More than just a cheesy music video
March 3, 2015 12:58 PM   Subscribe

 
I am always going to hear this song in meatloaf's voice after this.
posted by phooky at 1:11 PM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


A good find and good post.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:14 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's great. Thanks for the post!
posted by spitbull at 1:21 PM on March 3, 2015


Excellent analysis, and for once even the comments are delightful. I especially liked this exhcange:
andyguitarman
Very interesting video, especially to me who never had a formal music education. Thank you.
BTW, you should totally do a duet of this song with Pixietoria.
Aaron Wilde
You know she's my sister, right?
Pixietoria
I've actually never tried to sing this but I'd be totally up for a rehearsal. It's maybe a little low for my range though...I'd love to try it.

...and then later on someone mentions that they posted the video to Jim Steinman's facebook fan page and he loved it!

I love music dorks so much.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:31 PM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Nice. A quiet misfit friend in high school had a whole inner life, it seemed, that revolved around enthusiasm for Jim Steinman. Thanks to him I saw two live Meatloaf concerts in the late 80's, dug obscure old Meatloaf albums out of the racks at used record stores, and carried around a Steinman-themed mix tape for years. (Thanks Bob, wherever you are.)
posted by jon1270 at 1:39 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is a great post.
posted by djeo at 1:46 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


This must be why that stupid Fiber One commercial with the sad guy eating broccoli always makes me sad despite my own protests.
posted by bleep at 1:53 PM on March 3, 2015


The Literal Video edition is also pretty entertaining, if less informative.
posted by haricotvert at 2:00 PM on March 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


I saw the run time on this video and almost gave it a pass. I started it, intending to watch just the first 90 seconds or so. Then I watched the whole thing. Thanks for posting it, Gordafarin.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:09 PM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Jim Steinman also penned epic ditties for Air Supply and Celine Dion.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 2:21 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Didn't know this was a Steinman song but NOW IT JUST MAKES SO MUCH SENSE.

Thanks. I don't know music theory, but it's still interesting to hear it pulled apart like this.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 3:21 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Isn't it a lot clearer to analyze a C in the bass under an Eb triad as a Cm7 than as "really" an Ab chord with a major 7th and 9th but with no Ab? Maybe if it's being used as a substitute for Ab major that makes sense, but it still seems better to think of it as Cm7 to me.
posted by thelonius at 3:40 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the way it resolves to Db feels convincing enough to argue that it is in fact playing the role of a substitute for the dominant on Ab.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:27 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


This same thing is true of so much music from the 1980s. Largely abominable sound-design, due to technological changes in consoles and signal processing et cetera, but superdamn sophisticated music. Key changes abounded in even the cheesiest, most throwaway pop trash. and not that I'm putting them in this category--i'm not!--but for example Duran Duran's "The Reflex" is harmonically veeeerrrrry innnnerrrresteeen.
posted by Zerowensboring at 4:39 PM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh, livin in a POWDER KEG. Yes, I suppose that makes more sense than parakeet.
posted by xigxag at 4:56 PM on March 3, 2015 [17 favorites]


"That's the test, to me, of really good song - is that you take that song, you try and improve it, but you can't - there's nothing you can do."

...it totally fits all the parts?
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:57 PM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have this song in my mega playlist that I regularly shuffle through and more often than not I'll let it play through rather than skip it, because, as he describes so well, the structure of the song just knocks me right the fuck out. He's playing through the single version though which is shorter. The album version runs through the verse twice before resolving to the chorus/bridge section and that really emphasizes what Steinman seems to be going after with this structure, which is a huge buildup of tension by thumping on those minor thirds and sevenths and then FINALLY releasing it by giving you the major chords of the chorus and the most comfortable familiar chord progression ever. It's an underrated classic for sure. Still wish I could hear Meatloaf do it though (not today, the Meatloaf of 30-odd years ago, please).
posted by wabbittwax at 4:58 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh come on. I'm not buying this analysis at all.

