Feeling Good

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"Feeling Good"
from the musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd
Written by Anthony Newley
Leslie Bricusse
Published 1964
Recorded by Nina Simone, Muse, Michael Bublé, Eels, Cy Grant and others
Performed by Cy Grant, Gilbert Price and others

"Feeling Good" (also known as "Feelin' Good") is a song written by English songwriters Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd. The song was first performed on stage in 1964 by Cy Grant on the UK tour, and by Gilbert Price in the original Broadway cast in 1965.[1]

Nina Simone recorded the song for her 1965 album I Put a Spell on You and it became a standard. The song has been covered by many artists, most notably by English rock band Muse, Michael Bublé and Eels.

Early performances and recordings[edit]

Although Bricusse and Newley shared songwriting credits, the words of the song are usually attributed to Bricusse, with the music by Newley.[2] 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; Elaine Paige played the part of one of the "Urchins" in the chorus. 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.[3]

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.[2] It was described as a "booming song of emancipation,"[4] and a Billboard review said it was "the kind of robust number that should have strong appeal"[5] 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.[6] Anthony Newley's own recording appeared on his 1965 album "Who Can I Turn To" and other songs from 'The Roar of the Greasepaint'.[7] 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.[8] Versions were also released in 1965 by Nina Simone, Jean DuShon, Julie London, Chris Connor, and Sammy Davis Jr..

Nina Simone's recording[edit]

"Feeling Good"
Song by Nina Simone from the album I Put a Spell on You
Released 1965
Recorded January 1965
Genre Show tune, jazz, blues
Length 2:53
Label Philips
Writer Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley

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 1987, Simone's recording was used in a British TV commercial for fabric conditioner, and became popular. Released as a single, it reached no.40 on the UK singles chart in September 1987.[9]

Simone's version was remixed by Joe Claussell in 2002 for the first volume of the Verve Remixed series.

Use in samples[edit]

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 [10] and the following year in "The Twister" by Viper.[11] 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.[citation needed]

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. The original vocals are distorted so that the voice is almost unrecognisable. For this reason, Simone receives a credit as a feature artist, and Newley and Bricusse receive credit as co-writers. The track is produced by will.i.am.

Use in popular culture[edit]

Nina Simone's recording was used in the film Point of No Return, in which the protagonist uses the code name "Nina" and claims to be a longtime fan of Simone's music. It was also used in 2004 in the promotional video for the 4th season of the TV series Six Feet Under; in 2005 in the 2nd volume soundtrack of the TV series Six Feet Under; and in 2006 in the Italian film Nuovomondo (Golden Door), and in Last Holiday.[12] In 2009 it appeared in the video game The Saboteur (set during World War II, long before the song was written).[13] Other uses include the film Repo Men; the Chuck season 3 episode "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners; the 2011 French comedy film Intouchables;[14] and in 2013 in the Person of Interest season 3 episode "Liberty". In April 2011, the American TV network PBS used the song to promote the airing of the TV series "Upstairs, Downstairs".

Billy Paul's recording[edit]

Although influenced by Simone, Billy Paul made an equally powerful and original recording in 1968. This recording was before Paul's fame and was not commercially successful. Nonetheless, it continues to be an underground critical success.

Muse's cover[edit]

"Feeling Good"
Single by Muse
from the album Origin of Symmetry
Released 19 November 2001
Format 7",[15] CD [16]
Genre Alternative rock
Length 3:19
Writer(s) Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley
Muse singles chronology
"Bliss"
(20 August 2001)
"Hyper Music / Feeling Good"
(19 Nov. 2001)
"Dead Star/In Your World"
(17 June 2002)

Muse crafted a modern rock version of the 1964 song which appears on their 2001 album named Origin of Symmetry. It was released as a single also featuring the song "Hyper Music".

Reception[edit]

In a poll by Total Guitar of "the best covers ever", the Muse version came 5th in the list.[17] In September 2010, NME readers voted the Muse version of the song the greatest cover song of all time, beating The Beatles' version of "Twist and Shout" and Johnny Cash's "Hurt".[18]

Use in popular culture[edit]

The song has featured prominently in many forms of media, including the 2008 movie Seven Pounds starring Will Smith, one episode of the TV series Queer as Folk and during the end credits of an episode of TV series Luther. It was used by Nescafé for their advertising, but without the band's permission, so Nescafé replaced it with the Nina Simone version. Muse was subsequently paid settlement money, which they donated to Oxfam. Virgin Atlantic used the Muse version as the soundtrack for a global television commercial which debuted in October 2010. The ad prominently features the song as accompaniment to a surreal sequence of vignettes depicting Virgin Atlantic cabin crew members. This sequence includes imagery of flying people, a nod to the artwork of Muse's album Absolution as well as forks very similar to the artwork on the band's Muscle Museum EP.

Michael Bublé's cover[edit]

"Feeling Good"
Single by Michael Bublé
from the album It's Time
Released 4 April 2005[19]
Format CD single, digital download
Recorded 2005
Genre Big band, Jazz
Length 3:57
Label 143, Reprise
Writer(s) Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley
Michael Bublé singles chronology
"Spider-Man Theme"
(2004)
"Feeling Good"
(2005)
"Home"
(2005)
Music video
"Feeling Good (Official video)" on YouTube

"Feeling Good" was later covered by Canadian crooner Michael Bublé, and released as the lead single from his second major-label studio album, It's Time. The single was released on 4 April 2005. Feeling Good was also used as the opening track for Bublé's live album Caught in the Act, which was recorded live during his performance at the Wiltern Theater. The music video for the track was directed by Noble Jones.

