Michael Sembello | Bossa Nova Hotel | Retro Album Review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Practically everyone has heard the 1983 hit “Maniac” (“She’s a maniac, maniac on the floor”), but few know of Michael Sembello, the man behind the classic song. Such one-hit-wonder artists aren’t rare—often for good reason—but Sembello has much more to offer than a single song.
“Maniac” is from Bossa Nova Hotel, an album that features many standout tracks and some…weirder ones. All sharing the same list are songs titled “Lay Back (Ménage a trois),” “Godzilla,” and “Superman.” In the latter, Sembello likens Jesus to Superman, singing, “And the last time He came, they cursed His name / And with a kryptonite cross they cut Him down.” It was the 80s, and Sembello was doing whatever the hell he pleased.
Joking aside, Bossa Nova Hotel has that distinct 80s disco vibe that makes nearly every song incredibly catchy and easy to dance to. “Maniac,” obviously, epitomizes 80s dance music, but beyond that are songs like “Automatic Man” and “Cadillac” that are just as fun.
“Automatic Man” begins with heavy breathing backed up by computerized sound effects before breaking into loud, groovy 80s beats that practically command the listener to dance. The song is arguably even better than “Maniac.”
“Cadillac” is similarly funky, sounding like the opening to an 80s cop show. Sembello opens singing about a woman, and then drops the big “Cadillac, Cadillac” chorus that’ll simply refuse to leave the listener’s head many hours after the song has ended.
Bossa Nova Hotel isn’t perfect. Some of the tracks are just plain odd and can’t stand up to the other disco hits on the album, but the big songs like “Automatic Man” and “Cadillac” (to name just two) deserve just as much attention as “Maniac.”
Forget Drake and Jay-Z; throw on some Michael Sembello and see how crazy a real house party can get.