Fall 1980: The Police Get Political with "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da"

The Police perform on stage, New York, 1980, L-R Sting, Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
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(Michael Putland/Getty Images)

When it came time for the Police to record the band's third album, they didn't exactly have the luxury of time.

"We had bitten off more than we could chew. ... we finished the album at 4 a.m. on the day we were starting our next world tour," drummer Stewart Copeland would admit later. "We went to bed for a few hours and then traveled down to Belgium for the first gig. It was cutting it very fine."

While members of the Police had publicly expressed regret over the final product, Zenyatta Mondatta would be a success, providing a pair of hit singles: "Don't Stand So Close to Me" and the seemingly nonsensical follow-up, "De Do Do Do, De Da Da."

"I was trying to make an intellectual point about how the simple can be so powerful. Why are our favorite songs 'Da Doo Ron Ron' and 'Do Wah Diddy Diddy'?," singer Sting would say to Rolling Stone in 1988. "In the song, I tried to address that issue. But everyone said, 'This is bullshit, child’s play.' No one listened to the lyrics. F*** you! Listen to the lyrics. I’m going to remake it again and put more emphasis on what I was talking about. (Laughs) It’s very painful to be misunderstood."

Truth be told, Sting would later reveal, the song's catchy title was a present from a most unlikely source: a 4-year old. "In fact, my son came up with it. I've never paid him – so that's another possible lawsuit," he cracked in regards to his boy Joe Sumner. "He writes songs himself these days. He's got a lot of self-confidence – I don't know where from."

The song arrived in the waning months of 1980 with an appropriately snowy music video featuring the band miming the song outside on a cold winter's day. 

"De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da," was an absolute hit, charging up the charts to #10 on the Hot 100. It hit #1 in Canada, and grabbed the #2 spot in Spain and Ireland.

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