I Think We're Alone Now

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"I Think We're Alone Now"
I Think We're Alone Now - Tommy James & the Shondells.jpg
Single by Tommy James and the Shondells
from the album I Think We're Alone Now
B-side"Gone, Gone, Gone"
ReleasedJanuary 5, 1967
Format7" single
Recorded1966
GenreRock
Length2:08
LabelRoulette
Songwriter(s)Ritchie Cordell
Producer(s)Ritchie Cordell
Tommy James and the Shondells singles chronology
"It's Only Love"
(1966)
"I Think We're Alone Now"
(1967)
"Mirage"
(1967)

"I Think We're Alone Now" is a song written and composed by Ritchie Cordell that was the title selection from a same-named album released by the American recording artists Tommy James and the Shondells. "I Think We're Alone Now" was a 1967 US hit for James and the Shondells, reaching number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The song has been covered several times by other artists, most notably by Tiffany in late 1987. The Tiffany recording reached number 1 on the charts of various countries including the US, UK, Canada, and New Zealand. Other cover versions have also charted, including those by The Rubinoos (number 45 US, 1977) and Girls Aloud (number 4 UK, 2006).

Composition[edit]

The writing of the song was credited to Ritchie Cordell, who wrote or co-wrote many songs for Tommy James, including the follow-up single to "I Think We're Alone Now", "Mirage" and its B-side "Run, Run, Baby, Run", and 1968's "Mony Mony". Cordell and his regular songwriting partner Bo Gentry gave the song to Tommy James, who thought it sounded like a hit. According to Tommy James, "I Think We're Alone Now" was written by Cordell and Gentry, but as Gentry was still under contract to Kama Sutra Records, the head of Roulette Records, Morris Levy, agreed a deal naming Cordell as sole writer but splitting the royalties with Gentry.[1]

The song was originally written as a slow ballad, but when James, Cordell and Gentry recorded a quick demo, they made the song faster. Tommy James later wrote: "Ritchie and Bo originally wrote the song as a mid-tempo ballad. I said no way and started speeding it up.... I.. put on a nasally, almost juvenile-sounding lead vocal, and without realizing it, we invented "bubblegum" music."[1] They played the song to Levy, who approved of it, and it was then given a proper recording.[2]

The lyrics of the song speak of parental prohibition, especially against sexual activities, and have both the narrator and the person being addressed "trying to get away into the night" to avoid, evade, or defy such prohibition. The first few words of the song, "Children behave! And watch how you play when you're together," makes this quite clear.

Recording[edit]

The recording was produced by Ritchie Cordell and Bo Gentry. Tommy James recorded the vocal on the Christmas Eve of 1966 so that the song could be released in the new year.[2]

Like many early Tommy James and the Shondells releases, only band members Tommy James and Eddie Gray were featured on the record, with the rest of the band providing background vocals. Studio musicians were used as the rest of the rhythm section to back up the Shondells. These musicians include Artie Butler playing Ondioline electric keyboard, Al Gorgoni on guitar, Joe Macho on bass, Paul Griffin on piano, and Bobby Gregg on drums.

They recorded the bass and drums first, and the rest then layered onto the recording. They also made the choruses quieter so that the verses became much more prominent. This the first time they had recorded this way, a process they would replicate in many other later records to produce their signature sound.[2]

The version that James and the Shondells originally performed uses hard-driving arrangements for its two verses, both fiercely performed so as to convey a sense of urgency. However, the refrain (performed twice) is almost whispered and indeed followed by a sound effect of crickets chirping, giving an atmosphere of forbidden activities that are being deliberately kept hidden. The fade-out uses the lyrics of the refrain, but this time, the hard-driving arrangements are resumed.

Commercial performance[edit]

"I Think We're Alone Now" was a 1967 hit song for Tommy James and the Shondells, reaching number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during a 17-week stay. Rock critic Lester Bangs called the single "the bubblegum apotheosis".

"I Think We're Alone Now" stands out as one of James's most successful recordings. It was featured in the horror film Mother's Day (1980) and the science-fiction thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016).

