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Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Song "Hungry Eyes" Sung by Eric Carmen

The music producer of the movie Dirty Dancing when it was made in 1986-1987 was Jimmy Ienner. About 15 years earlier, during the early 1970s, Ienner produced the albums of (among several others) two bands:

* Franke and the Knockouts, the lead singer of which was Franke Previte.

* The Raspberries, the lead singer of which was Eric Carmen.

When the producers of Dirty Dancing hired Ienner to produce the movie's music, he hired Previte to write the song "Hungry Eyes" and then hired Carmen to sing it.


The song was written to accompany a scene in which Baby Houseman learns to look steadily into the eyes of her partner Johnny Castle as they dance. The following video shows the entire scene.

The lyrics:
I've been meaning to tell you:
I've got this feeling that won't subside.
I look at you and I fantasize:
You're mine tonight.

Now I've got you in my sights
With these hungry eyes.
One look at you,
And I can't disguise
I've got hungry eyes.

I feel the magic between you and I.
I want to hold you, so hear me out:
I want to show you what love's all about,
Darling, tonight.

I feel the magic between you and I
With these hungry eyes.
Now I've got you in my sights
With these hungry eyes.

Now did I take you by surprise?
I need you to see
That you were meant for me.
Ironically, the scene begins with Johnny telling Baby to close her eyes so that she can concentrate on rhythm, by feeling his heartbeat. Later, however, after she has learned the dance's rhythm, he uses a hand gesture (at 1:40 in this video) to signal her to look into his eyes as they dance. As she masters the dance, she does look into his eyes steadily (beginning at 2:45). The scene ends, however, with them yelling and staring at each other angrily.


The lyrics do not indicate the singer's sex. The song can be sung by a man or by a woman with equal sensibility. In the following video, the song is sung beautifully by Anke Rittweger.

"Hungry Eyes" is a good duet song for male-female couples to sing.

A duet performance of the song in Dirty Dancing would have made great sense, because both characters gazed into each other's eyes as they danced.


Since the song in the movie is sung by one male -- not by a female or by a duet -- the audience understands that the scene depicts the male gaze. The Wikipedia article about the male gaze includes the following passages:
The male gaze is the way in which the visual arts and literature depict the world and women from a masculine point of view, presenting women as objects of male pleasure. The male gaze consists of three perspectives:

* that of the person behind the camera,

* that of the characters within the representation or film itself, and

* that of the spectator.

The concept was first developed by feminist film critic Laura Mulvey in her 1975 essay entitled "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema". Mulvey posits that gender power asymmetry is a controlling force in cinema and constructed for the pleasure of the male viewer, which is deeply rooted in patriarchal ideologies and discourses. The concept has subsequently been prominent in feminist film theory, media studies, as well as communications and cultural studies. This term can also be linked to models of voyeurism ... and narcissism.

The male gaze occurs when the camera puts the audience into the perspective of a heterosexual man. It may linger over the curves of a woman's body, for instance. The woman is usually displayed on two different levels: as an erotic object both for the characters within the film and for the spectator who is watching the film. The man emerges as the dominant power within the created film fantasy. The woman is passive to the active gaze from the man. .... In mainstream cinema, the male gaze typically takes precedence over the female gaze ....

.... The female gaze is the same as the male gaze. This means that women look at themselves through the eyes of men. .... A woman who welcomes an objectifying gaze may be simply conforming to norms established to benefit men, thereby reinforcing the power of the gaze to reduce a recipient to an object. Welcoming such objectification may be viewed as akin to exhibitionism.

From the male perspective, a man possesses the gaze because he is a man, whereas a woman has the gaze only when she assumes the male gazer role — when she objectifies others by gazing at them like a man. ....
In a previous article in my blog, I quoted a long passage from an article titled Dirty Dancing, Feminism and the Female Gaze. Here is a key excerpt:
.... It [Dirty Dancing] is also one of the few examples of a film that employs the female gaze. Throughout Dirty Dancing , and very much contrary to the rom-com [romantic-comedy] standard, Patrick Swayze’s working class dancer is presented as the “sexy one”. He takes centre stage as the object of lust and desire. Jennifer Grey stands at the sidelines ogling him, and along with her, the audience.

It’s no wonder that Dirty Dancing inspires near-mythic allegiance among women of a certain age. It may be the only film we’ve ever seen in which the male love interest is the one placed squarely in the centre of the frame to be admired for his physical prowess. Ostensibly, films in the romance genre are always “for women” but it’s rare that the male lead is objectified in the way Swayze is here.
Although Dirty Dancing supposedly "employs the female gaze", this scene is accompanied by a male singer who expresses the male gaze and results in the movie audience perceiving mainly the male gaze.


