Single Review: Debbie Gibson “Only In My Dreams”

Only In My Dreams
Album: Out of Blue
Year: 1987

Posing on the front cover with a stuffed teddy bear and in the trendy clothes of the time (striped, off-the-shoulder t-shirt and acid-washed jeans), the only skin being shown is Debbie Gibson’s knee. The stuffed teddy bear doesn’t have any hidden meaning other than to represent innocence and girlishness. Pop without the dripping, sweaty sexuality can hold up well. The only difference between today’s pop and the 80s version was how it was sold.

In “Only In My Dreams,” Gibson’s first major hit, she pines for a guy she lost. Plagarizing from Madonna’s notes, she uses dance-pop to get the message across. In the first verse, telling secrets is what reminds her of being with her ex-boyfriend. She misses the intimacy she shared with him and realizes that being single is not what she wants (“every time I’m tellin’ secrets/I remember how it used to be.”) She wants to get back together, but knows it’s unrealistic (“it’s only in my dreams/as real as it may seem/it was only in my dreams.”)

She knows she made a big mistake and blew her chance as she muses that: “couldn’t see how much I missed you/now I see my world tumbling down/now I see the road is bent.” Then, she backs to the fact that it’s “only in [her] dreams.”

If it weren’t for the saxophone halfway through (the only 80s giveaway), “Only In My Dreams” could be sung by Hilary Duff today and be a hit again. It’s solidly written by Gibson. The second verse hints that she could write music singing heavier material. The “now I see the road is bent” is a great detail. She is conveying that it’s over, but says it with imagery instead. It shows subtly in her writing. Her voice is consistent and she reaches the high notes without any computer assistance.

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