Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pat Benatar: Androgynous Name, But All '80s Woman

If you put the words "woman," "rocked," and "80s" into a Google search engine, the first thing that would probably pop up is a picture of Pat Benatar.

Pat Benatar had the ultimate '80s rocker name: "Pat" is androgynous, and "Benatar" sounds like a cross between a Bengal tiger and a centaur. In addition, Pat Benatar's period of commercial success is exclusively confined by the '80s; she had her first Top 40 hit in 1980 and her last in 1988. She is '80s incarnate.

But truth be told, I never much cared for Pat Benatar. I always thought "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" was annoying. I thought "Love Is A Battlefield" was one of those songs people only liked because it was cheesy and from the '80s, not because it was actually good. But leave it to Little Earl to discover the hidden gems of the Benatar catalog.

Originally, Benatar had been training to be an opera singer, then she decided she wanted to be Liza Minnelli, and obviously ended up being neither. But the woman had some serious range, which gave her "hard rock" songs kind of a funny, high-pitched quality, as displayed on her first hit, "Heartbreaker," which climbed to #23 in 1980. I can't really tell if she's supposed to like the guy ("You're the right kind of sinner/To release my inner fantasy") or hate the guy ("You're a heartbreaker/Dream maker/Love taker/Don't you mess around with me"), but who cares, it rocks.

"Treat Me Right" was another dynamite slice of Benatar's patented "hard rock that's basically a pop song."

Say it's 1981, and you bought yourself a brand new copy of Benatar's Crimes Of Passion. You were lured in by "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," maybe "Treat Me Right," possibly even "You Better Run," a song that holds the distinction of being the second video ever played on MTV. Suddenly you come to an album track called "Hell Is For Children."
They cry in the dark, so you can't see their tears
They hide in the light, so you can't see their fears
Forgive and forget, all the while
Love and pain become one and the same
In the eyes of a wounded child

Because Hell
Hell Is For children
And you know that their little lives can become such a mess
Hell Is For children
And you shouldn't have to pay for your love with your bones and your flesh

It's all so confusing, this brutal abusing
They blacken your eyes, and then apologize
You're daddy's good girl, and don't tell mommy a thing
Be a good little boy, and you'll get a new toy
Tell grandma you fell off the swing
Uh ... what the deuce? You were trying to rock out to Pat Benatar and then suddenly you got hit with a song about ... child abuse?

Party foul.


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Little Earl said...

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