Fans of Susanna Hoffs are likely to recognize her as one of the co-founders behind the popular rock group, the Bangles. With Debbi and Vicki Peterson, the trio teamed up in 1981 before producing its first album, All Over the Place, in 1984. Since then, two more albums were recorded and released before the Bangles disbanded and Hoffs embarked on a solo career.
Meet Susanna Hoffs
Born on January 17, 1959, in Los Angeles, California, Hoffs was raised as the daughter of Jewish parents. Her mother is Tamar Ruth, a film director, writer, and producer. Her father, Joshua Hoffs, is a psychoanalyst. She also has two brothers, Jesse and John. Like her, they grew up to become musicians. While growing up, she listened to the Beatles records that were played by her mother. By the time she was a teenager, she was playing the guitar. After graduating from high school in 1976, she went to college. While there, she worked as a production assistant. She also made her film debut in 1978 on Stony Island.
When Hoffs graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1980, she earned a bachelor’s degree in art. While in college, she became a fan of classic rock that played in large stadiums, especially after attending a Sex Pistols concert and a Patti Smith concert. The exposure to punk music altered the career aspirations of Susanna Hoffs. Instead of being a dancer, she chose to become a musician. It would be at this time she met with Debbie and Vicki Peterson to form the Bangs. Upon the completion of recording their first album, it was learned there was a boy band that had that name so they changed it to the Bangles. The “les” add-on was the band’s way of linking itself to the iconic Beatles.
Meet the Bangles
In 1982, The Bangles recorded and released an EP before debuting with the album, All Over the Place. This was followed in 1986 with Different Light. It was this recording that produced three hit singles, “Manic Monday,” “If She Knew What She Wants,” and “Walk Like an Egyptian.” It was the same year Hoffs co-wrote with Belinda Carlisle for her song, “I Need a Disguise” for her album, Belinda.
In addition to enjoying a career as a musical artist, Susanna Hoffs has also earned her fame as an actress. In 1987, she starred in her mother’s flick, The Allnighter. Unfortunately, it was a box office failure but it was still a great experience for Hoffs. This was followed by the 1988 release of The Bangles’ third album, Everything. “In Your Room” became another top ten hit, as well as “Eternal Flame.”
Come 1989, The Bangles officially disbanded. It remained this way until they came together in 1999 to record the single “Get the Girl” as a song for the sequel, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. As of 2000, the three ladies reunited as a group to perform full-time. In 2003, they released Doll Revolution. Then in 2011, it was their fifth album, Sweetheart of the Sun.
When the Bangles disbanded in 1989, Susanna Hoffs move on as a solo artist. Her first album was When You’re a Boy, which was released in 1991. It produced a top forty single, “My Side of the Bed.” This was followed by “We Close Our Eyes” for the 1992 movie, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In 1993 with Columbia Records, she had another recording but it wasn’t released and she left the label. In 1996, her second solo album, Susanna Hoffs, was an album that received favorable reviews by the media but failed to achieve enough sales to be regarded as a commercial success.
In 1995, Susanne Hoffs recorded “Now and Then” for the movie with the same title. For the 1997 movie, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Hoffs performed a cover of “The Look of Love.” In the third movie of the series, Austin Powers in Goldmember, she covered “Alfie,” which was released in 2002. She also contributed “The Water Is Wide” for Red Roses and Petrol, a 2003 film written and directed by her mother.
On July 17, 2012, Someday became Hoff’s third studio album featuring new material. It was the first since 1996. The music featured on it was influenced by classic rock from the 1960s and earned a considerable amount of critical acclaim.
During the early 1990s, Susanna Hoffs, Mike Myers, and Matthew Sweat teamed up to form a faux British 1960s band known as Ming Tea. This came about after Myers’ performance on Saturday Night Live. As a band, each member had their own pseudonym. For Hoffs, it was Gillian Shagwell. This was also when Austin Powers came to life as a Myers creation. As a trio, they performed in a series of clubs and television programs. They even had a minor hit, “BBC.” Because of this, it fueled the movies Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and Austin Powers in Goldmember.
