Music industry insiders are still baffled as to why Kim Carnes did not become a huge, lasting international star. She had top management (Ken Kragen, when he had Kenny Rogers at his peak); a Top 10 duet with Rogers called "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer;" and she had written songs with husband Dave Ellingson for Rogers, Big Mama Thorton, and others. When her sixth album, 1981's Mistaken Identity, hit the top of the charts on the strength of her hit single "Bette Davis Eyes," most people thought she was on the way to superstardom. Although she saw considerable chart and concert success through the 1980s, she never made the breakthrough to A-level status, despite the fact that she was doing duets with the likes of Barbara Streisand.
"Bette Davis Eyes" was immediately gobbled up by radio programmers as one of the hottest tracks of 1981. It sat in the Top 10 for nearly nine weeks. She could have been destined to become what Tina Turner became three years later, but it never happened. Some point to Carnes' raspy, Rod Stewart sound-alike vocals, while others feel that the material after Mistaken Identity just didn't come close to that superior record.