Song: “Maniac” by Michael Sembello
Reached #1: September 10, 1983 (his first, 2 weeks)
Michael Sembello’s one hit, “Maniac”, was indeed inspired by a film. Just not the one you’re thinking of.
He wrote the song in 1980 after seeing the low-budget horror film Maniac. The song was about a male… well… serial killer.
Sembello’s producer, Phil Ramone, suggested the song might go over better if it were about something other than a serial killer, so Sembello reworked it into a song about a female dance “maniac”.
But it wouldn’t have made it into Flashdance if Sembello’s wife hadn’t sent an unsolicited copy of the song to Paramount Pictures when she heard about the movie.
Thing is, it’s not just “Maniac” that was a one-hit wonder. Other than producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, this was pretty much the high-water mark for the movie careers for everyone involved. Sembello has spent 30 years chasing another hit. Jennifer Beals has been a busy actress, but nothing since Flashdance has quite been as big of a hit. Michael Nouri’s been a successful TV actor as well. As I’ve mentioned before, Cynthia Rhodes went on to marry Richard Marx, and has retired. Irene Cara’s “Flashdance… What A Feeling” was her biggest hit. Liz Sagal is most famous for having a better-known older sister (Married With Children’s Katey) – she’s a writer now.
Of course, Simpson/Bruckheimer simply took the Flashdance concept to a military picture and wound up with Top Gun. So they did OK. But for everyone else… I guess the feeling they got from Flashdance is… wistful?
Tomorrow, a band that took its name from a mass transit line, which promptly took offense. They probably wish they hadn’t.
Other songs that reached #1 on September 10:
1966 – “You Can’t Hurry Love” by the Supremes (their seventh, 2 weeks)
1988 – “Sweet Child O’Mine” by Guns’n’Roses (their first, 2 weeks)
2011 – “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera (their second, 4 weeks)