Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper
By Ron Powers
This month I’m excited to discuss one of my favorite slow songs. “Time After Time” was released in 1984, as part of Lauper’s debut album “She’s So Unusual,” which won her a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. The album was a massive success, with “Time After Time” becoming one of its most popular tracks, peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. With its heartfelt melodies and expansive dreamy music, Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” continues to connect with millions. This timeless ballad stands as one of the most exquisite expressions of love and commitment ever recorded in pop music.
The song begins with gentle synthesizer mixed with a subtle palm-muted guitar riff. Sparse percussive elements composed of kickdrum and shaker also punctuate the music. After eight measures of intro music, we hear Lauper’s soft and iconic vocal melody sing the words, “Lying in my bed, I hear the clock tick and think of you / Caught up in circles / Confusion is nothing new”. As the first verse progresses, more instrumentation is layered in, lifting the emotion of the song. This dynamic is repeated for the second verse which seamlessly flows into one of the best choruses pop music has ever produced.
For the chorus we hear Lauper and backing vocalist, Rob Hyman, singing a combination of lyrics and melody that is in a class all its own. The sentiment conveyed is a triumph of pop ballad magic and stands as a timeless testament to the power of music itself. The instrumentation of the chorus also includes the introduction of bass guitar which gives new depth to the impact of the music. Additionally, guitar chords shimmering with a chorus effect ring out while snare rimshots add to the overall movement of the song.
The main structure of “Time After Time” consists of only a few verses, a repeated chorus, and a brief instrumental. The emotion that Lauper delivers throughout this song envelopes the listener so thoroughly that the last thing you would notice is the absence of the typical bridge section after the second chorus. This reflects a songwriting process that relies upon feeling more than technical “correctness”. It also aligns with Lauper’s free-spirited image and artistic expression in general.
“Time After Time” has become ingrained in popular culture, being covered by a multitude of artists, including Miles Davis, Eva Cassidy, and Iron and Wine, just to name a few. The song has also been featured in several movies, TV shows, and commercials, further cementing its status as a cultural touchstone.
Although not releasing songs that are quite as popular as “Time After Time”, Cyndi Lauper is still active in the music industry and stands as one of pop music’s most popular artists. She’s even been nominated to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. If you would like to listen to “Time After Time” you can find it on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and most other places music is streamed or sold. If you’d like to learn more about Cyndi Lauper, you can find her on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.
About the Author: Ron Powers is an independent A&R specialist and music industry consultant and is constantly searching for, discovering and writing about new talent.