Pat Benatar was a rapidly emerging rock star by the fall of 1980. The powerhouse singer's first album, In the Heat of the Night, climbed to #12 on the Billboard album charts, and produced FM radio hits "Heartbreaker" and "We Live for Love."
Benatar really kicked it up with the release of sophomore album, Crimes of Passion, in August 1980. Lead single "You Better Run" was still burning up the rock radio airwaves when the singer dropped the album's second single, "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," on September 15, 1980.
The high-energy tune rocked up the charts to crash the top 10 of the Hot 100, peaking at #9 for the week of December 20, 1980. The #1 song in America that week: Kenny Rogers' "Lady."
While the track helped establish Benatar as a presence to be reckoned with in the world of rock, it's not exactly a favorite of the singer or her guitarist-husband, Neil Giraldo.
"I try to find something new inside the song to do either by the guitar or keyboards or vocal, anything," the guitarist told Songfacts about performing live. "I try to make it different in a way. I may go, 'Ooh, I like what I did on this one tonight.' So they always change. Even a song like 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot,' which is one of the ones I hate the most. But some nights I'll go, Wow, I did something different and I really like that. That was my favorite song to play tonight."
For her part, Benatar is equally ambivalent about the song's lyrics, which were penned by songwriter Eddie Schwartz after a "pillow punching" therapy session: "There's very few songs where I let lyrics go," Benatar explained to Songwriter Connection. "I mean, there's times when I let lyrics go because the rest of the song is fine. But, most of the time, I'm real meticulous with the lyrics because I gotta sing them. There were certain parts of that song ('Hit Me With Your Best Shot') that I liked, but most of it that I've sort of outgrown. I mean, it's so hard to sing, 'you're a real tough cookie.'
How did Benatar even hear the song in the first place? "The story I heard was that Pat Benatar took a meeting in the office next door (to a studio where an engineer friend was playing the demo repeatedly)," Schwartz told Songfacts. "She heard it through the wall, got excited about it and that's how she heard 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot.'"