When Golden Earring Returned to US Chart With ‘Twilight Zone’
Golden Earring were still stars in their native Netherlands in 1982, as each of their 15 albums furthered an unbreakable streak of strong sales. But the band had become old news everywhere else: By this point, their international hit "Radar Love" was almost a decade in the rear-view, and they hadn’t cracked the Billboard 200 since their measly showing — No. 182 — for 1977’s Mad Love.
In other words, Golden Earring's glory days seemed to be behind them — until, of course, a brief and unexpected resurgence with Cut, best known for the massive single "Twilight Zone."
The album’s tight verse-chorus songwriting and punchy production had become Golden Earring's norm, an evolution away from prog-flavored excursions of the mid-'70s. Now the quartet — singer Barry Hay, guitarist George Kooymans, bassist and keyboardist Rinus Gerritsen and drummer Cesar Zuiderwijk — finally had wide-reaching hooks to match.
"Baby Dynamite" pairs gleaming chorus harmonies with spacey synthesizer textures; "The Devil Made Do It," a minor U.S. hit that reached No. 79 on the Hot 100, fleshes out a surfy guitar lick with bright brass and gospel-styled backing vocals. Then there's the album’s centerpiece, the hypnotically catchy "Twilight Zone," which hit No. 10 overall and topped the Mainstream Rock chart.
Listen to Golden Earring Perform 'Twilight Zone'
Interestingly, like "Radar Love" before it, this shadowy, eight-minute track was edited down for the single version — sadly lopping off some of the mid-track instrumental work. (MTV also made one notable alteration to the music video, censoring a scene with a topless woman. Hay later told Classic Rock Here and Now that the clip for "Twilight Zone" was "mutilated" in the process.) Still, this spy-thriller tale of a man "falling down the spiral, destination unknown" is memorable at any length.
"I knew it was going to be a hit the moment I heard it," Hay told the Georgia Straight in 1984, "and I’m saying this because it’s the truth. Usually, I’m not really sure about those things, but when George played it I knew it right away."
Golden Earring continued to tour and record over the decades, consistently faring well on the Dutch charts — but their mainstream success took a nosedive in the U.S. Their next LP, 1984’s N.E.W.S., fizzled out at No. 107. The single "When the Lady Smiles," which featured a graphic and somewhat disturbing video (earning them an MTV ban this time around), peaked at No. 76. By 1986’s The Hole, Golden Earring was clinging for dear life at No. 196.
However, there's something to be said for Golden Earring’s longevity: The core four-piece stayed together up through 2021, retiring only after Kooymans announced his ALS diagnosis. Plus, they were pretty laid-back about their intermittent popularity in the States: Speaking to MTV in 1992, Hay quipped: "I'm glad they say 'Golden Earring, 'Radar Love'' instead of saying 'Golden Earring, who?'"