Susan Walsh, in her excellent blog Hooking Up Smart, published an article titled Women as the Object of Desire, which argues that the male gaze is much more important than the female gaze in heterosexual relationships.
.... Women continue to strongly prefer male leadership in dating. We believe that it is our job is to inspire the male to initiate. Instead of asking a guy out, we objectify ourselves – we wish to be perceived as an “object of desire.” Of course, we can refuse to play along with traditional gender roles and expectations. But then we risk winding up with men who also don’t play along, leading to a female-dominated relationship. Most women want to avoid that.

Researchers Bogaert and Brotto have studied the theory of the Object of Desire Self-Consciousness, the perception that one is romantically and sexually desirable in another person’s eyes. Though this concept plays an important role in the mating activities in both sexes, “object of desire self-consciousness plays a particularly important role in heterosexual women’s sexual/romantic functioning and desires.”

Men are far less likely to view themselves in this way, perhaps because they understand that women are less visual and select mates based on the additional criteria of social behavior and resources/status. ...

According to the researchers, women’s mating goals are best served by their being as attractive as possible to as many men as possible. Object of Desire Self-Consciousness is ascertained over a lifetime of processing information that gives us a sense of our mate value. We are socialized from the earliest age to overtly appeal to men, and we spend a great deal of time and resources on maximizing our physical appeal.

“It is to a woman’s advantage to stimulate as much sexual desire as possible from potential male suitors because this “demand” for her (as a sexual partner) raises her “price” in the sexual marketplace and ultimately determines what she can expect from men (in terms of resources) in return. ....

We tune in carefully to cues of male attraction. Researchers have found that female sexual fantasies are heavily oriented towards being gazed at and wanted by males. The most common theme is that women imagine being “a beautiful object of desire.” In fact, looking at the sexual fantasies of both men and women, the only “illegal” activity women regularly fantasized about was exposing themselves while men watched them.

Another common theme in women’s fantasies is that of being the victim. In this context, the man is unable to resist the woman and overpowers her. It is her irresistibility that appeals to her and arouses her.

Women report that how they feel about their own bodies plays a larger role in their sexual arousal than the appearance of their partner’s body. When they feel attractive enough to inspire desire, that desire is their source of arousal. This explains why women sexually tease men – it increases male desire. ...

Women [do not seem to] have a preference for, or are particularly turned on by, seeing their partner’s body. Thus viewing a man’s bodily features (e.g., his genitals) may have limited appeal for a woman during a sexual episode.

…However, seeing a man’s erection may have some sex appeal to a woman indirectly, because it shows her that he is aroused (to her). ... The context of the erection (“He is turned on by me”) may be more important than viewing the erect penis in and of itself.

In contrast, men’s interest/arousal in women’s bodies (e.g., breasts, buttocks) while engaging in sexual activity (or not) are likely much more independent of the context in which those displays of body parts are occurring: they are turn-ons in and of themselves.”

When women feel sexy, what they are really saying is that they have successfully inspired desire. “Sexy” is the adjective that indicates the ability – and intention – to produce feelings of sexual desire in others. Men rarely describe themselves in these terms.

“When a person says, “I am feeling sexy,” it is often as if he or she is saying “I am feeling sexually attractive, and am therefore feeling sexual.”

They perceive themselves as a (potential) sexual object of desire in other’s eyes, and this is a turn-on. ....
Walsh's article is followed by more than 100 comments from her women readers.


The decision to assign the song "Hungry Eyes" to one male singer was made by the movie's movie producer, Jimmy Ienner. This male-gaze decision was allowed by the movie's female producer, Linda Gottlieb, and screenwriter, Eleanor Bergstein. The Wikipedia article about Dirty Dancing tells how Ienner took over the movie's music production during the rehearsals.
Rehearsals for the dancing, and some filming, used music from Bergstein's personal collection of gramophone records. When it came time to select actual music for the film, [the production company] Vestron chose Jimmy Ienner as music supervisor.

Ienner, who had previously produced albums and songs for John Lennon and Three Dog Night, opted to stick with much of the music that had already been used during filming and obtained licenses for the songs from Bergstein's collection. He also enlisted Swayze to sing the new song "She's Like the Wind". ...
The "songs from Bergstein's collection" being used in the movie's rehearsals were the old, classic period pieces -- "Be My Baby", "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Do You Love Me", "Wipe-Out", "Hey, Baby", "Love is Strange", "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", "Love Man" and so forth.

