Stayin' Alive

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Stayin' Alive"
Single by Bee Gees
from the album Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track
B-side "If I Can't Have You"
Released 13 December 1977
Format Vinyl record (7" 45 RPM)
Recorded Château d'Hérouville,
Hérouville, France, 1977
Genre Disco[1]
Length 4:45
Label RSO
Writer(s) Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb
Producer(s) Bee Gees, Albhy Galuten, Karl Richardson
Certification Platinum (RIAA)
Bee Gees singles chronology
"More Than a Woman"
(1977)
"Stayin' Alive"
(1977)
"Night Fever"
(1978)


Music sample
Saturday Night Fever track listing
Side A
  1. "Stayin' Alive" (Bee Gees)
  2. "How Deep Is Your Love" (Bee Gees)
  3. "Night Fever" (Bee Gees)
  4. "More Than a Woman" (Bee Gees)
  5. "If I Can't Have You" (Yvonne Elliman)
Side B
  1. "A Fifth of Beethoven" (Walter Murphy)
  2. "More Than a Woman" (Tavares)
  3. "Manhattan Skyline" (David Shire)
  4. "Calypso Breakdown" (Ralph MacDonald)
Side C
  1. "Night on Disco Mountain" (David Shire)
  2. "Open Sesame" (Kool & the Gang)
  3. "Jive Talkin'" (Bee Gees)
  4. "You Should Be Dancing" (Bee Gees)
  5. "Boogie Shoes" (KC and the Sunshine Band)
Side D
  1. "Salsation" (David Shire)
  2. "K-Jee" (MFSB)
  3. "Disco Inferno" (The Trammps)

"Stayin' Alive" is a disco song by the group Bee Gees from the Saturday Night Fever motion picture soundtrack. The song was written by the Bee Gees (Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb) and produced by the Bee Gees, Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson. It was released on 13 December 1977, as the second single from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. It is one of their signature songs. In 2004, "Stayin' Alive" was placed at number 189 on the list of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[2]

Upon release, "Stayin' Alive" climbed the charts to hit the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of 4 February 1978, remaining there for four weeks. In the process, it became one of the band's most recognisable tunes, in part because of its place at the beginning of Saturday Night Fever.

Beginnings[edit]

The executive producer of the soundtrack, Robert Stigwood (who was also the Bee Gees' manager), called them up and asked them to write a few songs for a soundtrack to a film he was planning. At this point, the film was in early stages and it did not have a title yet; in fact, all Stigwood had to go on was a New York cover story about discomania. They wrote "Stayin' Alive" over the course of a few days while sprawled on the staircase at the Château d'Hérouville studio in Paris. As with many other artists during the 1970s, the Bee Gees recorded a majority of the soundtrack in France for tax reasons.

Due to the death of drummer Dennis Bryon's mother in the middle of the song's sessions, the group first looked for a replacement. The shortage of qualified drummers in this area of France prompted the group to try a drum machine—yet it did not offer satisfactory results. After listening to the drum track of the already-recorded "Night Fever", the group and producer Albhy Galuten selected two bars from that track, re-recorded them as a recurrent loop on a separate tape, and proceeded with sessions for "Stayin' Alive". This accounts for the unchanging rhythm throughout the song.

As a joke, the group listed the drummer as "Bernard Lupe" (a takeoff on session drummer Bernard Purdie). Mr. Lupe became a highly sought-after drummer—until it was discovered that he did not exist.

RSO Records wanted the song to share the then-title of the film, "Saturday Night", but the Bee Gees refused a title change, insisting that there had been too many songs with "Saturday" in the title, and the album already had a song with the word "night" in the title—"Night Fever". Rather than change the name of the former song to match the film, Stigwood expanded the name of the film to encompass the title of the latter song.

Over the years, the brothers have had mixed feelings about the song. On one hand, they admit it brought them tremendous fame; on the other, it led to their being pigeonholed as a disco act, despite a long and varied career before and after.

Recording[edit]

Recording "Stayin' Alive" was not simple. Engineer Karl Richardson copied a choice few seconds of drumming from "Night Fever", cut out the piece of tape and glued the ends together, then fed it back into a recorder by a makeshift arrangement to create a new drum track. Drummer Dennis Bryon did not attend the recording of "Stayin' Alive". This track was finished at Criteria Studios, with Maurice laid down a bass line like Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman", Barry and Alan on guitar riffs, while Blue Weaver added synthesizers, and the Boneroo Horns added their parts. Barry sings falsetto on the whole song, except on the line "life’s going nowhere, somebody help me".[3]

Albhy Galuten talks about the recording of "Stayin' Alive":

Barry and I listened carefully to find a bar that felt really good. Everyone knows that it's more about feel than accuracy in drum tracks. We chose a bar that felt so good that we ended up using that same loop on 'Stayin' Alive,' and 'More Than a Woman,' and then again on Barbra Streisand's song 'Woman in Love.' To make the loop, we copied the drums onto one-quarter-inch tape. Karl spliced the tape and jury rigged it so that it was going over a mic stand and around a plastic reel. At first, we were doing it just as a temporary measure. As we started to lay tracks down to it, we found that it felt really great-very insistent but not machinelike. It had a human feel. By the time we had overdubbed all the parts to the songs and Dennis came back, there was no way we could get rid of the loop.[4]

