Monday, November 9, 2020

Musical Monday - Maniac by Michael Sembello

#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: September 10, 1983 through September 17, 1983.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

I have noted before the pervasive influence that television and movies have on popular music, and to a certauin extent, the reverse is true as well. Maniac, from the sountrack of the movie Flashdance is yet another example of a movie pushing a song to the heights of popularity, and the music of a movie making the movie have cultural influence that vastly outweighs its actual performance as a movie.

Flashdance was a surprise success of a movie in 1983. No one expected it to do as well as it did, but the footprint it left on the culture outeighed anything that even its financial success would have predicted. Because of this movie, leg warmers and sweatshits with the neck cut out became ubiquitous fashions. The iconic "water drop" dance has been replicated, parodied, and paid tribute to countless times. "Welder-chic" briefly became a thing. And so on and so forth.

The weird thing is that even though the movie altered the cultural landscape of the decade, it did relatively little to help the careers of those who appeared in it. Jennifer Beales' career meandered aimlessly for a decade with roles in forgettable movies before having a couple of notable roles in the 1990s, and she finally settled in as a moderately successful television actress in the 2000s. None of the other actors had much of a boost to their careers. Michael Nouri's career also drifted from mediocre movie to mediocre movie. Cynthia Rhodes had a highlight in a secondary role in Dirty Dancing and a more prominent role in the Saturday Night Fever pseudo-sequel Staying Alive, but her career petered out after that (although, to be fair, that was in part because she married Richard Marx and started having children). Other than this song and the title track Flashdance . . . What a Feeling and Gloria, none of the other songs on the sountrack had significant chart success. None of the artists who appeared on the soundtrack got much of a career boost from it, and most of them, including Michael Sembello, saw their careers basically fizzle out shortly thereafter. Flashdance was a hit, and it pushed a couple of songs to the forefront of pop music for a bit but it appeared to have very little else in the way of coattails.

On a kind of unrelated note: Beals was not a dancer, despite being cast as the lead in a movie that was about a dancer working in a bar with other dancers who aspired to become a professional ballet dancer. As a result, most of the dance scenes in the movie, including the dance scenes in this video, were performed by a body double, mostly Marine Jahan, who was not credited in the movie. The only scenes in the video that are actually Beals are the close-ups of her face. Pretty mucyh everything else is Jahan. Flashdance doesn't really seem to have helped Jahan's career much either.

Previous Musical Monday: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics
Subsequent Musical Monday: Puttin' On the Ritz by Taco

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Tell Her About It by Billy Joel

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Michael Sembello     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

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