"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.
|"Bette Davis Eyes"|
|Single by Kim Carnes|
|from the album Mistaken Identity|
|B-side||"Miss You Tonight"|
|Kim Carnes singles chronology|
"Bette Davis Eyes"
The song was written in 1974 by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon. DeShannon recorded the song that same year on her album New Arrangement. In this original incarnation, the track is performed in an "R&B lite" arrangement, featuring a prominent uptempo piano part, as well as flourishes of pedal steel guitar and horns. 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. The single also reached No. 5 on Billboard's Top Tracks charts and No. 26 on the Dance charts. 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 and peaked at number 10 in the United Kingdom, 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. 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.
Actress 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.
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. Cleopatra Records released a re-recording of the song as a single in 2007.
The video starts 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.
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.
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.
The 24th Annual Grammy Awards were held on February 24, 1982, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, and were broadcast live on American television. The event recognized the accomplishments of musicians during the year 1981. Quincy Jones was the major recipient of awards with a total of five Grammys.The much coveted Album of the Year award went to Jack Douglas, John Lennon and Yoko Ono for Double Fantasy, and Song of the Year went to Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon for "Bette Davis Eyes".Being with You (song)
"Being with You" is a 1981 song recorded by American singer Smokey Robinson and is the title track from his Gold-certified album with the same name. The song spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Soul Singles chart from March to early May 1981 and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, behind "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes, his highest charting solo hit on the Billboard pop charts.
It hit No. 1 on the US Cash Box Top 100. The track was also a No. 1 hit in the UK Singles Chart in June 1981, becoming Robinson's second UK No. 1 single and his first as a solo artist.Very soon after Robinson's English single was released, Motown's subsidiary label Tamla released a Spanish version of the song under the title of "Aqui Con Tigo" (Tamla T 54325F), backed with a bilingual English/Spanish version.Chipmunk Rock
Chipmunk Rock is a children's album by Alvin and the Chipmunks featuring covers of various rock hits, mostly from the late 1970s and early 1980s, plus one original tune.
The album name and cover is a parody of Deep Purple's In Rock. The cover depicts a rock sculpture inspired by Mount Rushmore in which Alvin replaces Theodore Roosevelt while Simon and Theodore are seen on the ground.Crazy in the Night (Barking at Airplanes)
"Crazy in the Night (Barking at Airplanes)" is a 1985 hit single released from Kim Carnes's album Barking at Airplanes.
The single reached number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was the last time she would hit the Top 40 in her career; the track also reached number 24 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart.
The song also achieved some European chart success; in addition to giving Carnes a Top 3 hit in South Africa, her biggest since "Bette Davis Eyes" reached number one there in 1981.Donna Weiss
Donna Terry Weiss is an American singer and songwriter. She guested on Joe Cocker's album Mad Dogs and Englishmen and composed the song "Bette Davis Eyes" with Jackie DeShannon.Draw of the Cards
"Draw of the Cards" is a 1981 single release from Kim Carnes's Platinum-plus Mistaken Identity album.
The single reached #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1981.The music video was directed by Russell Mulcahy, who had also directed the video for "Bette Davis Eyes."
The song failed to match the chart success of its predecessor, "Bette Davis Eyes", stopping short of the Top 20 in many of the countries where her previous hit had reached pole position.Hold an Old Friend's Hand (song)
"Hold an Old Friend's Hand" is the title track to Tiffany's second album Hold an Old Friend's Hand. It was the third single released from the album. The song is a cover, originally performed by Brenda Patterson in 1973, and written by Donna Weiss (who co-wrote the song, "Bette Davis Eyes").In My Arms (Mylo song)
"In My Arms" is a dance track recorded by Mylo. The song appears on the album Destroy Rock & Roll and was released as a single in the UK in 2005. It contains samples from "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes, and "Waiting for a Star to Fall" by Boy Meets Girl.Kim Carnes
Kim Carnes (born July 20, 1945) is an American singer-songwriter. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, she began her career as a songwriter in the 1960s, writing for other artists while performing in local clubs and working as a session background singer with the famed Waters sisters (featured in the documentary, 20 Feet from Stardom). After she signed her first publishing deal with Jimmy Bowen, she released her debut album Rest on Me in 1972. Carnes' self-titled second album primarily contained self-penned songs, including her first charting single "You're a Part of Me", which reached No. 35 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in 1975. In the following year, Carnes released Sailin', which featured "Love Comes from Unexpected Places". The song won the American Song Festival and the award for Best Composition at the Tokyo Song Festival in 1976.
