Sunday, September 10, 2023

Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 9

Feels weird to be back with another post in this series only one week after the most recent one. But, 1983 had big hits, littler ones, and others, like this week’s: On September 10, 1983, "Maniac" (above) by US artist Michael Sembello became Number One for two weeks, the third of four songs to have a two-week run at Number one. The song was also the second Number One song from the movie Flashdance (I talked about Irene Cara’s “Flashdance... What a Feeling” in Part 6 of this series, and that song was Number One for six weeks from late May to early July).

The was apparently originally inspired by news reports of a serial killer, but was changed to suit the movie. The two tones at the beginning were inspired by the two-toned sirens used in the UK, as interpreted in the opening of the song by US rock band Bloodrock in their 1971 song, ”D.O.A.” (an audio version is on YouTube).

The music video for “Maniac” was, just like the video for “Flashdance... What a Feeling” just a commercial for the movie, also using scenes from the film edited to go with the music. Both of the music videos were made specifically with MTV in mind.

As I remember it, I liked “Maniac” the best of the two Flashdance songs. One thing that struck me at the time was because of the last lines of the first verse: “She has danced into the danger zone, when the dancer becomes the dance,” which—intentionally or not—references a line from William Butler Yeats's poem "Among School Children", which ends with “How can we know the dancer from the dance?" However, for me that line actually made me think of the 1978 novel Dancer from the Dance, the first novel by Andrew Holleran. I had a copy of the novel, but hesitated to read it because the focus on hedonism among gay men in 1970s New York didn’t sit well in the early 1980s—although it was also that same honesty that led to it being highly regarded among the gay male literature that rose after the Stonewall Rebellion. Maybe some day I should read it.

More importantly, perhaps, at the time the song became a hit, I was often going out to the bars and clubs with friends, and high energy music was more my thing that “Flashdance... What a Feeling” was. I associate the song with a now-defunct bar called The Loading Dock that was on North Halsted in Chicago, not far from where the city’s LGBT+ focused Center on Halsted is now—and its existence was pretty much unimaginable in 1983, whenever I walked to or from the bar, walking past the site where the Center would be nearly a quarter century later.

At any rate, “Maniac” reached Number 2 in Australia, Number One in Canada (Platinum), Number 7 in New Zealand, Number 43 in the UK (Gold), as wells as Number One on the USA’s “Billboard Hot 100” and Number 3 on Cash Box
And now this series takes another brief break: It’ll be back in two weeks, on September 24, with the new Number One hit from that week in 1983. I wonder what I thought about that song…

Previously in the “Weekend Diversion – 1983” series:

Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 1
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 2
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 3
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 4
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 5
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 6
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 7
Weekend Diversion: 1983 – And also
Weekend Diversion: 1983 – And also more
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 8

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