Obsession (song)

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This article is about the new wave single. For the Papa Roach song originally known as "Obsession", see Between Angels and Insects. For other songs of this name, see Obsession (disambiguation).
U.S. 7" vinyl
Single by Animotion
from the album Animotion
B-side "Turn Around"
Released November 23, 1984
Format 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl
Recorded 1984
Genre Synthrock, new wave, Hi-NRG, Power Pop
Length 3:58
Label Mercury
Writer(s) Holly Knight, Michael Des Barres
Producer(s) John Ryan
Animotion singles chronology
"Let Him Go"

"Obsession" is a 1983 song covered in 1984 by the group Animotion. The song hit number six in the United States, and number five in the United Kingdom in early 1985, helped by a distinctive video that received heavy rotation on MTV.


"Obsession" was originally written and recorded as a duet by songwriter Holly Knight and musician Michael Des Barres in 1983. This version was prominently featured in the 1983 film A Night in Heaven, most notably in a scene in which Christopher Atkins bumps and grinds in Lesley Ann Warren's face in sync with the rhythm of the song. The song was featured on the film's soundtrack, but did not receive enough attention to warrant much radio play or a place on any Billboard charts. That version was also featured in the theatrical trailer to the 1986 film 9½ Weeks, starring Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger.

The Los Angeles-based synth-pop band Animotion recorded a version of the tune for their self-titled debut album, released in 1984. This version became a massive success, and it remains Animotion's biggest hit.

Animotion's version is a mainstay on 1980s compilations and is featured in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City as part of the new wave radio station Wave 103. It has also been used as the theme song for WWF Saturday Night's Main Event (aired on NBC) and FashionTelevisionChannel, as well as MTV's House of Style. It was featured in the 2000 comedy film Lucky Numbers and documentary "What the Bleep Do We Know!?". Various artists have covered the song, including The Azoic in 2004. The song has been used as the opening theme for the internationally syndicated Canadian program FT - FashionTelevision since it premiered in 1986. It has recently been featured in the films El Cantante and Adventureland, the TV show Weeds, Nip/Tuck and was featured in the trailer for Hot Tub Time Machine and the movie itself. The song was played some in the 1990s Fox network comedy TV series Get a Life, in the episode entitled "Girlfriend 2000".

Contrary to popular belief, the song was never covered by The Human League and has often been falsely attributed to them (according to the AllMusic Guide, The Human League were in fact a musical influence for Animotion[1]).

Music video[edit]

The music video features the Animotion band members — focusing on the two singers, Bill Wadhams and Astrid Plane — dressed in various costumes (such as Mark Antony and Cleopatra) while performing the song next to a swimming pool and inside a luxury house.

Track listings[edit]

7" Single

  1. Obsession 3:58
  2. Turn Around 3:54

12" Single

  1. Obsession (Dance) 6:00
  2. Obsession (Dub) 5:30

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1985) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[2] 17
Canada (RPM)[3] 7
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[4] 34
Germany (Media Control Charts)[5] 8
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[6] 42
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[7] 10
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[8] 5
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 6

Sugababes version[edit]

Song by Sugababes from the album Taller in More Ways
  • 2005; D.A.R.P. Studios, Atlanta & Home Recordings
  • (London, England)
  • Synthpop
  • synthrock
Length 3:52
Label Island
  • Holly Knight
  • Michael Des Barres
Producer Dallas Austin

English girl group Sugababes covered "Obsession" for their fourth studio album Taller in More Ways (2005). Group member Heidi Range initially recorded it as a demo with Ashley Hamilton, although the Sugababes later decided to record it as a group. It was produced by Dallas Austin, one of the album's primary producers. The cover is similar to the original and had a polarizing effect on critics; some criticised it as mediocre, while others called it one of the album's standout tracks. The Sugababes performed it on their tours in support of Taller in More Ways and Overloaded: The Singles Collection (2006).

Background and production[edit]

The Sugababes' version of "Obsession" was produced by Dallas Austin, who collaborated with the Sugababes on various tracks on the album.[10] Group member Heidi Range initially recorded "Obsession" as a demo with Ashley Hamilton, although the Sugababes later decided to record it as a group. They spoke to Austin about their desire to record the song, and according to Range, "he was made up, because it’s one of his favourite songs."[11] "Obsession" was mixed by Jeremy Wheatley at TwentyOne Studios, London, with assistance from Richard Edgeler.[12] It was engineered collectively by Rick Shepphard, Graham Marsh (producer), Ian Rossiter and Owen Clark.[12] Tony Reyes provides background vocals for the song.[12] "Obsession" was recorded at DARP Studios, in Atlanta & Home Recordings, London.[12] It derives from the genres of pop,[13] synthpop,[14] and synthrock.[15] K. Ross Hoffman of AllMusic described it as "sugary synth pop".[14] Talia Kraines of BBC called the cover an "exact reworking" of the original.[13] The instrumentation consists of a guitar, bass guitar, drums and keys.[12] Alex Roginski of the Sydney Morning Herald noted that the song "thumps out analog synth and the glittering chord progressions of a 1980s nightclub".[16]

