Bette Davis Eyes

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"Bette Davis Eyes"
Kim Carnes BDE.jpg
Single by Kim Carnes
from the album Mistaken Identity
B-side"Miss You Tonight"
ReleasedMarch 10, 1981 (1981-03-10)
Format
RecordedJanuary 1981
Genre
Length3:48
LabelEMI America
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Val Garay
Kim Carnes singles chronology
"Cry Like a Baby"
(1980)
"Bette Davis Eyes"
(1981)
"Draw of the Cards"
(1981)
Audio sample
"Bette Davis Eyes"
Music video
"Bette Davis Eyes" on YouTube

"Bette Davis Eyes" is a song written and composed by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon, and made popular by American singer Kim Carnes. DeShannon recorded it in 1974; Carnes's 1981 version spent nine weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was Billboard's biggest hit of 1981.

Background[edit]

Bette Davis in 1931

The song was written in 1974 by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon. DeShannon recorded the song that same year on her album New Arrangement.[5] In this original incarnation, the track is performed in an "R&B lite" arrangement,[1] featuring a prominent uptempo piano part, as well as flourishes of pedal steel guitar and horns.[6] However, it was not until 1981, when Kim Carnes recorded her version of the song in a radically different synthesizer-based arrangement, that "Bette Davis Eyes" became a commercial success.

The Carnes version spent nine non-consecutive weeks on top of the US Billboard Hot 100 (interrupted for one week by the "Stars on 45 Medley") and was Billboard's biggest hit of the year for 1981.[7] The single also reached No. 5 on Billboard's Top Tracks charts and No. 26 on the Dance charts.[8] The song won the Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. The song was also a number one hit in 21 countries[9] and peaked at number 10 in the United Kingdom,[10] her only Top 40 hit there to date.

According to producer Val Garay, the original demo of the tune that was brought to him sounded like "a Leon Russell track, with this beer-barrel polka piano part." The demo can be heard in a Val Garay interview on TAXI TV at 21:50.[11] Keyboardist Bill Cuomo came up with the signature synth riff, using the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizer, which now defines Carnes's version. The song was recorded in the studio on the first take.[12]

Bette Davis, then 73 years old, wrote letters to Carnes, Weiss, and DeShannon to thank all three of them for making her "a part of modern times," and said her grandson now looked up to her. After their Grammy wins, Davis sent them roses as well.[9]

The song was ranked at number 12 on Billboard's list of the top 100 songs in the first 50 years of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[13] Cleopatra Records released a re-recording of the song as a single in 2007.

Music video[edit]

The video, directed by Australian film director Russell Mulcahy,[14] received heavy airplay when it premiered.

The video stars with a leaning figure draped in black at the center of a dance hall. The drape flies out to reveal Kim Carnes wearing sunglasses as she sings the first verse. In the first chorus, she performs with a band; halfway dancers enter the hall. In the second verse, the dancers make slapping and floor-pounding dance motions. They disappear and reappear in the second chorus. The song finishes with the dancers making dance motions while approaching Carnes; the band is already gone when the video ends with the black-draped leaning figure. A shadowed silhouette of Bette Davis smoking a cigarette appears throughout the video.

Lyrics[edit]

There is much confusion over whether the lyrics are "she knows just what it takes to make a crow blush" or "... pro blush". Jackie DeShannon sings "crow" in her version, and Kim Carnes recorded it as "pro." Others have misheard the lyrics as "she knows just what it takes to makes a girl blush," suggesting a bisexual undertone, although this was unintended by either DeShannon or Weiss.[15]

Track listing and formats[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Greenwald, Matthew. "Bette Davis Eyes – Song Review". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  2. ^ Useted, Tom (February 18, 2010). "Jackie DeShannon: Jackie DeShannon, Me About You / To Be Free, New Arrangement". PopMatters. Retrieved May 3, 2014. It's hard to approach this album without focusing on the presence of "Bette Davis Eyes", which, issued forth from the tortured larynx of Kim Carnes, became one of the defining new-wave records.
  3. ^ "80s classics that should be remade". Archived from the original on February 23, 2015.. Virgin Media.
  4. ^ Doyle, Tom (March 2005). "Mylo". Sound on Sound. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  5. ^ Cad, Saint (October 14, 2012). "10 More Famous Songs With Unknown Originals". Listverse. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  6. ^ Deming, Mark. "Jackie DeShannon – New Arrangement". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Top 100 Hits for 1981". The Longbored Surfer. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Kim Carnes – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Bronson, Fred (1992). Billboard Book of Number One Hits (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Billboard Publications, Inc. p. 543. ISBN 0-8230-8298-9.
  10. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  11. ^ "Legendary Producer Val Garay". Ustream. November 27, 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  12. ^ Jackson, Blair. "Classic Tracks: Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes"". Archived from the original on July 13, 2014.. Mix.
  13. ^ "The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs (20-11)". Archived from the original on September 13, 2008.. Billboard.
  14. ^ "80sonVEVO GAMV Takeover Week 9 w/ FEATURED VIDEO Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes"". March 20, 2013. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  15. ^ Sullivan, Steve (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. 2. Scarecrow Press. p. 418. ISBN 978-0-8108-8296-6.
  16. ^ Bette Davis Eyes (US 7-inch Single liner notes). Kim Carnes. EMI. 1981. 006-86 359.
  17. ^ Bette Davis Eyes (US 12-inch Maxi Single liner notes). Kim Carnes. EMI. 1986. 052-86 359.
  18. ^ "Australia No. 1 hits -- 1980's". World Charts. Archived from the original on January 9, 2017. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  19. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  20. ^ "Ultratop.be – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  21. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 0354." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  22. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0337." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  23. ^ "Toutes les Chansons N° 1 des Années 80's" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  24. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  25. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Bette Davis Eyes". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  26. ^ (in Italian) "Singoli – I numeri uno (1959–2006) (parte 3: 1980–1990)". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.. It-charts.150m.com.
  27. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  28. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  29. ^ "Charts.nz – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  30. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". VG-lista. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  31. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (C)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  32. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  33. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". Singles Top 100. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  34. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  35. ^ "Kim Carnes Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved July 22, 2012.
  36. ^ "Kim Carnes Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  37. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending MAY 30, 1981". Archived from the original on September 18, 2012.. Cash Box magazine.
  38. ^ "Kim Carnes Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  39. ^ "Record World Singles" (PDF). Record World. June 6, 1981. p. 29. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  40. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes 2002" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  41. ^ "Danishcharts.com – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". Tracklisten. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  42. ^ "Tedenska lestvica" (in Slovenian). SloTop50. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  43. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  44. ^ "Jahreshitparade 1981" (in German). Austriancharts.at. Hung Medien. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  45. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1981" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  46. ^ "Top 100 Singles of 1981". RPM. Vol. 35 no. 22. December 26, 1981. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  47. ^ "TOP – 1981" (in French). Top-france.fr. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  48. ^ "I singoli più venduti del 1981" (in Italian). Hit Parade Italia. Creative Commons. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  49. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1981". Rock.co.za. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  50. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1981" (in German). Hitparade.ch. Hung Medien. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  51. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1981". Archived from the original on September 18, 2012.. Cash Box.
  52. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary". Billboard. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  53. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". Music Canada.
  54. ^ "Les Singles / Titres Certifiés "Platine"" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  55. ^ "Les Meilleures Ventes "Tout Temps" de 45 T. / Singles / Téléchargement" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  56. ^ "Italian single certifications – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana.
  57. ^ "British single certifications – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Bette Davis Eyes in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  58. ^ "American single certifications – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]