I Think We’re Alone Now – Tiffany

Am I really calling this out as one of the greatest 50 songs of all time? Song… Maybe. Version? Maybe not.

I knew this song in 1987 as a kid who heard it ‘A LOT’ on the radio. Tiffany was the 80’s version of a YouTube Star. She played Shopping Malls not concert venues to snag her audience. She bopped about being wholesome and clean when the money men behind her were basically thinking, ‘If they’re here to bop they’re here to shop’. Reagan, Capitalism. blah, blah, blah…

Write the song off here as 80’s cheese, only fit for dance sequences in Superhero series on Netflix if you must, and yet there’s an alchemy in I Think Were Alone Now.

It goes back. Of course we all know Tiffany didn’t write it, we know the previous versions because we are good indie kids with nerd-a-lific research under our belts and wax in our hair.

Way before Tiffany there is the original composition by Ritchie Cordell. Ritchie was the songwriter for an Italian American collar fest of grinning revue proportions called Tommy James & The Shondells who also had hit’s with Crimson and Clover, Hanky Panky and Mony Mony.

After that there came the 70’s and a song this good could not go uncovered. And so it was that The Rubinoos had a go at it. Thanks to a compilation album that was grasping for tracks by the end of side two I’ve always considered this a post punk classic.

Now The Rubinoos did some smart stuff with the greatest pop song going without portfolio in 1977. They titted about with the internation of

‘There doesn’t seem to be anyone around’ 

They gave it a garage rock chug and they kept it on the radar for the oncoming 1980’s.

You all know Tiffany’s version. It is the one that was the biggest hit. It’s so plastic and synthetic and fake. It is everything I dislike about music from the 80’s but I know it, you know it, everyone knows it. And it’s the version everyone measures other covers by.

The song is part of the fabric of our world now. It’s a short hand for retro left, right and centre.

Robert DeNiro sings a line of it to Juliette Lewis when he’s being the biggest baddest wolf Max Cady in Cape Fear. There’s a whole scene in 10 Cloverfield Road dedicated to the song. Hell there’s even an end of the world post apocalyptic movie named after it.

Plastic pop Princesses, Girls Aloud wrung another disco dance chart position out of it in an even less inspired do over than Tiffany’s in 2009. They seemed to be channeling the previous year’s Goth Disco cover by The Birthday Massacre with their synth set to rock guitar and played with fists of ham.

And yet we still haven’t actually got to my favourite version of the song. It’s a very SeteveForTheDeaf version of the song. Comedy punk agitators Snuff covered it in 1989 and I didn’t know any of the back story apart from Tiffany. I heard this rapid pop punk (with the emphasis on the punk) run through and thought they were ripping the image of the squeaky clean popstar down a peg.

When I got my hands on a guitar and got a band together in my buddies garage this was one of the songs we made an attempt at. Snuff’s version of I Think We’re Alone Now seemed doable (it wasn’t, we sucked) so we had fun all summer long with the different ways we could phrase ‘There doesn’t seem to be anyone around’

 

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27 thoughts on “I Think We’re Alone Now – Tiffany

  1. It was the Tommy James & the Shondells version that got me hooked as a youngster in a pre-Tiffany era, but what a song! For me, it was the high singalong quotient that locked it into my (still) top singing-in-the-shower tunes list. Has there been a catchier set of multiple hooks in one song?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. That Tiffany version is the first I knew and the one I still refer to if I mention the catchiness of this tune and someone says (obviously pretending they’re too cool to know the song or, more accurately, Tiffany’s version) “I don’t think I know it”. I’ll say “y’know, The Tiffany tune” and sing a wee line or two (admittedly I might get carried away and sing more – caught up in all its glory).

    Anyhoo, what was I saying? Oh, yeah, I was gonna day that this is a top tune. I wasn’t aware of Snuff or their take; I only knew Tiffany and then Tommy James.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fun with covers. Yes, Tiffany has become a punchline but we all loved her, or had a crush on her, back in the day. That Snuff version sounds like fun though…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Somewhere between Formby and Southport on the coast road is the remains of a Tiffany tape cruelly ejected from the car. I have to admit to looking for pieces every time I drive that road as I get a small amount of guilt thinking it may be alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 80smetalman – Aaargh! Tyffani…Synthpop?! That’s a shiv in my heart! I write about this problem all of the time but for the sake of my argument, here goes. Modern production techniques were defined by weird fringe dwellers who used lots of tech [early Human League] so that 5-8 years later, almost all mainstream pop [like Tyffani] was indistinguishable by production technique from what was leftfield synthpop just a few years earlier. Prioducers glommed on to that way of making music that cut out pesky musicians [who are hard to control] and piled on the synths and revolutionary techniques like the Fairlight’s “Page R” sequencer to crafy entire songs.

      The irony was, that by 1988, the line between Taylor Dayne and The Human League was blurred to the point of nonexistence. Hell, when they recorded “Crash” I argue that synthpop was dead. The Human League and Taylor Dane were by that time indistinguishable from each other. But all of this mainstream pop using geek tech lacked the thing that gave synthpop its early power; the weird, fringe-dwelling artistic point of view that early Human League brought to the game. There is nothing mainstream about a song like “The Black Hit Of Space” or “Being Boiled.”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I did a similar post to this after The Umbrella Academy came out, but you have much more info than I did.
    I have to agree that the Snuff version is the best. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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