Monday, June 16, 2014

Total Eclipse of the...Flowchart? Angel guy?

Sometimes pop music can fill a weird space where we can celebrate and make fun of it at the same time.

This is certainly true with Bonnie Tyler's smash hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart," which hit number one in several countries in 1983. And unlike some music from the 80s, it is still well-known today. A recent UK survey found it the #1 song people like to sing in the shower. And then there was the song's memorable placement in the 2001 movie Bandits, in which Cate Blancett's over-the-top character takes "Eclipse" as her theme song.

But what do the lyrics actually mean? Here, let's look:
I take no credit for this genius.
As you can see from the flowchart, the song is a little repetitive, but that's nothing new for music. But what is a total eclipse of the heart? Wouldn't an eclipse of a heart mean that the protagonist would be devoid of feeling? Yet the singing and music is powerful and expansive, so the dramatic "eclipse" is assigned the opposite meaning—the power of the music fills the incongruous semantic void. In other words, the music take precedence over the lyrics. The words are just pregnant enough to act as cipher, a blank slate to which meaning can be attached (and "bright eyes"?).

Like the song itself, the music video to "Total Eclipse" also makes no sense, but there was very little sense to work with. This is pretty evident in the "literal version" of the video, which I will leave you with. Enjoy!

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