Self Control (Laura Branigan song)

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For the Dukes song, see Self Control (Dukes song).
"Self Control"
Single by Laura Branigan
from the album Self Control
B-side "Silent Partners"
Released April 19, 1984
Recorded 1983
Genre Italo disco
Length 4:06
Label Atlantic
Certification Gold (France, Germany)
Silver (UK)
Laura Branigan singles chronology
"How Am I Supposed to Live Without You"
"Self Control"
"The Lucky One"

"Self Control" is a song by American singer Laura Branigan, released as the lead single from her third studio album, Self Control (1984). Written by Giancarlo Bigazzi, Steve Piccolo and Italian singer Raf, the song was first recorded by Raf in 1984, Branigan recorded the same song later that year as well for her third studio album. Branigan's version first hit no. 1 in Germany on June 15, 1984. Raf's version first hit no. 1 in Italy on June 23, 1984. Both versions of the song were popular across Europe during much of the summer of 1984 and were the most successful single of the year in Switzerland. Branigan's version peaked at no. 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and also went to no. 2 on the dance chart.[1]

The song has become one of the defining songs of the 1980s, with a number of remakes recorded each year. Notable covers include Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin in 1993, a hit dance remake by Branigan in 2004 and two 2006 versions that hit the Top 5 in various European enclaves, by Danish dance group Infernal and Spanish singer Soraya Arnelas.


Branigan's first major hit had also been co-written by Bigazzi: "Gloria" (1982) was an English cover of the 1979 original Italian song recorded by Umberto Tozzi. The following year Branigan recorded another English song written over a Tozzi and Bigazzi song, "Mama", which was part of the 1983 album Branigan 2. Branigan chose two more Italian songs for her third album: the first one, "Ti Amo" with lyrics by Diane Warren once again based on the original by Tozzi and Bigazzi that had been a 1977 single for Tozzi. The second one, "Self Control" became the title track to the album and her biggest international hit. "Self Control" was the only one of the four Italian songs recorded by Branigan that was originally composed in English, and Branigan chose to record the song as written. Also unlike the other songs, Branigan's version was contemporaneous with that of its co-writer.

The Branigan recording was arranged by Giorgio Moroder's protégé Harold Faltermeyer with Robbie Buchanan and produced by Buchanan with Jack White in Germany and Los Angeles. A keyboard hook in Raf's version was changed to a guitar riff for Branigan's version and a vocal break was paired with a sharper and repeated percussive element.

Music video and television performances[edit]

Branigan was one of the first artists of the video era to work with an Academy Award-winning film director on a music video when William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist) directed the clip. Filmed in New Jersey and New York City, the video was produced by Fred Caruso and first aired in April 1984.[2]

The video depicts Branigan, sitting in her bedroom while her lover sleeps. Tempted by the allure of the city at night, she gets dressed up and goes out. Brief encounters with a mysterious man in a full-face white mask lead Branigan from the dance floor of a night club to an underground room where the masked man stands in the midst of an orgiastic gathering that he beckons her to join. Branigan allows herself to be led into the group, but ultimately flees in fright. Returning home, Branigan finds that the masked man and some of his throng are, somehow, now in her bedroom. The masked man lowers Branigan to her couch, and she surrenders herself to him. The masked man, standing over Branigan, now lying unconscious on the floor, turns and walks towards the bedroom window, fading away in the morning light. Branigan, consumed by guilt, gets up and turns out the light. The final scene shows Branigan lying awake in bed, when her lover turns to face her, his face hidden behind a familiar white mask.

The video ultimately drew controversy, as it was considered so shockingly sexy that MTV required some edits before it could air.[3] Entertainment Tonight aired a segment on the network's reaction to the clip, which was being played in late-night slots on other networks. Though Branigan resisted at first, her record company convinced her to allow a minor alteration and the video was aired on MTV, though by this time the single had peaked on the charts. Branigan would go on to be nominated for a 1985 American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Video Artist.[4] Branigan's fellow nominees were Tina Turner and Cyndi Lauper, who won the award.

Branigan performed the song live in her debut on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on April 27, 1984.[5] She also promoted the song during appearances on The Merv Griffin Show, Solid Gold (May 12, 1984),[6] Dick Clark's American Bandstand (June 9, 1984)[7] and the syndicated Dick Clark television special Rock Rolls On, which she also co-hosted.

