The Police: Why ‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da’… “isn’t trash”

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No. ‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da’ is not another absurd and simplistic pop song. It has been said that it was “stupid.” But its author, Sting, has been arguing for decades that “it’s not trash” and? people haven’t even bothered to listen to the lyrics which accompanies the baby babbling of the title and chorus. The Police leader was intrigued by songs like ‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy’, ‘Tutti Frutti’ or ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’. Why did they work so effectively?

What happened to Sir Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner with ‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da’, is the story of a frustrated and misunderstood composer. The track in question was included on The Police’s third album, ‘Zenyatta Mondatta’ (1980), which was recorded in three weeks in the Netherlands (for tax reasons) and was completed the night before the English trio embarked on a tour. And already in the Wisseloord studio, The song received the first reviews

Previously, to prepare the repertoire, Sting had gone to Ireland. There he rented a house and wrote about 20 songs, “some good, some bad, some indifferent,” he said in The Independent. “Andy and Stewart wrote many others…. And of courseevery song had to be treated as something sacredbecause Saying that someone else’s song was disgusting was like telling him that his girlfriend was ugly. So it was a unpleasant process‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da’, however, “It received a barrage of criticism, as if it were some kind of children’s song.”

Actually, there was something childish about it since the “phrase” ‘De Do Do Do…’ was from his son Joe (who was about 3 at the time). This is what he himself confessed: “The truth is that my son came with her. I have never paid him – so I will receive another possible lawsuit.” But actually, The message of the song was deeper, it had nothing to do with the nonsense of the title. After being published as the second single (the first was ‘Don’t stand so close to me’), in November 1980, Sting was disappointed with the criticism that attempted to ridicule his composition or emphasized the absurdity of the chorus and not in the stanzas that explained it. Since then, Gordon has been profuse in explanations.

The Police in concert in 1979

The Police in concert in 1979 / George Rose

Already in 1981, in an interview for NME, he said: “Almost everyone who has written a review (on ‘De Do Do Do…”) says ‘Oh, this is baby talk. They just listen to the chorus, obviously. But these are the same people who have probably never gotten past the first paragraph of Finnegans Wake (James Joyce’s experimental novel) because that is also ‘baby talk’. I know that sounds pretentious, but in this song “I was trying to say something that was really difficult.”

So what is that serious and important message that Sting wrapped with baby babbling? He explained it in NME: “The letter is about banality, about the abuse of words. Those people, the politicians, or even myself, we use words to manipulate people. It’s a very serious song, but since it’s by The Police, it’s considered trash.. Indeed, what we do It is not comparable to elitist cultural art; but I think that entertainment is art. AND I think my songs are quite elaborate, they are not garbage. ‘From Do Do Do’, was grossly misinterpreted.”

Years later, in 1988, he reaffirmed his argument in Rolling Stone: “I was trying to make an intellectual claim.” about how simple can be so powerful. In the song I try to explain that. But everyone says, ‘This is shit, a child’s game.’ Nobody heard the lyrics. Screw you! listen to the lyrics”.

Regardless of the misunderstanding, the single was a huge success. Spanish and Japanese versions were published. And more than a decade later, Sting was still lamenting: “God, “I have received a lot of criticism for that song.”he declared in Q magazine. The first thing to keep in mind is that it was a huge success on both sides of the Atlantic.” And he returned to the charge:I was intrigued why songs like ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’, ‘Doo Wah Diddy Diddy’, ‘Be Bop A Lula’, or ‘Tutti Frutti’ were so successful. I got the idea that they worked because they were totally innocent. They weren’t trying to tell you anything or distort your was just a sound. So In ‘De Do Do do’ I tried to intellectualize and analyze why they worked so effectively. Some people might think that The man who wrote ‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da’ is an asshole but… here I am”.


Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.