I Think We’re Alone Now - the Tommy James & the Shondells original
Before I was a twinkle in my father’s eye, there was a man named Tommy James … and he had some Shondells. Not genuine Shondells, as in the one-hit wonder Troy Shondell, but more of a larping/cosplay group of Shondells with matching jackets and slacks.
Not only did young James have some Shondells, he had a fistful of hits including greats such as Mony Mony, and I think We’re Alone Now. He ushered in the era of bubblegum pop (first draft was typo’d bubblegum poop - Ed). That’s right kids born in the last five decades, the Alone Now you know is actually a cover.
Despite being associated with the bubblegum genre, the James version is a subtle masterpiece. The lyrics narrate the story of two young lovers, who are tied down by conservative mores, yearning to be together and away from the sight of their moral authorities. “Children behave, that’s what they say when we’re together. And watch how you play…”
The energetic and driven verses, with a wonderful I-III-VI-V chord progression, overflow into the narrator’s objective of being alone with his lover. The chorus is almost whispered, reflecting the hidden nature of their secret love affair. We all know that they may not be behaving.
The composition is simple, with an overdriven and muted guitar being pushed forward with a simple bass and drum line. Throughout the outro, a gleaming organ sings, adding to the dizzying heights the young lovers feel.
Tiffany covers I Think We’re Alone Now
Madonna, Beyonce, Cher, Adele, and Rihanna have all achieved greatness and all have a singular name. Tiffany has one thing in common with them all.
In 1987 Tiffany Darwish exploded onto the world with her mononymous eponymous album. A mall tour titled “The Beautiful You: Celebrating The Good Life Shopping Mall Tour ‘87” brought Tiffany to the masses. Since then, her popularity and the popularity of shopping malls have taken a dive. You heard it here first: the demise of the shopping mall can be traced back to Tiffany’s tours ending.
Tiffany’s version of Alone Now takes a markedly different approach compared to James’ rendition. It embodies the quintessential 80’s sound, with a veritable mishmash of instrumentation dominated by synths, which play every part from bass to guitars to drums and even the kitchen sink. Given Tiffany’s age of fifteen at the time, it seems improbable that she had significant input into this stylistic decision. Therefore, the blame for the overwhelming use of synths falls squarely (and allegedly) on the shoulders of the producer, George Tobin. It makes one wonder if Tobin purchased a new synth and pressed every button, attempting to understand its functionality, while recording.
While I may sound critical of Tiffany’s cover, I have to admit it’s actually pretty good. Despite missing the mark on interpreting the song and preserving its essence, listening to it again and watching the music video takes me right back to the bustle of the 80s. In fact, I believe Tiffany’s version could easily make the shortlist for a time capsule keepsake dedicated to that wondrous decade.
At the time, I didn’t fully appreciate the 80s, but after many hours of therapy and reflection, I now realize that it was an amazing time to be alive and that the decade didn’t completely suck.
Tiffany played a significant role in this journey, serving as a vital representative of the era. There are few other artists who embody the 80s as much as she does.
I can’t forget to mention Tiffany’s adorkable dancing, which added to the wholesome and innocent image she portrayed during tours with titles like “The Beautiful You: Celebrating The Good Life Shopping Mall Tour ‘87”. This positive image has made her a popular act in mixedtape winery tours even decades later, drawing fans who still appreciate her music and the nostalgia it brings.
Comparing Tommy James & the Shondells and Tiffany
James’ original tells a subtle story about forbidden passion, whispered through his music. Many of us can relate to this tale, and James and his Shondells take us there with masterful storytelling through song, without throwing the narration in our face.
Tiffany, on the other hand, was a product of the cynical music industry that capitalized on an exceptional single. They executed it brilliantly. Gone are the stolen moments of James’ version, replaced with a top-of-the-lungs proclamation by the young lovers that they are finally together. As they sneak out of the window and run through the fields into each other’s arms, they look back over their shoulders and lean in to scream out: “I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW!”
Despite the fact that Tiffany’s cover does not align with the themes and aspirations of the original, it’s clear that she and Tobin put their own stamp on Alone Now. For over thirty years, her rendition has been the definitive version of this timeless track.
Despite its flaws, Tiffany’s cover of Alone Now has a certain nostalgia to it and is easy to listen to. It’s not entirely terrible and if it comes on the radio while I’m driving, the only knob I’ll be reaching for is the volume, and it’s going up.
If I had to choose between the two, James wins every day of the week.
I rate this cover seven dead malls out of ten.
How I Met Your Mother featured a teenage pop starlet character who had a hit single based on Tiffany’s Alone Now. It’s a regrettable earworm.
Please enjoy these rejected cover images for this article.