The only song in Bergstein's collection that seems to express a female gaze -- an admiration for male physical beauty -- is "Be My Baby", which includes these lyrics:
Oh, since the day I saw you,
I have been waiting for you.
You know I will adore you
Until eternity.
The song does express a female's love at first sight, but the admiration is indirect. Mostly, the song "Be My Baby" expresses the woman's desire to hug and kiss a man -- more exactly, to hug and kiss a "baby". The female singer declares: "I'll never let you go" and "for every kiss you give me, I'll give you three".

Even "Be My Baby" expresses primarily the female singer's desire for the male gaze in the opening verse:
... So won't you say you love me,
I'll make you so proud of me.
We'll make them turn their heads
Every place we go.
In other words, the female singer is aroused by her anticipation that her own beauty, when she will be accompanied by her new boyfriend, will cause other people to turn their heads and admire her.

As an example of the male gaze in Bergstein's collection of songs, "Hey, Baby" expresses clearly male admiration for female beauty:
When I saw you walking down the street
I said that's a kind of girl I'd like to meet
She's so pretty, Lord she's fine ...
Like most females, Bergstein liked to listen to men sing songs that express the male gaze. Of course, there are nice songs in which women express the female gaze, but that expression is simply less compelling for men and women alike.


In the "Hungry Eyes" scene, Baby is for a while posed in front of Johnny, so that only her body is seen fully for the male gaze.

Baby exposed to the audience's male gaze
in the movie "Dirty Dancing"
In another part of the scene, Baby and Penny dance together. There are two women and one man. The women are gazing at each other while the man is gazing at the two women. Neither of the women is gazing at the man.

Three gazing characters -- two females and one male -- in "Dirty Dancing".
Nobody is gazing at the male.

When Ienner joined the filming during rehearsals, he arranged to buy the rights to include Bergstein's beloved old records, but he also commissioned several new songs  -- the most famous of which are "Hungry Eyes", "She's Like the Wind" and "The Time of My Life".

In particular importance for my article here, Ienner commissioned Franke Previte to write "Hungry Eyes" and then commissioned Eric Carmen to sing it. Although the producer and screenwriter were women -- Linda Gottlieb and Eleanor Bergstein -- I suppose that neither of them or anyone else suggested that "Hungry Eyes" should be sung by a woman or by a man-woman duet. Everyone involved in the production went along reflexively with Ienner's decision that the song "Hungry Eyes" should express the male gaze.


Jimmy Ienner knew the singer Eric Carmen from the early 1970s, when Ienner managed Carmen's band The Raspberries. The Wikipedia article about The Raspberries includes these passages:
The Raspberries were an American pop rock band formed in 1970 from Cleveland, Ohio. They had a run of success in the early 1970s music scene with their pop sound, which Allmusic later described as featuring "exquisitely crafted melodies and achingly gorgeous harmonies."

The members were known for their clean-cut public image, with short-hair and matching suits, which brought them teenybopper attention as well as scorn from some mainstream media outlets as "uncool".

.... In both the U.S. and the UK, the Raspberries helped pioneer the "power pop" music style that took off after the group disbanded ....

The group's "classic" lineup consisted of Eric Carmen (vocalist/guitarist/bassist), Wally Bryson (guitarist), Jim Bonfanti (drummer), and Dave Smalley (guitarist/bassist). Their best known songs include "Go All the Way", "Let's Pretend", "I Wanna Be with You", "Tonight", and "Overnight Sensation ".

 Producer Jimmy Ienner was responsible for all four of the Raspberries' albums in the 1970s. The group broke up in 1975 after a five-year run, and Eric Carmen proceeded to a successful career as a solo artist.
Lead singer Eric Carmen is on the bottom right 
The Wikipedia article continues:
The group's style arose from a variety of rock and roll groups that the members loved, especially The Who. Carmen later said: "[The Who's lead singer] Pete Townshend coined the phrase [power pop] to define what the Who did." ....

The Raspberries wore matching ensembles on stage. The group was criticized for making its stage entrance in tuxedos and large bouffant hairdos which, according to Carmen, "complemented the style of our music".

"Go All the Way" peaked at #5 in the U.S. in October 1972, sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. .... After two albums, Raspberries and Fresh, both released in 1972, creative tension came to a head sparked largely by Carmen's creative dominance (and commercial success) .... The band broke up in April 1975.
After the Raspberries broke up, Carmen became a solo artist.

