Tuesday, 1 September 2009

1988 Tiffany: I Think We're Alone Now

Though largely forgotten now, the late eighties briefly played host to the great Tiffany v Debbie Gibson rivalry where both ploughed similar synth-pop furrows to similarly forgettable effect. It was Britney v Christina ten years early, except neither of them were dressed up as a paedophile's wet dream by people who should know better simply to shift more units.

Indeed, what's most interesting now is the fact that Tiffany is presented for what she is i.e. a plain looking seventeen year old with puppy fat and a proto grunge outfit that made her look like she'd been dressed by her mother (something you could never accuse Britney of). There's no attempt to sex her up into some teen vamp and she's left to fend for herself with only her voice and the song as ammunition. Quite refreshing. Or dated. It depends on your viewpoint.

And how well do they fend? Well, Tiffany's scratchy teenage voice is what it is. Scratchy. She can carry a tune, but she can't do conviction, but that's probably apt given that 'I Think We're Alone Now' is 1960's bubblegum updated to 1980's bubblegum. But not updated by much - the original by Tommy James and the Shondells was a plucked and juddery affair and Tiffany's update simply replaces the guitar and bass lines with the same thing but played on synthesisers.

There's no radical overhaul and the original lines are mirrored faithfully meaning that whilst the song remains the same and retains its poppy bounce, it takes more from the past than it adds to the present and when it's over it induces nothing more than a shoulder shrug of 'what's the point'? And if there's an answer to that question, then Tiffany ain't saying.

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