Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Self Control: A Pop Song of Horror

We all probably have several songs that bring to mind our childhood and/or teenage years. For me, one of those songs is "Self Control." It is a great pop song from the mid-1980s that fed my imagination. It's even done so as recently as 12 or so years ago, as it helped spark the idea for a major alien race in my "Star Wars" RPG campaign, as well as shaping the personalities of a couple of key NPCs that belong to it.

When I was a kid, I thought this song was spooky. As an adult, I still find it so... why it's never been used as the theme in a horror movie, I'll never know.

Laura Branigan

And the video for the Laura Branigan version is like a little horror movie, so it's a perfect match to the song.

Here's a less creepy modern (from 2011) cover by the Danish outfit, ironically, named Infernal. However, as the video progresses, the horror aspect of the song fully asserts itself. It's nice to see that even though they took a dance tune with spooky undertones and made it even more up-tempo, they paid attention to the details. That's a rate thing, I think.

And here's the version recorded by Raf, the song's co-writer. It was a hit all across Europe in 1984, at the same time that Branigan's version was enjoying an even greater level of popularity. If memory serves, this was actually the first version I encountered. It's not as atmospheric as Branigan's version--and it feels more like the "creatures of the night" in the song are just party-goers and clubbers rather than mysterious monsters--but it was certainly deserving of the hit status it enjoyed.

Here's a version by Sunday Girl. It tries to take the horror aspects of the song and bring them to the forefront. The video succeeds. The song itself? Not so much.

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