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"I Will Survive" is a hit song first performed by American singer Gloria Gaynor, released in October 1978. It was written by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris. A top-selling song after its initial release, it sold 14 million copies worldwide and has remained a popular disco anthem, as well as being certified platinum by the RIAA.[1]

"I Will Survive"
Substitute I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor US 12-inch vinyl.jpg
Sleeve for one of the US 12-inch vinyl pressings of "Substitute / I Will Survive", later reprinted as "I Will Survive / Substitute".
Single by Gloria Gaynor
from the album Love Tracks
B-side"Substitute"
ReleasedOctober 23, 1978 (1978-10-23)
Format7-inch, 12-inch single
Recorded1978
StudioMom & Pop’s Company Store
(Los Angeles, California)
GenreDisco
Length4:56 (album version)
3:15 (single version)
8:01 (12" version)
LabelPolydor
Songwriter(s)Freddie Perren, Dino Fekaris
Producer(s)Dino Fekaris
Gloria Gaynor singles chronology
"Let's Make a Deal"
(1976)
"I Will Survive"
(1978)
"Anybody Wanna Party"
(1979)
Audio sample
"I Will Survive"

The song's lyrics describe the narrator's discovery of personal strength following an initially devastating breakup. It received heavy airplay in 1979, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and on the UK Singles Chart on consecutive weeks. The song is also frequently recalled as a symbol of female strength and as a gay anthem.[2][3][4] In 2016, the Library of Congress deemed Gaynor's original recording to be "culturally, historically, or artistically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Recording Registry.

Contents

ReleasesEdit

Originally released as the B-side to a cover version of the Righteous Brothers song "Substitute", "I Will Survive" became a worldwide hit for Gaynor when disc jockeys played that side of the record instead.[5] "Substitute" appeared on the Billboard Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart for four weeks in October–November 1978, peaking at No. 107.[6] "I Will Survive" then entered the Billboard Hot 100 in December that year and reached No. 1 on the chart in March 1979.

 
Gloria Gaynor performed the song "I Will Survive", which became one of her signature songs.[7][8]

As a disco number, the song was unique for its time by virtue of Gaynor's having no background singers. And, unlike her first disco hits, the track was not pitched up to make it faster and to render Gaynor's recorded voice in a higher register than that in which she actually sang. Most disco hits at the time were heavily produced, with multiple voices, overdubs, and adjustments to pitch and speed. "I Will Survive" had a much more spare and "clean" sound.[citation needed]

The song received the Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording in 1980, the only year the award was given. It is ranked #492 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time", and ranked at #97 on Billboard magazine's "All-Time Hot 100".[9] In 2000, the song was ranked #1 in VH1's list of the 100 greatest dance songs.[5]

A promotional video was filmed in 1979 at the New York discothèque called Xenon. Sheila Reid-Pender of Harlem, NY is the featured skater in the video from the skating group, The Village Wizards. Although three videos were filmed that day, the "I Will Survive" video was the only one to survive. Ms. Gaynor was not present during the taping of the rollerskating segment of the video. Ms. Gaynor and Ms. Pender met for the first time on July 7, 2014 in New York at the 92nd St. Y after Ms. Gaynor's lecture and promotional signing of her book 'We Will Survive'.[10] In this book, Gaynor said, "I wanted everybody—including myself—to believe that we could survive".[10]

Following the success of fellow 1970s disco stars Sister Sledge with remixed singles in the UK in 1993, "I Will Survive" was also remixed and released that summer. This remix reached number five on the UK Singles Chart.

In November 2013, Gaynor released a gospel album entitled We Will Survive, which includes a new, updated remix of "I Will Survive" by DJ Shpank in both extended and radio edit formats.

