Maniac (lost demo version of Michael Sembello song; 1983)

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"Maniac" single cover.

Status: Lost

"Maniac" is a song performed by session musician and Stevie Wonder guitarist Michael Sembello for his solo debut album Bossa Nova Hotel in 1983. It later gained prevalence when it was featured on the soundtrack of the 1983 dance film Flashdance, which is where most people know it from today. The song ended up topping the charts in the US and Canada, was nominated for an Academy Award, and eventually became the most well-known song of Sembello's solo career. What many people don't know, however, is that the original version of the song was very different and much darker than what we eventually got in the final version.


Sembello initially wrote the song as a horror theme after seeing a currently unknown slasher film (some theorised films including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Maniac), with the songs chorus originally going "He's a maniac, maniac, that's for sure / He will kill your cat and nail it to the door", this version of the chorus was confirmed by a mini documentary Dutch TV show Top 2000 A Gogo filmed, in which Sembello cites these lyrics himself[1]. Sometime afterwards, impressed with his theme for the 1982 romantic comedy Summer Lovers, Paramount Pictures executives asked Sembello to compose a theme for Flashdance. Sembello sent in a series of demos on a tape, all of which were rejected, but "Maniac", which Sembello's wife accidentally included on the tape, piqued their interest. Music producer Phil Ramone attempted to convince Sembello to rewrite the song to better suit the films tone and subject matter, to which Sembello obliged, giving us the version we know.[2] As of 2018, the original version of the song has not resurfaced.