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Top 10 The Police Songs

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Aaron Cameron. Formed in 1977 in London, England, The Police was a rock band that came to critical and commercial success by incorporating new wave, post-punk and reggae to their sound. Thanks to a reunion tour in the late 2000s, the band is one of the most financially successful acts ever as well. For this list, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 songs by The Police. Special thanks to our users Leo Logan, billthecat2011, Alex Guzman, BlackAkrav and Franklin MacKellar for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Aaron Cameron.

No one minds when these musically talented coppers crash a party. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 songs by The Police.

For this list, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs.

#10: “Can’t Stand Losing You”
Outlandos d’Amour (1978)

Although openly about teen suicide, this reggae-infused track was actually banned by the BBC because of the single’s sleeve... which happens to feature a hanged Stewart Copeland. While it was the first Police song to chart, it initially stalled at #42. A subsequent re-release hit #2 but was held from the top spot by the Boomtown Rats “I Don’t Like Mondays”, which ironically is about a teen school shooting. Grim stuff, but at least Sting’s glasses are fun, right?

#9: “Synchronicity II”
Synchronicity (1983)

Perhaps The Police at their Stingy-est, this track embodies the essence of Carl Jung’s synchronicity theory and is partially inspired by the Yeats poem “The Second Coming.” On a simpler level, it is about an emasculated and humiliated husband, and the Loch Ness Monster, which is still pretty Sting-y. The track and the more synth-based “Synchronicity I” bookend side 1 of the original vinyl album, which would prove to be the band’s final studio offering.

#8: “So Lonely”
Outlandos d’Amour (1978)

As with our #10 entry, this track was not a chart smash when first released. However, when it was re-released, it topped out at #6 in the UK, owing to the band’s increasing popularity. Like many early Police singles, the song jarringly melds punk and reggae and has been described by Sting as being a near copy of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry.” Due to Sting’s accented singing voice, “So Lonely”’s title has been misheard through the years as “chipotle,” “salami,” “Sigourney,” and our personal favourite, “zamboni.”

#7: “Walking on the Moon”
Reggatta de Blanc (1979)

Proving that a song doesn’t have to be relate-able to be a hit, Sting claims to have been inspired to write this track following a schnapps drinking session with German avant-garde composer Eberhard Schoener. The riff, the bassist says, then just popped into his head along with the lyric “walking around the room” which he thought was “stupid” but could be stupider – and hence the title it’s now known under. Sting’s pessimism aside, “Walking on the Moon” became the band’s second UK #1 but did not chart in the U.S. - despite its video being shot at the Kennedy Space Center.

#6: “King of Pain”
Synchronicity (1983)

Written by Sting following a separation from his then-wife, this bleak soundscape is both un-reggae and notably un-punk. It sees Sting throw in every metaphor for pain and despair that he can - and he knows quite a few by the looks and sounds of it. Influenced by Carl Jung and novelist Arthur Koestler, Sting wrote “King of Pain” while staying at GoldenEye, the Jamaican estate of James Bond creator Ian Fleming. While the song only hit #17 in the UK, it topped the Billboard Top Tracks chart and scored a #3 on the Hot 100.

#5: “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”
Ghost in the Machine (1981)

Despite its Caribbean flavor and that the rest of the parent album was recorded in Montserrat, this classic was actually recorded in Morin Heights, Quebec using a studio favored by Canadian prog rock band Rush. While it is home to a line Sting has reused in his solo career, it was actually written prior to his joining the band. While it is refreshingly jolly, we’re not sure that calling anyone “a 1000 times a day” is really necessary.

#4: “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”
Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

Never a band to shy away from highbrow topics, on this upbeat tune, The Police center on the building lust and attraction between a young female student and a male teacher. While Sting, then known as Mr. Sumner, was an English teacher prior to The Police, the bassist maintains the song is not about himself - which is not surprising. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” later earned Sting a co-credit when he reused part of the melody for his backing vocal on Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing.”

#3: “Message in a Bottle”
Reggatta de Blanc (1979)

Despite its solid reggae rock and new wave sound, Sting has claimed that the melody for this classic and its use of ninth chords was inspired by Gregorian chants and plainsong. Yeah, we don’t hear it either. While the song may have only just cracked the Hot 100 in the U.S., it does have the honor of being the band’s first UK #1 and has been cited a favorite by both Sting and guitarist Andy Summers.

#2: “Roxanne”
Outlandos d’Amour (1978)

While now regarded as one of the band’s best, this was a slow burning hit when first released, and even the band members themselves were indifferent to it. However, manager and drummer Stewart Copeland’s brother Miles felt otherwise and used the recording to secure a major label recording contract. Although it comes across as The Police’s standard blend of reggae and rock, it is technically a tango and began life as a bossa nova. How different things might have been...

Before we unveil our top pick here are a few honorable mentions.
- “Invisible Sun”
Ghost in the Machine (1981)
- “Wrapped Around Your Finger”
Synchronicity (1983)
- “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da”
Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)
- “I Burn for You”
“Brimstone and Treacle” soundtrack (1982)
- “Voices Inside My Head”
Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

#1: “Every Breath You Take”
Synchronicity (1983)

Taking our top spot is one of the most misunderstood songs of all time. While often thought of as a love song, and even played at weddings, it’s actually anything but. Cold, creepy and at times paranoid, “Every Breath You Take” is omnipresent and ever-surveying. A #1 in many countries including the UK, the U.S., and Canada, the Synchronicity single has been dismissed by Sting as being “generic” but with interesting lyrics. Clearly, the rest of the world didn’t agree. With its new wave vibe and Grammy wins, this one stalker song continues to generate as much as 33% of The Police frontman’s publishing earnings and remains their signature tune.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite song by The Police? For more entertaining top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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