Total Eclipse of the Heart

I first became aware of this song in the mid-late 2000s when two friends of mine launched into a unique version of the song in the pub after a game one day. Originally a hit in 1983, it had been revived by an appearance in the American comedy Old School (2003, dir. Todd Phillips) and had become a cult favourite once again.

Written by Jim Steinman, it’s not entirely clear whether the song was written for Bonnie Tyler or originally intended for Meatloaf. Tyler certainly made it her own however, her raspy vocals draining every last ounce of emotion out of the song.

A piano player will be naturally attracted to this song, given the melodic piano lines throughout, but also because of the chords.

The song has a strange structure – it’s the only song that I can think of with only one verse, it has a short bridge, and then a long chorus followed by a long post-chorus.

The chords in the verse (key of Db) are so good though. They create a huge sense of something building, the surprising chord of B major in bars 6 and 8 being crucial to get you to the bridge (key of E), and then all the way through to the climax in the first chord of the chorus, which again is surprising but also hard-hitting, being totally unrelated to the previous key.

The rest of the song continues in that particular key – anyone out there interested in working things out by ear can ignore the picture below and try and figure it out for themselves – it’s quite tricky.


Or you can come and see our version of it tonight in our big outdoor celebration of 80s music as part of the Sligo Summer Festival. Aug 9, Stephen St. Car Park, 9pm.




I'm Kieran and I play piano. Actually I do a bit more than just playing - I teach others how to play, and I write music, arrange it and host/produce shows.

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