Eternal Flame (song)

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"Eternal Flame"
Eternal Flame by The Bangles US commercial cassette.jpg
US commercial cassette release
Single by The Bangles
from the album Everything
B-side"What I Meant to Say"
ReleasedJanuary 1989
StudioStudio 55, Ocean Way Recording (Los Angeles, California)
GenreSoft rock[1]
Producer(s)Davitt Sigerson
The Bangles singles chronology
"In Your Room"
"Eternal Flame"
"Be with You"
Music video
"Eternal Flame" on YouTube

"Eternal Flame" is a song recorded by American pop rock group the Bangles for their 1988 album, Everything, being written by group member Susanna Hoffs with the established hit songwriting team of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly: upon its 1989 single release, "Eternal Flame" became a number-one hit in 8 countries, including Australia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Bangles version[edit]


Considered by Billy Steinberg to be a stylistic fusion of the Byrds and the Beatles, especially evoking the latter group's "For No One", "Mother Nature's Son" (the bridge part) and "Here There & Everywhere",[2] "Eternal Flame" elicited different points of comparison from contemporary music critics, among them: "a backhanded tribute to every sappy string-drenched ballad - from Lulu's 'To Sir With Love' to Merrilee Rush's 'Angel of the Morning' - that ever overstayed its welcome on the radio";[3] "[a] fluffy romantic fantasy [that] resembled the Carpenters a lot more than the Beatles";[4] "a cloying ballad that Andrew Lloyd Webber could have written for Sarah Brightman";[5] "[On] 'Eternal Flame' [Susanna] Hoffs does her best inspired reading of Kate Bush".[6]

Vicki Peterson of the Bangles would in 2000 describe "Eternal Flame" as "a beautiful song [which] at the time I didn't think [of as] essentially [a] Bangles [number:] anyone could've taken the song and made it a hit".[7] The retrospective AllMusic critique by Matthew Greenwald assessed "Eternal Flame" as "somewhat removed from the Bangles' sound and vibe...[its] gentle, lilting melody...seems ready-made for an artist such as Anita Baker or Whitney Houston... The song features a dramatic bridge that takes the song to a wonderfully emotional place, and adds to the overall dynamics of the piece. In the end, ['Eternal Flame'] doesn't fit the Bangles' catalog well, but it remains a minor pop standard."[8]

Two of the song's three writers, Tom Kelly and Susanna Hoffs, had met via the Bangles' October 30, 1986 concert at the Avalon Hollywood (then the Palace). Kelly attended the concert and met the group's members, including Hoffs, backstage. This led to Hoffs writing songs with Kelly and his regular songwriting partner Billy Steinberg. The trio's first composition to be recorded was "I Need a Disguise", which Belinda Carlisle recorded for her 1986 solo debut album. The Bangles' 1988 album Everything would feature two Hoffs/ Kelly/ Steinberg compositions, both with lead vocals by Hoffs: the upbeat lead single "In Your Room" and "Eternal Flame".

The focal metaphor of "Eternal Flame" was suggested by two eternal flames: one at the gravesite of Elvis Presley at Graceland where the Bangles had been given a private tour[9] - (Susanna Hoffs quote:) "we were taken out to the Garden of Memories, and there was this little box which was supposed to have a lit flame in it, an eternal flame. Actually, that day it was raining so the flame was not on"[10] - and one at a local synagogue in Palm Springs which Steinberg attended as a child.[11] (Billy Steinberg quote:) "Susanna was talking about the Bangles having visited Graceland, and she said there was some type of shrine to Elvis that included some kind of eternal flame. As soon as those words were mentioned, I immediately thought of the synagogue in the town of Palm Springs, California where I grew up. I remember during our Sunday school class they would walk us through the sanctuary. There was one little red light and they told us it was called the eternal flame."[2]

