One of the quintessential '80s teen pop stars, Tiffany transformed her massive early success into an enduring career as a working musician and pop culture fixture decades later. She helped shape the sound of late-'80s pop music with the hit singles "I Think We're Alone Now" and "Could've Been" and her quadruple-platinum self-titled 1987 full-length, which made her the youngest female artist to top the Billboard chart with a debut album. Tiffany's success was also influential: not only did she give mega-popular boy band New Kids on the Block a boost at the beginning of their career, but the shopping-mall performances that kick-started her rise became a promotional strategy later used by Britney Spears and Taylor Swift. Though teen pop fell out of favor for most of the '90s, Tiffany experienced a resurgence in the 2000s and 2010s. Her appearances in TV shows and movies that included How I Met Your Mother, Celebrity Fit Club, and Mega Python vs. Gatoroid traded on '80s nostalgia, but her music during this time ranged from the singer/songwriter fare of 2000's The Color of Silence to 2011's country-tinged Rose Tattoo EP. On later albums such as 2018's Pieces of Me, Tiffany established herself as a producer as well as a singer, songwriter, and music industry veteran.
Tiffany Renee Darwish was born on October 2, 1971, in Oklahoma and raised in California by parents who divorced while she was very young. She began singing at an early age, favoring country music instead of the pop that made her famous. She learned how to sing Tanya Tucker's "Delta Dawn" at age four; by the time she was ten, she was performing with Jack Reeves. Around this time, she was discovered by country music veterans Hoyt and Mae Axton while performing at a country nightclub in Los Angeles. They took her to Nashville, where she performed on The Ralph Emery Show. In 1982, she toured Alaska and sang on a bill that included George Jones and Jerry Lee Lewis. She continued to build her career, appearing on the talent competition TV show Star Search in 1985, where she finished in second place.
In 1986, she signed a contract with manager George Tobin that gave him "absolute control" over her career (since she was a minor at the time, Tiffany's mother signed for her, and had a divorce lawyer examine the papers instead of an entertainment lawyer). Tobin got Tiffany a recording contract with MCA, which issued her self-titled debut in early 1987. When the album's first single, "Danny," didn't chart, Tobin had her promote Tiffany with a tour of shopping malls called The Beautiful You: Celebrating the Good Life Shopping Mall Tour '87. MTV and radio latched onto Tiffany's second single, a dance-pop cover of Tommy James & the Shondells' "I Think We're Alone Now." It pushed the album to the number one spot on the Billboard album charts, making Tiffany the youngest female artist to top the chart with a debut album. In less than year, the album was certified quadruple platinum. Tiffany also spawned another chart-topping song, the ballad "Could've Been," as well as the 1988 Top Ten hit Beatles cover "I Saw Him Standing There." That year, Tiffany toured with the then-unknown New Kids on the Block as her opening act.
Tiffany's runaway success led to a legal conflict between Tobin and the singer's mother and stepfather over her earnings. In return, Tiffany filed for legal emancipation. Although the court rejected her attempt, she was allowed to move in with her grandmother, who became her temporary guardian. Despite her legal issues, Tiffany recorded and released her second album, 1988's Hold an Old Friend's Hand. Like her debut, it earned platinum certification.
Once she turned 18, Tiffany switched managers, signing with New Kids on the Block's management team of Dick Scott and Kim Glover. However, her career suffered in the '90s as dance-pop fell out of favor. Her third album, 1990's New Inside, borrowed more fashionable R&B influences that alienated some fans. Nevertheless, she returned to the charts with 1991's "Voices That Care," a single supporting the International Red Cross and U.S troops involved in Operation Desert Storm. Also featuring Garth Brooks, Will Smith, and Little Richard, the song reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Following the release of 1993's Dreams Never Die — which saw Tiffany briefly reunite with former manager Tobin — the singer took a break from the music industry to raise her son Elijah. Other than a 1996 greatest-hits collection, she released no music for the rest of the decade.
When Tiffany returned in the 2000s, she broadened the scope of her music and parlayed her status as a nostalgia icon into a career as a pop culture fixture. Her fifth album, 2000's The Color of Silence, moved into singer/songwriter territory, earning favorable reviews and comparisons to Alanis Morissette. Two years later, she appeared in Playboy Magazine as well as on That '80s Show, a short-lived spinoff of the Fox TV series That '70s Show. In 2005, she released the Euro-dance-inspired album Dust Off and Dance and also performed on the U.S. and U.K. versions of Hit Me Baby One More Time, which featured musicians popular in the '80s and '90s playing their biggest hit as well as a hit from the 2000s. She appeared on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club shortly before the arrival of 2007's Just Me, another album of singer/songwriter fare. That year, her dance single "Higher" made the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, marking her first solo Billboard chart appearance since 1989.
After a move to Nashville, Tiffany issued the limited-edition demos-and-rarities collection Mimi's Kitchen as well as the single "Just Another Day," which reached number 28 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. Her acting career remained busy as well, with a role in the short film The Isolationist as well as a cameo on How I Met Your Mother as Robin Sparkles, a fictional Canadian teen pop star. Her projects during this time included the 2009 horror film Necrosis and the 2011 SyFy films Mega Piranha and Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, the latter of which also starred Tiffany's former teen pop rival Debbie Gibson. That year, she and Gibson embarked on a U.S. tour that found the pair covering songs from the '80s as well as performing their own material. Also in 2011, Tiffany released the EP Rose Tattoo, a collection of country songs inspired by her early days in music.
As the 2010s unfolded, Tiffany continued to juggle music, TV, and film work. Following appearances on Celebrity Wife Swap and the Food Network's Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, in 2016 she released the full-length A Million Miles, which, for the first time in her career, she co-produced. After appearing on the fourth season of the Australian edition of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, Tiffany issued 2018's Pieces of Me. Recorded in Nashville, L.A., and London, the album featured the single "Worlds Away." ~ Heather Phares & Greg Prato