Impact and legacyEdit

VH1 placed "I Will Survive" at #1 in their list of 100 Greatest Dance Songs in 2000.[11]

In 2012, "I Will Survive" was ranked at #2 in Rolling Stone poll of The Best Disco Songs of All Time.[12]

The Daily Telegraph ranked "I Will Survive" #48 in their The 100 Greatest Songs of All Time list in November 2016.[13]

In 2017 the song was ranked number 7 in Paste Magazine's The 60 Best Dancefloor Classics list.[14]

PersonnelEdit

Official versionsEdit

Recorded by Gloria Gaynor

  • "I Will Survive" (1978 single version) – 3.15
  • "I Will Survive" (1978 album version) – 4.56
  • "I Will Survive" (1978 12" Mix) – 8.02
  • "Yo Viviré (I Will Survive Spanish 12" Mix) – 7.55
  • "I Will Survive" (2009 re-recording) – 5.35
  • "I Will Survive" (2009 re-recording Spanish version) - 5.37

Charts and certificationsEdit

Cover versionsEdit

Billie Jo Spears' version from her 1979 album, I Will Survive, peaked at #21 in the U.S. Country Chart, #9 in the Canadian Country Chart, and #47 in the UK Singles Chart.

Hermes House Band covered the song in 1994, which resulted in a no.1 hit position in The Netherlands and No.2 in Belgium. In 1997 and 1998 their version reached the top ten position in France. In 2018 the band reached No.1 in France hitlist after the win from FIFA World Cup French Team.[56]

Diana Ross' version from her 1995 album, Take Me Higher, peaked at #14 on the UK and European charts. In the United States, it peaked at #37 on the Billboard Dance Music Charts. Ross also performed it during her celebrated Super Bowl XXX halftime show in 1996.[57]

The song has also been covered by many other musicians:

Gladys Knight & The Pips covered this song in the 1981 album 'Touch'.

Conan O'Brien has covered this song at some of his live shows, with lyrics altered to take shots at NBC.[58]

British recording artist Robbie Williams incorporated the string-laden instrumental bridge in a section of his 2000 song Supreme, which became a major hit in several European markets.[citation needed]

British group Erasure also incorporated the string bridge in a section of their 1991 song Love to Hate You.[citation needed]

A cover of the song by Filipina singer Jona was used as the opening theme for ABS-CBN's drama series We Will Survive, along with instrumental versions of the cover serving as incidental music.[59][60]

Cake versionEdit

"I Will Survive"
 
Single by Cake
from the album Fashion Nugget
B-side"Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle"
Released1996
FormatCD single
Recorded1996
GenreAlternative rock
Length5:10
LabelCapricorn
Songwriter(s)Freddie Perren, Dino Fekaris
Producer(s)Cake
Cake singles chronology
"Ruby Sees All"
(1995)
"I Will Survive"
(1996)
"The Distance"
(1997)
Music video
"I Will Survive" on YouTube

Cake covered the song rock-style in 1996, on their album Fashion Nugget. In addition to many subtle changes, lead singer John McCrea altered the lyrics (leading Gaynor to describe the cover as her least favorite version of the song, due to the presence of "profanity").[61] The music video of Cake's version features McCrea as a city parking enforcement officer driving around in a Cushman three-wheeled scooter as he leaves tickets on various cars.

Track listingEdit

CD single
  1. "I Will Survive" (Radio Edit) – 4:14
  2. "Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle" – 4:12
Promo CD single
  1. "I Will Survive" (Radio Edit) – 3:52
  2. "I Will Survive" (Long Radio Edit) – 5:11

Chantay Savage versionEdit

"I Will Survive"
 
Single by Chantay Savage
from the album I Will Survive (Doin' It My Way)
ReleasedJanuary 23, 1996
FormatCD single, 12"
GenreR&B
LabelRCA
Songwriter(s)Freddie Perren, Dino Fekaris
Chantay Savage singles chronology
"Give It to Ya"
(1994)
"I Will Survive"
(1996)
"Baby: Drive Me Crazy"
(1996)
Music video
"I Will Survive" on YouTube

R&B singer Chantay Savage covered the song in 1996 as a ballad. Her version peaked at #24 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and was certified Gold by the RIAA.