Charts[edit]

Lene Lovich version[edit]

"I Think We're Alone Now"
I Think We're Alone Now - Lena.jpg
Single by Lene Lovich
from the album Stateless
B-side"Lucky Number"
ReleasedJuly 1978
Format7" single
Recorded1978
Length2:45
LabelStiff
Songwriter(s)Ritchie Cordell
Producer(s)Les Chappell
Lene Lovich singles chronology
"I Think We're Alone Now"
(1978)
"Lucky Number"
(1979)

In 1978, the American singer Lene Lovich recorded a cover version of "I Think We're Alone Now". Her version was originally released with her hit song "Lucky Number" as a B-side. Lovich recorded the song after contacting the radio presenter Charlie Gillett, who helped her get signed by Dave Robinson of Stiff Records. Robinson liked the record and immediately proposed it to be released as a single. However, her song "Lucky Number" gained so much more attention that it was later re-released as a lead single, at which it peaked at number 3 on the UK Singles Chart.

"I Think We're Alone Now" appeared on Lovich's 1978 debut album, Stateless, and she would later record the song in other languages, including German and Japanese.[9]

Track listings and formats[edit]

  1. "I Think We're Alone Now" – 2:45
  2. "Lucky Number" – 2:20

Tiffany version[edit]

"I Think We're Alone Now"
Tiffany-I Think We're Alone Now-12in.jpg
Single by Tiffany
from the album Tiffany
B-side"No Rules"
ReleasedAugust 1987
Format
  • 7" single
  • 12" single
  • CD single
Recorded1987
GenreSynthpop, dance-pop
Length3:47 (Album Version)
4:25 (Single Version)
LabelMCA Records
Songwriter(s)Ritchie Cordell
Producer(s)George Tobin
Tiffany singles chronology
"Danny"
(1987)
"I Think We're Alone Now"
(1987)
"Could've Been"
(1988)
Music video
"I Think We're Alone Now" on YouTube

Background[edit]

"I Think We’re Alone Now″ was re-popularized when American pop singer Tiffany covered the song when she was 15 for her eponymous debut studio album, which was released in 1987 on the MCA Records label. When George Tobin, Tiffany's manager and producer, gave her the cassette of the original version by Tommy James & the Shondells, Tiffany hated the idea of recording a version of her own for her album, mostly because she thought the song was neither modern enough nor hip enough. According to Tiffany, she also did not know that the song is about the prohibition of teenage sex. The producers then remade the song as a dance track, and when Tiffany played this to her friends, they started to dance to it. Tiffany returned the next day to record the song in around four takes.[2]

Tiffany also recorded "I Think We're Alone Now", but in a different arrangement, for her sixth album and her second as an indie artist, Dust Off and Dance, which became her only album in the electronica genre. It was released in 2005. For the 2007 compilation album I Think We're Alone Now: 80's Hits and More, her vocals were re-recorded, using the remixed 1987 backing track as a guide. Her earlier version is referenced in the alternative group Weezer's song "Heart Songs" on the band's 2008 Red Album. Weezer incorrectly referred to it as having been performed by Debbie Gibson, who performed a similar style of pop music and was popular during the same time as Tiffany. Rivers Cuomo admitted that he noticed the mistake while writing the song, but left it in the finished song.[citation needed]

Approach[edit]

Tiffany and Tobin made no attempt to contrast the verses and the refrain, as James and the Shondells had, instead keeping the "peppy"[according to whom?] arrangements they used all throughout her recording and performances.

Reception[edit]

"I Think We're Alone Now" proved to be Tiffany's biggest hit once she did record and release it. Her version of the song spent two weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (coincidentally, another Tommy James & the Shondells cover, Billy Idol's version of "Mony Mony", followed it on the top spot) and three weeks at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart.

"I Think We're Alone Now" was not the first single from Tiffany's debut album. The first single was "Danny", but radio started picking up "I Think We're Alone Now", another selection on the album. It became a runaway number 1 hit and was the eighteenth highest selling single for 1987[11] and the thirty-second highest selling single in Australia for 1988.[12]

Music video[edit]

The music video was shot in numerous shopping malls in Utah, which echoed the way her early career had been promoted. Fashion Place Mall (Murray, Utah), Crossroads Mall (Salt Lake City, Utah), 49th Street Galleria (Murray, Utah) and Ogden City Mall (Ogden, Utah). Elements of the video were filmed in the now demolished Bull Ring Centre in Birmingham, UK. The video was featured in the 2012 film Ted and the song was also on the soundtrack and appears in its sequel.

