Meat Loaf vs. Bonnie Tyler In the Jim Steinman Power Ballad Battle

Screengrab via Jim Steinman's website.
This image says so much about Mr. Steinman. describes the work of Jim Steinman as theatrical, visceral and rousing. It also describes it as campy, indulgent, and silly. They're exactly right: His work is all of those things, which is why it's awesome.

A member of the Songwriting Hall of Fame, Steinman is best known as the Bernie Taupin to Meat Loaf's Elton John, although he also wrote hit songs for Air Supply, Celine Dion, and, as we'll get to shortly, Bonnie Tyler.

Recently Steinman turned 65 and rather than the typical deep cuts/greatest hits/Wikipedia rewrite that would be more appropriate for his 50th birthday, I instead feel now is as good a time as any to answer the following question:

What is the greatest power ballad of all time, as written by Jim Steinman?

Tale of the Tape:

Contender No. 1
"Total Eclipse of the Heart"
Performed by: Bonnie Tyler
From the Album: Faster Than the Speed of Night
Released: 1983
Running Time: 7:02 (album), 4:30 (single)

Contender No. 2
"I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)"
Performed by: Meat Loaf
From the album: Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell
Released: 1993
Running Time: 12:01 (album), 5:25 (single)

Round 1: Which track has the better main vocal performance?

Although on the whole she's a great singer, Tyler comes off a bit cold in large parts of this track. The moment she hits "I really need you tonight" near the end of the track it's wonderful, but a lot of her vocals elsewhere in the song are kind of flat.

Meat Loaf is pretty stellar over the duration of his song, emotive the moment he steps up to the microphone. And when he finally hits the big version of the chorus at 7:02? Magic.

"I'd Do Anything": 1 "Total Eclipse": 0

Round 2: Which track has better backup vocals and instrumentation?

This is a surprisingly close one. Musically I put them at roughly the same level, with "Total Eclipse" having a better melody but "I'd Do Anything" having better production value. It also has the weird but awesome motorcycle intro whereas all "Total Eclipse" has is those weird booms as it goes in to the instrumental break. What really broke the tie here is the other vocalists: Rory Dodd's vocals on the "turn around bright eyes" feel like they clash with the song while Lorraine Crosby holds her own with Meat Loaf in her duet section.

"I'd Do Anything": 2 "Total Eclipse": 0

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No way! Bonnie singing with Rory Dodd  is marvelous!


First of all, the greatest power ballad ever written is "Bat Out of Hell." Let's get that out of the way. Secondly, "Total Eclipse of the Heart" isn't even Bonnie Tyler's best Steinman rendition! That would surely be her version of "Making Love Out of Nothing at All," done with Steinman's orchestration, full choir, and the man himself on piano. I urge you to listen to that immediately.


One more thing: if you are into Steinman, you really need to listen to his solo album, "Bad For Good." It's as great in its own way as Bat Out of Hell.


Agreed 100%


And I always sing "Anything for Love" in the car


"More", Andrew Eldritch & Jim Steinman.  BOOM.

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