Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Pat Benatar: Another Notch in Her Lipstick Case

When Pat Benatar first came on the scene in the late 1970s, it was common for her to be described as “classically trained.” She certainly had a big voice, but I suspect this was more marketing gimmick than truism; her higher education consisted of one year at SUNY Stony Brook, studying health education.

Benatar sang in nightclubs, stage musicals and commercials for several years before releasing her first album, In the Heat of the Night, at the relatively advanced age (for a pop starlet) of 26 in 1979. The second single, “Heartbreaker,” was a MOR hit, and Pat Benatar has been a star ever since.

What Makes Her Different There weren’t a lot of women singing hard rock in the late 1970s and 1980s, but Benatar seemed to wear the responsibility easily. "For every day since I was old enough to think, I've considered myself a feminist," she said. "It's empowering to watch and to know that, perhaps in some way, I made the hard path we have to walk just a little bit easier."

The Hall of Fame should recognize more women, but my first response to Benatar is: Where are the Go-Go’s? They were hitmakers from the same era who arguably had a larger cultural impact (plus they wrote their own songs). The Go-Go’s had a jukebox musical on Broadway, Head Over Heels, which is an honor that seems unlikely to befall Pat Benatar. There’s even a Go-Go’s documentary film that will be at Sundance next month. Where’s your documentary, Pat?

"You Better Run" was the second video ever shown on MTV, after "Video Killed the Radio Star."

“Pat Benatar” the act is really Pat Benatar the band, since she has been with guitarist/songwriter/producer Neil Giraldo since her very first album. They’ve also been together in real life as a married couple since 1982, and that’s kinda sweet, isn’t it?

The turn of the decade from the 1970s into the 1980s was not a very auspicious time for pop metal, as anyone who has listened to Survivor or Asia lately can attest to. With their full-throated vocals and knotty guitar parts, Benatar’s early hits still sound pretty fresh, especially “Heartbreaker” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot."

By the Numbers Six triple platinum albums, including the Number One Precious Time, 15 Top Forty hits, including four Top Tens ("Hit Me With Your Best Shot," "Love Is a Battlefield," "We Belong," "Invincible")

Will She Get In? I mean, the Go-Go's were the first all-female band to make a real splash on the charts, and those songs still sound great. They snuck some surf-punk into pop melodies and harmonies - oh yeah, Pat Benatar. The Rock Hall has inducted an awful lot of people from Pat's era and genre, so I assume they'll do the same here.

Should She Get In? Probably, but this is only her first nomination. I think I'll wait for a different year, and for the moment, vote NO for Pat Benatar.

1 comment:

  1. I was lucky enough to see the Go-Go's musical on Broadway, and it was...terrific. I mean, just truly wonderful. Who would've thunk it? Anyway, they're one of the dozen or so artists whose exclusion reminds me never to take the Rock Hall even slightly seriously, as much as I love these discussions.