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Electric Youth Revisited, After All This Time

One of the biggest chart rivalries of the late '80s segues to TV, as Tiffany and Debbie Gibson good-naturedly prepare to battle on Syfy.

Last week, the news came out of the blue.

As previously reported, the Syfy network has cast Debbie Gibson and Tiffany in an upcoming original film, “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.” The movie begins filming today, according to Gibson’s Twitter account.

Gibson will play a “fanatical animal-rights activist who frees illegally imported exotic snakes from pet stores, sending them into the Everglades, where they grow to mega sizes.” Tiffany will portray an “overzealous park ranger who uses dangerous methods to save endangered alligators.” In one proposed scene, the pair “brawl at a party, then take matters outside into the swamp.”

While Syfy hasn’t revealed the scrap’s victor, what better time to revisit the twosome’s prior battles on Billboard charts and see if any patterns emerge, perhaps providing any clues as to the outcome of their pending on-screen showdown.


Round One: Anything Is Possible

Each artist burst onto pop radio with record-setting debut albums. With Tiffany sending her self-titled introductory set to the Billboard 200 summit and “I Think We’re Alone Now” topping the Hot 100 in 1987, she became just the second female artist to lead both surveys on her first tries. No artist would repeat the feat until Mariah Carey in 1990. Tiffany’s maiden album yielded a second No. 1, “Could’ve Been,” and the No. 7-peaking Beatles remake, “I Saw Him Standing There.”

Gibson’s debut collection, “Out of the Blue,” generated four Hot 100 top 10s, including the No. 1 “Foolish Beat” in 1988. Not yet 18 when the song reached the chart’s top spot, Gibson remains the youngest female artist to write, produce and perform a Hot 100 leader. The No. 4-peaking “Only in My Dreams” and “Shake Your Love” and the No. 3 “Out of the Blue” preceded her first Hot 100 topper. A fifth single, “Staying Together,” reached No. 22.

Decision: Tie.

Round Two: Who Loves Ya Baby?

“Tiffany” topped the Billboard 200 for two weeks, while “Out of the Blue” peaked at No. 7. In late 1988, Tiffany’s sophomore set, “Hold an Old Friend’s Hand,” reached No. 17 and housed the No. 6 Hot 100 love song “All This Time” and No. 35 uptempo entry “Radio Romance.” Gibson’s second album, “Electric Youth,” roared to a five-week stay atop the Billboard 200 in 1989 and featured her second Hot 100 No. 1, “Lost in Your Eyes,” as well as the No. 11 title cut and No. 17-peaking ballad “No More Rhyme.”

While neither artist has yet to return to the Billboard 200’s top 40, the pair tallied significant sales at the heights of their popularity. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Gibson’s first two albums have been certified triple- and double-Platinum, respectively. Her third set, “Anything Is Possible,” earned a Gold certification. “Tiffany” has been certified quadruple-Platinum and “Hold an Old Friend’s Hand,” Platinum.

Decision: For slightly greater RIAA sales totals and a second Billboard 200 top 10, Gibson.

Round Three: Feelings of Forever

After the artists’ run of chart dominance, Gibson enjoyed prominent roles on Broadway and in touring musical productions and Tiffany became a mother to son Elijah, now 17.

The pair has continued, however, to impact Billboard charts in recent years. Gibson last ranked on a Billboard survey when “Say Goodbye,” with New Kid on the Block Jordan Knight, peaked at No. 24 on Adult Contemporary in 2006. Tiffany, who recorded a duet (“Close Our Eyes”) with fellow former teen pop sensation Tommy Page, who, in 1989 toured with the singer and New Kids on the Block, has since ended an 18-year absence from Billboard tallies. She placed a title on Dance/Club Play Songs each year from 2007 through last year, most recently sending “Dust Off and Dance” (credited to Hydra Productions featuring Tiffany) to No. 19 on the list.

Decision: For slightly more recent residences on Billboard charts, Tiffany.

Thus, in Chart Beat’s extremely unscientific analysis of the singers’ chart and sales resumes, picking a winner is as difficult as guessing the result of their upcoming fight on film.

Not that the artists are necessarily looking for bragging rights themselves. Once chart rivals, Gibson and Tiffany performed in concert together last year in Quebec City in an ’80s reunion bill that also featured Rick Astley and Samantha Fox.

And, per each performer’s Twitter accounts, the artists are clearly enjoying poking fun at their linked pasts, as well as the opportunity to add a new chapter in their competition more than two decades after they almost simultaneously stormed the pop music landscape.

“Woke up this morning with @deborahgibson, MegaPythons & Gatoroid on my Mind! THIS IS GOING TO BE SOO MUCH FUN! Can’t Wait to Do this movie!,” Tiffany Tweeted June 25.

Responded Gibson, “Hey all @Tiffanytunes Can’t wait to duke it out with your gal for the good of the planet : ) LOL!”