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Maniac

by

Michael Sembello



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was featured in the movie Flashdance, which starred Jennifer Beals as a welder by day, dancer by night. Phil Ramone, who was the music supervisor on the movie, produced the track. He also made another contribution to the movie: after seeing some kids breakdancing in New York City, he alerted the movie's producer, who shot footage of the dancers that was used in the film.
Sembello wrote this with his songwriting partner Dennis Matkosky, who got the idea when he saw the William Lustig movie Maniac, which is about a serial killer who stalks his victims in New York City. Sembello told us: "He came up with the original kernel of inspiration and to me with the basic idea and groove and I believe the temporary lyrics for the chorus he had were:
'He's a maniac, maniac that's for sure
He will kill your cat and nail him to the door'
That direction obviously wasn't going to work at which point the genius of Phil Ramone, producer of the soundtrack who had the vision to see the potential of the song, asked us to change it to the present concept of a girl possessed with the passion of a gift for dance. Without Phil it would not have happened."
Sembello added: "It was nominated for an academy award and was disqualified according to 'academy rules' because the song was changed from the original and was not originally written solely for the film, which pisses me off to this day." (Thanks for Michael Sembello for the info. To learn more, check out michaelsembello.com.)
This was accidentally included on a tape of Sembello's songs his wife sent to Paramount for consideration in Flashdance. The studio loved it and used it in the movie.
The dance scenes in the video (and the movie), were performed by body double Marine Jahan. It was a well-kept secret that Jennifer Beals did not dance in the movie.
The video was the first to use nothing but scenes from the movie. It started a movie/music cross-promotion trend (Pretty Woman, Dirty Dancing, etc.).
This was commonly used in aerobics classes, which was a big trend at the time.
In 2007, this was used in commercials for Kia cars, which show a Kia salesman doing a similar dance. The idea is that he's making great deals like a Maniac. (thanks, MusicianJohnPaul - Bay Area, CA)
Michael Sembello
More Michael Sembello songs
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Comments (19):

"If you've ever seen someone dancing who's never danced before, you'd realize that the lyrics are mocking the subject of the song, not praising her. ;-)" Bob, you make an interesting point. I never realized that these very words can have two meanings - she's dancing in a way she never has when she'd danced in the past, or - she's dancing in a way that gives the illusion that she's never danced before in her life.
- Sam, Plymouth, MN
Oh my, Mr. Sembello is taking time to write here!!!! Amazing, love your work, specially your contribution to Songs In The Key Of Life. Seeing the Classic Albums program about this record lets us see your amazing talent, thanks for your work!!
- Luis, Costa Rica, -
awesome..and tommy boy is the best movie ever!!
- Isabel, Tarkio, MO
Good song and I enjoy you always.
- john, This city, Australia
The 2007 Kia Commercial...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOyQK5jBalE
Great Song Michael! (absurd commercial)
- MusicianJohnPaul, Bay Area, CA
Not to correct the songwriter, but I don't think the song was disqualified from competition. If so, the song would not be on the Academy's Web site as a nominee. A famous example of a nominee being disqualified is Nino Rota's score for "The Godfather." If you look at the nominees for Original Score in 1972, you will see the asterisk explaining this. In the original song nominees for 1983, "Maniac" is listed as a nominee. So, Mr. Sembello, you can stop being pissed off. Your song was eligible.

Here's the link to the info on "The Godfather": http://awardsdatabase.oscars.org/ampas_awards/DisplayMain.jsp?curTime=1193789015248

And here's the list of Original Song nominees for 1983: http://awardsdatabase.oscars.org/ampas_awards/DisplayMain.jsp?curTime=1193789119251
- Jeff Commings, Tucson, AZ
Chris Farley sang this while getting hosed off at a gas station in "Tommy Boy."
- Brandon, Peoria, IL
Really awesome song! It is obvious that sembello adjusted the lyrics, in order to fit with the Flashdance's theme (hey the movie has to do with dance, not with a serial killer). So,"a steel town girl" may had replaced "a small town girl" and "she's a maniac on the floor" with something else hehehe ^^
- John, Corfu, Greece
An exciting, pulsing song that still sounds terrific today. Its association with 'Flashdance' always kind of ruined it for me, though.
- Pete, NY, NY
If you've ever seen someone dancing who's never danced before, you'd realize that the lyrics are mocking the subject of the song, not praising her. ;-)
- Bob, Oakland, CA
A 1990's remix by, if my memory serves me right, Memory of Sound, of this track was often played live by an Irish club DJ, Mark McCabe, who took to MC'ing over it, a recording of which spent nearly the entire summer of 2000 at the top of the Irish charts.

However, for whatever reason, it was never sold outside of Ireland. But it did bring Sembello's original music back onto the radio for quite a while afterwhile
- Kian, Dublin, Ireland
In the '70s, Michael Sembello was a popular studio session guitarist. He played guitar on Stevie Wonder's legendary album, "Songs in the Key of Life."
- Elson, Los Angeles, CA
In the '70s, Michael Sembello was a popular studio session guitarist. He played guitar on Stevie Wonder's legendary album, "Songs in the Keys of Life."
- Elson, Los Angeles, CA
Also used in American Wedding-Michael
- Michael, Fort Lauderdale, FL
sorry to be a pest but this part of the lyric is wrong on your site:

She's a maniac, maniac, I sure know
And she's dancing like she's never danced before
She's a maniac, maniac, I sure know
And she's dancing like she's never danced before

it is just the same as the first chorus:

She's a maniac, maniac on the floor
And she's dancing like she's never danced before
She's a maniac, maniac on the floor
And she's dancing like she's never danced before

Thanks, Michael Sembello
- Michael, Fort Lauderdale, FL
This is Michael Sembello Artist and co-writter of maniac. I love your site very much but some of the facts are wrong and i would like to update you if you don't mind and add some you don't know about,most important is the fact that partner and co-writter of the song dennis matkosky saw the lustig movie(not chain saw massacre)
and he came up with the original kernal of inpiration and to me with the basic idea and groove and i believe the temporary lyrics for the chorus he had were:

" He's a maniac,maniac that's for sure
He will kill your cat and nail him to the door"
Which that direction obviously wasn't going to work at which point the genius of phil ramone producer of the soundtrack who had the vision to see the potential of the song asked us to change it to the present concept of a girl possesed with the passion of a gift for dance,without phil it would not have happened.

another fact is it was nominated for an academy award and was disqualified according to
"academy rules" because the song was changed from the original and was not originally written soley for the film,which pisses me off to this day.
So thats the whole truth,and the rest of the story.Glad to be of help-Michael sembello
- Michael, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Sung by Groundskeeper Willie in the Simpsons
- Luke, Manchester, England
Rumour has it that the song was originally intended for the William Lustig film Maniac (1980), one of the more notorious "video-nasty" titles that were the subject of a media frenzy in the early 1980s. However the song was rejected in the end and wound up in Flashdance with largely re-written lyrics.
- Antony, Preston, England
Appeared in Season 1 Episode 23 of Cold Case on CBS. The name of the episode is "Lover's Lane."
- Jonathan, Natchitoches, LA
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