Track listings and formats[edit]

7"/CD single

  1. "I Think We're Alone Now" – 3:47
  2. "No Rules" – 4:05

12" vinyl single

  1. "I Think We're Alone Now" (extended version) – 6:35
  2. "I Think We're Alone Now" (single version) – 4:25
  3. "I Think We're Alone Now" (dub version) – 6:35

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[40] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[42] Gold 626,700[41]

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

Snuff version[edit]

"I Think We're Alone Now"
Single by Snuff
ReleasedAugust 12, 1998
Format
  • CD single
  • 7" single
Recorded1997
Length1:50
LabelFat Wreck Chords
Songwriter(s)Ritchie Cordell
Producer(s)Snuff
Snuff singles chronology
"Sweet Days"
(1998)
"I Think We're Alone Now"
(1998)
"(Don't Fear) The Reaper"
(1998)

In 1989, Snuff covered the song for their first album, Snuff Said. In 1998, Snuff again covered the song for the compilation album Punk Chartbusters Vol 3. Unlike the original, this version is very punk-heavy. In addition to the original length of the song that was released, many different length versions of the song exist: there is such an extended version with a length from 6:36 minutes, a 3:00 minutes long remix, and an a capella version, which contains a length from 5:50 minutes. On the B-side of the song is the single "Christmas Song".

Track listings and formats[edit]

7"

  1. "I Think We're Alone Now" – 1:50
  2. "Christmas Song" – 0:05

CD single

  1. "I Think We're Alone Now" – 1:50
  2. "I Think We're Alone Now" (extended version) – 6:36
  3. "I Think We're Alone Now" (remix) – 3:00
  4. "I Think We're Alone Now" (a capella version) – 5:50

Girls Aloud version[edit]

"I Think We're Alone Now"
IThinkWereAloneNowCD1Cover.jpg
Single by Girls Aloud
from the album The Sound of Girls Aloud
B-side
ReleasedDecember 18, 2006
Format
  • CD single
  • digital download
Recorded2006
GenreElectropop
Length3:42 (single mix/version)
3:18 (album version)
LabelFascination
Songwriter(s)Ritchie Cordell
Producer(s)Xenomania
Girls Aloud singles chronology
"Something Kinda Ooooh"
(2006)
"I Think We're Alone Now"
(2006)
"Walk This Way"
(2007)
Music video
"I Think We're Alone Now" on YouTube

Background[edit]

In 2006, the British-Irish all-female pop group Girls Aloud recorded a cover version of "I Think We're Alone Now" for their greatest hits album The Sound of Girls Aloud and the soundtrack of It's a Boy Girl Thing. Girls Aloud's version was produced by Brian Higgins and his production team Xenomania. The song was recorded just days before the group's greatest hits was sent to be manufactured. Following a single remix, "I Think We're Alone Now" was released as a contender for the Christmas number one. It reached the top five on the UK Singles Chart.

The music video, inspired by heist films, features Girls Aloud robbing a Las Vegas casino. "I Think We're Alone Now" was promoted through various live appearances and was featured on 2007's The Sound of Girls Aloud: The Greatest Hits Tour. The track was criticised and labelled "pointless" by contemporary music critics.

Release[edit]

Until three days before the greatest hits was manufactured, a cover of Irene Cara's "What A Feeling" was going to be in place of "I Think We're Alone Now".[43] But members of Girls Aloud had called their record label on a Friday afternoon to say that they would rather record "I Think We're Alone Now"; the group recorded the song the following morning, and the album was mastered on Monday, three days afterwards.[43] The album version was drastically reworked for the single release, due to the initial version having been so hastily recorded. Higgins said that "Xenomania used the only idea they could think of, which was to make the song sound like 'Something Kinda Ooooh.'"[43] Sarah Harding said, "We’ve given it a Girls Aloud twist, made it a bit clubbier, and also brought it up to date."[44] The single features an alternative vocal arrangement and an entirely new backing track. Later pressings of the greatest hits include the single version of "I Think We're Alone Now".

The song was released on December 18, 2006. It was available on two CD single formats and as a digital download. The first disc included a previously unreleased track entitled "Why Do It?", co-written by Girls Aloud.[45] The second CD format features a number of remixes, as well as a cover of the Christmas classic "Jingle Bell Rock". Girls Aloud's cover of "Jingle Bell Rock" was originally featured on the Christmas bonus disc that came with the limited edition of 2005's Chemistry.[46] The artwork for the second disc features Girls Aloud draped over a Fender guitar amplifier.

