Song 187: Cyndi Lauper, “Time After Time” (1983)


I’m sure there are people who don’t have an opinion on “Time After Time,” but does anybody actively dislike it? Is there anybody who grunts in disgust and punches the Power button when it comes on the radio? Does anybody even listen to the radio anymore? So many questions!

The fact that I’m now angry at hypothetical people who don’t like “Time After Time” makes me realize that it’s an immensely likable song. I think that’s because the song plays to Cyndi Lauper’s strengths without exaggerating them. Lauper sounds “unusual” in that her unmistakable voice is a little raspy, and she occasionally sings a note imprecisely, but this isn’t the kooky Lauper of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”; this is something more subtle and mature. Lauper sounds like she’s on the verge of tears, but it’s not an overdramatic or mawkish performance. It just sounds real.

Before today, I hadn’t noticed that the production of “Time After Time” is all ticks and tocks, especially in the pre-chorus and chorus, when the snare is hit on every beat. It’s like the song is a big clock making what Lauper calls “the drumbeat sound of time.” In fact, a clock makes an appearance in the first line of the first verse, and time imagery appears over and over, which gives the word “time” a double meaning: the title phrase, of course, refers to instances, but the verses are all about time ticking away. That tension lends the song a sense of urgency, one that Lauper puts in every note she sings.

In conclusion, everybody loves this song, because, as April Ludgate herself says, it’s amazing.


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