Single Review: Bonnie Tyler “Holding Out For A Hero”

Holding Out For A Hero
Album: Footloose Soundtrack
Year: 1984

Bonnie Tyler clings to the fantasy of the tall, dark, handsome stranger in the overblown “Holding Out For A Hero.”

At the start, the drum machines and piano have kicked into high gear. Then the chorus sings ominously, ” doo doo doo dooo/ahhh ahhhhhhh!”

Tyler wonders where the nice guys are. However, her definition of a nice guy is an impossible image no man could attain: he has to be authorative, tough, muscular, and willing to stand up for his fellow man. Also, he has to look like Adonis. No exceptions. (“Where have all the good men gone/And where are all the gods?/Where’s the street-wise Hercules/To fight the rising odds?”). She’s waiting for a man to rescue her. Not finding this perfect man she’s envisioned has caused her sleepless nights. (“Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?/Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need”). At the end of the verse, the choir screeches the “ahhhh” as though they were terrified.

She needs a man to escape from her problems and she’s determined to wait for him all her life. Her qualifications for a hero are as follows: unmeasurable strength and speed and smelling of fresh, stinky sweat after beating another man to a bloody pulp to defend her honor. (“I need a hero/I’m on for a holding hero ’till the end of the night/He’s gotta be strong/He’s gotta be fast/and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight”).

Every key on the piano is played at once as someone does their fingers and runs them across the piano from the first key to the last. The drum machine also nearly explodes at her neediness.

He also has to be confident, pretentenious, and someone who holds himself in high esteem. He also have to arrive right now. She’s tired of waiting. (“I need a hero/I’m holding out for a hero ‘till the morning light/He’s gotta be sure/And it’s gotta be soon/And he’s gotta be larger than life/Larger than life”).

After punctuating Tyler’s last verses in a frantic way, the choir returns to their dramatic “dooo dooo/ahhhing” duties once again.

She reveals her fantasy of being alone at midnight and a stranger pulling her out from a ditch, essentially. (“Somewhere after midnight/In my wildest fantasy/Somewhere just beyond my reach/There’s someone reaching back for me”). The love of her life has to be inhuman and one specific superhero: Superman. (“Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat/It’s gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet”).

After the chorus is yelled again, there’s an instrumental section. The drum machines, saxophones, pianos all compete to drown each other out. The drum machine wins.

She talks about someone looking out for her in heaven. (“Up where the mountains meet the heavens above/Out where the lightning splits the sea/I could swear there’s someone somewhere/Watching me”). Yeah, some people call him God. And no, he’s not available.

She can sense him in bad weather coming towards her. (“Through the wind and the chill and the rain/And the storm and the flood/I can feel his approach/Like a fire in my blood”). Six times the choir repeats “Like a fire in my blood” Then, they scream in terror from all the awful imagery they have to sing (“oohhh/ahhhh”).

Then, Tyler yells the chorus in gravelly, shrill voice for little over a minute. Next, she “oohh” alone for the last minute while the synthesizers and drum machines go insane.

The 80s have some great music: Madonna, Talk Talk, The Go-Go’s. Then, there’s Tyler who wrangles every note free of its subtlety and prefers to have delusions of Superman to be her true love. “Holding Out For A Hero” should only be listened to for comedic value.

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