Worldwide chart success[edit]

Branigan's recording was a worldwide multi-format hit. In the US, the song became Branigan's 4th consecutive top 10 hit on a Billboard chart in a year and a half, following "Gloria", "Solitaire" and "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You". "Self Control" peaked at no. 2 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, no. 4 on the Hot 100 and no. 5 on the Adult Contemporary chart.[1] In Canada, the track hit no. 1 on both the pop and AC charts. Both the Raf original and the Branigan version of "Self Control" entered the German Top 20 in May 1984: on June 15 the Branigan single assumed the no. 1 position where it remained for six weeks while the Raf version was relegated to a no. 2 peak.[8] Branigan's "Self Control" also entered the Italian charts although the dominance of the Raf version in his native Italy predicated a comparatively low peak Italian chart peak of no. 29 for Branigan's version.

"Self Control" afforded Laura Branigan a no. 1 hit in Austria, Canada, Sweden[9] and South Africa[10] and was also a smash hit for Branigan in Norway (no. 2),[9] Ireland (no. 3),[11] Australia (no. 3) and the UK (no. 5).[12] Branigan's album Self Control went Silver, Gold or Platinum in several countries and yielded subsequent charting singles, though not of the title track's magnitude, in "The Lucky One", "Ti Amo" and "Satisfaction".

Branigan's version of "Self Control" was featured on a November 1984 episode of the hit NBC series Miami Vice and was featured in the fact-based 1989 TV movie The Preppie Murder and a 2007 episode of the series Cold Case. In 2002 the Branigan recording was used as a track on the fictional radio station Flash FM in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and it appears on the CD collection Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Official Soundtrack Box Set as well as numerous other hits collections. It was often used as bumper music by late night radio talk show host Art Bell when he hosted Coast to Coast AM in the 1990s.

Switzerland's most successful single of 1984[edit]

Raf's version exceeded the success of Branigan's only in his native Italy. The only other territory where Raf topped the charts was in Switzerland. His single debuted in the Swiss Top 30 at no. 7 on June 17, the same week Branigan's version debuted at no. 24. The following week, Raf's single had climbed to no. 2. Branigan's single, however, had leapt to no. 1. In their third week, Raf's version supplanted Branigan's at number 1, but she regained the top spot in the fourth week and the two versions would remain there, Branigan at no. 1 and Raf at no. 2, for three more weeks.

In their 7th week on the charts, Raf fell to no. 3, below "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!, while Branigan held at no. 1. Their eighth week on the charts saw Raf regain the no. 2 spot behind Branigan. The following week the Wham! single moved back to no. 2 and Raf fell three spaces, but Branigan held firm. In their tenth week on the charts, Wham! fell to no. 5, Raf fell two more spots, and Branigan maintained pole position.

Finally on the week of August 26, "Such a Shame" by Talk Talk moved Branigan out of the number one spot, though she would remain in the top 5 for another three weeks. Branigan's record was in the Swiss top 30 for a total of sixteen weeks, including twelve weeks in the top 5 and eight weeks at no. 1.[9] It was joined by her follow-up single, "The Lucky One (Like a Wild Bird of Pray)", as it was erroneously subtitled in Europe, which charted in the top 30 for seven weeks.[13] Raf's version spent fourteen weeks in the top 30, including eight in the top five and one at number one.

Branigan's version was the most successful single of 1984 in Switzerland, earning Branigan the number one spot on the year-end charts.[14]


The song narrates the singer's slip into the world of nightlife, the allure of which has it "livin' only for the night" and deeming itself to "live among the creatures of the night". Rather than actually invoking more self-control, the singer repeatedly declares to a phantom protagonist that "you take my self, you take my self-control".

Track listings[edit]

7" single
  1. "Self Control" – 4:08
  2. "Silent Partners" – 3:58

(Note: UK 7" Single Cat No: A9676)

12" maxi
  1. "Self Control" (extended version) – 5:00
  2. "Silent Partners" (extended version) – 4:10

