"Feeling Good" (also known as "Feelin' Good") is a song written by English composers Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd. It was first performed on stage in 1964 by Cy Grant on the UK tour and by Gilbert Price in 1965 with the original Broadway cast.
|Published||1964 by Musical Comedy Productions|
Nina Simone recorded "Feeling Good" for her 1965 album I Put a Spell on You. The song has also been covered by Traffic, Michael Bublé, John Coltrane, George Michael, Victory, Eels, Joe Bonamassa, EDEN, Muse, Black Cat Bones, and Bassnectar, among others.
- 1 Early performances and recordings
- 2 Nina Simone version
- 3 Muse version
- 4 Michael Bublé version
- 5 The Pussycat Dolls version
- 6 George Michael version
- 7 Lauryn Hill version
- 8 Selected list of other notable recordings
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early performances and recordingsEdit
Although Bricusse and Newley shared songwriting credits, the words of the song are usually attributed to Bricusse, with the music by Newley. The song was first performed in public by the Guyanese-British singer and actor Cy Grant on the opening night of The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham on 3 August 1964. The show, directed by Newley, toured British provincial theatres, and was then taken to the US by theatre producer David Merrick. It opened on 16 May 1965 at the Shubert Theatre in New York City, where the role of "the Negro", who sings "Feeling Good", was taken by Gilbert Price.
In the show, Price's character is asked to perform a game against the show's hero "Cocky"; but, as "Cocky" and his master "Sir" argue over the rules, "the Negro" reaches the centre of the stage and "wins", singing the song at his moment of triumph. It was described as a "booming song of emancipation", and a Billboard review said it was "the kind of robust number that should have strong appeal." The original cast recording of the show, featuring Price's version of the song, was released by RCA Victor in early 1965, before the show reached New York.
A version by Cy Grant with pianist Bill Le Sage – much jazzier than the original stage version – appeared on their 1965 album Cy & I. Anthony Newley's own recording appeared on his 1965 album "Who Can I Turn To" and other songs from "The Roar of the Greasepaint". One of the earliest recorded versions was a jazz treatment by saxophonist John Coltrane, which appeared on his album The John Coltrane Quartet Plays.... Recorded on 18 February 1965, it also features Art Davis, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner. Versions were also released in 1965 by Nina Simone, Jean DuShon, Julie London, Chris Connor, Billy Eckstine, and Sammy Davis Jr..
Nina Simone versionEdit
|Song by Nina Simone|
|from the album I Put a Spell on You|
Nina Simone's version, arranged and produced by Hal Mooney, was recorded in New York in January 1965 and appeared on her album I Put a Spell on You. It was not released as a single at the time. In 1994, Simone's recording was used in a British TV commercial for Volkswagen, and became popular. Released as a single, it reached no. 40 on the UK Singles Chart in July 1994.
Simone's version was remixed by Joe Claussell in 2002 for the first volume of the Verve Remixed series.
The vocal track by Nina Simone and the music of "Feeling Good" have been sampled in numerous songs. In 1997, it was sampled in "Feeling Good" by Huff & Herb  Other uses include "How I Feel" by Wax Tailor, from the 2005 album Tales of the Forgotten Melodies; "New Day" from the debut collaborative studio album Watch the Throne by American rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West in 2011; "How I Feel" by Flo Rida, from the 2013 album The Perfect 10; and, also in 2013, in the beginning of Bassnectar's Immersive Music Mixtape Side One.
The track "About You" on Mary J. Blige's 2005 album The Breakthrough features an unusual take on the song. The bulk of the recording consists of new lyrics, composed by Mary J. Blige, will.i.am and Keith Harris; however, the chorus samples several lines from "Feeling Good" as performed by Nina Simone. Nina's original vocals are distorted so much that her voice is almost unrecognisable. For this reason, Simone receives a credit as a featured artist, and Newley and Bricusse receive credit as co-writers. "About You" is produced by will.i.am. The original instrumental track to Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" was also used in the Swedish musician Avicii's song of the same name, used by Volvo.
Simone's recording was used in the film Point of No Return, and it appears on soundtracks for the movies Repo Men (2010), Last Holiday (2006), Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017), and the TV soundtrack Six Feet Under, Vol. 2: Everything Ends. The Bassnectar/Simone cover was used in "Chapter 6", a first-season episode of the television series Legion.
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In a poll by Total Guitar about best cover songs, Muse's version was fifth. In September 2010, NME readers voted it the greatest cover song of all time over "Twist and Shout" by The Beatles and "Hurt" by Johnny Cash.  A BBC poll in 2014 placed it ninth.
