Could've Been

Album: Tiffany (1987)
Charted: 4 1

Songfacts®:

  • Three months after Tiffany's debut single "I Think We're Alone Now" went to #1 in the US, "Could've Been" followed it to the top spot, where it stayed for two weeks.

    The song was written by Lois Blaisch, who recorded it in 1983 when she signed a deal with George Tobin. Her version was never released, and a few years later when Tobin discovered Tiffany, he had her record the song and released it as her second single. Tiffany's version has the same musical backing as Blaisch's original.
  • In a Songfacts interview with Lois Blaisch, she explained how a broken relationship with a smooth-talking oral surgeon inspired this song. "He led me to believe he was going to finance my career and all this stuff," she said. "I bought the whole thing, which is actually what inspired the lyric of 'Could've Been' because what I fell in love with was not necessarily him but all the things that he promised - all the big lies and the bulls--t. He probably was just trying to score. I don't know. So, I didn't really fall in love with him, I fell in love with what could've been."
  • Like Alfred Lord Tennyson's belief that 'Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all, this song arrives at a similar conclusion, as Tiffany sings:

    Still what could've been is better
    Than what could never be at all


    "You have to take a risk when you fall in love," the song's writer Lois Blaisch told Songfacts. "You open your heart to someone and it might not be right, but if you don't try it you'll never really find out what can happen."
  • How was Tiffany able to sing this song so convincingly at such a young age? "I have been an old soul for a long time," she told Songfacts in 2017. "When I heard that song, I related to it immediately. I hadn't lived any of that heartbreak, but I understood it. At 14, you go through dating a guy for two weeks and he goes out with your best friend. That is heartbreaking. Your world is falling apart and that is what I could relate it to.

    That and also, I lived in a very adult world even before my career. My family had a lot of conflict. There was a lot of love but there were a lot of issues. I saw a lot of people that were older than me – my aunts and my uncles and my mom – make mistakes and get hurt, or trust and get hurt, and love gone wrong. So, I saw that all play out a little bit.

    So, as a vocalist I was kind of singing and telling their stories. Songs that I maybe had not had a personal experience with yet, I still understood because of that upbringing, in a weird way. I definitely wasn't raised in a bubble.

    Heartbreak songs have always been very therapeutic for me, in a weird way, even when I was younger. And I also was raised listening to country music, which is the king and the queen of heartbreak songs. So, there was always love gone wrong or something like that, and I started singing those songs when I was about six years old."
  • At age 16, Tiffany was the youngest female artist to have an album go to #1 in Billboard history. She was attending Leffingwell Christian High School in Norwalk, California, at the time. With no slight intended, Tiffany was the ultimate, sparkling epitome of the Southern California "mall rat." Combining the snobbish and spoiled values of Southern California "valley girls," she knew where her target audience lived. So her first tour, according to her official site, was "The Beautiful You: Celebrating The Good Life Shopping Mall Tour '87," set up by the Shopping Center Network and was sponsored by Toyota, Clairol, and Adidas. That's right, she toured malls. To celebrate the good life. For beautiful yous.
  • Lois Blaisch really was looking at dead flowers when she wrote the opening lines in this song:

    The flowers you gave me
    Are just about to die
    When I think about
    What could've been
    It makes me want to cry


    "It felt like my heart was dead like those flowers," she said. "I couldn't sleep and I couldn't eat and I was pretty devastated because he led me to believe that this was going to happen and then really quickly he just broke it off."
  • Tiffany's real full name is Tiffany Renee Darwish. But maybe her family name isn't the first thing she'd want to hang onto; in a much-publicized trial, Tiffany's manager, mother, and stepfather all tried to control her money and career, to the point that Tiffany petitioned the court to become an emancipated minor (she was turned down). Since her fall from fame, she's kind of been throwing a two-decade-long pout with an occasional peek at a comeback. Some of her memorable moments include an appearance in Playboy, stints on the reality shows Celebrity Fit Club and Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling, and acting in the SyFy movies Mega Piranha and Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.

    Tiffany's closest competitor was Debbie Gibson, who was just one year younger. While the two never faced off directly, you could tell that both of them were wresting for the top teen idol spot; Gibson also first charted at #4 in 1987, before getting her #1 in 1988 with "Foolish Beat," while Tiffany's family imploded into legal squabbles.
  • Tiffany did very well on MTV with the video for "I Think We're Alone Now," but no video was made for "Could've Been." Blaisch explained: "They didn't make a video and there was a reason why: because she was 14 years old and people felt that she was too young, especially if they looked at her, to really convince them that she had been through that. And she had not been through that - she was 14 years old. She hadn't yet had a heartbreak that severe. So she never did make a video on that song."
  • Carrie Underwood sang this on Season 4 of American Idol, winning over the judges with her performance. She went on to win the competition, and later said it was the song that reminds her of her time on the show. "The whole time before you're on camera is when you have songs in your pocket," she told Entertainment Weekly. "That Tiffany song that I did on the first live show was definitely one that I wanted to do. Because I was like, 'Nobody is going to expect this song.' And I've always loved it, ever since I was little."
  • The Filipina star Sarah Geronimo covered this song on her 2009 album Music and Me.

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