Saturday, April 2, 2022

"Eternal Flame" by The Bangles

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3795
Date:  02/04/1989
Debut:  56
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop


Pop Bits:  The first single from the band's third album Everything, "In Your Room," would become their fourth Pop Top 10 hit reaching #5. While the song did well, it didn't necessarily push the album up the chart. Although it would quickly go gold, the LP would initially peak at a disappointing #33. However, that would change with the release of this second single. The power ballad quickly took off and in a short nine weeks it would become The Bangles' second Pop #1. It would also spend two weeks atop the AC chart. The single would become a gold seller and help the album rebound to a new peak of #15. It would then be certified platinum. It was a big, winning moment for the band, but behind the scenes the hit furthered the divisive feelings that were already at play with the members.

ReduxReview:  This was a big ol' bowl of corn pudding and I gladly ate it up. From the music box-style opening through to the big splashy ending, the song was a lovely piece of chamber pop that checked all the boxes for me. I knew this was going to be a big hit after the first listen. There seemed to be a lot of talk at the time from critics and even with the band and their management that this song wasn't representative of the Bangles' sound. That is kind of true, but save for the retro feel, I didn't think "Manic Monday" did either. I think it is great for artists to draw outside of the lines. It keeps things fresh and gives them opportunity to explore and learn. Hoffs, Steinberg, and Kelly came up with a terrific pop ballad that most any artist would have loved to have recorded. Yet why give it away just because it didn't fit a certain mold? Hoffs lobbied hard for the tune and in the end it gave The Bangles a major #1 hit, which they needed to keep the album afloat. Sadly, the tune further drove the wedge that had developed between Hoffs and the band.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by band member Susanna Hoffs along with the writing team of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg. Like many pop songs, this one stemmed from a title idea. It seems that Hoffs was talking with Steinberg about a private tour the band did of Elvis Presley's home Graceland. When they visited the garden, they spotted a little box and asked what it was. They were told it was the eternal flame, but because of the rain that day it was off. The phrase "eternal flame" reminded Steinberg of something he had seen as a child and that led to him suggesting it as a song title. Steinberg and Hoffs worked up some lyrics and then took them to Kelly who began composing the music. The demo was recorded with an acoustic guitar, but then producer Davitt Sigerson decided to give it a more Beatle-esqe, torch song arrangement that was different from the band's normal guitar/drums-driven sound.  2) In a 2012 interview on a BBC program, Hoffs revealed that she performed the lead vocal for the song in the nude. Apparently, producer Sigerson decided to play a practical joke on Hoffs and told her that he had just come from a studio session with Olivia Newton-John. He said that she recorded all her vocals in the nude as he gets her best performances in that way. Hoff said she had her own routine for recording vocals that included wearing the same outfit and so to try and break that and do something different, she decided to follow the apparent Olivia method. It seems she recorded in a darkened studio and there was also a post or partition in front of her so no one could see. It ended up working quite well. It wasn't until some time had passed after the sessions that Sigerson told her about the ruse.

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