Nearly forty years after its release, “Every Breath You Take” remains the signature song for The Police. Even as a solo artist, Sting is probably still most closely associated with that song. In 2015, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named it one of the “Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.”
“Every Breath You Take” was the first single from the trio’s fifth and final studio album, Synchronicity. It topped the charts in countries all over the world. In the 1983 Rolling Stone critics’ and readers’ poll, it was voted “Song of the Year.” In the U.S., it was the best-selling single of 1983 and fifth-best-selling single of the decade. Billboard ranked it as the No. 1 song for 1983.
The video is also a classic. Shot it black and white, the rock band looks like a jazz combo performing the song in a darkened ballroom while a man washes a tall window behind them. In an interview with MTV, pop star Richard Marx said, “The first video I watched over and over was ‘Every Breath You Take’. It was like seeing a [Ingmar] Bergman film.”
Since its release, “Every Breath You Take” has been misinterpreted. It sounds like a love song, but it’s really about an obsessive stalker. According to Songfacts, Sting wrote it after separating from his first wife. Feel free to cringe the next time you hear it played at a wedding.