In her breakthrough year, 1980, Carnes was commissioned by Kenny Rogers to co-write the songs for his concept album Gideon (1980), and their duet from that album, "Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer," hit No. 4 on Billboard Hot 100, and earned the duo a Grammy Award nomination. Later that year, her cover of Smokey Robinson's "More Love," from the album Romance Dance (1980), hit No. 10. The following year, Carnes released Mistaken Identity, which featured the worldwide hit, "Bette Davis Eyes." This became the best-selling single of the year in the United States, spending nine weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, going Gold, and won the Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Mistaken Identity went to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, was certified Platinum, and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
Carnes also saw success with the singles "Draw of the Cards (No. 28)," "Does It Make You Remember (No. 36)," "Crazy in the Night (Barking at Airplanes) (No. 15)," "Make No Mistake, He's Mine (No. 51)," with Barbra Streisand, "What About Me? (No. 15)," with Kenny Rogers and James Ingram, "I'll Be Here Where the Heart Is," from the Flashdance soundtrack, and the Grammy Award nominated singles "Voyeur (No. 29)" and "Invisible Hands (No. 40)." Her other successes as a songwriter include co-writing the No. 1 duet "The Heart Won't Lie" with Donna Weiss (who had co-written "Bette Davis Eyes" with Jackie DeShannon), which was recorded by Vince Gill and Reba McEntire.
Her distinctive raspy vocal style has drawn comparisons to Rod Stewart. Her most recent studio album is Chasin' Wild Trains (2004). As of 2017, Carnes was residing in Nashville, Tennessee, where she continues to write music.Kim Carnes discography
American singer-songwriter Kim Carnes has released 13 studio albums, one live album, five compilation albums, and 48 singles (including seven as a featured artist). She signed with Amos Records in 1971 and released her debut album Rest on Me in the same year. Her self-titled second album was released in the following year. Kim Carnes yielded one single, "You're a Part of Me", which became Carnes' first charting title. The song reached number 32 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. None of Carnes's albums charted until the release of her fifth studio album Romance Dance (1980). The album peaked at number 57 on the Billboard 200, number 77 on the Canadian Albums Chart and number 89 on the Australian Albums Chart. Romance Dance produced two singles, one of which—the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles cover "More Love"—made the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.Carnes' success peaked with the release of Mistaken Identity (1981), which reached number one on the Billboard 200, and certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album's lead single "Bette Davis Eyes" was an international success, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and in several other countries. Carnes' follow-up album Voyeur saw moderate success, with the title track reaching the top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in Australia.The singer released three more albums, Café Racers (1983), Barking at Airplanes (1985) and Light House (1986), before failing to chart on the Billboard 200 again. The most successful single releases from these albums were "Invisible Hands", "You Make My Heart Beat Faster (and That's All That Matters)" and "Crazy in the Night (Barking at Airplanes)", which peaked at numbers 40, 54 and 15, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100. Carnes permanently relocated to Nashville after the release of View from the House (1988); its lead single, "Crazy in Love", reached number 13 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Her last two albums, Checkin' Out the Ghosts (1991) and Chasin' Wild Trains (2004), failed to chart worldwide.List of Cash Box Top 100 number-one singles of 1981
These are the number-one hits on the Top 100 Singles chart in 1981 as published by Cash Box magazine.List of number-one singles of 1981 (France)
This is a list of the French Singles & Airplay Chart Reviews number-ones of 1981.Mistaken Identity (Kim Carnes album)
Mistaken Identity is the sixth studio album by American singer Kim Carnes. It was released in April 1981 by EMI America Records. It was one of 1981's biggest albums and produced Billboard's number-one song for the entire year, "Bette Davis Eyes". It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
The album spent four weeks at number one on the Billboard 200, and was subsequently certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album spawned three singles, "Bette Davis Eyes", "Draw of the Cards" and the title track, which peaked at numbers one, 28 and 60 on the Billboard Hot 100, respectively.