Personnel on "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles

After Steinberg suggested writing a song entitled "Eternal Flame", he and Hoffs wrote the song's lyrics at Steinberg's house and then according to Hoffs brought the lyrics to Tom Kelly's studio where Kelly completed the music and the demo was cut. Steinberg recalls Kelly also being at Steinberg's house when the lyrics were written, beginning the music's composition there[10][12] The demo was deliberately guitar-based as there was no keyboardist in the Bangles' core lineup. However, the producer of the Everything album, Davitt Sigerson, on hearing the demo worked out an arrangement evoking a music box, bringing in keyboardist John Philip Shenale to give the track a chiming effect.[10] According to Hoffs, Sigerson's production of the track was inspired by the vintage recordings of Patsy Cline which he knew Hoffs enjoyed singing along to.[10] Hoffs would also recall that the Bangles' manager, Miles Copeland, overhearing the recording session for "Eternal Flame, had been displeased by the lack of drums[13] and that Hoffs had to resist pressure to re-record it with a stronger beat.[14][10] In the BBC programme I'm in a Girl Group, Hoffs revealed she actually sang the studio recording of the song completely naked after Sigerson pranked her by telling her Olivia Newton-John recorded unclad (a falsehood Sigerson eventually admitted to).[citation needed]

Single release[edit]


#1 Billboard Hot 100 hits written
by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly

Given that the Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian" had been ranked by Billboard as the number one single of 1987 and that the group had reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986 with "Manic Monday" and in 1987 with "Hazy Shade of Winter", the #5 Hot 100 peak of the lead single from their album Everything, "In Your Room", was a comparative disappointment with its parent album Everything - whose original Billboard 200 peak was #33 - considered a flop.[15] The January 1989 release of "Eternal Flame" as the new Bangles' single was heralded in The Chicago Tribune with the song described as an "old-fashioned killer ballad that is just about as far as one could get from the psychedelic sound of the group's recent Top 5 hit 'In Your Room'."[16] "Eternal Flame" debuted at #56 on the Hot 100 dated January 28, 1989 - which chart ranked "In Your Room" in its final week in the Top 40 at #34 - to rise to #1 over ten weeks,[17] making the Bangles the third all-female group to top the Hot 100 multiple times, being preceded by the Shirelles and the Supremes.[18] In addition "Eternal Flame" set a record for the song's co-writers: Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, as the first songwriting team to score a #1 Hot 100 hit five years in a row.[19] "Eternal Flame" also afforded the Bangles a two-week tenure at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.[20]


In the United Kingdom (see UK Singles Chart records and statistics) - where "In Your Room" had stalled at #35 - "Eternal Flame" made a rambling eight-week chart ascent into the Top 40 before vaulting 20 positions to #13 on the chart dated April 1, 1989 - the week of the single's being #1 on the Hot 100 - reaching #1 on the UK singles chart dated April 15, 1989 and remaining there for three additional weeks. The single was still in the UK Top 40 (at #38) dated June 17, 1989, at which point the single was deleted to clear the way for "Be with You" as third single release off the Everything album:[21] overall "Eternal Flame" would be afforded a UK chart tenure of twenty weeks, ranking as the UK's third biggest hit for the year 1989. "Eternal Flame" spent three weeks at #1 in Sweden and 18 weeks in the Swedish charts, and also spent seven weeks at #1 in the Dutch Top 40. The song was Australia's 4th biggest selling single of 1989 and was sent up on the Australian TV show Fast Forward.

Charts and certifications[edit]


Rather than consolidating the Bangles' stardom, the success of "Eternal Flame" would have a negative impact on the group, underscoring the wide public perception of the Bangles as star attraction Hoffs and her backing band. The choice for third single release from the Everything album being "Be with You", the group's first single led by Debbi Peterson since the band's second single release "Going Down to Liverpool" (1984), was an apparent attempt to redress the balance which failed, as "Be with You" would rise no higher than #30 on the Hot 100 in the summer of 1989, when its UK chart peak would be #23. The Bangles announced their disbanding the second week of October 1989.[55][56][57][21]

Tomoya Nagase featuring 3T version[edit]

"Eternal Flame"
Single by Tomoya Nagase featuring 3T
LabelUniversal Music Japan
Songwriter(s)Susanna Hoffs
Tom Kelly
Billy Steinberg
Tomoya Nagase featuring 3T singles chronology
"Gotta Be You"
"Eternal Flame"
"Stuck on You"

In 1997, a Japanese version of the song was recorded by Tomoya Nagase, the vocalist of the Japanese idol rock group Tokio, featuring 3T. This song was used as the theme song of the Nippon TV drama DXD, in which Nagase played the main role. He also wrote the Japanese version lyrics. This version was released as a single in Japan under the name of "Tomoya with 3T".


