She was the beautifully sleepy girl mutually beckoned by her alarm clock and the kiss of a shirtless hunk on the video to "Manic Monday." Three years later, she was lovestruck in front of the ocean, bowing to the power of crashing waves and fireworks on the video to "Eternal Flame."
Bangles lead vocalist Susanna Hoffs surely brought glamour to the golden age of MTV. But the L.A. native who grew up writing folk songs in her front yard and attended art school at UC-Berkeley has always loved music more than fame.
It's the reason she finds little inspiration in 21st- century Top 40.
"I don't listen to it, but if I happen across it on the radio, I'm usually off a second later," Hoffs said in a phone interview last week, prior to her Aug. 24 appearance with the Bangles at the Orpheum Theatre.
"I come from a very old-school approach. I grew up listening to the Beach Boys and the Beatles and Crosby Stills & Nash. I always thought being in a band was like being in an art project. You were supposed to have something to say, an attitude or a feeling to share. Songs were ways of communicating ideas. The whole thing was supposed to be about making culture."
If your knowledge of Hoffs' career doesn't venture much beyond "Walk Like an Egyptian," those comments might seem overblown. Reconsider her words in this light:
The day after John Lennon was shot, a shaken 21-year-old Hoffs took musical action. She answered a "guitarist wanted" ad in an L.A. music publication, and the Supersonic Bangs, forerunner to the Bangles, were formed.
Hoffs became a seminal figure in the "paisley underground," a collective of early-'80s L.A. bands that reinvented classic rock for the post-punk era. The bands included Dream Syndicate, Green on Red, Rain Parade and the Long Ryders.
The members of the paisley underground were an L.A. clique that dated back to Hoffs' 1960s childhood. Brothers Steven and David Roback (later of Rain Parade) were neighborhood friends of the Hoffs family.
When Susanna moved back to L.A. after finishing Berkeley, the Roback brothers were busy making dream-pop. Hoffs introduced them to the Peterson sisters, her new bandmates in the Bangles.
"It was really an incredible time in music," said Hoffs. "A big part of the reason I still enjoy playing in the Bangles is that it connects me to a lot of those memories. There was so much excitement in those years before we got big. We were just this high-energy garage band that played little clubs."
After the 1986 release of the multi-platinum album A Different Light, the Bangles didn't play little clubs anymore. Over the next three years, the band was a constant presence on the Billboard singles chart.
Yielding to the pressures of fame, the Bangles parted ways in 1989. Columbia Records prepared to turn Hoffs into a sexy solo star.
She had other ideas, like writing good songs with serious musicians. By 1993 she formed a collaboration with Mark Linkous, now of the revered indie band Sparklehorse. At the time, Linkous was transitioning between his '80s power-pop band the Dancing Hoods and Sparklehorse.
Five of the 11 songs Hoffs prepared for a 1994 album on Columbia were written or co-written by Linkous. The songs were ahead of their time, so Columbia did what major labels often do when confronted with progressive material. They didn't release it.
Three of Hoffs' collaborations with Linkous were eventually released in 1996 on then-independent London Records. The self-titled album earned little money.
Hoffs married movie director Jay Roach (Austin Powers) in the mid-'90s, which helped forge her musical connection to Matthew Sweet. Sweet and Hoffs backed Mike Myers in the fictional Austin Powers pop band Ming Tea.
Both lovers of retro-pop, Sweet and Hoffs released Under the Covers in 2006 on Shout! Factory. They harmonize on 15 cover songs, from "Monday, Monday" to "Cinnamon Girl."
The most compelling track is their version of the Beach Boys' "Warmth of the Sun." The gentle melody feels ready to morph into the Bangles' "Eternal Flame" at any moment.
Hoffs still interprets the future of music through the lens of her past.
"The way kids share songs using computers now," she said, "it's really not that different than when we took a stack of albums and went to a listening booth with our friends."
That yearning for '60s pop, it seems, is Hoffs' real eternal flame.