Pat Benatar released “Love Is a Battlefield” on October 12, 1983. It was the debut single from her first live album Live from Earth, of which this was one of two new studio recordings included on the album. (The other was “Lipstick Lies.”)
The song peaked at #5 on the Billboard 100 in December 1983 and is Benatar’s highest charting single in the U.S. “Love Is a Battlefield” wasn’t released in the U.K. until March 1985 and only reached #17 in the U.K. Singles Chart. Benatar went on win a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
“Love Is a Battlefield” was written by Mike Chapman (produced Blondie, the Knack, and Toni Basil’s “Mickey”) and Holly Knight (Animtion’s “Obsession,” Scandal feat. Patty Smyth’s “The Warrior,” and Tina Turner’s “Better Be Good to Me”).
Love Is a Battlefield [7″ Version] 4’00
Love Is a Battlefield [Album Version] 5’24
Love Is a Battlefield [Special Extended Remix/Extended Version] 6’51
The music video for “Love Is a Battlefield” was groundbreaking, at the time, and is rumored to be the first music video to feature spoken word. It starts out with Benatar dressed walking the streets of the city in a hooker outfit from an old Starsky & Hutch episode from the ‘70s. Next, she speaks and sings on a bus, followed by a flashback to her father giving her an ultimatum that if she leaves his house, don’t come back. Fortunately, Benatar sports a really big purse, which probably includes a night gown and her overnight kit, because you never know when your dad is going to kick you out of the house.
Pat goes to the big city where she walks the street a lot in her hooker outfit. Intercut with these shots, are some shots of her family missing her back home. Benatar does some dramatic finger-pointing, then heads to a dance hall, where she works as a taxi-dancer. Frankly, this doesn’t seem to be a good career choice because her enthusiasm about dancing with traveling salesmen seems perfunctory, at best. Still, she sports a collection of headbands and writes a letter to her brother, so there are some bright spots in her dreary life.
Of course, everything comes to a head when Rico, moonlighting from Barry Manilow’s “Copa Cabana,” harasses one of the other girls. Rico seems pretty pimpesque, to me, so I always felt that perhaps Pat and the girls ran a full-service car wash at the dance hall. Anyway, Pat has had enough. She and the rest of the girls put Rico in his place with a shimmy, making him clutch the bar in fear, then they dance off into the streets.
Pat passes out hugs, fist-bumps, and finger-pointing, as she says good-bye to her girls, then sashays off into the sunset, headband securely in place. The music video ends with Pat back on the bus, presumably to return home to her family, where no one will ever provoke her to wear leopard print or engage in dramatic finger-pointing.
How do I love Pat Benatar? Let me count the ways. From the time I was 14, my older sister, Vicki, would buy me the new Pat Benatar every Christmas, except Live from Earth, because I wasn’t fond of concert albums. I did, however, buy the 45 for “Love Is a Battlefield” and almost wore it out. It was a very different sound for her, almost more a dance hit than a rock song. I still remember Vicki and I laughing as we watched Pat shake hear cleavage in the dance sequence of the music video. Since Pat wasn’t a very “top heavy” girl, it seemed silly to us.
At the time the song was released, the press went on and one about how Benatar had made the music video to draw attention to the plight of teenage runaways. Since MTV was heavily censored in the ‘80s–we hadn’t yet earned the freedom to do tequila shooters of a fly girl’s g-stringed booty just yet–taxi-dancers were about as close as we got to prostitution on television. I do remember, however, some friends referring to some unfortunate teenagers that we knew by referencing this song. “You know, she ended up becoming one of those ‘Love Is a Battlefield’ girls.”
What are your memories of “Love Is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar?