I have been a fan of Pat Benatar since the first time I heard “Heartbreaker” in late 1979. I own several of her albums, and yes, 12” singles too (hey – almost everybody did remixes back in the 80s!). But, oddly enough, as much as I have loved Pat Benatar and her music for almost 40 years, I have never seen her perform live. I am hoping to rectify that this Summer.
This week, I found out that Pat and her long-time husband and guitarist, Neil Giraldo, will be performing at Portland’s Maine State Pier for the second time in three years. In 2015, I believe they had the distinction of being the first performers at the Maine State Pier, performing in early May 2015. I wasn’t at that show, but from what I heard, it was incredibly cold (we were barely out of our longer-than-usual Winter that year) and I feared Pat wouldn’t be back to Maine again.
The Winter of 2014-2015 was what I classified as “The Winter That Would Never End,” in that it snowed on November 1, 2014, and snowed in six consecutive months, through April 2015. Even for Maine, that’s pretty unusual. I love Maine but not its Winters, and always hope they won’t last more than their calendared three months. (This year, Mom Nature is playing her own April Fool’s Joke on us, with several inches of snow predicted the first day of April.) I’m so glad Pat and Neil have picked to return to Portland’s Maine State Pier in late July, when – theoretically – it’ll be an awesome Summer (like 2016!).
By late 1983, the then-30-year-old from Brooklyn, NYC already had released four hugely successful albums, including a No. 1 album – 1981’s PRECIOUS TIME – and a No. 2 album – her biggest album to date, 1980’s CRIMES OF PASSION, which has been certified (at least) 4x Multi-Platinum. She had also nine out of 10 singles reach the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100, including one Top 10 hit, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” which reached No. 9 in late December 1980.
Pat’s fifth release, a mostly-live album called LIVE FROM EARTH, was released in mid-October 1983, and contained two new studio tracks, “Lipstick Lies” and “Love Is A Battlefield,” the latter of which was written by popular songwriters Mike Chapman and Holly Knight, who have written a combined amount of huge songs that would require their own entire blog post, which I may write one day. I can say that Holly Knight (a member of the short-lived Dance / Rock band, Device) also wrote and/or co-wrote three other Pat Benatar songs, including 1985’s “Invincible (The Theme From THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN).”
“Love Is A Battlefield” was released a month in advance of LIVE FROM EARTH, and only took 12 days to reach the BILLBOARD Hot 100, debuting at No. 78. In just four weeks, “Love Is A Battlefield” debuted in the Top 40, giving Pat her tenth Top 40 American hit. In a chart coincidence that only a singles chart nerd like myself could love, “Love Is A Battlefield” also debuted in the Top 40 the same week as Eurythmics debuted with “Love Is A Stranger.”
Like most Pat Benatar singles, “Love Is A Battlefield” made a steady climb up the chart and spent a week at No. 5 in early December 1983. It stayed on the Hot 100 until the second half of February 1984 and one of BILLBOARD’s biggest Hot 100 hits of 1984. With 1985’s “We Belong,” it remains her highest-charting American hit so far, and gave Pat her fourth consecutive Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
Around the globe, there was a lot of love for “Love Is A Battlefield.” It spent five weeks at No. 1 in Australia, four weeks at No. 1 in Holland and BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, two weeks at No. 1 in Belgium, plus Top 10 rankings in Canada, Germany, Ireland and New Zealand, and the Top 20 in the U.K. and Switzerland.
A special remix was used for the popular music video, which features Pat as a teenager running away from her family, Pat exploring the fast life in the big city, becoming a dancer, her father eventually showing regret for things he said that drove her away, and through all of this, she ends up discovering strength and independence, and the incredible undeniability of girl power. Pat also showed off some pretty cool dance moves in this partially-choreographed video, which was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video.
I know the dancing and using a drum machine was out of Pat Benatar’s normal Rock ’n’ Roll element, and that remixes prolly weren’t her thing (although she’d end up releasing a few more; I know, because I own them), but in the end, “Love Is A Battlefield” is a song that worked, even when songwriter Mike Chapman didn’t think it would work, and even when Pat’s record company didn’t think it would work. But all’s fair in love and war and pop hits, right? What most folks involved with the record thought wouldn’t work is one of THE songs Pat Benatar is remembered most for to this day, and is a song I hope to hear her sing in Portland, Maine in late July.
Writing about “Love Is A Battlefield” here made me think of a time back in the mid-00s, when I was still living in Portland and had a Saturday night retro DJ gig at one of the clubs intown, where, in the small, already crowded Alt-Rock / Dance and New Wave “rec room” full of the music of New Order, Blondie, Duran Duran, Smiths, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Nine Inch Nails and the oft-requested Elvis Costello, there wasn’t much room for Pat’s Benatar’s straight up, kick-ass Rock ’n’ Roll, but I remember a couple of times I got a request for something by Pat. And I was pleasantly surprised both times.
The first time Pat Benatar was requested, for a second, I thought, “what could I possibly play for this amazing crowd of people that would blend in?” The only song that came to mind – and what proved to be THE best choice – was the 12” dance remix of “Love Is A Battlefield.” When Pat was requested another time, the choice that time was a no-brainer, because, not only did “Love Is A Battlefield” get a sweet reception the first time, when it comes to dance music from the 80s, whether it’s Pop, Rock, Punk, Funk, Dance, Rap, New Wave, New Romantics – to me, there IS no battlefield.
“We are strong / No one can tell us we’re wrong / Searching our hearts for so long / Both of us knowing / Love is a battlefield…”