The Mistaken Identity Tour found Carnes at the peak of success, selling out arenas and large venues.New Arrangement
New Arrangement is an album by Jackie DeShannon, released by Columbia Records (PC 33500) in 1975. It contains the first recording of "Bette Davis Eyes", written by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon in 1974 and covered by Kim Carnes on the album Mistaken Identity (1981). Another song, "Boat to Sail," that features Brian Wilson and then-wife Marilyn singing backing vocals, was covered by The Carpenters in their 1976 album A Kind of Hush.
Robert Christgau wrote about New Arrangement: "As an American songwriter who has escaped the confessional mode, and as a woman who can sing about subjects other than men, DeShannon exemplifies several healthy trends. The main thing this well-made record reveals, however, is an intelligent professionalism that matters about as much as a surge in enrollment in creative writing classes or women's liberation for female executives."Oh Sherrie
"Oh Sherrie" is a song written by American singer Steve Perry, Randy Goodrum, Craig Krampf, and Bill Cuomo. It was recorded and
released on Perry's Street Talk album in 1984, his first solo album which he released while still a member of Journey. The song is often regarded as an "honorary" Journey song, being credited to the band on several hit compilation albums and in other media, largely due to its resemblance to the band's trademark sound, as well as their performances of the song on the Raised on Radio Tour, which proved to be Perry's live swansong with the band. The song is written in F major.
The song was Perry's biggest hit as a solo artist and written for his then-girlfriend Sherrie Swafford, who also appeared in the music video. The song hit number three on the pop chart and number one on the rock chart in the United States, partly aided in its success by a music video released to promote the song, which received heavy airplay on MTV.
Two of the song's co-writers and supporting musicians, Bill Cuomo and Craig Krampf, earlier performed on Kim Carnes' signature song "Bette Davis Eyes" in 1981. Cuomo, who performed the keyboard riff on "Oh Sherrie," was the musician responsible for the keyboard riff on "Bette Davis Eyes", and Krampf was the drummer on Bette Davis Eyes while Larrie Londin was the drummer for Oh Sherrie. Cuomo, Krampf and Perry had started composing the song at approximately midnight with little more than the simple chorus of "Oh Sherrie" and "Hold on, hold on" plus a few simple sounds. Sherrie Swafford had been in the room with them initially, but had gone to sleep because of the late hour.Romance Dance
Romance Dance is the fifth studio album by Kim Carnes, released in June, 1980 (see 1980 in music). It followed Carnes' recent duet hit with Kenny Rogers, "Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer".
The album spawned two singles, "More Love" and "Cry Like a Baby", which peaked at #10 and #44 on Billboard magazine's Pop Singles chart, respectively.
It was soon overshadowed by her next album, Mistaken Identity, released the following year and containing her biggest hit, "Bette Davis Eyes".
The album was produced by George Tobin in association with Mike Piccirillo.
George Tobin would become the manager and producer of teen star Tiffany later in the 1980s.Val Garay
Val Garay (born May 9, 1942 in San Francisco, California) is a record producer and engineer who has worked with Kim Carnes, The Motels, Mr. Big, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Burdon, Dolly Parton, Pablo Cruise, James Taylor, Queensrÿche, Neil Diamond, Dramarama, EZO, Ringo Starr, Linda Ronstadt, Sarah Brightman, Nicolette Larson, Kenny Rogers, Santana, Reel Big Fish, Joan Armatrading, Katrina, and others.
In 1982 he shared a Grammy Award for Record of the Year with Kim Carnes, for "Bette Davis Eyes". He has received numerous entertainment industry awards and additional Grammy nominations, including Best Engineered Recording for his work on the James Taylor album JT and Linda Ronstadt's Simple Dreams, a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year for Kim Carnes' Mistaken Identity, a Grammy nomination for Producer of the Year, an Emmy nomination for Best Engineered Recording of a TV Special for Neil Diamond's I'm Glad You're Here With Me Tonight, as well as dozens of gold and platinum records.
In November 2010, he partnered with attorney George Woolverton to form Red Red Records, and he works with up-and-coming new artists as well as produces/engineers scores for motion picture and television projects.
Awards for "Bette Davis Eyes"
Billboard Year-End number one singles (1980–1999)