In their work together, Gibb and Galuten had tried playing with click tracks as Galuten explained:

While today's musicians know how to get a good groove with the click, back then, if you used a click track you rarely got a good feel. The loop crossed the boundary giving us music that was in time with a good feel. If I had been working for a technology company then and knew what I was doing, I would have tried to patent the idea. Nonetheless, it changed a lot of things. That first loop was a watershed event in our life and times.[4]

Release[edit]

The song was not initially scheduled for release, with "How Deep Is Your Love" selected as lead single, but fans called radio stations and RSO Records requesting the song immediately after seeing trailers for Saturday Night Fever, featuring the track over the aforementioned introductory scene. The single was eventually released in mid-December, a month after the album, and moved to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States in February, where it would stay for four weeks. Soon after, it would slide to number two, locking in a solid one-two punch with the Bee Gees' third smash hit from the album, "Night Fever". In the United Kingdom, "Stayin' Alive" was a solid seller but not as popular as it was in the United States, topping out at number four.

Further demonstrating the Bee Gees' US chart domination in 1978, "Stayin' Alive" was replaced at number one with the group's younger brother Andy Gibb's single, "Love Is Thicker Than Water", followed by the Bee Gees' "Night Fever" for their longest run, seven weeks. This was then replaced by Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You". Barry Gibb had a hand in writing all four of these songs, becoming the only person in history to write four successive US number-one singles.

Besides the version that appeared on the soundtrack album and the edited 45RPM single for Top 40 radio release, there was yet another version, from the same recording session but of a slightly different mix, that was distributed on twelve-inch vinyl to club DJs and radio stations that specialised in airing longer versions of hit songs. This "Special Disco Version", as it was called, featured all the same parts as the album version, but had a horn rhythm section part interjected twice. Interestingly, where twelve-inch "Disco Versions" were usually sped up, this version was slowed down slightly. This version was finally released on CD when Reprise re-issued Bee Gees Greatest in 2007 in an expanded and remastered edition. As for the message of the song, Robin Gibb was quoted as saying, "'Stayin' Alive' is about survival in the big city—any big city—but especially New York."

The longest version of "Stayin' Alive" ever made was faded at 6:59, and that version was finally released on the remastered version of Bee Gees Greatest. The album edit is a still generous 4:43, but it was down to 3:29 for the single version.[3]

The music video for the song is of a completely different concept from Saturday Night Fever. It depicts the group singing the song on an abandoned subway terminal set at MGM Studios, directly adjacent to the one where Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was being filmed at the same time. This set featured buildings, a train station, and other elements.

The original three music videos for the movie Saturday Night Fever were shot on the soundstages, and edited at the facilities of Video City, Inc., in North Miami, Florida. The European video for "Stayin' Alive" (with Barry sans facial hair) was one of these original three. These original music videos were scrapped and re-shot in California after Barry grew back his beard.

Initial plans were for Yvonne Elliman, then known for ballads, to record "How Deep Is Your Love" for Saturday Night Fever, while The Bee Gees produced their own version of the more disco-oriented "If I Can't Have You" for the film. Robert Stigwood thought he would prefer the songs from different genders, and directed the group to cut the ballad while Elliman cut "If I Can't Have You" with her usual producer Freddie Perren. Satisfied with this switch, Elliman's interpretation made the soundtrack, while the Bee Gees' version was relegated to the B-side of the "Stayin' Alive" single. The brothers' version has since appeared on CD in hits compilations.

Personnel[edit]

Track listing[edit]

  • "Stayin' Alive" — 3:29
  • "If I Can't Have You" — 3:25

1989 reissue[edit]

  • "Subway" — 4:20
  • "Love So Right" — 3:33

Use in medical training[edit]

"Stayin' Alive" was used in a study to train medical professionals to provide the correct number of chest compressions per minute while performing CPR. The song has close to 104 beats per minute, and 100-120 chest compressions per minute are recommended by the British Heart Foundation,[5] and endorsed by the Resuscitation Council (UK).[6] A study on medical professionals found that the quality of CPR is better when thinking about "Stayin' Alive".[7] This was parodied in the season 5 episode of comedy series The Office "Stress Relief".

On 15 June 2011, the song was featured in a Hands Only CPR PSA campaign video from the American Heart Association and featured actor and medical doctor Ken Jeong in the classic John Travolta outfit from Saturday Night Fever.[8]

Vinnie Jones also stars in a UK version of this CPR video in association with the British Heart Foundation shown on TV circa January 2012.[9]

Accolades[edit]

Year Publisher Country Accolade Rank
1981 Dave Marsh & James Bernard United States "Singles Of The Year 1978"[10] 1
1989 Dave Marsh United States "The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made"[11] 716
1989 Rolling Stone United States "The 100 Best Singles Of The Last 25 Years"[12] 50
1995 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame United States "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll"[13] *
2000 Rolling Stone United States "100 Greatest Pop Songs"[14] 93
2000 VH1 United States "100 Greatest Dance Songs"[15] 10
2001 RIAA United States "Songs of the Century" (365)[16] 94
2003 PopMatters United States "The 100 Best Songs Since Johnny Rotten Roared"[17] 65
2003 Q United Kingdom "100 Songs That Changed The World"[18] 17
2003 Q United Kingdom "The 1001 Best Songs Ever"[19] 280
2004 Rolling Stone United States "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"[2] 189
2009 VH1 United States "100 Greatest Rock Songs"[20] 54
2010 Rolling Stone United States "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"[21] 191
2011 Robert Dimery United Kingdom "1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die"[22] *
2011 Time United States "All-TIME 100 Songs"[23] *

(*) indicates the list is unordered.

