A number of people have told me that when they were a kid — in the 1980s, cause we're mad old — there was a certain song that spooked them so much that they became obsessed with it. For one friend it was Laura Branigan's "Self Control," for another it was Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me." It didn't help that both songs also had creepy videos: Rockwell's is a goofy pastiche of horror-movie cliches, and Laura's got a man in a featureless mask, a doll, a hallway full of grabby hands, and...a sexy mime-lady? Is that what she's supposed to be? Anyway, it was scary, sessy-scary.
The song, and video, that got fixed in my own tiny mind was "The Rain" by Oran 'Juice' Jones. What got my attention right away was the opening thunderclap; I was a kid and storms were frightening. Okay, the actual first thing that got my attention was my dad laughing to the point of near tears while saying "Oran Juice!" over and over again. But the next time I watched: the thunder. The crux of my fascination, though, was twofold. One, it introduced me to the concept of obsessive love ("Did you miss me? I missed you too! I missed you so much I followed you today!"). For the first minute or so of the video, I was freaked out by this man following a woman down dark alleys in the rain. By the end I'd realized that while his methods were unorthodox, they were entirely justified in the face of his girlfriend's romantic betrayal. I've carried that lesson with me to this day: Sometimes people violate your trust and force you to be shady. Hell, short of murder their cheating basically gives you carte blanche. While I'm almost entirely serious in saying that, "The Rain" also birthed my view of romantic obsession as a boundless comedic goldmine.
Which kind of brings me to the second reason for this song's hold on me: The amazing monologue at the end. You can almost hear the dings of a pinball machine as he hits all his points of vindictive awesomeness. It's the ultimate fantasy of a classic dressing-down, particularly the fact that when you're imagining really telling someone off, the other person just sputters and remains silent knowing how right you are. In reality, they so often ruin it with something like "...wait, go back to the part where you read my diary."
Oran 'Juice' Jones - The Rain
Laura Branigan - Self Control