Night Ranger

Big Life

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Night Ranger was riding high on the success of Midnight Madness and Seven Wishes, a pair of albums that actually brought the arena rockers into arenas. They had stardom and they knew they wanted to keep the Big Life -- which is exactly why their 1987 follow-up to Seven Wishes sounds so stilted. In many ways, the record's first single encapsulates what was wrong with the album. Functioning as both the lead single and the theme to the Michael J. Fox yuppie comedy, "The Secret of My Success" found Night Ranger turning down the metal in favor of glossy, radio-ready pop hooks that never quite hooked. It's not that Night Ranger were strangers to radio-friendly pop -- after all, this is the band that wrote the classic "Sister Christian" -- but the formula outweighed the inspiration and melodies this time around. Audiences could sense it, too. Granted, the public's taste was beginning to shift to the harder rock of Guns N' Roses and the alt-rock of U2 and R.E.M., but pop-metal was still the name of the game in 1987, thanks to Def Leppard and Whitesnake. Thing is, Night Ranger didn't have the hooks in either the rocker or ballad department on Big Life, and the respective singles ("The Secret of My Success," "Hearts Away") flopped along with the rest of the album. Though they later rebounded artistically, such a poor performance marked the end of Night Ranger's time as hitmakers.

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