While the 1982 Gap Band hit "You Dropped A Bomb On Me" comes close, no song uses wartime imagery to describe heartbreak quite like "Love Is A Battlefield." The song was written by Mike Chapman and Holly Knight. Chapman was an established songwriter and producer, while Knight was a former member of the bands Device and Spider, and was just starting to write songs, something she proved very good at. In our interview with Holly Knight, she said: "I was at his house, I was just starting to write with him, and Pat Benatar called up and said, 'Mike, I would love for you to write me a song. I'm doing an album, will you write me a hit, please?' And he goes, 'Well, I'm here with one of my writers, Holly Knight, and we were just going to sit down and write. So we'll write something for you.' So he hung up, and I started playing the chords to 'Love Is A Battlefield.' He said, 'That's so great, I love that, keep doing that.' He says, 'Now, what we really need' – and this is something I learned from him - 'This song is very catchy, very commercial, let's write something really, really weird on top of it. That'll make it special. And it'll be that much better.' I said, 'Oh, I like it.' He says, 'We're going to write something really sick, like…' and he just spit out 'Love is a battlefield,' as an example. I said, 'Well, that works for me.' And we wrote that song. It was just like free association."
Knight and Chapman wrote this song as more of a ballad, and they were surprised to hear what Benatar did with it. Says Knight: "When Mike and I first heard it we were horrified, we hated it, because it was so different. But then it became such a huge hit, and we had to step out and say, You know, they did a very good rendering of it, and that's how it was meant to be. There's lots of ways you can hear that song, and they're all good."
Pat Benatar married her guitarist Neil Giraldo in 1982, and he has been her producer ever since. It was Giraldo who decided to make this an uptempo song. He told us: "If I hear a song, whether we write it or somebody else did, as soon as I hear it, I hear it finished, the way I hear it in the studio. I hear from beginning to end - I know exactly what it's going to be. And the best example of that probably is 'Love Is a Battlefield.' That was a song written very slow, very methodical, boring, like 'We... are... young... heartache... to... heartache...' I mean, it was really slow. (Laughing) As soon as I heard it, I went, 'I don't understand why this song would be so slow.' I just heard it done in the uptempo thing.
When I did it, and Mike (Chapman) heard it - and I love Mike, he's done so much for me in my life. He's one of the people that I owe everything to, because he's the guy that put all this stuff together for me - but when he heard it, he just went crazy. He goes, 'I don't want you to have the song anymore. I hate it. I hate what you've done. It's horrible. I can't listen to it. It's horrible.' And then it went to #5, and he goes, 'I think it's great!' (Laughs).
It was difficult for the record company to hear it, too. Because when they heard it, they went, 'What are you doing? What is this drum machine thing you did? Why did you create this weird loop? Why did you do this? It's horrible. What are you doing? I'm not going to release it. It's wrong.' I go, 'No, it ain't wrong. Song's a hit, I'm telling you. Leave it the way it is.' I battled with them and battled with them, and eventually they said yes. And they came around to it, too. But think of it if it was me, where I wrote the song and I gave it to somebody, and I had a vision of what it was and they totally destroyed that thing. I would have said the same thing Mike did. I would have went, 'What the hell are you doing? You ruined my song. What would you do that for?' But it's one of those things. When you have a great song or a great arrangement that all works, sometimes it takes a little time to kind of grow on you. And then when it does, you don't get bored. You listen and you go, 'Wow, this is great. I'm really happy I did.'"
Brooke White sang this on American Idol in 2008 in a slow version that was a big hit with the judges. Says Knight: "The way she did it is really how it was originally done. It's not that she changed it, she just tapped into the vibe that it was supposed to be. The song was never meant to be a fast upbeat shuffle. And I'm not knocking what Benatar did, because she did a classic version, which I ended up loving."
The music video got a great deal of airplay on MTV at a time when all they did was show videos. It contains some very '80s fashion and was one of the first videos to incorporate dialogue into the song to progress the storyline, which was Benatar running away from home and trying to make it on her own (strange that she was still living with her parents at age 30, but she did look young for her age). The video, which was directed by Bob Giraldi, also contained a group dance sequence, predating Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, which emerged later in 1983. Benatar was out of her element, as dancing is not her thing, but she pulled off the moves admirably and helped create a very memorable scene.
Neil Giraldo got the drum sound on this track with a LinnDrum machine, which was one of the first units that used real drum samples rather than synthesized sounds. He had just gotten the unit and was playing around with it when he came up with the sound.
In 2009, Jordin Sparks paid a certain homage to this song on her track "Battlefield," where she sings: "Why does love always feel like a battlefield."
This song plays a big role in the 2004 movie 13 Going on 30, where "love is a battlefield" is Jennifer Garner's mantra. Garner, who becomes a 13-year-old from the '80s transformed into a 30-year-old, sings it with some young girls she is helping to learn about love.
Check out the bass line on this track. Benatar's bass player, Roger Capps, says it's his favorite. Capps, who co-wrote "Hell Is For Children," played on the album, but left the band before it was released.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 4th, 1983 "Love Is A Battlefield" by Pat Benatar peaked at #5 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on September 24th at position #78 and stayed on the Top 100 for 18 weeks... On October 16th, 1983 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart... And on February 13th, 1984 it also reached #1 (for 5 weeks) on the Australian Kent Music Report chart... Ms. Benatar, born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski, will celebrate her 61st birthday next month on January 10th, 2014.
Jeff from Austin, TxThat pimp in the video played a huge role in my childhood. My dad wasn't around much, and that pimp played a major "father" role in my life. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for that pimp.
Bunhyung from Poland, Me"The music video got a great deal of airplay on MTV at a time when all they did was show videos."
Yeah, it was Music TV, now its just crap
Tom from Dozier, Al I liked what she did with song lyrics: she pushed them to the max, wringing everything she could out of a song. When I think about 80's hits, Pat Benatar always comes to mind.