I guess the mid-paced slog of a rhythm which dominates “Every Breath You Take” is meant to suggest its narrator’s implacability – the unresting patience of a stalker. Rock is a generally lively medium though and it takes some craft to build a “classic song” out of stony resolution, so credit to Sting and crew for that much at least. It must have been quickly obvious that “Every Breath” was going to be with us for a lifetime, a grey new fixture in the hall of fame.
A shame, though, because I’ve always found it a horrible chore to listen to. It’s cold, unsympathetic, the simplicity of its lyric and clockwork guitar picking has a water torture effect, and even when it rouses from its torpor for the “Can’t you seeeee” segment there’s Sting’s flattened-out moan to contend with. The only part that works for me is the barked anger of “Since you’ve gone…” and that’s not worth hearing the rest for. Yes, the song elegantly achieves the intensity and menace it’s going for, but at the expense of most of what I normally appreciate in pop music.