NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider Late Night

Jimmy Fallon Explains How Heart's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" Performance Happened

Fallon told Keke Palmer how it all went down (and the two took a moment to sweetly harmonize a Heart song!). 

By Samantha Vincenty

The April 8 solar eclipse was a once-in-a-lifetime event—and with some quick planning and teamwork, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon created a once-in-a-lifetime performance to mark the occasion. During the actual eclipse that (partially) blotted out the sun over New York City, Jimmy Fallon joined rock legends Heart for a rooftop performance of — what else? – Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart."

How to Watch

Watch The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC weeknights at 11:35/10:35c and next day on Peacock

"Some bits, we plan out six months in advance sometimes," Fallon told Keke Palmer, when the two sat down for a chat about The Tonight Show at L.A.'s Pacific Design Center on April 14. But other moments, like the eclipse performance, arise from week-of-show meetings with the talk show's writers and producers. 

RELATED: Adam Levine's Impression of Prince Singing a Children's Classic Is Gorgeous and Funny

The solar eclipse was unsurprisingly top of mind as Fallon and the Tonight Show staff planned that Monday's show. "And I was like, 'Alright, what do we have? We should sing Total Eclipse of the Heart!'  And then our musical guests happen to be HEART," Fallon recounted. "Let's sing 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' with Heart, on the roof, during the total eclipse."

During their chat, Fallon and Palmer erupted into a few bars of Heart's song "Alone," because OF COURSE Keke Palmer casually knows the lyrics to Heart's "Alone." Watch Fallon and Palmer's harmonizing moment, and you'll wish for a full version immediately.

Jimmy Fallon and Heart perform on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon episode 1957

How Heart wound up singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" with Jimmy Fallon

Once they'd hatched the plan, it was time to make it happen. 

Fallon conferred with the writers, "and we have to get permits to go to the roof," he continued. Meaning, the roof of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where The Tonight Show tapes in the heart of New York City.

"Then we have to ask Heart, of course, if they want to do it," Fallon told Palmer. Booking the band for the same day as the eclipse was a stroke of luck (they also performed a searing rendition of their classic "Barracuda" during that night's show). 

RELATED: Jimmy's Fallon Book Club Has Officially Chosen Its Spring 2024 Read

"And they do want to do it," Fallon told Palmer "But they want to do the 'Turn around...' They want to do that part! I go, 'No, no, that's my part. You gotta do the part where you really sing. You're Heart!" Honestly, true (with all respect to Fallon's vocal talents). 

Jimmy Fallon and Heart perform on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon episode 1957

Once they'd hammered out the arrangement, there was a small amount of time to rehearse the Bonnie Tyler cover song before the big moment arrived at 3:23 p.m. ET. 

And, being a celestial event and all, there wouldn't be time for do-overs. "We were like, 'Hey, we got two takes of this one, man," Fallon explained. "The eclipse will be gone!" 

It's safe to say Fallon and Heart nailed it. Watch their "Total Eclipse of the Heart" performance above. 

Watch The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon's 10th Anniversary Special

In February, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon marked a decade on the air. And this May, they'll celebrate some of the show's most unforgettable moments in a two-hour primetime special.

The special will feature "some of our favorite sketches, guests, and musical performances," Fallon told his audience on February 26. "From ‘Tight Pants’ with Will Ferrell to me almost dating Nicole Kidman, and musical bits like ‘Classroom Instruments’ with Metallica and Adele, we’ve had so many fun moments.”

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon's two-hour 10th anniversary special will air May 14 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, streaming the next day on Peacock.

Additional reporting by Tara Bennett.