Girls Aloud's version of "I Think We're Alone Now" appears on the soundtrack to the film It's a Boy Girl Thing (2006), starring Samaire Armstrong and Kevin Zegers.[47] The film was produced by Elton John's husband David Furnish.[47]

Critical response[edit]

Girls Aloud's cover of the song was widely slated by music critics. An unidentified staff writer at WalesOnline described it as "cheap, obnoxious, totally pointless and, destined to be loved only by people too out of their heads on Christmas spirit to know any better".[48] Adam Burling of musicOMH exclaimed, "Christmas does funny things to people. Even pop groups as reliably excellent at singles as Girls Aloud toss out pointless, lazy covers in a ruthless attempt to snare that coveted seasonal chart-topper from the X-Factor's clutches."[49] A BBC Music review of The Sound of Girls Aloud chose to "ignore the Xmas party cover".[50] Yahoo! Music stated "the karaoke rendition[s] of [...] Tiffany's 'I Think We're Alone Now' really drag this collection down".[51] On the other hand, John Murphy of musicOMH said the cover "actually does the impossible by making Tiffany's version sound good".[52]

Reception[edit]

The single debuted at number 50 on the UK Singles Chart a week prior to its physical release, due to download sales.[53] The following week, "I Think We're Alone Now" peaked at number 4 on the Christmas chart, being beaten by Leona Lewis' "A Moment Like This".[54] The song slipped to number 7 in its second week.[55] It spent a total of seven weeks in the top 75.[56] The song also peaked at number 11 on the Irish Singles Chart and spent six weeks in Ireland's top 50.[57] As their 17th best selling single it has sold a total of 85,000 copies.

Music video[edit]

The video, directed by Alex Hemming and Nick Collett, is based, as stated above, on films like Ocean's 11 and Casino.[43][58] During the video, the group attempt to rob a Las Vegas casino.[58]

Three different endings to the video were shot. The first shows the girls getting caught and tied up after opening a box full of money in the casino's safe; the second features Kimberley Walsh (with her back to the camera) removing her clothes in front of casino owners, causing them to faint; and the third features the girls playing with the money. 3 customers were allowed to vote on their favourite ending from November 8 to November 15, 2006.[59] This last ending won the vote, despite the version with Kimberley stripping being uploaded to the internet.[60] In March 2007, all versions of the video were made available to download on iTunes, though in the UK Store only.[61]

Live performances[edit]

The band performed the song at the following events:

Track listings and formats[edit]

These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "I Think We're Alone Now".

Credits and personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Other versions[edit]

The song has also been covered by a number of other artists, including The Killers, The Turtles, Trust Company, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, The Spinto Band, Pascal featuring Karen Parry, The Click Five, Bel's Boys, The Birthday Massacre, Comadre, The Pipettes, Ratcat on their EP Ratcat, Screeching Weasel, The Crimea, The Rubinoos, Kids Incorporated, and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.

A Japanese adaptation "Futari no Sekai" (ふたりの世界) was recorded by Yōko Nagayama on her album Tokyo Menu (トーキョー・メニュー).

A Spanish adaptation "Ahora estoy solo" was recorded by Los Hitters. The lyrics take distance from the meaning of the English version as the song relates about a guy that got a break-up rather than the innuendo of the English lyrics. The song was covered later by Mexican duet Cereza y Miel as "Ahora Estoy Sola".

The Tiffany version of the song was spoofed by "Weird Al" Yankovic on his 1988 album, Even Worse, as "I Think I'm a Clone Now".

Dave Garr, who wrote a good deal of song parodies about computers, covered this as "I Think We're a Clone Now". The parody dealt with the licensing of the Macintosh from Apple Computer to other companies during the short period in which Macintosh clones were made. The video was recorded in 1995 at Apple's headquarters and features the building and its landmarks of the day, references to former Apple CEOs Mike Spindler and John Sculley, and some vintage Macintosh computers including a Macintosh Classic and an Apple Lisa.

Also, as part of RadioShack's "TheShack" commercial campaign, one commercial features a man in an office cubicle with headphones on singing part of the bridge and chorus in a falsetto range to Tiffany's version.

Swedish group Cosmo4 covered Tiffany's 1987 version of "I Think We're Alone Now" for their debut album Around The World as requested by the Russian record label Style Records. Despite the album having been shelved, the song was released to the compilation Dance 2008, Vol. 2 in Thailand by the record label Red Beat in 2008.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]