"Every Breath You Take" is a song by The Police on the band's 1983 album Synchronicity, written by Sting and Andy Summers (but officially credited to Sting only). The single entered the charts at position 36 on 4 June 1983. The single was one of the biggest hits of 1983, topping the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for eight weeks and the UK Singles Chart for four weeks. It also topped the Billboard Top Tracks chart for nine weeks.
At the 1984 Grammy Awards Sting won Song of the Year and The Police won Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for "Every Breath You Take", while it was also nominated for Record of the Year. The song ranked No. 84 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and No. 25 on Billboard's Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs. This song is considered to be The Police's signature song, and in 2010 was estimated to generate between a quarter and a third of Sting's music publishing income
The lyrics are the words of a character of dubious nature, who is watching "every breath you take; every move you make".
Sting later said he was disconcerted by how many people think the song is more positive than it is. He insists it's about the obsession with a lost lover, the jealousy and surveillance that follow. "One couple told me 'Oh we love that song; it was the main song played at our wedding!' I thought, 'Well, good luck.'" When asked why he appears angry in the music video Sting told BBC Radio 2, "I think the song is very, very sinister and ugly and people have actually misinterpreted it as being a gentle, little love song."I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn't realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.
According to the Back to Mono box-set book, "Every Breath You Take" is influenced by a Gene Pitney song titled "Every Breath I Take". The song's structure is a variation on the Classical rondo form with its AABACABA structure, a form rarely found in modern popular music.
The demo of the song was recorded in an eight track suite in North London's Utopia studios and featured Sting singing over a Hammond organ. While recording, Summers came up with a guitar part inspired by Béla Bartók that would later become a trademark lick, and played it straight through in one take. He was asked to put guitar onto a simple backing track of bass, drums, and a single vocal, with Sting offering no directive beyond "make it your own."
The recording process was fraught with difficulties as personal tensions between the band members, particularly Sting and Stewart Copeland, came to the fore. Producer Hugh Padgham claimed that by the time of the recording sessions, Sting and Copeland "hated each other", with verbal and physical fights in the studio common. The tensions almost led to the recording sessions being cancelled until a meeting involving the band and the group's manager, Miles Copeland (Stewart's brother), resulted in an agreement to continue. The drum track was largely created through separate overdubs of each percussive instrument, with the main backbeat created by simultaneously playing a snare and a gong drum. Keyboard parts were added from Roland guitar synthesisers, a Prophet-5 and an Oberheim synthesiser. The single-note piano in the middle eight was recommended by Padgham, inspired by similar work that he had done with the group XTC.
The song had a music video (directed by duo Godley & Creme) that was praised for its black-and-white cinematography. Both MTV (1999) and VH1 (2002) named it as one of the best music videos ever, placing it 16th and 33rd in their respective top 100 lists. Daniel Pearl won the first MTV cinematography award for his work on the video