1988 Countdown #95: The Bangles, “In Your Room”

Another interview clip: all four Bangles sitting on a couch, not looking especially happy.

“The idea you have in your head,” says guitarist Vicki Peterson, pointing to her head in case we’re not familiar with that part of her body, “is not going to get directly translated onto film. It just isn’t. There’s so many people throwing things in–”

There’s murmurs of agreement from the group.

“It’s better to accept the fact that you’re not going to have any control,” adds Susanna Hoffs. “Or very little.”

On that cheerful note of accepting the life of working for a major label, we proceed to the “In Your Room” video, directed by an unnamed woman. Hoffs cowrote the song with Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, who were the powerhouse hacks-for-hire of the day (“Like a Virgin,” “True Colors,” “Alone,” etc.) It’s a fluffy piece of ’60s-inflected pop: Hoffs sings about how she likes to go into your room and try on your clothes, and oh yeah, she also likes making your dreams come true with you in your room.

So the video has lots of opening doors, because doors lead to rooms, and lots of spirals, because they’re a cheap visual effect. It opens, daringly enough, with spirals superimposed on opening doors. A door opens to a room where we switch to black-and-white film, and a big glowing turquoise flower is floating in the background. The Bangles are playing, wearing all-white outfits. Hoffs is showing the most leg, plus quite a bit of midriff. Bassist Michael Steele has been assigned a pantsuit.


Another door: drummer Debbi Peterson is reviving the Batman dance, beating John Travolta in Pulp Fiction by six years. Another door: the band is hanging out, chewing gum and playing with a yo-yo, while a pantsless Hoffs looks through some shirts.

Then we look through a keyhole and see Hoffs gyrating in a black one-piece bathing suit. She is not actually holding a sign that says “For more of this, go rent the video of The Allnighter, the flop exploitation comedy written and directed by my mom that I starred in last year,” but she might as well be. This seems like as good a time as any to mention that the Bangles broke up the year after this video, basically because Hoffs had turned into the star and the other members weren’t crazy about playing backup. The tension comes through in the video: the band members don’t seem especially comfortable around each other, and Hoffs plays much more obviously to the cameras than the others do, whose closeup shots all seem carefully measured out.

A door opens to the white-outfit room, only now the Bangles are in fabulous color. Michael Steele has big puffy damaged red hair, like she let Vince Neil blow it out for her. Another door opens, and we’re on an obviously fake outside set. The Bangles rock out in a “forest”; I’m not sure what room this is supposed to be. Let’s call it the Foliage Room and hope this is part of Graceland that we don’t get to see on the tour. Another door takes us to the Go-Go Room (I’m pretty sure Graceland had one of those), where Steele plays the sitar and the other members dance. Many more spirals here, plus the camera spins upside-down.


Many doors open, one after another, while the song has a key change. Back to the white-outfit room. Whenever the director cuts from one Bangle to another, she quickly includes a flash of a Grecian column–was somebody in the band an art-history major? The doors are opening faster now: Debbi Peterson keeps dancing, her sister Vicki gets some motionless glamour shots against a white background that don’t seem to have anything to do with the rest of the video, we return to the Go-Go Room, then back to the Foliage Room, and make one last visit to the Room of White Outfits, where the director blows the rest of her budget with little painted squiggles on the screen as the Bangles take turns giving their most seductive looks into the camera, a contest that Hoffs once again wins.

My copy of Everything, the album that included “In Your Room,” had a note under the songwriting credits: “One side of this program is of longer duration than the other to preserve the album continuity.” That was the standard-issue warning on cassette tapes of the day–but my copy of the album was vinyl. For me, that was the turning point when I knew that the days of twelve-inch black vinyl albums were numbered.

“In Your Room” hit #5 on the Billboard charts. You can watch the video here.

posted 3 June 2008 in 1988 and tagged , . 3 comments

3 Comments on 1988 Countdown #95: The Bangles, “In Your Room”

  1. Chris M. Says:

    This seems like as good a time as any to mention that the Bangles broke up the year after this video, basically because Hoffs had turned into the star and the other members weren’t crazy about playing backup.

    The big nail in the coffin is still forthcoming on New Year’s Day ’89: the release of the followup single, “Eternal Flame,” which is basically the Bangles’ “Yesterday” or “Careless Whisper” (credited to the group, really a solo joint), reached No. 1 and broke the band up but good. (I seem to recall VH1’s Behind the Music on the group confirming this sequence of events.)

  2. gavin Says:

    “Eternal Flame”: another song where Hoffs enlisted Steinberg and Kelly as cowriters.

  3. Tom Nawrocki Says:

    a pantsless Hoffs


    I thought the breakup started because of Susanna Hoffs’ eyes at the end of the “Walk Like an Egyptian” video.

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