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Music / Bonnie Tyler

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We're holding out for her voice!

Gaynor Sullivan MBE (née Hopkins; born 8 June 1951), better known as Bonnie Tyler, is a Welsh musician who became one of the most important and popular in her decade.

She was raised in a big family, having three sisters and two brothers; and because many of them were already lovers of music, Bonnie inherited that passion, listening to songs from contemporary groups and singers like The Beatles and Elvis Presley. This motivated her to participate in a music contest that took place in her homeland (Skewen) and, despite not winning (she ended up in second place), she gave a shot to the idea of pursuing a musical career. Her first band was called Imagination, formed after she worked as a backing singer for Bobby Wayne and the Dixies, and adopted the artistic name Sherene Davis to prevent overlap with fellow Welsh musician Mary Hopkin. After being heard in a performance with her band in Swansea, she was persuaded to record a demo track in London, England. This eventually led RCA Records to call her so she would sign for a contract; they recommended her to select a new artistic name, and after several promising options she finally chose "Bonnie Tyler". And thus our endearing Welsh singer with husky voice forged her career as we know it.

Tyler's earliest successes include "Lost In France" (from her first album, The World Starts Tonight), "My Guns Are Loaded" (from the album Diamond Cut) and "Sitting on the Edge of the Ocean" (which yielded her the best performance award in the 1979 World Popular Song Festival in Japan, and was later added to the song list of the album Goodbye to the Island); however, it wasn't until February 1983 when she released the song that would make her a worldwide phenomenon, "Total Eclipse of the Heart", eventually incorporated into the album Faster Than the Speed of Night (for the label CBS/Columbia, as her contract with RCA had expired two years prior). Not only did it turn that album into a huge seller (six million units sold, certifying it gold in the United States and later Platinum), but it was also remixed into covers by different artists, including Spanish and Italian languages; some parodies of the song were recorded as well.

Other notable songs by her include "Holding Out for a Hero" (yes, it's the Trope Namer), "If You Were a Woman", "Hide Your Heart", a cover for Air Supply's "Making Love Out of Nothing At All" (which, funnily enough, was competing against "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in 1983; in addition, both songs were written and produced by Jim Steinman), and "It's A Heartache". In case you were curious to know, her husky voice is the result of a surgery on her vocal chords she had to undergo in 1977, the same year when she premiered her first studio album. This event, apparently concerning for her career, only made her voice more iconic.

Studio Albums:

  • The World Starts Tonight (1977)
  • Natural Force (1978)
  • Diamond Cut (1979)
  • Goodbye to the Island (1981)
  • Faster than the Sped of Night (1983)
  • Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire (1986)
  • Hide Your Heart (1988)
  • Bitterblue (1991)
  • Angel Heart (1992)
  • Silhouette in Red (1993)
  • Free Spirit (1995)
  • All in One Voice (1998)
  • Heart Strings (2003)
  • Simply Believe (2004)
  • Wings (2005)
  • Bonnie Tyler Live (2006)note 
  • Live In Germany 1993 (2011)note 
  • Rocks and Honey (2013)
  • Bonnie Tyler Live Europe Tour 2006-2007 (2018)note 
  • Between the Earth and the Stars (2019)
  • The Best Is Yet to Come (2021)

Singles with their own pages:

Her music provides examples of:

  • Break Up Song: The theme of "Don't Turn Around". Tyler tells her partner that, should they part separate ways, she's willing to accept it. She just asks him to not look back at her, as she doesn't want to be seen crying.
  • Central Theme: Many of her songs teem with love, the strengths it provides, the struggles of keeping it burning, and the consequences of not filling the void when it turns out to be unrequited.
  • Cover Version: Of the Blue Öyster Cult's Goin' Through The Motions.
  • For the Evulz: Outlaw cowboys burn down Bonnie's house and attack her just for fun in the music video for "Holding Out for a Hero".
  • Gold and White Are Divine: In the song "Holding Out For A Hero", the angelic backup singers dance around wearing white dresses with a bit of gold around the collars and the edges in the music video.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: The Trope Namer, though it only partly counts as an example. The lyrics imply the singer desires a heroic figure for a lover, but the original context counts against it: The song was specifically written for a scene in Footloose in which the protagonist is challenged to a Game of Chicken in a tractor, and finds himself the accidental victor (his shoelaces get stuck in the gearing, preventing him from bailing out), making him an Accidental Hero at best. Regardless, the song has been used in many movies, television series, and even video games during Big Damn Heroes moments.
  • In Love with the Gangster's Girl: The theme of the song "Hide Your Heart", which was in part written by KISS member Paul Stanley, but the band did not do a version until after Tyler. It tells the story of Johnny, a boy who was in love with a girl called Rosa who was the girlfriend of a gang leader named Tito. Even after Rosa told Johnny that they couldn't be together, Tito caught wind of the situation and sought to kill Johnny. Unfortunately for Rosa, Tito succeeds.
  • Love at First Sight: In "Lost In France", she tells how, during a rainy day in France, she attended a band performance (not hers) and fell in love with a man present there. The song doesn't specify if the man she fell in love with was the band's vocalist or part of the audience, but Tyler was so pumped that she chose to stay in France for a little longer.
  • Love Hurts: The theme of the song "It's a Heartache", revolving around the hurtful realization that her in-universe Love Interest doesn't reciprocate her romantic feelings.
  • Men Act, Women Are: In the song "Holding Out for a Hero", the singer keeps making demands for a man with Action Hero qualities without doing anything herself. In the video, even though the whole thing revolves clearly around Tyler and everyone else is just an accessory, and women are actually in the majority among the performers, Tyler does nothing (besides singing, of course) but hang around Holding Out for a Hero and being a Damsel in Distress, and the other female performers only dance and sing in the background, while the faceless male performers play the part of the villains and the hero who fight it out over Tyler.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Tyler positions her hands in this fashion during her plea for help in the video for "Holding out for a Hero".
  • Old Flame: The theme of "Sitting on the Edge of the Ocean". The song narrates how Bonnie reunites with someone she used to love in the past and, while that affection had withered, her reunion with him has reignited her feelings. She even feels like going to the ocean to scream how much she (still) loves him.
  • Ready for Lovemaking: "My Guns Are Loaded" is about Tyler being more than ready for the moment when she has her partner in the bed to show him all her affection.
    My guns are loaded
    You're in my sights
    I'm gonna love you tonight
    My guns are loaded
    They're pointing at your heart
    All I need is your loving and a full time place in your heart
  • Selective Obliviousness: During the video of the song "Total Eclipse of the Heart", it isn't until Bonnie encounters the one boy at the end with Glowing Eyes that she gets a sense that something is wrong. Considering the surreal vibe and setting, it's surprising that it takes her so long.
  • Silly Love Songs: "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" is, lyrics-wise, a song of deep devotion towards a lover, to the extent that Bonnie is too afraid that she might not have what it takes to be loved back anymore (as she feels she's past her beauty's prime). The song's video is much more surreal, however.
  • Translated Cover Version: "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was covered in Spanish as "Eclipse Total del Amor" by Cuban singer Lissette Álvarez Chorens just two years after its original release, then Mexican singer Yuridia covered that version in 2006. Tyler herself recorded a French-English duet version titled "Si demain (Turn Around)" with Kareen Antonn for the song's 20th anniversary in 2003.
  • Whip of Dominance: In the song "Holding Out For a Hero", the demonic outlaw cowboys use glowing neon whips to frighten Bonnie during the music video.