Jay Roach, the director behind all three Austin Powers movies is also the husband of Susanna Hoffs. The two have been married since 1993 and now have two songs together. After Roach married Hoffs, he converted to Judaism.
In 2006, Hoffs and Matthew Sweet worked together again to record cover versions of different classic rock songs that spanned between the 1960s and 1970s. The album, Under the Covers, Vol. 1 featured fifteen songs and it was released in 2006. In 2009, Under the Covers, Vol. 2 was another album loaded with cover songs, this time from some of the legends from the 1970s and 1980s era. This was followed in 2012 with Under the Covers, Vol. 3. which also featured music from the 1970s and 1980s.
When CBS held a special to honor the legacy of the multi-talented musician, Prince, Susanna Hoffs teamed up with Tim Robbins to cover “Let’s Go Crazy.” Prince was the genius behind “Manic Monday” which served as a big breakthrough for The Bangles as a band. Also at this same show, Chris Martin from Coldplay performed an acoustic piano rendition of “Manic Monday” with Hoffs.
Top 10 Susanna Hoffs Songs
#10 – Only Love
1991’s “Only Love” was a single released from Susanna Hoffs’ album, When You’re a Boy. Although it didn’t make a chart impression on the billboards, it was still a great tune performed by a vocal talent that moved forward as a solo performer. In the song, Hoffs stated the obvious how love is the only cure to rise above adversities, no matter what they are. As a listener, the true value of this song wasn’t about whether or not it was hit single material. It was about picking up the pieces after experiencing some heartache and using them to shape a new future with a better outlook.
#9 – The Look of Love
First popularized by Dusty Springfield in 1967, “The Look of Life” was a song that was featured in the spoof, Casino Royale. As of 2008, it’s been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. This sensual and relaxed song was covered in 1999 by Susanna Hoffs. Originally, this song was supposed to be an instrumental but an inspired Hal David added lyrics to it and it was published in 1967. According to Burt Bacharach, the writer behind this song, he was inspired after watching Ursula Andress in an early cut of the movie.
#8 – One Voice
Released on April 16, 2016, “One Voice” was a song that featured a series of vocal talents, including Susanna Hoffs. This was the song that ran during the end credits of the 2015 movie, A Dog Named Guggi. The proceeds of profits made from this single have been going to animal charities since its release.
The purpose of the song, as well as the movie, was to raise awareness that each person has a voice. So do animals, even though they don’t use wording as human beings do. With too many abandoned, homeless, and unwanted cats and dogs as it is, this is a crisis of its own. What also made “One Voice” special was not just the beautifully performed message by Hoffs and the rest of the vocalists but the truth that came with it.
#7 – Manic Monday (featuring Chris Martin)
While “Manic Monday” was a hit single for The Bangles, the song written by Prince was also performed during a CBS special to honor the man as a duet by Chris Martin and Susanna Hoffs. According to many fans, they preferred this version over what The Bangles recorded in 1986 for their album, Different Light. With Martin on the piano, Hoffs delivered “Manic Monday” with so much vocal finesse that hearing it in the form of a ballad served as one of the biggest highlights of the Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince that was aired on April 21, 2020.
#6 – Alfie (What’s It All About, Austin?)
Alfie was the name of a movie that was released in 1966. The first to record this as a single was Cilla Black, which became a number-one hit on the UK Singles Chart. It was first covered by Cher, also in 1966 and it became a number thirty-two hit for her on the US Billboard Hot 100. Dionne Warwick’s version remains the most popular as her 1967 cover peaked at number fifteen on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as number five on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Susanna Hoff’s 2002 performance of “Alfie” was for the movie, Austin Powers in Goldmember. In the movie, it was parodied by replacing “Alfie” with “Austin” in the lyrics. In this movie, Michael Caine played the father of Austin Powers. This is the same character who played the title character of the 1966 movie. The scene featuring the song was deleted from the movie but this song was included in the soundtrack.
#5 – My Side of the Bed
When Susanne Hoffs went solo, the first single she released was “My Side of the Bed.” This came from her debut album When You’re a Boy. It was a modest hit on the music charts, peaking as high as number thirty on the US Billboard Hot 100. On a global scale, it was at least a top forty hit among the nations of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number forty-three.
