488. ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’, by The Police

Part IV of my ongoing campaign to enjoy The Police more

Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, by The Police (their 4th of five #1s)

1 week, 8th – 15th November 1981

I do really want to like their records, but there’s always something holding me back. Something about the production, the jaunty reggae rhythms, Sting’s voice… It just doesn’t work for me. Here, the punky edge from their late-seventies records, ‘Message in a Bottle’ in particular, has gone. In its place are synths, and a very MOR piano line.

All of The Police’s chart-toppers so far have centred on not getting what you want (‘Message…’) or what you want not lasting (‘Walking on the Moon’ and, at a stretch, ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’). ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’ falls into the former category. Sting wants to tell a girl all of the feelings he has for her, in his heart, but… alas.

What usually saves Police songs for me are the choruses. They sure could write a killer chorus. The verses might meander, and the fade-outs may be too long, but the choruses kick. Every little thing she does is magic, Everything she do just turn me on… Even though my life before was tragic, Now I know my love for her goes on… The lyrics may look clumsy when typed out, but it’s such an air-punching moment you don’t really notice.

The rest of the song, though? Meh. Something about the mix is quite stodgy, with the voices buried under the instruments. There’s the piano – unusual for a Police song – and African drums. A stripped-back, more guitar-based version would work better for me. But that’s just, like, my opinion. And it’s something I’ll have to get used to as the 1980s wear on: guitars taking much more of a back seat.

This record, the second single from the band’s fourth album, isn’t a giant departure from what went before, but it was different enough for guitarist Andy Summers to object, both to the piano and to the production. It’s definitely The Police’s poppiest #1. And the reason that Sting’s vocals sound so distant may be because the band played over a demo he had recorded months before. And I’m with Summers on this: something about it doesn’t quite click.

So. Four of The Police’s #1s down, one to go. Will the last one – still a year and a half away – finally be the Police song I can love? Well, actually, yes it will. Because their final chart-topper is a decade-defining classic. Until then, then…


8 thoughts on “488. ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’, by The Police

  1. Yeah, this is about the point where the Police start going towards a more mainstream sound to OK results here. The synth-pop and reggae styles sound good but agree it isn’t memorable or as catchy as their previous songs and the second half outro goes on longer than it should. But in America, this move worked out as it became their highest-charting hit yet in December ’81 at #3 behind the dominant top two songs that holiday season Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” at #1 and Foreigner’s “Waiting For A Girl Like You” at #2 with more big hits to come.

  2. I thought it was a bit overly commercial and much preferred the previous single Invisible Sun, which was dark and political, but its not a bad record as such. It peaked at 2 in my charts though, not the usual number one – theyd had 5 by then, cant stand losing you, message in a bottle, walking on the moon, dont stand so close and invisible sun 🙂

  3. I can fully see the point you’re making. It sounds like they felt they had been a bit too, er, political – doomy – realist on ‘Invisible Sun’, and were anxious to put out something more commercial to prove they were nice cuddly popsters after all, or something very close to it. However, it doesn’t move the Police, I’m afraid, out of my ‘worthy, deep, relevant, clever, admirable but ultimately hard to enjoy’ list of artists, even if it did help to prove that they had held on to the fanbase who gave them two consecutive No. 1 hits two years earlier, unlike the Boomtown Rats whose speedy fall from grace had been conspicuous.

    • I think it’s when records like this – 2nd singles from 4th albums – top the charts then you know a band has a fan-base and longevity. Especially when, as most people seem to agree, it’s far from their best song.

  4. I’m with you on the Police….not a huge fan. You are right again about choruses…this is a great chorus but that is 3/4 of the battle to a hit.
    I would rather see Sting in these early videos having fun…more than later ones where he apparently believed everything good written about him…

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