Often noted for having married Andrew Lloyd Webber and possessing a three octave range that helped her originate the role of Christine Daaé in his The Phantom of the Opera musical, Sarah Brightman actually began her career in rather curious grounds.
As maligned and weirded-out as Brightman was throughout London tabloids due to her marriage and subsequent divorce of Lloyd Webber, it pays to remember that the world’s top-selling soprano began entering herself into the public consciousness with Hot Gossip. Hot Gossip was a British dance troupe commenced by one Arlene Phillips, a Prestwich-born choreographer and dancer now featured as one of the judges on the United Kingdom version of So You Think You Can Dance.
Hot Gossip would recruit Brightman to its ranks in 1977. The soprano, for her part, had already made a theatrical debut at the Piccadilly Theatre in London as one of Queen Victoria’s daughters in a production of I and Albert.
The then-teenaged Brightman helped Hot Gossip to its big hit, “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper.” The single was written by Jeff Calvert and Geraint Hughes of Britain’s Typically Tropical.
Hearing the single now and comparing it to the various phases Brightman’s career would endeavour through is, to say the last, an entertaining experience.
The single would go on to sell half a million copies and hit the number six spot on the UK charts at the time. It would kick off a somewhat prevalent disco career for Brightman and would eventually put her in the sights of Lloyd Webber.
This is, for all intents and purposes, the beginning of something special. The single is space disco, all the way, and a relatively memorable tune as late-70’s cool goes. It is built on a foundation of special effects and a misleadingly modest melody. There is barely a hint of Brightman’s earth-shattering range or death-defying Daaé heights, as enthralling as they’d be in later years.
The single features Star Wars samples and even a scrap of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the tone poem from Strauss, as part of its disco madness. Not only do the lyrics tap into some relatively domestic sexual innuendo (“What my body needs is close encounter three”), but they call to a higher emotional plain away from the droid-like insipidness of less-than-stellar suitors.
Whether or not this track launched Brightman into hyperspace is debateable and her fans certainly have reason to smile at her beginnings, as cheesy as they may be. The track is a fun one, make no mistake about it, and Brightman’s infectious energy is apparent even as it’s drowned out in effects and disco garishness.
The B-side of “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper” is “Do, Do, Do,” a inoffensive bit of disco with what really is a killer melodic riff.
Brightman’s career begins here, like it or not. With all that follows, it’s interesting to recall a wide-eyed but very knowing and very cheeky vocalist ready for anything and down for whatever – spaceship calamity and starship love be damned.