“My Side of the Bed” was a mid-tempo love song that had Hoffs express herself to the most important man in her life. In it, the love she felt was so great that she wanted him kept on her side of the bed so that the two could remain as one. This gem of a tune witnessed Hoffs once again deliver what sounded like fragile vocals from the most vulnerable depths of her heart. As a singer, Hoffs was at her best when she performed a love song as it seemed each of them came straight from a brand of honesty only she could deliver. This was already evident when she was a member of The Bangles. It became more obvious once she branched out on her own as a soloist.
#4 – The Only Thing (featuring Travis)
“The Only Thing” was a song Susanna Hoffs performed with the Scottish group, Travis. Released in 2020, this single came from the band’s album, 10 Songs. This incredible song couldn’t have come about at a better time as the world felt like it was put on standby due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This song focused on what was more important, learning to appreciate the little things that make the power of human connection what it is. Not even a global pandemic that stressed quarantines and social distancing was enough to keep people who chose to put faith above fear apart. Even in circumstances that made us feel blue, hanging onto the only things that mattered is what kept people going.
#3 – I’ll Keep It with Mine
As a songwriter, it should go without saying Bob Dylan is among the best. 1964’s “I”ll Keep It with Mine” was no exception. Now, add the angelic vocals of Susanna Hoffs and a whole new breath of life ignited this song into an extraordinary experience. For Hoffs, the source of inspiration behind her music came from the 1960s. It wasn’t just the Beatles that made an impact on her.
In 1964, Bob Dylan’s songwriting genius was first heard by folk singer Judy Collins when she sang it as a single in 1965. Dylan did attempt to have this recorded on his 1966 album, Blonde on Blonde but circumstances had it where this wasn’t possible. Bob Dylan’s vocal talent for this song can be heard as a demo on The Bootleg Series Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964, which was released by Columbia in 2010. Also, his 1965 recording of “I”ll Keep It with Mine” wasn’t released until 1985 as part of the Biograph box set series.
From Susanna Hoffs, “I’ll Keep it with Mine” was a performance that turned this ballad of love and friendship into a fan favorite. Before The Bangles, Hoffs joined one of her brothers and David Roback as a trio that recorded some demos. During this time, Hoffs and Roback were involved before going their separate ways. In 1984, Rainy Day was an album that was released that featured Hoffs performing Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Keep It with Me.” It was clear a star was in the making.
#2 – All I Want
In 1996, “All I Want” became a number seventy-seven hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 as a single released from the album, Susanna Hoffs. It became a number thirty-two hit on the UK Singles Chart. In Sweden and Switzerland, it was a number forty-four hit in both nations. This song, along with the rest of the tracks in the album, was the closest thing to an autobiography of Hoffs as it gets.
The beauty behind this song was Susanna Hoffs revealing who she was as a person, and as an artist. It also seemed to show what she wanted as a woman moving forward was to be herself without having to conform to the expectations laid out by what the world tried to dictate around her. Already an incredible talent as a member of The Bangles, Susanna Hoffs seemed to shine even brighter, both as a solo artist and as a person.
#1 – Unconditional Love
Released as a single in 1991, it became a number sixty-five hit on the UK Singles Chart. From the album, When You’re a Boy, this lyrical performance of this song seemed to reveal a more vulnerable Susanna Hoffs. With over one million views on YouTube, “Unconditional Love” suggested this was one of the best songs ever performed by Hoffs as a solo artist.
Sung as a love song, it wasn’t about showering someone special with gifts. It was about honesty, which came through loud and clear as Hoffs cast her Bangles days behind her in favor of a direction that showed more promise. It wasn’t about dollar signs. It was about love, pure and simple. That’s what made “Unconditional Love” stand out. Two years after the release of this single, Hoffs married Jay Roach. Together, they have demonstrated what “Unconditional Love” means and not just as a couple. They’re also proud parents of two children to whom that unconditional love has been extended.
Top 10 Susanna Hoffs Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article. Album Cover Photos are affiliate links and the property of Amazon and are stored on the Amazon server. Any theft of our content will be met with swift legal action against the infringing websites.