The song appeared in the movie Seven Pounds (2008), one episode of the TV series Queer as Folk, and during the end credits of an episode of the TV series Luther. It was used by Nestlé without the band's permission, so Nestlé replaced it with the Nina Simone version and paid Muse settlement money, which the band donated to Oxfam. Virgin Atlantic used the Muse version for a global television commercial which debuted in October 2010. The ad featured the song accompanying surreal vignettes of Virgin Atlantic cabin crew members. This sequence included imagery of flying people, a nod to the artwork of Muse's album Absolution.
Michael Bublé versionEdit
|Single by Michael Bublé|
|from the album It's Time|
|Released||4 April 2005|
|Genre||Jazz, pop, rock|
|Michael Bublé singles chronology|
"Feeling Good" was covered by Canadian singer Michael Bublé as the lead single from his album, It's Time. The single was released on 4 April 2005. The song was the opening track on his live album, Caught in the Act, and has appeared in television commercials, ESPN's 2005 World Series of Poker tournament, and the 2010 NBA draft broadcast.
The single peaked at No. 162 in the United Kingdom, No. 70 in Australia, No. 36 in Germany, No. 66 in Austria, and No. 14 in Poland. The song has become one of his most popular singles and became a hit in May 2010 when it reached No. 69 on the UK Singles Chart after it was featured in British commercials.
|ARIA Singles Chart||70|
|UK Singles Chart||69|
|Polish Singles Chart||14|
|Austrian Singles Chart||66|
|Netherlands Singles Chart||61|
|German Singles Chart||36|
Sales and certificationsEdit
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
The Pussycat Dolls versionEdit
|Song by The Pussycat Dolls|
|from the album PCD|
The Pussycat Dolls' version of "Feeling Good" received mixed reviews from critics. Nick Butler of Sputnikmusic criticised all four of the covers featured on the album. He singled out "Feeling Good", writing that the song's inclusion on the album serves as "a pretty pointless vocal workout for Nicole." He added that "None of them stand up to other covers of the same tracks, let alone the originals." John Murphy from musicOMH gave a negative review writing, "All the emotion and melodrama of the original is ripped out of the heart of the song and we're left with a pointless, faux-jazz version. They may as well have strutted over to [Nina] Simone's grave and performed a stiletto clad dance upon it." Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine commented that the "rendition of 'Feelin' Good' [...] is misguided at best." However, in contrast, Spence D. of IGN wrote that "Feeling Good" "comes too late in the game to really save the album from spiraling into a melange of innocuous pop-cum-R&B studio crafted fluff." Spence D. praised the song for returning to the "retro vibe with wondrous results." On the Billboard Jazz Songs chart, the song peaked at number 23, becoming The Pussycat Dolls' only song to appear on that chart.
The song is included on their 2006 Live from London as the fourth track of the DVD. The song is performed solely by Scherzinger. The song was also included on their first headlining tour, PCD World Tour. While delivering an a cappella version of the songs Scherzinger wears a "virginal hoodie-cum-headscarf." Helen Pidd of The Guardian while reviewing their show in Manchester commented that "she sure can sing.".
George Michael versionEdit
|Single by George Michael|
|from the album Symphonica|
|Released||11 August 2014|
|George Michael singles chronology|
George Michael performed "Feeling Good" during his 2011–12 Symphonica Tour and included it on the Symphonica album (2014). The music video was released on 6 May 2014 and "Feeling Good" was sent to radio on 11 August 2014. The release of "Feeling Good" coincided with the issue of Symphonica on the vinyl format. It became his final single before his death in 2016.
The studio version of "Feeling Good" was recorded by Michael in 2008 (with actress Loretta Devine featured prominently on backing vocals) and included on the US edition of his Twenty Five compilation. He also performed it during the 2008 legs of his 25 Live tour and the 2010 George Michael Live in Australia concerts.
|Various||11 August 2014||Contemporary hit radio||Aegean|||
Lauryn Hill versionEdit
Lauryn Hill covered "Feeling Good" as a part of an album of covers in tribute to Nina Simone, which features various Black artists, entitled Nina Revisited: A Tribute to Nina Simone (2015). With Hill being considered one of the "second generation of contemporary soul stirrers", she describes Simone's music as a music she "fed on" and states that "[Simone's] example is clearly a form of sustenance to a generation needing to find theirs", describing the great influence Simone has had on Black artists as the food that continues to give to their music. The Netflix film that featured the album, entitled "What Happened, Miss Simone?" received critiques for its depiction of Nina Simone, with it failing to give Simone the credit as "one of America's greatest geniuses" being able to "[survive] America and [create] such searingly beautiful music". With the film blaming Simone's "descent" in the music industry on the idea that she "disappears in the Civil Rights Movement", there is a lack of clear understanding on the significance that Simone's music posed for the Black community during this time. The number of times that "Feeling Good" has been sampled alludes to the significance that Simone's music had before, during, and after her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, displaying how the "assimilation of radical new material is the core practice around which a deeply conservative tradition has been built", allowing for new artists to reassess how traditional styles of music can be applied to the experiences of today. Lauryn Hill's reinvention of the classic "Feeling Good" reminds us of the genius of the original, showing how a "sensitive soul felt and conveyed in music, the trauma of the Black experience".