Chart (1997) Peak
Oricon Japanese International Chart 12

Human Nature version[edit]

"Eternal Flame"
Single by Human Nature
from the album Counting Down
ReleasedOctober 17, 1999
FormatCD single
LabelSony Music Entertainment/Columbia Records
Songwriter(s)Susanna Hoffs
Tom Kelly
Billy Steinberg
Producer(s)Andrew Klippel
Human Nature singles chronology
"Don't Cry"
"Eternal Flame"
"Be There With You"

In 1999, Australian group Human Nature covered "Eternal Flame" and released it as the fourth single from their second album Counting Down. It peaked at number eight on the ARIA singles chart and was certified gold.[58]

Track listings[edit]

  • Australian CD single 1 Cat. 667915 2
  1. "Eternal Flame"
  2. "She's So Gone"
  3. "Breaking Me Down"
  4. "Don't Cry" (Discothèque Club remix)
  5. "Eternal Flame" (music video)
  • Australian CD single 2 Cat. 667915 5
  1. "Eternal Flame"
  2. "Shake You Outta My Head" from the Happy Days production
  3. "She's So Gone"
  4. "Breaking Me Down"
  5. "Don't Cry" (Discothèque Club remix)
  6. "Eternal Flame" (music video)


Chart (1999) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[59] 8
Year-end chart (1999) Position
Australia (ARIA)[60] 58

Atomic Kitten version[edit]

"Eternal Flame"
Eternal Flame by Atomic Kitten CD.jpg
Single by Atomic Kitten
from the album Right Now (re-issue)
ReleasedJuly 23, 2001
FormatCD single, cassette
Songwriter(s)Susanna Hoffs, Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg
Producer(s)Ray Ruffin
Atomic Kitten singles chronology
"Whole Again"
"Eternal Flame"
"You Are"

English girl group Atomic Kitten subsequently recorded the song in 2001 and released as the sixth overall single and lead single from the reissue of the debut studio album, Right Now. It was the group's first single to feature new band member Jenny Frost. Their version was produced by multi-platinum singer producer Ray Ruffin.

Chart performance[edit]

Atomic Kitten made the song another massive success; it entered the top twenty in every country it was released, except for Australia, and entered the top five in over ten countries. In the UK, it entered at number one, where it stayed for two weeks, sold 35,358 copies on its first day, over 140,000 copies in its first week, 70,000 copies in its second week, and over 400,000 copies in total. It also went to number two in the French singles chart. Atomic Kitten's "Eternal Flame" went on to sell over one million copies worldwide and was certified Gold in the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, and New Zealand.

Track listing[edit]

Australian CD

  1. "Eternal Flame" (Single Version) – 3:15
  2. "Right Now" (Jenny Frost version) – 3:35
  3. "Right Now" (K-Klass Phazerphunk Club Mix) – 7:22
  4. "Eternal Flame" (Blacksmith RnB Club Dub) – 3:55
  5. "Right Now" (video)


  1. "Eternal Flame" (Single Version) – 3:15
  2. "Album Medley" – 5:30
  3. "Eternal Flame" (Blacksmith RnB Club Rub) – 3:54
  4. "Eternal Flame" (video)

UK cassette

  1. "Eternal Flame" (Single Version) – 3:15
  2. "Album Medley" – 5:30
  3. "Dancing in the Street" – 3:39



Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[98] Gold 268,000[97]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[99] Gold 5,000*
Sweden (GLF)[100] Gold 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[102] Gold 415,000[101]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Other cover versions[edit]

Dutch jazz vocalist Laura Fygi recorded "Eternal Flame" for her 1996 album Turn Out the Lamplight.[103] The song was covered in 2000 by Rollergirl on the album Now I'm Singin'... and the Party Keeps On Rollin', and released as a single which peaked at #87 in the Swiss Charts.[104] Bonnie Tyler and French singer Laura Zen recorded a version in 2011 which went to French radio stations on Monday August 29. The song was named "Eternal Flame (Amour éternel)".[105] In 2017, Shane Filan of Westlife included this fan-favorite song on his album Love Always which reached Top 3 in Scottish Albums Chart and Top 5 in UK Albums Chart and Irish Albums Chart. In December 2008, Season 2, Episode 8 ("Comfort Food") of the TV show Pushing Daisies, Kristin Chenoweth performed the song.

Uses in popular culture[edit]

In 2014, the Bangles‘ version appeared in the How I Met Your Mother Season 9 episode Sunrise as a representation of Ted's difficulty letting Robin go after being the only girl he truly loved for the previous 8 years.

The Bangles' version appears in a 2019 in American television TV commercial for Amazon Prime.


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External links[edit]