Obsession

Album: Animotion (1984)
Charted: 5 6
  • This was written by Holly Knight and Michael Des Barres, who recorded the song as a duet in 1983. This original version features spoken-word verses by Des Barres, giving the song a far more sinister feel. Released as a standalone single, it went nowhere, but it became a big hit the following year when it was recorded by Animotion.

    About the songwriters: Des Barres is an actor who was also in the bands Silverhead and Detective. Knight is an accomplished songwriter whose credits include "The Best " by Tina Turner and "Love Is A Battlefield" by Pat Benatar. In our interview with Holly Knight, she explains: "I wrote many songs for Michael Des Barres, but that's the only one we ever went and tried to get a cover on. I came up with a sequence riff, and Michael came up with some lyrics, and it was the perfect marriage. It's very simple."
  • This is about a stalker, and he seems to get more obsessed as the song progresses. At first, it appears that he has a serious crush on the girl, but he later becomes more dangerous and intent on "capturing" the girl.
  • Michael Des Barres had recently kicked a nasty heroin habit when he wrote this song with Knight. "In those days I was getting off narcotics, so the word obsession was being thrown about a lot in my life," he said in our 2015 interview. "How do you deal with an obsession? Which gave me the idea for this lyric. But I knew I couldn't just write about drugs, because I wanted to write something that would reach a wider audience than just junkies."
  • Animotion recorded this song in 1984 and released it as their debut single. It was a good hit for the San Francisco band, which was a six-piece, synth-heavy group with both a male and female vocalist: Astrid Plane and Bill Wadhams.

    "Obsession" is by far the group's most popular song, but the follow-up single "Let Him Go" made #39 US, and in 1989, they scored another Top 10 with "Room To Move," which went to #9 in the US. This version of Animotion featured Cynthia Rhodes, who played Penny Johnson in the movie Dirty Dancing, on vocals. Her singing career was short-lived, as she soon married Richard Marx and retired from music and acting. The couple split in 2014.
  • The original Holly Knight/Michael Des Barres version of this song was featured in the 1983 movie A Night In Heaven, which is about an older woman (Lesley Ann Warren) who is obsessed with a young guy (Christopher Atkins). The song plays in a scene where he is performing at a male strip club.
  • The lines, "Like a butterfly, a wild butterfly, I will collect you and capture you" were inspired by a 1965 movie called The Collector, which is about an inhibited butterfly collector who kidnaps a woman. Michael Des Barres had seen the movie and came up with the line.
  • This song came together very quickly, and hours after writing it, Michael Des Barres and Holly Knight recorded it with their producer Mike Chapman, since it was clear to all involved that they had something special. Des Barres told us: "It's an obvious piece. It's 'Who do you want me to be to make you sleep with me?' I mean, how codependent is that?"
  • Des Barres told us: "It's an obvious piece. It's 'Who do you want me to be to make you sleep with me?' I mean, how codependent is that?"
  • Holly Knight cites this as a song that came true for her later in life. She says, "I guess it comes with the territory, you have a very creative imagination, therefore your life can be wonderful, or a living hell. Because your mind is so creative it goes to places that aren't necessarily realistic. You feel things a lot. I can't imagine anyone in their life never having a moment where they're not obsessed with somebody or something."
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 3

  • Bobo from LevittownI believe the show that featured this awesome song as the models walked down the runway was called Fashion Television hosted by Jeanie Becker in the 90's. Great song, great show. Just thought you'd like the specifics.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxIf he's a stalker, why does she keep saying 'I will have you'? Sounds like she's well aware of his attention and welcomes it.
  • Chris from Claremont, CaFirst heard this during the early to mid ninties on VH1's fashion catwalk show
see more comments

John ParrSongwriter Interviews

John tells the "St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)" story and explains why he disappeared for so long.

Meshell NdegeocelloSongwriter Interviews

Meshell Ndegeocello talks about recording "Wild Night" with John Mellencamp, and explains why she shied away from the spotlight.

Dino Cazares of Fear FactorySongwriter Interviews

The guitarist/songwriter explains how he came up with his signature sound, and deconstructs some classic Fear Factory songs.

What Musicians Are Related to Other Musicians?Song Writing

A big list of musical marriages and family relations ranging from the simple to the truly dysfunctional.

Gavin Rossdale of BushSongwriter Interviews

On the "schizoid element" of his lyrics, and a famous line from "Everything Zen."

Divided Souls: Musical Alter EgosSong Writing

Long before Eminem, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj created alternate personas, David Bowie, Bono, Joni Mitchell and even Hank Williams took on characters.