Selected list of other notable recordingsEdit
- 1965: Andy Bey & the Bey Sisters on ' Round Midnight
- 1965: John Coltrane on The John Coltrane Quartet Plays
- 1965: Jean DuShon on the album Feeling Good
- 1965: Julie London on the album Feeling Good
- 1965: Chris Connor on the album Sings Gentle Bossa Nova
- 1965: Billy Eckstine on the album The Prime of My Life
- 1965: Sammy Davis, Jr. on the album The Sammy Davis, Jr. Show
- 1965: Dorothy Ashby on the album The Fantastic Jazz Harp of Dorothy Ashby
- 1966: Stanley Turrentine on the album Rough 'n' Tumble
- 1966: Bobby Darin on the album Bobby Darin: In A Broadway Bag 
- 1966: Jack Jones on his album Impossible Dream
- 1966: Freda Payne on the album How Do You Say I Don't Love You Anymore
- 1966: Carmen McRae on her live album Woman Talk
- 1968: Rufus Harley on the album Courage
- 1968: Nichelle Nichols on the album Down To Earth
- 1969: Black Cat Bones on the album Barbed Wire Sandwich
- 1969: Traffic on the album Last Exit
- 1969: Mahogany on the album Mahogany
- 1991: Carla White on the album Listen Here
- 1993: Elaine Paige on her album Romance & the Stage
- 2000: Eels on the album Oh What a Beautiful Morning
- 2000: Frank Cunimondo Trio on the album Feelin' Good
- 2001: Muse on their double A-side single Feeling Good and the album Origin of Symmetry
- 2003: RZA samples Freda Payne's rendition in the lead track of the album Birth of a Prince, "Bob 'N' I"
- 2003: Sacred Spirit on their song "A New Dawn" from the album Jazzy Chill Out
- 2004: Michelle McManus on her debut album The Meaning of Love
- 2004: Sophie B. Hawkins on the album Wilderness
- 2005: Wax Tailor on the album Tales of the Forgotten Melodies, sampled on the track "How I Feel"
- 2005: Quantic Soul Orchestra on the album Pushin' On
- 2006: Lil' Wayne & Juelz Santana on the shelved mixtape I Can't Feel My Face, sampled on the track "Birds Flyin' High"
- 2007: Toše Proeski on the album Igri Bez Granici
- 2007: John Barrowman on the album Another Side
- 2007: Blackmailers on the album Paradise Fanfare Blues
- 2007: Randy Crawford and Joe Sample on the album Feeling Good
- 2007: UNC Clef Hangers on the album Time Out. The track was also included in the a cappella compilation album Sing III.
- 2009: Adam Lambert on the album Season 8 Favorite Performances
- 2009: Joe Bonamassa on The Ballad of John Henry
- 2009: My Brightest Diamond on Dark Was the Night
- 2009: Oleta Adams on Let's Stay Here
- 2009: Escala on Escala; used as a floor music by Sandra Izbasa in 2013.
- 2010: Gregory Porter in his album Water
- 2010: Asa on her Live in Paris album
- 2010: M.I Abaga in his album Illegal Music
- 2010: Noize MC on the song "Mersedes S666" in the album Последний альбом (альбом Noize MC)
- 2011: Jennifer Hudson album track from I Remember Me
- 2011: Jay-Z and Kanye West on the song "New Day" in the album Watch the Throne
- 2011: Ronan Parke in his debut album Ronan Parke
- 2013: Ane Brun in her retrospective album Songs: 2003–2013
- 2013: Leslie West (with Dee Snider) on his album Still Climbing
- 2013: Aynsley Lister on his album Home
- 2014: Prabhu Deva on his movie Action Jackson
- 2015: Avicii as a same-titled single, with amended lyrics. Performed by Audra Mae, the song was in cooperation with Volvo Cars for use in an ad.
- 2016: Max Vangeli sampled for his song "Shine" (feat. Francis Marvel & Kacie Marie).
- 2018: Dami Im on her album I Hear a Song
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- Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip Hop by Joseph Schloss
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