To spend the first 10 minutes awestruck over how the pianist banged out 2 different voicings of a Bm chord? I don't think the songwriter gave it any thought at all. It's just natural to play it bigger the 2nd verse.
posted by surplus at 5:07 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, he does overstate the "complexity" of it all but it's still pretty fun to hear someone reason out what's going on and why you might do things one way rather than another, even if it differs entirely from what was going on in Jim Steinman's head when he wrote it. It gives you a way to think about it, and that can spark new ideas in turn.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:09 PM on March 3, 2015


The best version of this song, by far, is this one by Hurra Torpedo. Truly a great song.
posted by Vindaloo at 5:32 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes! At any given moment there's a couple of songs I'm chewing over trying to figure out how the harmonies work and why it fits together the way it does, and the few months I spent chewing like that on Total Eclipse of the Heart one summer were incredibly educational. I might have learned more about how modulation works from that than from any other one song. It's still not really something I want to listen to often, but it's well-constructed as hell and I have a ton of respect for Steinman for writing it.

(Now if only I could find an explanation like this for what the fuck is going on in Wichita Lineman. Never did get my head wrapped around that one...)
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:43 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't think the songwriter gave it any thought at all.

Craft ≠ effort.
posted by Etrigan at 5:47 PM on March 3, 2015


... what the fuck is going on in Wichita Lineman

Truckloads of late-60's-era weed.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:54 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


...music from the 1980s. Largely abominable sound-design, due to technological changes in consoles and signal processing et cetera

A lot of it sure didn't age well. DX7 on all the things. Bass still sounds in tune? Add more chorus.
posted by thelonius at 6:04 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fucking love everything about this post.

Would definitely recommend.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:09 PM on March 3, 2015


I had a neighbor, years back, in an old house divided into five apartments, who would blast this song, repeatedly, in the early hours of the morning, often while vacuuming.

Once, I had a late-night knock on the door from a personal-ads booty call who insisted, vehemently, that it was my address, not the neighbor's, that he was told to visit.

These two things never quite seemed unrelated.
posted by box at 6:13 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


A lot of it sure didn't age well. DX7 on all the things. Bass still sounds in tune? Add more chorus.

Yep, but sometimes the technology is entirely to blame: SSLs consoles, shitty first-generation reverb emulators... The songs themselves can sometimes be surprisingly adventurous, but it takes a lot of imaginative muscle to subtract the sound from the music. Has someone invented a plug-in to identify and cancel out stereo-chorus in recorded music? Alongside ye olde dreaded gated-reverb, it's the most worstest effect of 80s music, but i can imagine that, at least in principle, it would be easy to model and eliminate, since it's just the original musical information shifted in time.
posted by Zerowensboring at 6:18 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I went and watched the Bonnie Tyler video. I had to wash it out with this version.
posted by zennie at 6:27 PM on March 3, 2015


I unapologetic about my love of Jim Steinman. I read his Wikipedia page for inspiration. Dude does what he does.

You are more than welcome to think he's a ridiculously over-the-top songwriter who indulges in every dramatic instinct he's ever had. Those things are true. But he also knows what he's doing.

("Total Eclipse of the Heart" is a great song and while I'm not a karaoke fan, it would be my song except I don't have Bonnie Tyler's range. Or any range, for that matter.)
posted by darksong at 7:07 PM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I can't believe I watched 30 minutes of this--in a good way! Fascinating, thanks so much for posting it. I too now can't unhear the song in Meatloaf's voice...
posted by msbubbaclees at 7:32 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


My friends' party piece for many years was to put their own spin on bad songs for Halloween (Like a Virgin). There were so many surprising songs that were just too complicated and fussy to rearrange properly - for instance the whole Hall and Oates catalog.
posted by wotsac at 7:39 PM on March 3, 2015


Similar
posted by Zerowensboring at 7:40 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love how excited about this tune he gets. The part of his take that I thought was most illuminating was that despite the 1980s production, the song's bones are a tour through the 1970s era of promiscuous key changes heating up into a 1950s rock n' roll center.

Described that way like he does, it makes perfect sense that the song was written for Meatloaf, since a melodramatic version of the 1970s meets the 1950s was his bread and butter.
posted by umbú at 7:52 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Coincidentally I just came across this today:

Total Eclipse of the Chart
posted by a car full of lions at 11:10 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


SSL consoles

You've got to be kidding. The SSL console is one of the best ever, the bus compressor - yes, I said it - in particular. Cheesy reverb is a whole 'nother issue.
posted by atoxyl at 1:22 AM on March 4, 2015


Some of you might enjoy the various harmonic turns in one of my recent Music posts. It goes a few interesting places, I think.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:47 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wish I was smart enough to comprehend this.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:28 AM on March 4, 2015


My favorite Karaoke joint has a 1 TEotH PER NIGHT rule, and bless them for it.

