Bonnie Tyler — “Holding Out for a Hero”
(from Footloose [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (1984)) — Holding Out for a Hero - Footloose (15th Anniversary Collectors' Edition)

Ella Mae Bowen — “Holding Out for a Hero”
(from Footloose [Music from the Motion Picture] (2011)) — Holding Out for a Hero - Footloose (Music from the Motion Picture) [Cut Loose Deluxe Edition]

I haven’t yet seen the new Footloose, and quite frankly, the eight-year-old boy who resides eternally in my heart still tends to question the overall necessity for a “new” Footloose when the old one is still perfectly serviceable (although, to be fair, my understanding is that, quality-wise, this remake is oodles better than 2009’s ill-fated update of Fame, an instant bellyflop that would have benefited enormously from a super-concentrated dose of Billy Hufsey and Nia Peeples, if you axe me). Still, I can comment on the films’ (old and new) soundtracks: I continue to submit that 1984 was the single greatest year in the history of modern popular music, and I insist the original Footloose companion album — with its iconic radio smashes from Kenny Loggins, Deniece Williams, Shalamar, Heart’s Ann Wilson, and my beloved Bonnie Tyler — comprises a non-trivial portion of the reason why. Full disclosure and all: I have adored Bonnie Tyler since I was eating crayons in kindergarten (and Sherry Ann will testify that I am not making that up, either!), and I’ll tell you — again, quite frankly — that I don’t see the point in anybody remaking any of her classics (as though some poor deluded fool could do Bonnie better than Bonnie!). That said, I’m rather stunned by how compulsively enjoyable — even if it is in the guilty-pleasure sort of way — I find this new stripped-down version of “Hero” to be. No longer a pulse-pounding, disco-rock foot-stomper, the song is transformed into a heart-rending ballad by this ballsy Bowen chick, and while that proposition sounds instantly iffy on paper, give her this much: Bowen commits to it completely, and whereas Tyler tears through these verses with blowsy, brilliantly overheated bravado, Ella Mae turns inward, playing up the vulnerable distress of the lyric and selling (with surprising sincerity) this story of a young damsel waiting for her streetwise Hercules to come and sweep her away. Again, I wouldn’t typically advocate this kinda thing (because, seriously, it’s 1984, and, most seriously, it’s Bonnie!), but the utter audacity of this endeavor (and Bowen’s seeming ignorance as to just how shamelessly brazen she is in actual fact being here) is exactly what makes this thing fly.

1 response to “it’s gonna take a superman
(or: october 24’s honey from the hive)”

  1. the buzz from A.:

    I distinctly remember singing “Footloose” in my high school choir but never quite understanding the origins of that song. Well, I finally watched the original Footloose this evening, putting the song in context and filling in one of the gaps in my growing up!

    So, y’all can probably appreciate how difficult, or, to be honest, painful, it was to listen to Ella Mae Bowen’s version of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For a Hero.” While I agree with the Buzz, that this modern version is certainly creative and audacious, for my ears, it is also much too screechy and excruciating, so much so that, it does not fly. (Sorry, Brandon!) Other favorites from the original soundtrack: “Let’s Hear It For the Boy” and “Almost Paradise.”