it for episode 17 of season 1, "Bad Reputation", and featured vocals from Lea Michele & Jonathan Groff, the song was recorded one more time for the 100th episode of season 5, now featuring vocals from Kristin Chenoweth and Matthew Morrison. The NBC reality talent show The Voice recorded as a commercial for the fourth season and featured vocals by Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Usher and Shakira. In the 2010 film Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Greg Heffley performed a version of this song in order to get into The Wizard of Oz.

Westlife version[edit]

"Total Eclipse of the Heart"
Westlife - Total Eclipse of the Heart (digia download cover).jpg
"Total Eclipse of the Heart" cover
Promotional single by Westlife from the album The Love Album
Released 2007[65]
Format CD Single
Genre Pop
Length 4:40[66]
Label Sony BMG
Writer Jim Steinman

Irish boy band Westlife recorded a cover of the song on their 2006 album The Love Album.[67] The song would have been released as the album's second single but was cancelled due to their The Love Tour conflicts, though a promo release still reached No. 5 on the radio charts in the Philippines. Three official remixes have been made for their version as well as a remix done by Jim Steinman, which was ultimately rejected by the record label but has surfaced on the Internet. The song was released as promotional single on 2007.[65]

Track listing[edit]
  • Promotional CD single[65]
  1. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (Sunset Strippers Verse Club Mix)
  2. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (Sunset Strippers Dub Mix)
  3. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (Sunset Strippers Radio Edit)

Nicki French version[edit]

"Total Eclipse of the Heart"
Single by Nicki French
from the album Secrets
Released 27 February 1995
Format CD single, cassette single, 7", 12"
Recorded 1994
Genre Eurodance
Length 3:50
Label Bags of Fun, Love This, Mega
Writer(s) Jim Steinman
Producer(s) Mike Stock
Matt Aitken
Certification Silver (BPI)
Gold (RIAA)
Platinum (ARIA)
Nicki French singles chronology
"Total Eclipse of the Heart"
(1995)
"For All We Know"
(1995)

Nicki French released a Hi-NRG remake of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in 1995, which was also a worldwide hit. In the United States, French's version peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100[68] and garnered frequent airplay on CHR and AC radio. It also reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart after being re-issued in 1995.[69]

French had made her first dance version recording of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in 1994 : French had purchased the Bonnie Tyler original as a teenager in 1983 and reacted negatively to the original suggestion that she (i.e. French) remake the song as dance track — "I thought, no, it's too strong a song to go down the dance route. You know, it demeans it almost. But then I thought well, I'll give it a go. And as soon as I heard the track, I thought it actually does work."[70] French's first recording of "Total Eclipse of the Heart", made with John Springate of the Glitter Band producing, came to the attention of Mike Stock and Matt Aitken who produced their own recording of the song by French and it was this version which appeared on the UK chart dated 15 October 1994 at No. 54. French would recall: "I just thought oh well that was great...I've [worked with] Mike Stock and Matt Aitken and it was a dream come true...we tried and I had a great time...And then about two months later I had a call out of the blue from Mike saying the buzz will not die down on this track so we're going to re-record the beginning...and we're going to re-release it at the beginning of 1995."[71]

According to French, her remake of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" became popular in the UK and the US in distinct remixes: "the slower version was the one that actually took a hold in the UK where originally they started with the fast one and then decided to go with the [remix which began] in the same vein as the Bonnie Tyler version [and then] sped up when the chorus came in...In the US it was the [remix] which was fast all the way through."[71]

Weekly charts[edit]
Chart (1994) Peak
position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[69] 54
Chart (1995) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[72] 2
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[73] 14
Canada (RPM 100 Hit Tracks)[74] 16
Canada (RPM Adult Contemporary)[75] 17
Canada (RPM Dance)[76] 1
Germany (Media Control Charts)[77] 65
Ireland (IRMA)[33] 15
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[78] 7
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[79] 10
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[80] 13
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[81] 5
US Billboard Adult Contemporary[44] 20
US Billboard Adult Top 40[68] 36
US Billboard Hot 100[68] 2
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[68] 37
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[68] 5
US Billboard Rhythmic Top 40[68] 12
US Billboard Top 40 Mainstream[68] 1
US Cash Box[82] 3
Preceded by
"Boom Boom Boom" by The Outhere Brothers
Canadian RPM Dance number-one single
7 August 1995 – 14 August 1995 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Be My Lover" by La Bouche
Preceded by
"I Know" by Dionne Farris
US Billboard Top 40 Mainstream number-one single
10 June 1995 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"I'll Be There for You" by The Rembrandts

Other versions[edit]

Parodies[edit]

A parody of the song and music video were published in 2009, in what the fans and makers call a "literal video version", which replaces the original song lyrics with humorous lyrics describing the images in the video. Time magazine listed it as the 6th best viral video of 2009.[98] In 2010, Tyler appeared in an advertisement for MasterCard, performing a short parody of the song with its noted new lyric "Turn around, Neville."[99] She performed the original song in a similar advertisement for Westpac in 2012.[100]

In 2014, the Electric Picnic festival announced Bonnie Tyler as part of the lineup.[101] Tickets were already sold out, though Irish rugby player Cian Healy won the Irish Women's rugby team extra tickets for a comic miming video published on Instagram.[102]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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