Synopsis of Pop Music
“We're running with the Shadows Of The Night
So baby take my hand, it'll be all right
Surrender all your dreams to me tonight
They'll come true in the end...”
At a time when hard rock was dominated by all-male bands like Foreigner, Journey and Loverboy, there was one female who could do just as well in the same arena: Pat Benatar. This operatic-voiced female rocker blended attitude, power chords and cover-girl looks to become one of the most notable and popular women in rock music during the late 70’s and early 80’s. In the process, she recorded a string of hits that continue to influence female artists today.
Pat Benatar had taken voice lessons since childhood. She was working as a cabaret singer in New York during the mid-70’s when she landed a recording contract. Her first album, In The Heat Of The Night, was released in 1979. It spawned a Top-40 hit with the driving rocker “Heartbreaker,” a song in the style of Meat Loaf’s rock-operatic hits that made powerful use of Benatar’s four-octave range. “We Live For Love,” a clever cross-breeding of new wave and disco, gave Benatar another Top-40 hit.
However, Benatar made her real breakthrough in 1980 with Crimes Of Passion, an album that played up her hard rock edge. The big hit from this album was “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” a guitar-driven declaration of female bravado. It went Top-10 and won Benatar a Grammy. “Treat Me Right,” a syncopated, disco-style song, also went Top-20, but one of the album’s most popular songs wasn’t even a single: “Hell Is For Children” was an epic tune with a heavy metal sound. Its lyrics took a stand against child abuse and this made it one of the most talked-about songs of its time.
In 1981, Pat Benatar released the album Precious Time. It had another Grammy-winning hit in “Fire And Ice,” a mid-tempo rocker with a typically powerful Benatar vocal. “Promises In The Dark,” another sweeping, Meat Loaf-style operatic rocker, was a Top-40 hit. Benatar experimented with new-wave sounds on her next album, Get Nervous. It had a big hit in “Shadows Of The Night,” a song that mixed synths, swooping power chords and Benatar’s multiple harmonies to stunning effect. This song also won her a third Grammy. “Little Too Late,” a drum-driven rocker, was another Top-20 hit.
In 1983, Benatar released a live album, Live From Earth. It featured a few studio tracks, one of which, “Love Is A Battlefield,” became one of her biggest hits. The song, which mixed new wave with percussion-heavy dance beats, won her a fourth Grammy. It also had a memorable video that looked like a punkish, new-wave version of a dance number from West Side Story. The next year, Benatar toned down her rock edge on the Tropico album and had a hit with the synth-driven ballad “We Belong.”
In 1985, Pat Benatar mixed synths and hard rock on the Top-10 hit “Invincible,” the theme song from The Legend of Billie Jean. The next year, she had a hit with the provocative “Sex As A Weapon.” This song also had an interesting video that poked fun at the misuse of sex appeal on television. “All Fired Up,” a rocker that pitted power chords against vocal harmonies on its chorus, was a Top-40 hit in 1988. Benatar closed out the decade with a best-selling hits compilation, appropriately titled Best Shots, in 1989.
Benatar continued to stay active and experiment with new styles in the 90’s. True Love, a 1991 album of standards like “Payin’ The Cost To Be Boss,” was done in a pure blues style and attracted a lot of attention. She returned to rock with Gravity’s Rainbow in 1993 and played a sold-out concert at the famous L.A. club, The Whiskey. Most recently, Benatar released the Inammorata album in 1997 and was invited to join Jewel and Sheryl Crow on their “Lilith Fair” tour. This was a fitting tribute to the woman who proved female rockers could be just as successful as the male variety.
Artist Release History1979 - In the Heat of the Night
1980 - Crimes of Passion
1981 - Precious Time
1982 - Get Nervous
1983 - Live from Earth
1984 - Tropico
1985 - Seven the Hard Way
1988 - Wide Awake in Dreamland
1989 - Best Shots (compilation)
1991 - True Love
1993 - Gravity's Rainbow
1994 - The Very Best of Pat Benatar: All Fired Up
1996 - 16 Classic Performances (compilation)
1997 - Innamorata
1998 - 8-15-80 [live]
1999 - The King Biscuit Flower Hour [live]
1999 - Synchronistic Wanderings (compilation)
2000 - Extended Versions (live)
2000 - Back to Back Hits (compilation)
Pop Sub Categoriesrock
Essential Music AlbumsCrimes Of Passion (Chrysalis)
Best Shots (Chrysalis)