Bette Davis Eyes

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"Bette Davis Eyes"
Kim Carnes BDE.jpg
Single by Kim Carnes
from the album Mistaken Identity
B-side"Miss You Tonite"
ReleasedMarch 1981
Genre
Length3:48
LabelEMI America
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Val Garay
Kim Carnes singles chronology
"Cry Like a Baby"
(1980)
"Bette Davis Eyes"
(1981)
"Draw of the Cards"
(1981)
Music video
"Bette Davis Eyes" on YouTube
Audio sample

"Bette Davis Eyes" is a song written and composed by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon in 1974. It was originally recorded by the latter in that year but was made popular by American singer Kim Carnes in 1981 when it spent nine non-consecutive weeks on top of the US Billboard Hot 100. The song was #1 for five weeks but was interrupted for one week by the "Stars on 45 Medley" before it returned to the top spot for another four weeks and became Billboard's biggest hit of the year.[5] The single also reached No. 5 on Billboard's Top Tracks charts and No. 26 on the Dance charts.[6] It was also a No. 1 hit in 21 countries[7] and peaked at No. 10 in the United Kingdom,[8] to date her only Top 40 hit in that country. It also reached No. 2 in Canada for twelve consecutive weeks, and was the No. 2 hit of 1981 in that country.[9][10]

The song won the Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year; it also ranked at No. 12 on Billboard's list of the Top 100 songs in the first 50 years of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[11]

Cleopatra Records released a re-recording of the song as a single in 2007.

This song is written in the key of F major.[12]

Background[edit]

Bette Davis in 1931

The song was written in 1974 by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon, the latter of whom recorded the song that same year on her album New Arrangement.[13] In this original incarnation, the track is performed in an 'R&B lite' arrangement,[1] featuring a prominent uptempo piano part, as well as flourishes of pedal steel guitar and horns.[14] However, it was not until March 1981,[15] when Kim Carnes recorded her version of the song in a radically different synthesizer-based arrangement, that "Bette Davis Eyes" became a commercial success.

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.[16] 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.[17]

Actress Bette Davis was 73 years old at this time, and wrote letters to Carnes, Weiss, and DeShannon to thank all three of them for making her "a part of modern times" and that her grandson now looked up to her. After their Grammy wins, Davis sent them roses as well.[7]

Music video[edit]

The video was directed by Australian film director Russell Mulcahy.[18]

Track listing and formats[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Gwyneth Paltrow version[edit]

American actress Gwyneth Paltrow recorded a cover of "Bette Davis Eyes" that was included on the soundtrack to the 2000 road trip film Duets.[60] It was released as a single in Australia on March 26, 2001,[61] debuting and peaking at number three on the ARIA Singles Chart on April 8, 2001.[62] It spent nine weeks in the top 10.[62] Paltrow's cover ended 2001 at number 35 on Australia's year-end chart and earned a platinum certification from the Australian Recording Industry Association for shipments exceeding 70,000 units.[63]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Greenwald, Matthew. "Bette Davis Eyes – Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  2. ^ Useted, Tom (February 18, 2010). "Jackie DeShannon: Jackie DeShannon, Me About You / To Be Free, New Arrangement". PopMatters. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 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.
  3. ^ "80s classics that should be remade". Virgin Media. Archived from the original on February 23, 2015.
  4. ^ Doyle, Tom (March 2005). "Mylo". Sound on Sound. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Top 100 Hits for 1981". The Longbored Surfer. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Kim Carnes – Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Bronson, Fred (1992). Billboard Book of Number One Hits (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Billboard Publications, Inc. p. 543. ISBN 0-8230-8298-9.
  8. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0337." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  10. ^ a b "Top 100 Singles of 1981". RPM. Vol. 35 no. 22. December 26, 1981. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  11. ^ "The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs (20-11)". Billboard. Archived from the original on September 13, 2008.
  12. ^ "Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes – Digital Sheet Music". Musicnotes. Alfred Publishing. 23 August 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  13. ^ Cad, Saint (October 14, 2012). "10 More Famous Songs with Unknown Originals". Listverse. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  14. ^ Deming, Mark. "Jackie DeShannon – New Arrangement". AllMusic. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  15. ^ a b "Austriancharts.at – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  16. ^ "Legendary Producer Val Garay". Ustream. November 27, 2012. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  17. ^ Jackson, Blair. "Classic Tracks: Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes"". Mix. Archived from the original on July 13, 2014.
  18. ^ "80sonVEVO GAMV Takeover Week 9 w/ FEATURED VIDEO Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes"". March 20, 2013. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  19. ^ Bette Davis Eyes (US 7-inch Single liner notes). Kim Carnes. EMI. 1981. 006-86 359.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  20. ^ Bette Davis Eyes (US 12-inch Maxi Single liner notes). Kim Carnes. EMI. 1986. 052-86 359.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  21. ^ "Australia No. 1 hits -- 1980's". World Charts. Archived from the original on January 9, 2017. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
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  23. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 0354." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
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  25. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Bette Davis Eyes". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  26. ^ "Singoli – I numeri uno (1959–2006) (parte 3: 1980–1990)". It-charts.150m.com (in Italian). Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
  27. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 24, 1981" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  28. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  29. ^ "Charts.nz – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  30. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". VG-lista. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  31. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (C)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  32. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  33. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". Singles Top 100. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  34. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
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  37. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending MAY 30, 1981". Cash Box. Archived from the original on September 18, 2012.
  38. ^ "Kim Carnes Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  39. ^ "Record World Singles" (PDF). Record World. June 6, 1981. p. 29. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  40. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  41. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes 2002" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  42. ^ "Danishcharts.com – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". Tracklisten. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  43. ^ "Tedenska lestvica" (in Slovenian). SloTop50. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
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  53. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary". Billboard. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  54. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". Music Canada.
  55. ^ "Les Singles / Titres Certifiés "Platine"". InfoDisc (in French). Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  56. ^ "Les Meilleures Ventes "Tout Temps" de 45 T. / Singles / Téléchargement". InfoDisc (in French). Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  57. ^ "Italian single certifications – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Select "2014" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Bette Davis Eyes" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  58. ^ "British single certifications – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". British Phonographic Industry.
  59. ^ "American single certifications – Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  60. ^ Phares, Heather. "Original Soundtrack – Duets [Original Soundtrack]". AllMusic. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  61. ^ "New Releases Singles – Week Commencing 26th March 2001" (PDF). ARIA. March 26, 2001. p. 24. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 23, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  62. ^ a b "Australian-charts.com – Gwyneth Paltrow – Bette Davis Eyes". Australian-charts.com. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  63. ^ "2001 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved June 26, 2020.

External links[edit]