Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.
For someone who exuded so much snarl and toughness (“Hit Me with Your Best Shot”), you’d think Pat Benatar’s model was Joan Jett, say, or Suzi Quatro. Actually, it was hearing Liza Minnelli that inspired Benatar to give up her day job and give the music business her best shot. And a pretty impressive shot it was: Benatar enters the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this week.
Her timing was as striking as her voice. The singer’s rise coincided perfectly with the era of MTV. In fact, Benatar’s “You Better Run” was the first video by a solo artist that the channel ever played. True, she was well on her way to fame and fortune with her pre-MTV releases–she was already a radio star, in other words. But Benatar had the physicality, the charisma, and the work ethic to take full advantage of the new format.
We are looking at “Love is a Battlefield,” one of the singer’s best sellers. Unlike “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” her very best seller, Benatar is still willing to sing “Battlefield” today. The song also represents a pivot away from her early hard rock sound towards softer and more atmospheric material. In the ’90s she would shift gears again, to a blues and R’n’B focus.
While Benatar wrote some of her own hits, “Battlefield” wasn’t one of them. Holly Knight and Mike Chapman get the writing credit. Knight wrote another of Benatar’s hits, “Invincible,” as well as great material for Tina Turner, Bonnie Tyler, and others. Chapman, for his part, is famous mostly as a producer, most notably on the “Chinnichap” recordings of the ’70s and the breakthrough Blondie records. He also produced Benatar’s first album and at least one of her later recordings.
“Battlefield” may not be Benatar’s most popular song, but it’s by far the most covered song in her catalog. We found a few versions that standout from the field. Of these…