Self Control.
September 10, 2007 8:05 PM   Subscribe

"Self Control" is a song written by Giancarlo Bigazzi, Steve Piccolo, and Raffaele Riefoli in 1983; like many well-written pop songs, good musicians and production can make it better, but bad musicians have to work hard to destroy it. Without comment on which is which, here are five versions: RAF (1983, performed by one of the song's credited writers); Laura Branigan (1984); Soraya Arnelas (2006--this version reached #1 on the Spanish Hot 100); the Danish dance band Infernal (2006); and Caramelle featuring Nitro (2007, from a German label).
posted by Prospero (23 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
One mediocre song and 5 crappy remakes? What's the point of this?
posted by empath at 8:22 PM on September 10, 2007

Since I had no point of reference from which to determine which was which, I played all five at once, and succeeded in destroying it on my own. However, Soraya seems to have won, as hers (judging from lip sync) was the one I ended up listening to over the noise. Yeah, I vaguely remember that song.
posted by darksasami at 8:25 PM on September 10, 2007

Could we please make this the next Mefi Music Challenge?
posted by sourwookie at 8:40 PM on September 10, 2007

This one is easy. Laura Branigan's version is the only acceptable version.
posted by giantfist at 8:50 PM on September 10, 2007

posted by blucevalo at 8:55 PM on September 10, 2007

That Soroya chick is uncompelling. She's just moving her boobs around during costume changes. Maybe that's all she needs to do to make it big in Spain, but come on – either she or the Spanish could have found a better song.
posted by vhsiv at 8:58 PM on September 10, 2007

Thirding the Braniganites.
posted by psmith at 8:59 PM on September 10, 2007

like many well-written pop songs, good musicians and production can make it better, but bad musicians have to work hard to destroy it

Tainted Love, as performed by Gloria Jones, Soft Cell, Marilyn Manson, Coil, and the Pussycat Dolls .
posted by 23skidoo at 9:00 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

(This is me pooping in a threat without actually squatting:)

Uh, no thanks.
posted by snsranch at 9:06 PM on September 10, 2007

Well, it's nice to see that Nitro has gotten past that whole Gladiator experience anyhow.
posted by washburn at 9:09 PM on September 10, 2007

I just listened to all of them, and they all kind of suck.
Was one version supposed to be good?
posted by bink at 10:26 PM on September 10, 2007

And a moment of respect for Ms. Branigan, who died of a brain aneurysm in 2004.
posted by jscott at 10:37 PM on September 10, 2007

Next to Laura Branigan, Soraya sounds like a twerp.
posted by astruc at 12:21 AM on September 11, 2007

I enjoyed the campy Phantom of the Opera imagery in the Laura Branigan video.
posted by Coventry at 2:10 AM on September 11, 2007

Judging by the number of 'puta' I see in the comments section of the Soraya video, Spanish-speaking youtube commenters aren't nicer than english speaking ones!
posted by darkripper at 3:21 AM on September 11, 2007

ainted Love, as performed by Gloria Jones, Soft Cell, Marilyn Manson...

Whenever I listen to Marilyn Manson, I like to pretend it is actually Chris Rock doing a bit. Somehow it just adds to the cachet for me.

Works particularly well with this track.
posted by lastobelus at 3:31 AM on September 11, 2007

I prefer this Soraya.
posted by needled at 4:38 AM on September 11, 2007

Do the Pussycat Dolls do the same thing/wear the same clothes in EVERY video?
posted by Summer at 5:12 AM on September 11, 2007

It's all about Laura Branigan. I became reacquainted with her version of the song in a Mister Donut in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, and it was a really weird time warp moment since Mister Donut still feels (to me) like an early 80's Dunkin' Donuts. Their in-store play only reinforces that, and it's was Laura Branigan.
posted by chihiro at 6:10 AM on September 11, 2007

I always loved Laura Branigan's version. It was one of my anthems after I came out in the early 80s.
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:12 AM on September 11, 2007

Laura: Forever Young.

posted by Robert Angelo at 7:23 AM on September 11, 2007

I should say here that my motivation behind the post was wondering why so many musicians from different countries would independently choose to cover this particular song. (I didn't learn until last night that Branigan's version is a cover.)

After thinking about it, the composition is actually pretty complex for a mainstream pop song--an overall structure that isn't straight verse-chorus-verse; nontraditional rhyme schemes within stanzas; lots of other poetic devices scattered through the lyrics (including internal rhymes, alliteration, and enjambment); the use of words throughout that indicate time of day, serving to tie the whole thing together. That, coupled with unusual chord progressions and a melody that seems best suited for a woman who can sing in a low register (or a man in a high register, as in the first video) seem to add up to a song that even musicians who are aware of their own mediocrity can pull something out of the fire with, as long as they sing the correct words and hit the correct notes. (The performers in the last video fail to do this, rendering it unlistenable. And like almost everyone else, I prefer Branigan's version.)

You could say something similar for Tainted Love, come to think of it. And compare either of those songs to Britney Spears' latest (sample lyrics: "Gimme, gimme more; gimme more; gimme gimme more"). I can't imagine any professional musicians covering that, except in some sort of ironic way.
posted by Prospero at 10:14 AM on September 11, 2007

Thanks for the awesome post, Prospero.

Sure, Laura's was the best, but I also thought the Danish version was pretty good, because she had a decent voice and the original music is compelling enough that you have to work really hard to find an arrangement that sucks.

The Raf version shows why he was more renowned as a songwriter than a performer. He would have been right at home on American Idol.

Soraya's version was tremendously bad. Just awful. Or rather, her voice was awful.

And the Caramelle version was actually pretty intriguing. I'd love to hear that take again with a better performer. Which, of course, will never happen. Because how many times are people really going to cover a cheesy 80s pop song? :)
posted by bpm140 at 9:58 PM on September 11, 2007

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