Critical reception[edit]

The Sugababes' cover of "Obsession" had a polarizing effect on critics. Harry Rubenstein of The Jerusalem Post felt that the group added nothing new to the track and instead stuck to a "straight up" cover, which he considered disappointing.[17] Nick Southall of Stylus Magazine regarded it as a "pleasant but unspectacular cover".[18] A journalist from The Scotsman considered it a "less engaging non-song" and criticised the group's decision to cover it.[19] Alexis Petridis of The Guardian felt that the Sugababes' version "sands off the edges rather than amps up the lunacy", and concluded: "what's left is like 1980s night at karaoke".[10] On the positive side, BBC's Talia Kraines named it the album's standout pop track.[13] Similarly, Peter Robinson of The Observer described the "spirited gambol" as one of the album's highlights.[20] Anna Britten from Yahoo! Music thought that the cover was even better than the original, and appreciated the "gorgeous, perfumed menace on the song's subject" which she felt resembled Sin City's "gun-toting Valkyrie-hookers".[21] Simon Price of The Independent praised the song as "instant pop",[15] and a writer from The Liverpool Daily Post & Echo considered it a "brilliantly seductive reworking" of the original.[22]

The Sugababes performed "Obession" on the tours for Taller in More Ways and Overloaded.

Live performances[edit]

"Obsession" was included in the set list for the Sugababes' tour supporting Taller in More Ways.[23] It was one of three tracks from the album that was not released as a single to be performed on the tour.[23] Gurdip Thandi of Birmingham Mail regarded the song's performance at the NIA Academy as "polished".[24] "Obsession" was also included in the set list for their 2007 tour in support of Overloaded: The Singles Collection, the group's 2006 greatest hits album.[25]

Credits and personnel[edit]

  • Recorded at DARP Studios, Atlanta & Home Recordings, London
  • Songwriting – Holly Knight, Michael Des Barres
  • ProductionDallas Austin
  • Engineering – Rick Shepphard
  • Assistant recording engineering – Graham Marsh (producer), Ian Rossiter, Owen Clark
  • Mixing – Jeremy Wheatley for 365 Artists at TwentyOne Studio, London
  • Guitar and bass guitar – Tony Reyes
  • Drums and keys – Dallas Austin
  • Background vocals – Tony Reyes

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Taller in More Ways, Universal Island Records.[12]


  1. ^ Animotion- "Influenced By" @AllMusic.com Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Animotion – Obsession" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 42, No. 10, May 18, 1985". RPM. 18 May 1985. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "Ultratop.be – Animotion – Obsession" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  5. ^ "Chartverfulgong > Animotion > Obsession – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  6. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Animotion – Obsession" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  7. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Animotion – Obsession". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  8. ^ "Animotion: Artist Chart History" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  9. ^ "Hot 100 – Week of May 04, 1985". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 4 May 1985. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Cartner-Morley, Jess (16 September 2005). "Jess Cartner-Morley meets the Sugababes". The Guardian (Guardian News & Media). Archived from the original on 7 August 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  11. ^ "Taller In More Ways: Track by track". Sugababes.com. 4 October 2005. Archived from the original on 6 February 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Taller in More Ways (album). Sugababes. Universal Island Records. 2005. pp. 14–15. 602498746264. 
  13. ^ a b c "Sugababes - Taller in More Ways - Review". BBC Music. BBC. 23 September 2005. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Hoffman, K. Ross. "Taller in More Ways - Sugababes". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Price, Simon (9 October 2005). "Sugababes - Taller in More Ways (Island)". The Independent (Independent News & Media). Retrieved 15 August 2012.  (subscription required)
  16. ^ Roginski, Alex (23 January 2006). "Taller in Many Ways". Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Archived from the original on 7 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  17. ^ Rubenstein, Harry (31 January 2006). "Disk Reviews". The Jerusalem Post (Mirkaei Tikshoret). Retrieved 13 September 2006.  (subscription required)
  18. ^ Southall, Nick (20 October 2005). "Sugababes - Taller In More Ways". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  19. ^ "The time is now, but the songs aren't here". The Scotsman (Johnston Publishing). 7 October 2005. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  20. ^ Robinson, Peter (18 September 2005). "The first ten: 2, Sugababes, Taller in More Ways". The Observer (Guardian News & Media). Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  21. ^ Britten, Anna (11 October 2005). "Sugababes - Taller In More Ways". Yahoo! Music. Yahoo! UK & Ireland. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  22. ^ "Back to form with full-throttle rock". The Liverpool Daily Post & Echo (Trinity Mirror). 7 October 2005. Retrieved 13 September 2012.  (subscription required)
  23. ^ a b "Caught Live: Sugababes". Daily Mirror (Trinity Mirror). 16 April 2006. Archived from the original on 7 August 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  24. ^ "Sugababes @ NIA". Birmingham Mail (Trinity Mirror). 10 April 2006. Archived from the original on 28 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  25. ^ "The Set List; Caught Live! Sugababes". Sunday Mirror (Trinity Mirror). 22 April 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2012.  (subscription required)

External links[edit]