Charts and certifications[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"I Want to Break Free" by Queen
Austrian number-one single
July 1, 1984 – August 1, 1984 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Fürstenfeld" by STS
South African number-one single
September 14, 1984 – October 5, 1984 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Manuel Goodbye" by Audrey Landers
Preceded by
"Oh Sherrie" by Steve Perry
Canadian RPM number-one single
July 21, 1984 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Sister Christian" by Night Ranger
Preceded by
"Just Another Woman in Love" by Anne Murray
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary number-one single
July 21, 1984 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"If Ever You're in My Arms Again" by Peabo Bryson
Preceded by
"Send Me an Angel" by Real Life
German number-one single
June 18, 1984 – July 23, 1984 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Preceded by
"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!
Eurochart Hot 100 number-one single (first run)
July 21, 1984 (1 week)
Preceded by
"Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Eurochart Hot 100 number-one single (second run)
August 18, 1984 – September 8, 1984 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"High Energy" by Evelyn Thomas
Preceded by
"Big in Japan" by Alphaville
Swedish number-one single
August 3, 1984 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!
Preceded by
"Hello" by Lionel Richie
"Self Control" by Raf
Swiss number-one single
June 24, 1984 (1 week)
July 8, 1984 – August 19, 1984 (7 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Self Control" by Raf
"Such a Shame" by Talk Talk
Preceded by
Major Tom (völlig losgelöst) by Peter Schilling
German best-selling single of the year
Succeeded by
Live Is Life by Opus
Preceded by
Flashdance... What a Feeling by Irene Cara
Swiss best-selling single of the year


"Self Control 2004"
Single by Laura Branigan
Released January 19, 2004
Format CD, 12"
Recorded 2003
Genre Dance, Hi-NRG
Length 3:21
Label Dance Street
Writer(s) Giancarlo Bigazzi, Steve Piccolo, Raffaele Riefoli
Laura Branigan singles chronology
"Dim All the Lights"
"Self Control 2004"
"Gloria 2004"

Branigan's "Self Control" was paired with follow-up single "The Lucky One" for an "oldies series" release in the US. In the UK a similar release paired the song with her earlier hit, "Gloria". In 1992, the original single mix of "Self Control" was re-released on CD single and 12" vinyl by Atlantic/WEA in Germany featuring two new remixes. One of those, the 'Classic Summer Mix', appeared on the European greatest hits album The Very Best of Laura Branigan. In 1999, four new remixes of "Self Control" were commissioned for a South African collection called Back in Control, on Atlantic/Gallo.[50] "Self Control '99" was released as a CD single there. In the mid 2000s (decade), several trance music remixes featuring samples of various lengths from the 1984 Branigan original surfaced from various entities including Crooklyn Clan, Imperial Machine, and SK featuring Laura Branigan. None of these mixes were done with Branigan's participation.

As of 2010, the Self Control album remains in print and the original version can also be heard on The Best of Branigan (1993), and in remastered versions on The Essentials: Laura Branigan (2002) and The Platinum Collection (2006).

2004 version[edit]

Branigan sought to reclaim her career after years away from the music industry first to take care of her ailing husband and then to mourn his loss. She re-recorded her two biggest club hits for the 20th anniversary of "Self Control" and they were released in a slew of remixes as "Gloria 2004" and "Self Control 2004". The latter track hit the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales chart following Branigan's sudden death from an aneurysm in August of that year.

Track listings[edit]

CD maxi single
  1. "Self Control 2004" [Mindworkers Radio Mix] – 3:21
  2. "Self Control 2004" [Flip & Fill Remix] – 6:45
  3. "Self Control 2004" [Mindworkers Remix] – 7:07
  4. "Self Control 2004" [Force Four Remix] – 7:45
  5. "Self Control 2004" [Kenny Hayes Club Mix] – 6:07
  6. "Self Control 2004" [Mindworkers Instrumental] – 7:05


Chart (2004) Peak
US Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales Chart 10

Raf's original version[edit]

"Self Control"
Single by Raf
from the album Raf
B-side "Self Control" (Part Two) (7")
"Running Away" (12")
Released 1984
Format 7", 12"
Recorded 1984
Genre Italo disco[51]
Length 4:21 (7")
Label Carrere Records
Producer(s) Giancarlo Bigazzi
Raf singles chronology
"Self Control"
"Change Your Mind"

Born as Raffaele Riefoli and later known as Raf, he co-wrote the song "Self Control" with Giancarlo Bigazzi and Steve Piccolo. Raf's version of "Self Control" which peaked at no. 1 in Italy, was more popular at his home country of Italy than the version released later by Laura Branigan.[52] Raf's version also notably edged into no. 1 in Switzerland between runs at the top spot by Branigan, and Raf peaked at no. 2 in Germany, no. 7 in Austria and at no. 40 in France.[53][54] Like Branigan, Raf released an extended dance mix of the song, but Raf's version featured a rap (performed by two other rap vocalists), relatively rare for a white artist at the time.

He would release several more tracks in English and re-release his debut 1984 album Raf in 1987 under the title Self Control featuring two of these tracks. Although, his English-language album and especially the singles proved to be quite successful in Italy and outside, he began releasing his later albums in his native-language with almost all of which having been received better in Italy than the former, lot of them entered Italy's Top 10 album-chart.[55]