Sunday, July 09, 2023

Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 7

On July 9 1983, a new song, "Every Breath You Take" (above), became Number One, ending the six week reign of “Flashdance... What a Feeling”. The song, by British rock band The Police, and written by its lead singer, Sting, would spend eight weeks at Number One, and ended up as the Number One song for all of 1983. The song was the only one of the band’s singles to hit Number One on the Billboard “Hot 100” singles chart.

"Every Breath You Take" was the first single from the fifth and final studio album by The Police, Synchronicity, which, not surprisingly, was itself quite popular. The album went to Number One in Australia, Canada (Platinum), New Zealand (Platinum), the United Kingdom (Platinum), and also on the Billboard 200 album chart (8x Platinum). Even so, I don’t think I ever bought the album, even though I bought their previous two albums. I don’t remember any reason for that, though maybe I became sick of the hit single?

The song is about an obsessive ex-lover who engages in “Big Brother” sort of surveillance. This is something that was obvious to me at the time—and I thought it was kind of creepy, a feeling that was underscored by the film noir-ish music video. Even so, there were apparently many people who thought it was a love song, a fact that makes me wonder how their own romantic relationships were constructed.

In researching this song, I found out that by this time the band members weren’t getting along, and, in fact, Sting and drummer Stewart Copeland reportedly hated each other and would get into verbal and physical fights in the studio. Maybe that’s the real reason Sting looks angry in the music video. All three of the final members of The Police are still working today.

The song was certainly a success—obviously, if it became the biggest hit of the entire year—and it later was recognised as the most-played song in radio history. Even so, chart performance in the countries I write about was mixed: It was Number 2 in Australia, Number One in Canada, Number 6 in New Zealand, Number One in the UK (2x Platinum, and, of course, Number One on the USA’s “Billboard Hot 100” for eight weeks, and was certified as Gold. This was clearly a case where radio airplay was important in the song’s year-end chart performance.

And finally, a backstory for this post. On Sunday night last week, I’d just crawled into bed and was trying to relax for sleep when I realised I’d completely forgotten to write this post. I decided to leave it until the next day because it’d be still July 2 in the USA. I’d sincerely thought this song hit Number One on July 2, but that was actually the last week before this song hit Number One. So, in the end, I got this post finished and queued to publish right on time, using the Roger Green Method for blogging. This tale also shows that I wasn’t observing things as closely as the song's narrator in "Every Breath You Take". I think I’ll take that as a win.

This series will return on September 3 with the new song that hit Number One from that week in 1983. I’m unlikely to forget that week (or confuse the date): It’s one of my favourite pop songs of all time.

Previously in the “Weekend Diversion – 1983” series:

Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 1
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 2
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 3
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 4
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 5
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 6


Roger Owen Green said...

I noticed that this will be the last post you'll write before I write MY 1983 post, after which I'll have to backfill the rest the rest of the AmeriNZ links.

Arthur Schenck said...

When I decided to do this series, I didn't realise how there would be several weeks-long gaps, though I probably should have known that. Oh, well.

Roger Owen Green said...

9/3, 9/10, 9/24, 10/1, 10/29, 11/12, 12/10, fyi.

Arthur Schenck said...

Duly noted!!