The Essential Laura Branigan: Ranking Her Top 20 Songs

It’s been a decade since we lost Laura Branigan (she died in her sleep of a cerebral aneurysm), but her music will live forever, and those 80’s hits still hold up fabulously decades later.

Today would have been her 57th birthday, so let’s pay tribute to one of the most passionate vocalists in pop music history. These 20 songs represent her greatest hits, should-have-been hits, and unforgettable album cuts. It’s the Essential Laura Branigan.

20. DIM ALL THE LIGHTS

YEAR: 1995
ALBUM: The Best Of Branigan
CHART PEAK: N/A

For her last music video (and last work with Atlantic Records), Laura recorded this cover of the Donna Summer classic for her Greatest Hits collection. And yes, that’s Miss Understood and Hedda Lettuce in the video.

19. THE SWEET HELLO THE SAD GOODBYE
YEAR: 1993
ALBUM: Over My Heart
CHART PEAK: N/A

Per Gessle (Roxette) wrote this beautiful ballad in 1990, and Laura recorded it for her final studio album, making it her own.

18. FOREVER YOUNG
YEAR: 1985
ALBUM: Hold Me
CHART PEAK: N/A

Laura remade the Alphaville hit, and she would make it her concert finale for years afterward.

17. MAYBE TONIGHT

YEAR: 1985
ALBUM: Hold Me
CHART PEAK: N/A

The third single from her massively underrated 1985 album Hold Me, it failed to even chart on the Hot 100, despite its classic pop sound.

16. LOOKING OUT FOR NUMBER ONE
YEAR: 1980
ALBUM: Silver Dreams
CHART PEAK: N/A

Two years before her official debut album, Laura recorded a collection called Silver Dreams that was never released because of problems with her management. “Looking Out For Number One” was scheduled to be a single from the album, but was lost until decades later when it was included as a bonus track on the expanded edition of Branigan

15. COME INTO MY LIFE
YEAR: 1988
ALBUM: Coming To America
CHART PEAK: N/A

Laura and Joe Esposito teamed up for this lovely late-80’s duet from the soundtrack of Coming To America, but it failed to chart.

14. TI AMO
YEAR: 1984
ALBUM: Self Control
CHART PEAK: #55

The third single from Self Control was a remake of a 1977 Italian song by Umberto Tozzi, who of course also provided Laura with her signature song “Gloria.”

13. SPANISH EDDIE

YEAR: 1985
ALBUM: Hold Me
CHART PEAK: #40

After the platinum worldwide success of the Self Control album, Laura released her fourth album in 1985, but it failed to climb the chart heights of her first three, and the first single peaked at a disappointing #40.

12. IMAGINATION
YEAR: 1983
ALBUM: Flashdance
CHART PEAK: N/A

Laura contributed the sultry “Imagination” to the Flashdance soundtrack, and its enormous success helped boost her name recognition just as her second album was coming out.

11. POWER OF LOVE
YEAR: 1987
ALBUM: Touch
CHART PEAK: #26

Jennifer Rush will always have the definitive version of this classic, but Laura’s cover is a close second (sorry, Celine). Sadly, it was Laura’s final top 40 hit.

10. SHATTERED GLASS

YEAR: 1987
ALBUM: Touch
CHART PEAK: #48

The first single from Touch was from 80’s hitmakers Stock, Aitken, Waterman, but they couldn’t work their magic enough to make this the hit it deserved to be.

9. MOONLIGHT ON WATER

YEAR: 1990
ALBUM: Laura Branigan
CHART PEAK: #59

Laura took three years off and returned with her sparkling self-titled album in 1990, but it failed on the chart, and the first single “Moonlight On Water” was an inexplicable flop.

8. HOW CAN I HELP YOU SAY GOODBYE
YEAR: 1993
ALBUM: Over My Heart
CHART PEAK: N/A

The opening track from Laura’s final studio album, she takes what could have been a maudlin eye-roller and makes it a poignant masterpiece.

7. SOLITAIRE

YEAR: 1983
ALBUM: Branigan 2
CHART PEAK: #7

The first single from her second album, it proved she was no one-hit wonder.

6. DIDN’T WE ALMOST WIN IT ALL

YEAR: 1993
ALBUM: Over My Heart
CHART PEAK: N/A

Laura’s final studio album failed to chart anywhere in the world, and was dismissed by critics, but it contains some fabulous gems, including the first single. (Trivia – The video features her brother Billy, also a recording artist)

5. SELF CONTROL

YEAR: 1984
ALBUM: Self Control
CHART PEAK: #4

It became Laura’s third top ten smash and her biggest international hit, hitting #1 in 9 countries.

4. THE LUCKY ONE

YEAR: 1984
ALBUM: Self Control
CHART PEAK: #20

The second release from Laura’s first platinum album, it was her 5th top 20 hit in a row, but is still one of her most underrated singles.

3. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LIVE WITHOUT YOU
YEAR: 1983
ALBUM: Branigan 2
CHART PEAK: #12

It almost became her third consecutive top ten hit (and it did spend three weeks at #1 on the adult contemporary chart), it was the first hit song written by Michael Bolton, who would later release his own vastly inferior version.

2. GLORIA

YEAR: 1982
ALBUM: Branigan
CHART PEAK: #2

Laura’s signature song, it peaked in its 23rd week on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at #2 for three weeks, in December of 1982. It would spend 22 weeks in the Top Forty and 36 weeks in the Hot 100, which was a record for a female artist at the time.

1. CRY WOLF

YEAR: 1987
ALBUM: Touch
CHART PEAK: N/A

Laura was the first artist to record this gorgeous song, followed by Stevie Nicks two years later. Laura imbues it with passion and fire, and I think it’s the greatest showcase for her unforgettable voice.

Bubbling under the Top 20: “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” “Mangwane,” “Never In A Million Years,” “Close Enough”

Okay, your turn, 80’s fans! What’s in your Essential Laura Collection?

80's Pop Culture Expert, Shooting At The Walls Of Heartache.
@therealsnicks