Private Eyes (song)

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"Private Eyes"
Side-A label of the U. S. 7-inch vinyl single
Single by Hall & Oates
from the album Private Eyes
B-side "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)
Released August 29, 1981
Format 7" vinyl
Genre Pop rock
Length 3:29
Label RCA
Writer(s) Daryl Hall, Sara Allen, Janna Allen and Warren Pash
Producer(s) Daryl Hall, John Oates, Neil Kernon
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Hall & Oates singles chronology
"You Make My Dreams"
"Private Eyes"
"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)"

"Private Eyes" is a 1981 single by Hall & Oates and the title track from their album of that year. 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 in turn succeeded by another single from Hall and Oates, "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)."

Background and writing[edit]

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."[1]

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.

Music video[edit]

The music video featured the band dressed as detectives and was the first to feature the backup band of guitarist G. E. Smith, bassist Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, drummer Mickey Curry, and saxophone/keyboardist Charles DeChant.


In popular culture[edit]

The song is performed by Ken Marino, portraying private investigator Vinnie Van Lowe, in the Veronica Mars episode "Kanes and Abel's."[2]

There was a popular reworking of this classic at Rockness 2010, performed by the Shire Sect and was appropriately renamed "Scanty Eyes", to encourage the practice of scanting, in particular, towards mothers on Valentine's Day.

The Disney Channel ran a DTV music video of the song, set mostly to clips from the Goofy cartoon short How to Be a Detective.

Captain Kangaroo in the early '80's had a puppet vignette of the song.

On the August 13, 2007 episode of WWE Raw, John "Bradshaw" Layfield and Michael Cole dressed up as Hall & Oates and sang versions of "Private Eyes" and "Rich Girl."

In episode 3.16 of Psych, An Evening with Mr. Yang, Detective Lassiter is shown singing along to the song playing on his iPod. USA Network later parodied the original music video to "Private Eyes" in a promo for the television series.

In the television series Chuck, the titular character included the song in his stakeout mix.

In the film Knight and Day, the song is being played on a stereo system in a safehouse of a fugitive who is an inventor who is a fan of the duo, who later sports a vintage pin.

It was made available to download on January 10, 2012 for play in Rock Band 3 Basic and PRO mode utilizing real guitar / bass guitar, and MIDI compatible electronic drum kits / keyboards plus vocal harmonies.


In 1998, Towa Tei (one of the founding members of Deee-Lite) did a cover of this song on his "Sound Museum" solo album. The Bossa Nova flavored song featured Bebel Gilberto on vocals.[3]

In 2010, The Bird and the Bee covered the song for their tribute album Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates.

In 2012, Joel Dickinson remixed the song for club play for a new generation adding electro touches and an all-new drum arrangement. However, the signature claps were kept and used to great effect throughout the mix.

In 2016, Dear Rouge covered the song for the Private Eyes (TV series) as its theme song.

Chart performance[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" by Christopher Cross
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
November 7, 1981 - November 21, 1981
Succeeded by
"Physical" by Olivia Newton-John