With 13 million copies sold to date in the U.S. alone and 24 total weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s album chart in 1984 and 1985 (plus nearly a 25th week on top following Prince’s sad passing in 2016), Prince’s brilliant 1984 album, PURPLE RAIN, reigns purple and all the colors of the 80s movie soundtrack rainbow.
1987’s DIRTY DANCING soundtrack sways in (Swayze’s in?) at No. 2 with 11 million copies sold here in America. And, at No. 3 with nine million copies sold in the U.S. to date, it’s one of two 80s soundtracks that generated six Top 40 hits on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 chart – 1984’s FOOTLOOSE (1980’s URBAN COWBOY was the other).
In early 1984, then-32-year-old Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler was still riding the wave of her big worldwide No. 1 song from 1983, “Total Eclipse Of The Heart,” which was written and produced by Jim Steinman. Best known for his work with Meat Loaf, Jim Steinman also produced and/or wrote songs for Air Supply, Barry Manilow, Billy Squier, Celine Dion and even The Sisters Of Mercy (“This Corrosion” and “More”). (Is it wrong for me to ever hope for a Jim Steinman compilation album? Because I really want to see Celine Dion and The Sisters Of Mercy back-to-back on that album.)
On the BILLBOARD Hot 100 this week in 1984, Kenny Loggins’ title song from FOOTLOOSE was dancing its way up the Top 40 (much to the dismay of the Rev. John Lithgow), and Bonnie Tyler debuted at No. 84 with “Holding Out For A Hero,” the second single released from the soundtrack.
The anthemic, synth-drum heavy “Holding Out For A Hero” (produced and co-written by Jim Steinman and FOOTLOOSE screenwriter Dean Pitchford) looked like it was going to be another big hit for the FOOTLOOSE soundtrack, and for Bonnie Tyler, as it debuted in the Top 40 while Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” was No. 1.
But, here in the U.S., Bonnie Tyler ended up holding out for a hero (or rather, that next big American hit). “Holding Out For A Hero” spent two quick weeks at No. 34 in April 1984, and quickly removed itself from the Hot 100. After all these years, I’m still kinda surprised it wasn’t a big hit here in America, considering how big both the FOOTLOOSE film and soundtrack were, not to mention almost everything Jim Steinman produces and/or writes does well.
In parts of the globe, however, “Holding Out For A Hero” performed like a hero, spending a week at No. 1 in Ireland in late September 1985, and reaching No. 2 in the U.K. in 1985 (it peaked at No. 96 during its initial run), and it spent eight weeks at No. 2 in Canada and a total of 31 weeks on that chart.
“Holding Out For A Hero” has appeared in several films and TV shows over the years, with the biggest cover appearing in 2004’s SHREK 2, sung by the comedic star of that film and ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, Jennifer Saunders.
The song came back on my radar after appearing first during Super Bowl LI, in a commercial for the Kia Niro hybrid SUV. Legendary comic actress Melissa McCarthy stars in the ad, with Bonnie Tyler’s anthem providing the background inspiration. Melissa travels around the globe to do what she can to stop environmental disasters. It’s pretty funny, but then again, so is Melissa McCarthy.
33 years later, I don’t think I would necessarily classify “Holding Out For A Hero” as a guilty pleasure for me, though I could see where someone would think that. I’ve always been a fan of the song, actually, and it was frequently requested on STUCK IN THE 80s over the show’s 20-year history.
Whether or not anyone reading this blog post is still holding out for their own hero, I’m glad Bonnie Tyler’s 1984 anthem from a low-budget movie about the power of and right to dance is still getting some love in 2017…