Private Eyes (song)

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"Private Eyes"
Side-A label of the US 7-inch vinyl single
Single by Daryl Hall & John Oates
from the album Private Eyes
  • "Tell Me What You Want" (US, Canada, UK, South Africa, Spain)
  • "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" (Italy, Bolivia)
  • "Head Above Water" (Italy promo single)
ReleasedAugust 1981
StudioElectric Lady Studios (New York City)
Length3:29 (album version)
3:09 (UK Mix)
LabelRCA Records
Songwriter(s)Warren Pash, Sara Allen, Janna Allen, and Daryl Hall.
Producer(s)Daryl Hall, John Oates, Neil Kernon
Daryl Hall & John Oates singles chronology
"You Make My Dreams"
"Private Eyes"
"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)"
Music video
"Private Eyes" on YouTube

"Private Eyes" is a 1981 single by American duo Daryl Hall & John Oates and the title track from their album of the same name. The song was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for two weeks, from November 7 through November 20, 1981. This single was the band's third of six number one hits (the first two being "Rich Girl" and "Kiss on My List"), and their second number one hit of the 1980s. It was succeeded in the number one position by Olivia Newton-John's "Physical," which was coincidentally succeeded by another single from Hall & Oates, "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)".

Background and writing[edit]

The tune for Private Eyes was written by Warren Pash[3] and Janna Allen, with arrangement and chords by Daryl Hall. In an interview with American Songwriter, Daryl Hall states: "That's a real Janna Allen (co-writer and sister of Sara Allen) song. Janna, and I, and Warren Pash wrote that. Warren and Janna wrote most of the song, and I took it and changed it around – changed the chords. Sandy (Sara Allen) and I wrote the lyrics. It's a real family song, the Allen sisters and me."[4]

The single carries a similar rhythm to the duo's number one hit from earlier that year, "Kiss on My List," with the difference being a handclap chorus that has made the song an audience-participation favorite at live Hall and Oates shows. It was one of the duo's first songs to appear in heavy rotation on MTV.

Record World called it a "perfectly-crafted title cut" from the album.[5]

Music video[edit]

The music video features the band dressed as stereotypical film-noir style, trenchcoat-wearing private detectives.

It was the first to feature the backup band of guitarist G. E. Smith, bassist Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, drummer Mickey Curry, and saxophonist/keyboardist Charles DeChant.


Chart performance[edit]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[13] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[14] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Breihan, Tom (May 20, 2020). "The Number Ones: Hall & Oates' "Private Eyes"". Stereogum. Retrieved October 6, 2022.
  2. ^ Smith, Troy L. (13 May 2021). "Every No. 1 song of the 1980s ranked from worst to best". Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  3. ^ "SOCAN Awards Gala: A Night To Remember". FYI Music News, June 23, 2015
  4. ^ Sharp, Ken (2009-01-23). "HALL AND OATES: Soul Survivors « American Songwriter". Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  5. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. August 22, 1981. p. 1. Retrieved 2023-03-01.
  6. ^ "Daryl Hall & John Oates – Private Eyes". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  7. ^ "Daryl Hall & John Oates: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  8. ^ "Daryl Hall John Oates Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  9. ^ "Daryl Hall John Oates Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  10. ^ "Daryl Hall John Oates Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  11. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on 2012-10-20.
  12. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1982/Top 100 Songs of 1982". Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  13. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Hall & Oates – Private Eyes". Music Canada. Retrieved August 3, 2023.
  14. ^ "American single certifications – Hall & Oates – Private Eyes". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 3, 2023.