I posted a birthday tribute to Pat Benatar a week or so ago, and one of my Instagram friends left a comment which I think perfectly sums up Pat’s appeal: My broken record phrase for her always is “She kicks your ass with just the sound of her voice and the look in her eyes.” I’ve been on a Pat Benatar fix since she got nominated. As a gay boy in the 80s, her badassery and don’t mess with me attitude gave me the strength to carry on.
“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” (which became Pat’s first top 10 hit) is a (very cleverly written) love song. Pat’s facing up to a guy who’s a “real tough cookie with a long history of breaking little hearts like the one in me” and then asking him to take his best crack. She knows she can stand up to him and invites him to get in his punches. We all (hopefully) know that this is metaphorical. But that wonder of a voice is so fucking tough, you get the idea that even if she was speaking of literal punches, she’d shrug this guy off and then hit him back twice as hard. Pat, Joan Jett and Jo from The Facts of Life were style guides for a lot of ladies in the ‘80s who were done with your shit, setting the tone for just about everyone else whose followed in the decades since.