Track listingEdit

12" single

Side A

  1. "I Will Survive" (Puff Daddy "Bad Boy Mix")
  2. "I Will Survive" (Silk's Old Skool Extended Mix with Clean Rap)
  3. "I Will Survive" (Original LP version – edit)

Side B

  1. "I Will Survive" (Silk's Classic House Mix)
  2. "I Will Survive" (Rhythm Radio version)

Chart positionsEdit

Chart (1996) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart 12
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 24
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 35
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 10
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 5

Diana Ross versionEdit

"I Will Survive"
 
Single by Diana Ross
from the album Take Me Higher
Released1996
FormatCD single
Recorded1996
GenreDisco
Songwriter(s)
Music video
"I Will Survive" on YouTube

Diana Ross' version from her 1995 album, Take Me Higher, peaked at #14 on the UK and at #3 in Iceland. In the United States, it peaked at #37 on the Billboard Dance Music Charts. Ross also performed it during her celebrated Super Bowl XXX halftime show in 1996.[citation needed][62]

Chart positionsEdit

Chart (1996) Peak
position
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[63] 57
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[64] 3
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[65] 16
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 14
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 37

Hermes House Band versionEdit

Hermes House Band from The Netherlands, covered the song la la la-style in 1994, and scored several number 1 hits in The Netherlands, Belgium and France with this version. They sold more than 2.5 million copies of I Will Survive-la-la-la worldwide.

Chart positionsEdit

Chart (2018) Peak
position
France (SNEP) 1[66]

Leah McFall versionEdit

The Voice UK contestant, Leah McFall, performed the song on the first live show in the style of Chantay Savage. Following the programme, the studio recording of the performance was released and reached number three on UK iTunes.[67] The song debuted at number sixteen on the UK Singles Chart on 9 June 2013, and in the following week it reached number eight.[68]

Chart positionsEdit

Chart (2013) Peak
position
Ireland (IRMA)[69] 39
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[70] 13
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[71] 8

Popular cultureEdit

In 1998, the song became an anthem and gained more popularity in France when the France national football team won the 1998 FIFA World Cup.[72]

In 1999, Gaynor performed the song at the school prom on That '70s Show episode 19 "Prom Night" to cheer up a disheartened, lovelorn Fez, who disco-dances and bumps with her as the song is performed.[73]

It is featured in the 1994 Australian film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert as a lip sync song performed by drag queens Mitzi Del Bra, Bernadette Bassinger, and Felicia Jollygoodfellow at an Australian Aboriginal corroboree. The song proves to be a symbol of the vitality and resistance in the face of discrimination exhibited by the two groups: the LGBTQ+ community and the Aboriginal Australian community.[citation needed]

It was featured in the closing for the 2000 movie The Replacements.

It is featured in the 2012 film Zero Dark Thirty.[citation needed]

It is featured during the ending credits of the 2015 movie The Martian, in which the protagonist left behind on Mars must find a way to survive.

In the French film One Man and His Cow (La Vache, 2016), the protagonist sings a Raï-style version of the song at a village festival.[74]

It appears in a 2017 TV commercial for Capital One, which features Gaynor and Charles Barkley.

"I Will Survive" has been covered in several animated films. In Rio 2, it was sung by Nigel the cockatoo, played by Jemaine Clement. The 2008 Danish-German film Disco Ormene (known in English as Sunshine Barry & the Disco Worms) features the song performed by Gloria the earthworm (Trine Dyrholm). In 2007's Noah's Ark, an Argentine-Italian animated comedy adventure film, a version of the song is performed by a panther named Panthy.

LGBT communityEdit

"I Will Survive" had a particularly large influence within the LGBT community. This is mostly attributed to the lack of acceptance of LGBT individuals, especially at the time of the song's release. Because of this the song is often referred to as a gay anthem. People in the LGBT community have said they identified with "I Will Survive" because the "textual message of defiant and enduring presence was already well tailored to queer identification needs, but this message and the song's titular statement took on even deeper meaning with the dawn of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s".[75]

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ Elizabeth Kaminski and Verta Taylor. "We're Not Just Lip-synching Here: Music and Collective Identity in Drag Performances". Identity Work in Social Movements, p. 58. Retrieved April 26, 2009.
  3. ^ Nadine Hubbs. "'I Will Survive': musical mappings of queer social space in a disco anthem". Popular Music, 26 , pp. 231–244. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
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External linksEdit