The Eclipse Heard Around the World: Bonnie Tyler is Trending Yet Again

Posted August 21, 2017 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

Turn around:  One of the hottest songs of the ’80’s gets swarm of attention at the dawn of the 2017 total solar eclipse

As many Americans readied for an event of a lifetime, when our moon stands still for a minute in front of our solar system’s bright star, Bonnie Tyler‘s mammoth 1983 hit was also on their minds. Spotify streaming of the ’80s power ballad has drastically increased to 2,859% compared to last week’s numbers; views on YouTube have also soared. Spotify is now reporting that Tyler’s version has been streamed 106 million times. It now holds the No. 1 spot on iTunes and a 500% increase in digital sales. Also, radio revved up programming as social media let up with glee over the latest news surrounding Tyler. She would be performing the tune on a cruise ship at the time of the eclipse, depending on the time zone. 

Tyler's Faster Than The Speed of Light, 1983

Tyler’s Faster Than The Speed of Light, 1983

It’s a good sign for the seemingly forgotten pop star, a singer that once dominated a new epsilon of female rock. But all of this new found fortune for the Welsh singer almost didn’t happen. That’s because Tyler, believe it or not, sported a different persona from the rock star vixen that defined her. She originally did country music. While signed to RCA, Tyler released four of those albums — all of which failed to make a mark in the US and on the UK charts.  Much like Olivia Newton-John and Sheena Easton did in the early ’80’s, Tyler switched managers, then changed producers, then moved to Columbia and going for a different sound, going for something more relevant to mainstream pop. This was the era of MTV, and the decision to go towards soft rock and hard rock was almost mandatory for Tyler, a singer who possessed the grit and soulful passion to knock out big ballads.  This all happened with 1983’s Faster Than the Speed of Light. Now with songwriter/producer Jim Steinman (Meat Loaf) and associate producer John Jansen at the helm, the genre shift managed to work. Steinman contributed the hit title cut and the inescapable hit “Total Eclipse” along with a handful of updated covers of familiar rock classics like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Stop the Rain” and Blue Öyster Club’s “Goin’ Through the Motions.” But it was “Total Eclipse” that quickly turned things around. “Meat Loaf was apparently very annoyed that Jim gave that to me,” she told the Irish Times in 2014. “But Jim said he didn’t write it for Meat Loaf, that he only finished it after meeting me.”

The song is clearly a rock ballad knockout, a surviving artifact of the fleeting Eighties. With E. Street Band alum Roy Bittan on piano and a song that captured a surprising duet featuring Rory Dodd (“turn around, bright eyes”), Tyler raises her husky voice like John Fogerty possessed with Janis Joplin chops.  This re-introduction of Tyler, now feisty and revived with vigor, helped catapult the song to number 2 in the UK, her highest charter at that point. In the US, it stormed all the way to number one, making her the first and only Welsh singer to take that spot. And in 1983, a year full of unforgettable No. 1’s, it registered as the fifth best-selling single of that year.  It went gold and has since gone platinum, selling well over one million units. It along with the 1984 anthemic gay club classic-turned-TV commercial jingle “Looking for a Hero” remains the biggest hits of her career.

And although Tyler, now 66, won’t be on American soil when the eclipse happens, she’s for certain that the song will be sung by someone regardless. “It was Sony’s No 1 karaoke song,” she told the Guardian back in 2013. “It’s not an easy song,” she added.

UPDATE: Now huskier than ever, Tyler gave a sneak peek of “Eclipse” live on CNN while being interviewed by CNN anchor John Berman. View the performance by clicking here.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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