"I Will Survive
" is a song first performed by Gloria Gaynor
, released in October 1978. It was written by Freddie Perren
and Dino Fekaris
The song's lyrics describe a narrator who finds personal strength while recovering from a break-up; it has often been used as an anthem of female empowerment, a gay anthem, and HIV/AIDS awareness - and is a firm favourite on the karaoke circuit. It is one of the most famous disco songs of all time, and easily Gaynor's biggest hit; it received massive airplay in 1979, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100, also reaching number one in the UK the next day.
The song was originally released as the B-side to a song first recorded by The Righteous Brothers called "Substitute", a track thought to have more potential for mainstream success by her record label. It became a worldwide hit for Clout in 1978, instead. Disc jockeys began flipping the single over and eventually copies of the record were pressed with "I Will Survive" as the A-side ("Substitute" managed to peak at number 107 on Billboard's Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart).
The song was rated number nine on George Carlin's 10 Most Embarrassing Songs of All Time.
It received the Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording in 1980, the only year that the award was given. It is ranked #489 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". The Song was also listed at #97 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of all time.
After the success of fellow '70s stars Sister Sledge's remixed singles in the UK in 1993, this song was also released in a remixed form there in about June/July 1993. Also meriting success, this remix reached number five on the UK Singles Chart (while the original version had topped the chart in 1979), but was her only successful remix single in the UK.
The video was filmed in 1979 in a New York discotheque called Xenon. Sheila Reid-Pender is the featured skater in the video from the skating group, The Village Wizards. They formed at The Village Skating Rink located in Greenwich Village which was the first rollerskating rink to open in Manhattan and was owned by Richard "Dick" Clammer. The still popular video can be seen on VH-1 and You Tube.
The alternative rock band Cake covered the song in a rock style in 1996 on the album Fashion Nugget. This version was considered controversial because lead singer John McCrea altered the lyrics to be "I should have changed my fucking lock". Despite this, the track was released as the album's lead-off single. This is Gloria Gaynor's least favorite version of the song due to its use of profanity..
- "I Will Survive"
Cake Music video
The music video for Cake's version features John McCrea as a parking control officer who is writing tickets in San Francisco, often at the expense of normally happy people (such as a newly wed couple). This is combined with footage of Todd Roper playing in the streets, Victor Damiani playing on top of a car, and Greg Brown playing in a crowded courtyard.
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- Dame Shirley Bassey produced a cover version for her album in 2007, Get the Party Started. There is also a live version where she sings the song with Albita, Alicia Villareal, Ana Gabriel, Arturo Sandoval, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Gloria Estefan, Johnny Pacheco, José Alberto "El Canario", José Feliciano, Los Tri-O, Luis Enrique, Marc Anthony, Milly Quezada, Mickey Perfecto, Olga Tañón, Patti Labelle, Rosario, Paulina Rubio, Tito Nieves, and Victor Manuelle.
- Crazy Frog did his version of the song in 2006.
- Régine sang the song in French in 1979 as "Je survivrai"
- Larusso sang the song in French in 2006 as Je Survivrai
- Ajda Pekkan sang it in Turkish with the title Bambaşka Biri.
- R.E.M. recorded an acoustic version as part of the 1996 Fan Club Singles.
- Andrés Calamaro released his version of the song in 2001 and is included as a bonus track on the album Lo mejor de Andrés Calamaro.
- Gladys Knight & The Pips added a live version to their 1980 album Touch.
- Diana Ross covered the song for her 1995 album, Take Me Higher.
- In 1998 Chilean soap opera Marparaíso used this song as its main theme in a translated version named "Yo viviré."
- Tony Clifton (AKA Andy Kaufman) made a guest appearance in The Muppet Show in 1982, and sang "I Will Survive" in his very particular Vegas style. Jim Carrey also performed the song as Kaufman in the film Man on the Moon.
- Wilson, NC Metal act, Sodlayer, covered it in their very particular Death metal style.
- Part of it was sung a cappella in Men in Black II by Frank the Pug.
- In the film The Replacements, the football players being held in jail after a fight lighten their spirits by singing the song while performing a line dance, led by Orlando Jones' character.
- Several lines of it are sung, although to a quite different tune, in They Might Be Giants's song "The Biggest One" (which can be found on the compilation Then: The Earlier Years.)
- The Puppini Sisters released an interesting 40s harmonizing version of the song in 2007 on their album Betcha Bottom Dollar.
- Japanese pop artist Rina Aiuchi covered the song on a Giza Studio compilation album.
- A Korean version is sung by Jin-Ju.
- There is a Russian version called "Ya budu zhitz" ("I will live") sung by International Stars.
- Czech singer Helena Vondráčková sings a version in Czech called "Ja Půjdu Dál" ("I will go on").
- Nils Landgren (trombone/vocals) covered the song on his album Sentimental Journey (2002)
- Latin Superstar Selena opened her last concert, which took place at the Houston Astrodome, with this song.
- Hermes House Band released a cover version of the song in 1994 which made the band famous. Later the song was sold all over the world with more than 2.5 million sellings.
- Chicago R&B singer Chantay Savage released a cover of the song for her similarly titled album, I Will Survive (Doin' It My Way) in 1995.
- Boston indie pop duo Action Camp recorded a version in a style they call "violent tango" on the 2008 internet-only release Cover Like Tan.
- Aretha Franklin never recorded "I Will Survive," which is a common misconception perpetuated by peer to peer file sharing programs.
- The Countdown Singers have covered the song, with their version considered by some to be "Unintentionally hilarious".
- The Top of the Poppers covered the song on their popular The Best of Top of the Pops '79 album.
