May 1983: The Police Release "Every Breath You Take"

THE POLICE 1983: Rock band The Police, who released their first album for over a year, 'Synchronicity', recently. They are (l-r) Sting (Gordon Sumner), Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
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(PA Images via Getty Images)

The Police were clearly on the cusp of a breakthrough with the band's third album, Ghost in the Machine. While wildly experimental, they were still able to craft a #3 hit in America with the decidedly poppy "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic."

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

The group more than delivered on that promise with "Every Breath You Take," the first single from the Police's fourth album, Synchronicity. Here are five fun facts about the Police's signature song.

1. "Every Breath You Take" is the Police's only #1 song in America
Released on May 20, 1983, the song flew up the charts, peaking at #1 on the Hot 100 for the week of July 9, 1983. It held the top spot for eight straight weeks, finally falling to the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" on September 2, 1983. Holding #1 for one week longer than Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," Billboard declared "Every Breath You Take" as the biggest song of 1983.

2. Sting thought it was hilarious when Andy Gibb and Marilyn McCoo sang "Every Breath You Take" on "Solid Gold"
"I think it's a nasty little song, really rather evil. It's about jealousy and surveillance and ownership," Sting famously told NME in 1983. "I think the ambiguity is intrinsic in the song however you treat it, because the words are so sadistic. On one level, it's a nice long song with the classic relative minor chords, and underneath there's this distasteful character talking about watching every move. I enjoy that ambiguity. I watched Andy Gibb singing it with some girl on TV a couple of weeks ago, very loving, and totally misinterpreting it. I could still hear the words, which aren't about love at all. I pissed myself laughing."

3. Andy Summers believes his guitar part is what makes the song special
"Well, without that guitar part there’s no song," Summers told Record Collector. "That’s what sealed it. My guitar completely made it classic and put the modern edge on it. I actually came up with it in one take, but that’s because Sting’s demo left a lot of space for me to do what I did. There was no way I was just gonna strum barre chords through a song like that. I would have been laughed out of the studio. I don’t think I’ve ever played a single barre chord in my whole career."

4. "Every Breath You Take" cleaned up at the Grammys
The song was up for Song of the Year (it won), Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals (it won), and Record of the year (it lost to Michael Jackson's "Beat It").

5. The music video is a lot deeper than it looks
The music video for "Every Breath You Take" was directed by the famous duo Godley & Creme, A simple black and white affair, it depicts the band performing in a darkened theater, while a man washes windows in the background. According to director Kevin Godley: "The window washer felt right for that kind of noir feel. But, it also may be somebody who you don't expect to be watching the process, which refers to that sense of surveillance that the song is really about. We specifically did not want to know his story. That's something I've held fast to all the years I've been doing this: I hate telling the story of the song, because it's either show or tell, it's not both. If the song is saying something, you don't want to be showing what the song is saying. You want to be putting the performance of the song, something about the song, in a place, a frame if you like, that enhances the experience. Don't do the obvious. But, in this case, I think the window cleaner is perhaps a suggestion of somebody watching." The clip took the very first MTV Video Music Award prize for Best Cinematography. The cinematographer on the video: Daniel Pearl, who also did cinematography on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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