For some reason, Laura Branigan doesn’t get a lot of love.
She doesn’t appear frequently on 80s compilations or on soundtracks to movies that reference the 80s. She doesn’t show up anywhere ironically (like Kajagoogoo or BulletBoys might). Nor are hipsters wearing Laura Branigan t-shirts (although they should be if they truly want to appear hipper than thou).
Nope, no love for Laura, despite her placement of numerous songs in the Top 40 from 1982 to 1987. In fact, Branigan’s biggest hit, “Gloria,” spent 9 months on the Billboard charts—a record at that time for a female artist—but when’s the last time you heard it? If ever. (“Gloria” was actually a cover of an Italian ballad, rewritten and revamped for the American market, a trick she would employ again two years later.)
In 1984, Branigan dipped into the same well which produced her first smash hit, tapping the co-writer of “Gloria” on the shoulder and asking for another dance. He gave her “Self Control,” a song he helped write with Italian singer Raf, who had recently finished recording his own version. Branigan and her producers added rock guitars in place of the synth hook and generally tried to make it a little less Euro-disco, but otherwise her version isn’t miles away from the original.
Released as the title track of her third album, “Self Control” went to #4 in the US over the spring and summer of 1984, kept out of the top spot by massive bestsellers from Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper, and Duran Duran. Everywhere else in the world, it was the biggest hit she would ever have.
So bust out your leg warmers, your bandanas, and your Jordache jeans. It’s time to play with the creatures of the night.
Here’s the original version by Raf:
I enjoy Laura Branigan. She appeared on the charts when I was in diapers and I remember hearing her songs on the radio. Her voice was very different and unique. IHer music was eclectic. Not so much her Dance/Pop songs, but I like her more piano stripped down numbers. She wasn’t commercial enough, and I think that’s why she doesn’t get nods. But I believe she was highly original. Her voice was almost like a female Roy Orbison. She had incredible range. I felt that many of her hit songs such as “Gloria” actually wasted her voice, though.