- Robbie Williams's single Supreme samples the background score of this song.
is based on the multiplayer online game, Darkspace
The song was also part of a very popular internet video in 1999 when Victor Navone's "Alien Song" (http://www.navone.org) was passed around via email, and a similar parody was made by Javier Prato, titled "Jesus Christ - The Musical" available at (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCvOW1rLA2E). The song was also parodied by Jennifer Love Hewitt during her appearance on the Rosie O'Donnell Show, where she complained that O'Donnell did not see her movie I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.
Filipino band Parokya ni Edgar made a spoof of the song called "Picha Pie", which narrates the singer's obsession with pizza. Parts of the mostly Filipino song somewhat resemble the original lyrics.
Luke Smith also created a parody also called "I Will Survive" in relation to the game Counter-Strike where he talks about how he will survive the betrayal of his teammates and still end up wiping out the opposing team.
The song was parodied in the British satirical puppet show Spitting Image. It was sung by a puppet of Queen Elizabeth II as 'One Will Survive'.
Ron Woodruff, a.k.a Fangs of the Natural Selection [FFT] clan and PR manager of nsRadio, parodied the song to reflect the situation of a post-game, gorge class, alien player who has holed up in a vent with defense chambers after the last hive has been destroyed. Typically, destroying the last hive would result in all aliens losing health gradually until death, but the Defense Chambers provide healing to the hiding gorge, in effect, unnecessarily prolonging the game and causing general grief among other players.
In Brazil, the most famous parody is named "Vai Wilson Vai" (which means literally "Go Wilson Go"), performed by the band Velhas Virgens, that tells the story of a man that felt in love with a jokel. It was released in 2005.
In an e-card made by American Greetings, an animated turkey sings a parody version of the song, declaring that she will not be killed and eaten for Thanksgiving dinner. The video, introduced in 2005, quickly became American Greetings' most popular e-card ever, being viewed by approximately 30 million people.
The e-card can no longer be found on the American Greetings website.
Also there was a parody that talked about Fidel Castro.
Usage in Pop Culture
- The song was used in the movies The Replacements, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Men in Black III still know what you did last summer, and Dr. Dolittle 2. It was also used in a humorous segment in the 1997 movie In & Out, in which the main character, a closeted homosexual, dances to it. It has also been used in Meet The Spartans.
- The song was featured in a third season episode of Ally Mcbeal entitled "I Will Survive" in which Ally is haunted by the song, sung by guest star Gloria Gaynor herself, in the wake of Billy's death.
- The song features on the advertisement for the reality show I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!, where little animated insects dance to it. It is also featured in the dancing game Dancing Stage EuroMix, and a cover by Akira Yamaoka is on Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2.
- The song is featured in the Karaoke Game Singstar Anthems, on PlayStation 2.
- In the movie Jenseits der Stille (Beyond Silence, Germany 1996, directed by Caroline Link), a film that deals with deafness, Tom signs the song to Lara.
- In the "Prom Night" episode of That '70s Show, Gloria Gaynor, playing the role of a music teacher, sings the song, while Fez disco dances.
- The UK Hit ITV Prison Drama Bad Girls used this song twice in the history of the show. The first time it was used was in the season finale for series one. The Inmates were singing after hearing of inmate Monica Lindsay release from prison. The second and last time was in the last series.
- On the television show Will & Grace, Will and Jack were on holiday with Grace and Karen. They walk into a bar and Will questions whether it's a gay bar. The bar is empty except for a burly bartender wiping down the bar. Will says to Jack, "Are you sure this is a gay bar?" The jukebox kicks on and begins to play "At first I was afraid, I was petrified..." Will and Jack assuredly step up to the counter.
- On Living Single, Khadijah performs the song to impress the deejay, while she and the rest of the gang are enjoying themselves in a club one night.
- On the television series Special Unit 2, in the episode "The Wall," the normally stern and stoic Captain Page sings along to it during a private moment while playing it on his car stereo.
- The song is also sung by the character Valerie Cherish (played by Lisa Kudrow) in the HBO show The Comeback
- The song was used as a theme song for the World Cup Champion French Soccer Team in 1998.
- Alexis Stone Lopez performed the song twice on the Fox Broadcasting Company Television show American Idol season one.
- The song was also used in an episode of the television show Medium (season 2, episode 2).
- Tony Clifton performed this song in a 1982 episode of The Muppet Show; his character also uses the song to close the film Man On The Moon.
- In the 2005 movie Chicken Little, while Chicken Little tries to get to the Meeting House, they drive a fire truck to both drive there and stop some of the aliens. While trying to get there, Runt of the Litter begins to sing this song.
- In the Mr. Bean's Holiday trailer, when Mr. Bean tries to eat French food, the song is played.
- In the 2007 Turkish movie Polis, the song is played while the family of Musa Rami dances at the picnic.
- In the 2007 movie Gray Matters, the song is sung by Gloria Gaynor herself with Heather Graham and Bridget Moynahan on stage in a Las Vegas casino called Gilroy's.
- In the Movie Meet the Spartans the song is sung twice, once in the beginning as the 13 Spartans are leaving Sparta and then again as a feature production right before the credits that has the cast singing it.
- In Delta Farce (2007), Danny Trejo, a Mexican bandidos master, parodistically sings the opening part of this song in their Karaoke weekend show.
- In the series finale of Queer as Folk (US Version), Michael refers to Ms. Gloria Gaynor's song in his final monologue, while dancing with Brian in Babylon.
- It is included in the video game Karaoke Revolution Volume 2.
- The song is sung by the character KD (played by Purab Kohli) in the Indian Movie - Rock On
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Nadine Hubbs, "‘I Will Survive’: musical mappings of queer social space in a disco anthem." Popular Music, (2007),
HighBeam Research, Inc. © Copyright 2009.
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