The recipe for Meat Loaf? Mix explosive theatrical productions with rocking operatic vocals and heat it all up with swoon-inducing, loin-stirring lyrics. Add a dash of sweaty, ruffle tuxedo-topped raw sexual energy, and voila.
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When it came to the singer, more was always more. His powerful voice, impressive range, and powder keg arrangements made movies out of mere songs. Paired with the genius compositions of Jim Steinman, Meat Loaf gave epic arias about endless love, unbearable heartache, and bats out of hell.
Here are 10 blockbuster songs from the man, the myth, the Meat Loaf. Bon Appetit.
10. “Hot Patootie”
Meat Loaf starred in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, playing the small but pivotal role of motoring bad boy, Eddie. He secured the part as the only actor who could get through the character’s fast-paced, word-jumbling number.
“The first two weeks when we were doing the play all we did was the music, they had not given us a script,” the singer explained in an interview. “They come to me on the part of ‘Hot Patootie,’ and Richard O’Brien is here at these rehearsals… he said ‘on this song you’ll never be able to get all the words in. … I wrote it and I can’t sing all the words.’”
9. “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)”
On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?, the song opens in unsettling spoken word, setting the stage for the horror show of a popera, “You Took the Word Right Out of My Mouth.”
It was a hot summer night / And a beach was burning / And fog crawling over the sand, Meat Loaf sings the opening act and sends it off with When I listen to your heart I hear the whole world turning / I see the shooting stars falling through your trembling hands.
8. “I’m Gonna Love Her For Both of Us”
“I’m Gonna Love Her For Both of Us” opens with drama. Thundering piano and guttural bass rattle the emptiness as tight guitar and sparse drums shock the space in between, all building to an explosive climax. With lyrics that light a fire in your belly, Meat Loaf blossoms mid-song into the unlikely sex symbol he was known as.
7. “Not a Dry Eye in the House”
Meat Loaf’s voice quakes with emotion in “Not a Dry Eye in the House,” delivering a gut-wrenching performance.
Now there’s not a dry eye in the house / After love’s curtain comes down / Listen and you’ll hear the sound / Hear the sound of a heart breaking, he sings, flashing back to the love that left him. The song builds like a fast-approaching storm of exaggerated piano, trashing guitar, and powerhouse vocals.
6. “Dead Ringer For Love”
Is there anything better than a Meat Loaf-Cher sandwich?
Rock ‘n roll and brew, rock ‘n roll and brew / They don’t mean a thing when I compare ’em next to you, nothing says love like comparing it to music and beer. With a crazed look as he eyes Cher’s cool demeanor, Meat Loaf brings the theatrics like never before in “Dead Ringer For Love,” belting I don’t know who you are, but you’re a real dead ringer for love in the sexually tense bar showdown of a song.
5. “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth)”
Playing like a reprise to “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That),” the music video for “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth)” is supposed to pick up where Meat Loaf’s 1993 hit leaves off until it explodes into a big cinematic Indiana Jones-like production.
4. “Bat Out Of Hell”
I’m gonna hit the highway like a battering ram / On a silver-black phantom bike / When the metal is hot, and the engine is hungry / And we’re all about to see the light / Nothing ever grows in this rotting old hole / And everything is stunted and lost / And nothing really rocks, and nothing really rolls / And nothing’s ever worth the cost
The song’s writer, Jim Steinman, explained “Bat Out Of Hell” was written as “a rock ‘n roll sci-fi version of Peter Pan.” It tells a teenaged tragedy with Steinman saying in a conversation about his classic works, “There is something so thrilling to me about that operatic narrative that involves a cataclysmic event, especially one so perfectly in tune with a teenager’s world, and rock and roll, as a car or motorcycle crash.”
3. “Paradise By the Dashboard Light”
Releasing an 8-minute-long single about car sex is bold. Unless you’re Meat Loaf, then it’s just a regular day. “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” is an over-performed, exaggerated, delirious mix of rock, funk, and baseball game about young love, ultimatums, and nefarious deeds in parked cars.
2. “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”
A raucous power ballad kicking off with a revving motorcycle, hyperactive keys, and thrashing strings, Meat Loaf’s most famous tune “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” sings of unconditional love, on one condition—he won’t do the ambitious that.
A music video with the production budget of a full-length film, the mini-movie is part Phantom of the Opera and part Beauty and the Beast with a killer soundtrack.
1. “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”
I want you / I need you / There ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you / Now don’t be sad / ‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad, Meat Loaf sings in the emotionally-driven tune. A song about settling because happy endings are only found in fairytales, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” shows a reserved side of Meat Loaf, a side that has been hurt before.