Single Review: Tina Turner “We Don’t Need Another Hero”

We Don’t Need Another Hero
Album: Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
Year: 1985

In Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Tina Turner plays Aunt Entity. Aunt Entity, much like her name, lived seperately from the people she ruled over in Bartertown. Vindicative and powerful, she runs Mad Max out of her city after he breaks their golden rule in Thunderdome: a deal cannot be broken regardless of the circumstances.

When Mad Max becomes sick due to the harsh conditions of the desert, he finds refuge among a civilization of children. The children are survivors of a plane crash and want to belong to someone somewhere.

In the single “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” Turner sings from the children’s point of view. It’s mostly a continuation of the last “tell” one of the children say as they live in the collapsed Bartertown.

The music is quiet in the beginning. The only instrument which can be heard is a saxophone which sets a restless and empty tone. The children have made the journey from out of the desert and the wreckage to only find the same in Bartertown. They know they cannot let a powerful ruler impose on their lives and make their decisions. They are the only people living in the destroyed city and the last to know of the struggle and be afraid of their ruler. (“out of the ruins/out from the wreckage/can’t make the same mistake this time/we are the children/the last generation/we are the ones they left behind/and I wonder when we are ever gonna change/living under the fear, till nothing else remains”).

However, they don’t need Mad Max to rescue them. They are capable of saving themselves and are self-sufficient. But they do want to meet people from other cultures and be able to visit a new city. (“we don’t need another hero/we don’t need to know the way home/all we want is life beyond/thunderdome”).

They do need an adult to believe in. They want a peaceful, loving world (which they had amongst themselves). They have to believe that world will arrive or it will destroy what little hope they have left. (“looking for something/we can rely on/there’s gotta be something better out there/love and compassion/their day is coming/all else are castles built on air”).

One extra lyric is added in the chorus. Turner reinforces the fact that it’s the children who wish for something more out of life (“all the children say…thunderdome”).

Turner belts out the bridge as the strings accompany her. The children know what they do now will set a precedent for other generations. They wonder if their story will become meaningless or gain significance over time. However, to make any sort of change, they have to make sacrifices and give everything they have. (“so what do we do with our lives/we leave only a mark/will our story shine like a light/or end in the dark/give it all or nothing”).

Next, when Turner says “all the children say” in the chorus, a choir of children finish the rest. (“all the children say…thunderdome”). The innocent voices of the young kids makes the lyrics not sentimental, as intended. Instead, it’s oddly disturbing just like those Kidz Bopz albums.

The music lingers, dragging out the final note with forboding bang for a half a minute. A snake hissing ends the single.

Turner is surprisingly restrained and only belts during the bridge. “We Don’t Need Another Hero” is one among many of 80s adult contemporary songs asking “what about the children?” which makes its overly sentimental and condescending.

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