Song: “Sister Christian” by Night Ranger
Ah yes. Everyone’s favorite paternalistic power ballad about the dangers of giving it up before your time is due. The meaning of this one seems quite clear. In fact, when I saw Night Ranger perform on the Rock Never Stops Summer Tour ’99*, when Jack Blades** sang the lyric in question, he added a “you know what I mean, girls.”
WELL, Mr. Blades, upon further review, I don’t know what you mean. Because I’m not a time traveler.
I mean, it’s right there in the first frame.
The least of Sister Christian’s problems are with boys. Sure, she might end up with the fast crowd but before any poor decisions can get made, she’s going to get sucked into a color-coded time vortex that forces her to relive her high school career every damn day.
I mean, she’s just trying to graduate and she can’t even make it down the stairs without being snapped into a pink-hued world full of joker dudes who are all “hey, Sister Christian, tell us more about the future, hahaha don’t step on any butterflies, am I right?”
We can probably all agree that time travel would be a pretty great power, but only if you have control over it. And Sister Christian does not seem to have control over her time traveling abilities because if she did, she’d probably travel somewhere cool instead of to that trig test two years ago, and you gotta wonder why her parents sent her to this dumb high school instead of Dee Snider’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where she would be among friends.
Instead, she’s trapped by time, her plight invisible to those around her.
Here’s a great thing about “Sister Christian.” You can passionately play four different air instruments when jamming out to it, which is an underrated feature in a song.***
Anyhow, the longer Sister Christian stays stuck in this high school, the worse the time shifts become. Girl cannot catch a break. And just when she thinks she’s found a solution, a wormhole (roll with it, I’m not googling physics right now) that will help her stay grounded and get her graduated and out into a more stable world, she ends up in the band room. And she’s just like, HOW AM I STILL IN THIS BUILDING.
So she tries to run away, but of course she just ends up in a different time, a tan time, which she seems to at least enjoy more than the blue time, probably she gets to relive her soda fountain days instead of the Crystal Palmer copying her trig test days. Like maybe things are turning around. Maybe she’s out of the school now. Or is she??? Because then she sees the dudes from the band room in the soda shoppe and WHAT EVEN IS TIME ANYMORE. I DON’T KNOW, SISTER CHRISTIAN. I WISH I COULD HELP YOU.
This video is not without its lessons. Because the real problem isn’t the time travel vortex. It’s that Sister Christian has been experiencing all of this by herself. But on a day like today, when she can’t even walk down the damn hallway without getting sucked into a time vortex, she’s done. She knows she can’t do it alone. She tells her friends what she’s been experiencing, all: “Listen, guys, things are kind of weird right now. I don’t even know how I got here. I just like zapped here from the band room and the guys sipping malteds and egg creams out there, they were there too and I know it sounds crazy but if we go back out there, they’ll tell you.” And her friends are like, you know what would make you feel better is a new hairstyle. And she’s all, cool cool cool but can we talk about time travel after?
What is after when you don’t control the time in your universe, though? Look at her face. Look at her devastation, her confusion. She doesn’t even know what to believe anymore. She can’t even trust what she’s seen. Who is she? Where is she?
But all is not lost. It appears that by telling her friends what she’s going through, somehow the curse has been lifted and they pull Sister Christian out of her time vortex and into the real, multi-hued world. So there’s a lesson there.
That, or the nuns weren’t nuns at all but instead some sort of time vortex overlords who were just messing with her. IDK.
*Rock Never Stops Summer Tour ’99: Ted Nugent, Quiet Riot, Night Ranger, and Slaughter. THE destination for 14 year olds in suburban North Carolina. Feel free to speculate about my popularity.
**I remember this as Jack Blades but since the drummer is singing in the video who knows this is accurate. I am 90% sure that at the very least the ‘you know what I mean, girls’ came from Jack Blades.
***Pop metal blazers are also highly underrated.