This is the fourth and final Hall & Oates entry in this countdown, joining I Can’t Go For That (No. 100), You Make My Dreams Come True (69) and Maneater (46).
So what earns the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame duo the distinction of joining Madonna as the only four-timers (to this point) on the MoranAlytics countdown? Well among (many) reasons, we’ll start with one of the most memorable, handclap-driven musical choruses of the 80s, if not any decade.
Private eyes (clap). They’re watching you (clap clap). They see your every move.
Whether it’s when Private Eyes first debuted in September of 1981 or at the club last night, there’s a 0.0% chance you’re hearing this song and not singing (and clapping) loudly to the legendary chorus.
In a 1985 interview with Rolling Stone, Darryl Hall pulled no punches, claiming Hall & Oates was much like the band largely perceived as the best in music history.
“I think we’re the ’80s Beatles,” Hall said to the magazine. “If we had been born 20 years earlier, maybe the world would have seen that. There’s something about our personalities that is very Lennon and McCartneyesque. And there is something about the body of work that we both have that’s similar.”
Hall may have been pushing it with his magazine quote, but there’s no denying how innovative they sounded. In my opinion, Hall and Oates were the bar when it came to pop hits of the era. They had 20 top 20 hits, including six number-ones. Of those, Private Eyes was my favorite.
I’m actually thinking this tune’s a bit low here. Between I Can’t Go For That and this, I’m reasonably confident I’ll be reflecting at this countdown with my biggest regret being both songs didn’t rank higher.
Chart Success: Private Eyes reached number-one on the Billboard Hot 100. It spent 23 weeks on the charts and finished 1981 ranked 44th on the year-end Billboard Hot 100.
Great Lyrics: There were four co-writers on the song: Hall, Sara Allen (his girlfriend in a relationship that lasted 30 years), Janna Allen and Warren Pash.
“You play with words you play with love
You can twist it around baby that ain’t enough
‘Cause girl I’m gonna know
If you’re letting me in or letting me go
Don’t lie when you’re hurting inside
‘Cause you can’t escape my”
Fun Facts: From Songfacts.com: “The song title came from the 1980 movie The Private Eyes, starring Don Knots and Tim Conway as bumbling detectives. Warren Pash, a musician who was trying to make it in Los Angeles, was working on a song called “I Need You To Need Me,” but he didn’t like that title. He was driving on Ventura Boulevard when he saw the movie billboard, turned back home, and wrote the song with a new title and chorus: “Private Eyes.”. Not surprisingly, the video for the song featured Hall and Oates dressed up as detectives.
100. Hall & Oates – I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)
99. Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgetting
97. The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Does Is Magic
96. Madonna – Papa Don’t Preach
94. Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time
93. Kenny Loggins – Danger Zone
92. Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes
89. Journey – Don’t Stop Believing
87. Debbie Gibson – Foolish Beat
86. Glen Mederios – Nothing’s Going To Change My Love For You
85. John Cougar – Jack and Diane
81. Billy Squier – Everybody Wants You
79. Shelia E. – The Glamorous Life
77. Whitney Houston – Greatest Love Of All
76. Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson – Say Say Say
75. Flock of Seagulls – I Ran (So Far Away)
74. Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It
73. Musical Youth – Pass The Dutchie
72. The Police – Every Breathe You Take
71. Survivor – The Search Is Over
70. REO Speedwagon – Keep On Loving You
68. Bobby Brown – Don’t Be Cruel
67. Kenny Loggins – Meet Me Halfway
66. Irene Cara – Flashdance…What A Feeling
65. Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It
64. Phil Collins – One More Night
63. Europe – The Final Countdown
62. Patrick Swazye – She’s Like The Wind
61. Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride
60. Men Without Hats – Safety Dance
59. Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
58. Huey Lewis & The News – Power Of Love
55. Styx – Too Much Time On My Hands
53. Olivia Newton John – Physical
49. Marvin Gaye- Sexual Healing
48. Huey Lewis & The News – Do You Believe In Love
44. New Edition – Mr. Telephone Man
43. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA
42. Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World
41. Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody
39. Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark
38. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
37. Christopher Cross – Sailing
34. Foreigner – I Want To Know What Love Is
33. Pat Benatar – Love Is A Battlefield
32. USA For Africa- We Are The World
30. Kenny Loggins – I’m Free (Heaven Helps The Man)
29. Dexys Midnite Runners – Come On Eileen
28. J. Giels Band – Centerfold