ELO – Hold on Tight – 1981

Hold on Tight by ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) (Official Video) – 1981 UK

Hold On Tight” is a rocker song written and produced by Jeff Lynne, ELO frontman, performed by his Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). The song is track 12 on the band’s 1981 album Time, but was the very 1st song released as a single. 1st ELOs that didn’t feature strings, the song went top 10 in most countries, hitting #1 in Spain and Switzerland, #2 in Germany and Austria, #3 in Ireland, #4 in the UK, Belgium and South Africa, and #10 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

At the time, the song’s music video was the most expensive ever made, with a budget of approximately £40,000. The mostly black and white video features footage of ELO playing the song in a lounge, intercut with scenes in the style of 1940s serial films featuring the band members, including violinist Mik Kaminski, who was no longer a band member nor had actually played on this song, miming an acoustic guitar. One of the scenes (the motorcycle going through a wall and onto a table in a bar) was inspired directly by the James Bond movie that was out in 1981 (For your Eyes Only, beautiful theme song by Sheena Easton).

At the time of writing, the official video on YouTube boasts almost 10 million views (9,927,401).

This was one of the songs Rolling Stone magazine called a “near-perfect Top-Forty spurt”, with its “synthesized rock & roll cellos” but complained that the music was so light that ELO could “end up becoming the kind of cheese that squirts out of an aerosol can.” Perfect meeting point of 60s rock and more futuristic instruments (there are no strings in “Hold On Tight”, replaced by synthesizers).

Hold On Tight” was so different from what the ELO usually played that DJs would have fun putting it on and leave listeners wonder who’s it was.

As Jeff Lynne explained, an overall deep, but gloomy album, could benefit from some positivity, and that’s how “Hold on Tight” and it’s cheerful tone, was born and included in Electric Light Orchestra’s album Time in 1981 before the Epilogue and, therefore, the end.

The song was the theme song for the National Coffee Association’s “Join the Coffee Achievers” television commercials which ran in 1983 and 1984.

In 1983, the song was used in the Japanese anime intro for Daicon III and IV Opening Animations.

Hold On Tight” is used as the theme to Michael Brown’s radio talk program The Situation which is heard on KHOW radio in Denver, Colorado.

At 3:05, “Hold on Tight” is the shortest track in the album “Time” and it follows “21st Century Man” through a transition that repeats the same technique used between “Twilight” and “Yours Truly 2095”, linking the 2 songs.

An uplifting, bouncing, chherful, positive (in the end of the album) almost 1960s style rock’n’roll song to conclude Time (aside from the epilogue), “jolly” as Jeff Lynne himself describes it, actually, the “jolliest” of his songs.

The song includes a French verse, which is the direct translation of the English one, enough to make the song bilingual. Jeff Lynne had house in France where his daughters would spend much time with a local nanny; the singer-writer-producer call her the day before leaving for Germany to record the song at the Musicland Studios, in Munich, to get the translation. The lyrics in French, a reprise of the 1st verse, translate as “Hold on to your dream, Hold on to your dream, When you see your ship leaving, When you feel your heart breaking, Hold on to your dream”.

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