Looking For Clues

Album: Clues (1980)
Charted: 33
Play Video


  • Palmer's fourth single, this has a mid-1960's sound to it. It kept Palmer's career momentum going, and gave him exposure on the fledgling MTV network, which was launched in 1981. He had a clever video prepared for the song that played well at the time. The clip was aired on MTV's first day of broadcasting. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Santa Barbara, CA
  • The singer in this one is confused and confounded by the girl. All he can do is look for clues to help him out with the relationship.
  • This song contains a rare xylophone solo. In the video, Palmer does a digitally enhanced dance on the instrument - something that would appear in similar form as part of the 1988 Tom Hanks movie Big.
  • This was probably the only song in UK chart history to spend five consecutive weeks at #33 - it never rose any higher.
  • Influenced by new wave and synthpop, the album was a success with European audiences, particularly with the younger listeners Palmer was trying to attract, but it didn't fare as well in the US. "The technology was so primitive that you spent most of the time behind the machines with a screwdriver," he told Q magazine in 1988. "But it did give you a simplicity of form. In America, that record was regarded as inaccessible and avant-garde when it came out."
  • This was used in the 2007 movie Nancy Drew, starring Emma Roberts.
  • The music video premiered on August 1, 1981, MTV's first day of broadcasting. It was #23 in the lineup, following Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight."

Comments: 4

  • Thomas Leonard from Pittsburgh, Pa, PaPalmer would refer to this song's video as his "Sesame Street" phase during interviews in the late 80s. Though the song had only minor success in the US the video clip would become one of his most memorable behind the trilogy of "Palmer Girls" videos for Addicted To Love, I Didn't Mean To Turn You On, & Simply Irresistible.
  • Drew from B\'ham, AlA story line not too far removed from that in Genesis' "That's All". A failing relationship that is next to impossible to sort out. Only in this one is it being even remotely sorted out.
  • Andy from B'ham, AlMid '60s? It sounds a lot more like mid to late '70s to me!
    In this hit Robert Palmer makes an astounding Billy Idol impression. Like in "White Wedding" Idol uses a bass voice which sounds almost identical to Palmer's voice in "Looking For Clues".
  • Reuben from Amsterdam, NetherlandsFrom the album in which Palmer switched to synthesizer sound, with the help of Gary Numan for instance.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Famous Singers' First Films

Famous Singers' First FilmsSong Writing

A look at the good (Diana Ross, Eminem), the bad (Madonna, Bob Dylan) and the peculiar (David Bowie, Michael Jackson) film debuts of superstar singers.

Song Titles That Inspired Movies

Song Titles That Inspired MoviesSong Writing

Famous songs that lent their titles - and in some cases storylines - to movies.

Don Felder

Don FelderSongwriter Interviews

Don breaks down "Hotel California" and other songs he wrote as a member of the Eagles. Now we know where the "warm smell of colitas" came from.

Dean Pitchford

Dean PitchfordSongwriter Interviews

Dean wrote the screenplay and lyrics to all the songs in Footloose. His other hits include "Fame" and "All The Man That I Need."

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

Incongruent Opening Acts

Incongruent Opening ActsSong Writing

Here's what happens when an opening act is really out of place with the headliner, like when Beastie Boys opened for Madonna.