Use in popular culture[edit]

Bublé's version has since been used in several television commercials, and introductions for ESPN's 2005 World Series of Poker Tournament, and for the 2010 NBA Draft Tournament. It has also featured in a number of films. The most recent appearance of his version occurs on advertisements for Virgin Holidays.

Tracklisting[edit]

  • German CD single[19]
  1. "Feeling Good" – 3:57
  2. "Softly As I Leave You" – 3:23
  3. "You'll Never Know" (Live) – 3:48

Chart performance[edit]

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. Despite this, the song has became one of his most popular singles, and is performed during almost all of his concerts. The track finally became a hit in May 2010, when it reached No. 69 on the UK Singles Chart after it was featured in a series of British commercials.

Chart (2005–2010) Peak
position
ARIA Singles Chart 70
UK Singles Chart 69
Polish Singles Chart 14
Austrian Singles Chart 66
Netherlands Singles Chart 61
German Singles Chart 36


The Pussycat Dolls' cover[edit]

"Feeling Good"
Song by The Pussycat Dolls from the album PCD
Length 4:19
Label A&M
Producer
PCD track listing
"Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go"
(11)
"Feeling Good"
(12)

American girl group The Pussycat Dolls recorded "Feeling Good" for their debut studio album, PCD (2005). The cover was received negatively by music critics who criticised describing it as "pointless" and "misguided". It charted at number 23 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs. The song was performed solely by lead singer Nicole Scherzinger on their first headlining tour PCD World Tour (2007). It was additionally included the 2006 DVD Live from London as the fourth track.

Reception[edit]

The Pussycat Dolls' version of "Feeling Good" received mostly negative reviews from critics. Nick Butler of Sputnikmusic criticised for all of the four covers located in the album.[20] In particular of "Feeling Good" he criticised the song's inclusion on the album writing that it's "a pretty pointless vocal workout for Nicole."[20] He added that "None of them stand up to other covers of the same tracks, let alone the originals."[20] 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."[21] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine commented that the "rendition of 'Feelin' Good' [...] is misguided at best."[22] 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."[23] On the Billboard Jazz Songs chart, the song peaked at number 23 becoming The Pussycat Dolls' only song to appear on that chart.[24]

Live performances[edit]

The song is included on their 2006 Live from London as the fourth track of the DVD.[19] The song is solely performed by Scherzinger.[19] The song was also included on their first headlining tour, PCD World Tour. While delivering an acapella version of the songs Scherzinger wears a "virginal hoodie-cum-headscarf." Helen Pidd of the The Guardian while reviewing their show in Manchester commented that "she sure can sing."[25]

Selected list of other notable recordings[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Feeling Good", The Originals, BE, retrieved 11 April 2013 .
  2. ^ a b Judy Harris, The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd. Retrieved 6 January 2014
  3. ^ "The Roar of the Greasepaint & the Smell of the Crowd", The Guide to Musical Theatre, retrieved 11 April 2013 
  4. ^ Stanley Green, Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre, Da Capo Press, 2009, p.120
  5. ^ Cameron Dewar, "'Greasepaint' Has What It Takes - And Maybe More", Billboard, 10 April 1965, p.12
  6. ^ "Cy and I", discogs.com, retrieved 5 January 2014 .
  7. ^ Anthony Newley, Who Can I Turn To and other songs from The Roar of the Greasepaint, Discogs.com. Retrieved 6 January 2014
  8. ^ The John Coltrane Quartet Plays... at Allmusic.com. Retrieved 6 January 2014
  9. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 703. ISBN 0-00-717931-6. 
  10. ^ "Nina Simone, Feelin' good", Disco GS (search) 
  11. ^ "Nina Simone, Felling good", Who sampled (search) 
  12. ^ "Soundtracks". Last Holiday (2006). Internet Movie Database. 1 May 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  13. ^ "The Saboteur Video Game, E3 09" (Trailer HD) (Video Clip). Game Trailers. 29 May 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  14. ^ "Intouchables (La bande originale du film)". iTunes. CH: Apple. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  15. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Muse-Hyper-Music-Feeling-Good/release/515432
  16. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Muse-Hyper-Music-Feeling-Good/release/972235
  17. ^ "TG's Best Covers EVER! | Total Guitar". MusicRadar. 23 June 2008. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  18. ^ "Muse beat The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash to win best cover song of all time". NME, 22 September 2010
  19. ^ a b c d Amazon: Feeling Good – Michael Bublé. Retrieved 11 April 2013
  20. ^ a b c Butler, Nick. "Review: Pussycat Dolls – PCD". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  21. ^ Murphy, John. "The Pussycat Dolls – PCD – Album Reviews". musicOMH. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  22. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (7 September 2005). "The Pussycat Dolls: PCD – Music Review". musicOMH. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  23. ^ D, Spence (14 September 2005). "The Pussycat Dolls – PCD – IGN". IGN. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  24. ^ "Pussycat Dolls Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  25. ^ Pidd, Helen (30 November 2006). "The Pussycat Dolls, MEN Arena, Manchester". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 

External links[edit]