Jim Steinman is fucking brilliant. Epic epicness of epic proportions. I imagine he's got the left forearm of Popeye, because he seriously seems to have never met a lower octave his left hand didn't immediately fall in love with.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:50 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you want to see more Jim Steinman discussion, there's a good episode of Classic Albums about "Bat Out of Hell." It used to be on Netflix, but now I have no idea how to see it except on shady websites. But they have a preview on YouTube.
posted by smackfu at 7:57 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Meatloaf songs always sound to me like a camp version of Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run.
posted by colie at 8:06 AM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


He forgets to mention something very important -- the turn back into the second verse. After the first chorus - E to A over "every now and then I fall apart" - the chord progression goes back to Bb minor for the second verse, which is a far more bizarre progression than the transition to Ab in the second chorus.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:07 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Isn't it a lot clearer to analyze a C in the bass under an Eb triad as a Cm7 than as "really" an Ab chord with a major 7th and 9th but with no Ab? Maybe if it's being used as a substitute for Ab major that makes sense, but it still seems better to think of it as Cm7 to me.

What he forgets to mention is that the melody during that chorus is in fact on an Ab. "Forever's gonna START" - Ab. So it does basically function an Ab chord over C, with the G & Bb on top functioning as passing tones.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:15 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Good grief, it seems to me that he gets a couple of simple things wrong just in the first five minutes. Mainly he's confusing composing and arranging with a muddy explanation of a really very simple chord progression. And I may be not quite following him here, but he also says that guitarists are stuck with only one way to play a chord. Guitar students must be wasting a lot of time learning chord inversions. The video is interesting, but Leonard Bernstein was much more lucid describing Beatles songs.
posted by Flexagon at 8:51 AM on March 4, 2015


To be fair, he says 'it's tempting to play every chord on guitar in the same way.' This may well be true for ordinary guitarists like me, but Pete Townshend, Keith Richards, John Lennon and even Bob Dylan (Blood on the Tracks) knew that the different voicings, tunings, inversions and use of open strings and doubled tones that you select for guitar chords are a constant source of harmonic interest and often contribute massively to the overall 'feel' of a song just as these piano inversions contribute to 'Eclipse' (take 'Gimme Shelter' for example). There are four different voicings of the V chord in Lennon's pumping guitar part for 'I want to hold your hand.'
posted by colie at 11:40 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Meatloaf songs always sound to me like a camp version of Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run.

Here's the thing; camp is ironic. There is nothong ironic about Meat Loaf. Bombastic? Over the top? Sure.

But i saw him around 89/90, long after BOOH, & well before Bat 2. Burlington, VT, in a maybe 2k seat hall downtown.

He rocked that shit like it was Madison Square Garden, and those of us who were listening to The Archies when Bat came out lost our college-student minds. Mothertrucker is a showman.

Bat 2 didnt come out till 93.

Many adjectives can be applied to Mr. Loaf; camp and ironic, imo, fall short of the mark.

And yes, Meat Loaf singing Total Eclipse at his prime is one of those lost-to-the-ages-things we dont get, like Aristotle's second book of poetics on Comedy.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:56 AM on March 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


I guess I totally meant 'showman' instead of 'camp'. Springsteen puts on a show, but for performer and audience it demands to be simultaneously perceived as a form of redemptive work, not just artifice.

The idea of rock music as a kind of male-bonding alternate reality, and a non-alienated-by-capitalism type of purely good 'work' was probably invented by the rear cover picture of The Beatles' Revolver, where they all wear sunglasses and all look in different directions but are still supposedly united by the purity of their shared vision and egalitarian division of labour. Now all pop artists intuitively speak a language of 'working in the studio' rather than putting on a show or (God forbid) 'playing'.
posted by colie at 12:12 PM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Coincidentally I just came across this today

the croon/belt line is a nice touch
posted by thelonius at 12:37 PM on March 4, 2015


That dude's left-hand technique is bothering the crap out of me. His hand looks like a seal's flipper. CURVE YOUR FINGERS, BRO, AND DON'T COLLAPSE YOUR WRISTS.
posted by Dokterrock at 9:53 PM on March 5, 2015


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