Eric Carmen's first solo album
The following video shows a medley of songs and photographs of The Raspberries:

The following video shows the Raspberries, with Carmen as the lead singer, performing their top song "Going All the Way " on television in 1974.

The lyrics of the song "Going All the Way":
I never knew how complete love could be
'Til she kissed me and said:

"Baby, please, go all the way.
"It feels so right
"Being with you here tonight.
"Please, go all the way.
"Just hold me close.
"Don't ever let me go."

I couldn't say what I wanted to say
'Til she whispered, "I love you".

Before her love
I was cruel and mean.
I had a hole in the place
Where my heart should have been.

But now I've changed,
And it feels so strange.
I come alive when she does
All those things to me.

When Ienner produced the four Raspberries albums during the years 1972-1974, he himself was 27-29 years old. As a young man, Ienner went on to produce albums for many other musicians. The Wikipedia article about Ienner includes the following passages.
.... Ienner went to Stamford (Connecticut) High School and graduated in 1963. .... While still in high school, Ienner formed and sang with the Barons. They charted with a tune titled "Pledge of a Fool" on the Epic label.

Ienner and his brother Don Ienner founded the publishing house C.A.M. U.S.A., which operated from 1972 to 1977. C.A.M. U.S.A. was a publishing, management and production company which represented such artists as Three Dog Night, Grand Funk Railroad, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Air Supply, Raspberries, and Eric Carmen.

Jimmy Ienner is a producer, advisor, publisher and consultant. He was the key music producer for the 1987 film Dirty Dancing and co-executive produced the soundtrack with Bob Feiden. .... Ienner was also executive producer for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack album ....

He has been awarded 85 gold and platinum albums, multiple Grammys and two Oscars, including one for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, which remains one of the top selling albums of all time. He also worked on the soundtrack albums for The Big Chill, White Men Can’t Jump, and Sister Act.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ienner was president of Millennium Records, which produced albums for several musicians. Perhaps the most famous of the Millennium musicians was Don McLean, who wrote and sang "American Pie".

One of Millennium's bands was Franke and the Knockouts, the lead singer of which was Franke Previte. When Ienner was hired into the production of Dirty Dancing, he commissioned Previte to write the song "Hungry Eyes". I will write about Previte in my future article about another Dirty Dancing song, "Time of My Life".

Also receiving credit for writing "Hungry Eyes" was John DeNicola but I have not been able to find information about his particular contribution.


As mentioned above, Eric Carmen considers himself to sing mostly in the genre of power pop. The Wikipedia article about that genre includes the following passages.
Power pop is a pop rock music subgenre that draws its inspiration from 1960s British and American rock music. It typically incorporates a combination of musical devices such as strong melodies, clear vocals and crisp vocal harmonies, economical arrangements and prominent guitar riffs. Instrumental solos are usually kept to a minimum, and blues elements are largely downplayed.

Power pop is a more aggressive form of pop rock that is based on catchy, melodic hooks and energetic moods. Author John M. Borack stated in his book Shake Some Action – The Ultimate Guide to Power Pop that the genre has often been applied to varied groups and artists with "blissful indifference" noting labeling of the genre to Britney Spears, Green Day, the Bay City Rollers and Def Leppard.

The origins of power pop date back to the early-to-mid 1960's with what AllMusic calls: "a cross between the crunching hard rock of the Who and the sweet melodicism of the Beatles and the Beach Boys, with the ringing guitars of the Byrds thrown in for good measure". According to The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, the sub-genre's key influences came from British Invasion bands, particularly the Merseybeat sound first popularised by the Beatles and its "jangly guitars, pleasant melodies, immaculate vocal harmonies, and a general air of teenage innocence".

It was Pete Townshend, of the English rock band the Who, that coined the term "power pop" in a 1967 interview in which he said: "Power pop is what we play — what the Small Faces used to play, and the kind of pop the Beach Boys played in the days of 'Fun, Fun, Fun' which I preferred." The Small Faces are often cited as being among the progenitors of power pop. ...

Although the formative influences on the genre were primarily British, the bands that developed and codified power pop in the 1970s were nearly all American. The Raspberries' 1972 hit single "Go All The Way" is an almost perfect embodiment of the elements of power pop and that group's four albums can be considered strongly representative of the genre.
I suppose that the song "Hungry Eyes" in Dirty Dancing is a good example of power pop.


The following video shows Carmen singing "Hungry Eyes" in concert in 1988.

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