Charts and certifications[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"Isn't It Time" by The Babys
Australian number-one single
3 April 1978 – 15 May 1978 (7 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush
Preceded by
"Denis" by Blondie
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
8 April 1978 – 22 April 1978 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Rivers of Babylon" by Boney M.
Preceded by
"Mull of Kintyre" by Wings
South African number-one single
28 April 1978 – 16 June 1978 (8 weeks)
Preceded by
"Take a Chance on Me" by ABBA
"Denis" by Blondie
Eurochart Hot 100 number-one single
5 April 1978 (1 week)
19 April 1978 – 26 April 1978 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Denis" by Blondie
"Rivers of Babylon" by Boney M.
Preceded by
"Figli delle stelle" by Alan Sorrenti
"Sotto il segno dei pesci" by Antonello Venditti
Italian number-one single
6 May 1978 – 10 June 1978 (6 weeks)
24 June 1978 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Sotto il segno dei pesci" by
Antonello Venditti
"Tu" by Umberto Tozzi
Preceded by
"Baby Come Back" by Player
Canadian RPM 100 Singles number-one single
18 February 1978 – 11 March 1978 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Sometimes When We Touch" by Dan Hill
US Billboard Hot 100 number one single
4 February 1978 – 25 February 1978 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"(Love Is) Thicker Than Water" by Andy Gibb
Preceded by
"Short People" by Randy Newman
US Cash Box number-one single
4 February 1978 – 25 February 1978 (4 weeks)
Preceded by
"Turn to Stone" by Electric Light Orchestra
Canadian CHUM number-one single
11 February 1978 – 25 March 1978 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Night Fever" by The Bee Gees
Preceded by
"Emotion" by Samantha Sang
New Zealand number-one single
26 March 1978 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Tania" by John Rowles
Preceded by
"Amarsi un po'" by Lucio Battisti
1977
Italian best-selling single of the year
1978
Succeeded by
"Tu sei l'unica donna per me" by Alan Sorrenti
1979

Cover versions and samples[edit]

Appearances in other media[edit]

Though Stayin Alive is heavily guarded by the Bee Gees for licensing, it has appeared in numerous movies and television shows including:[73]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Guarisco, Donald A. "Stayin' Alive – Song Review". Allmusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 5 July 2013. "This classic Bee Gees track, created especially for the film Saturday Night Fever, is one of those songs that immediately comes to mind when most people think of disco music." 
  2. ^ a b "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (1-500)". Rolling Stone. RealNetworks. Archived from the original on 20 August 2006. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Brennan, Joseph. "Gibb Songs: 1977". Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Small, Mark (Summer 2002). "Albhy Galuten tells his story". Brothersgibb.org. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Hands-Only CPR FAQs". British Heart Foundation. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Resuscitation Council (UK)". Resuscitation Council (UK). Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Simon, Scott (25 October 2008). "Another Use For 'Stayin' Alive': Staying Alive". National Public Radio. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  8. ^ "Ken Jeong AHA Hands-Only CPR video". YouTube. 15 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "Vinnie Jones Hands-Only CPR video". YouTube. 10 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "Book Of Rock Lists - Singles Of The Year.. 1978". Dave Marsh & James Bernard. Rocklist.net. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  11. ^ Marsh, Dave. "The 1001 Greatest Singles, by Number". Control.lth.se. Archived from the original on 4 February 2002. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  12. ^ "Rolling Stone - The 100 Best Singles Of The Last 25 Years". Rolling Stone. Rocklist.net. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  13. ^ "Experience The Music: One Hit Wonders and The Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Pop Songs". Rolling Stone. Rocklist.net. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  15. ^ "VH1: 100 Greatest Dance Songs". VH1. Rock On The Net. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  16. ^ "Songs of the Century". CNN. 7 March 2001. Archived from the original on 11 December 2005. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  17. ^ Horning, Rob. "100 From 1977 - 2003: The 100 Best Songs Since Johnny Rotten Roared > 61 - 70". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 24 August 2003. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  18. ^ "Q - 100 Songs That Changed The World". Q. Rocklist.net. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  19. ^ "Q Special Edition - 1001 Best Songs Ever..". Q. Rocklist.net. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  20. ^ "It's Only A Riff, But We Like It". VH1. MTV Networks. Archived from the original on 8 April 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  21. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time: Bee Gees, 'Stayin' Alive'". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  22. ^ Dimery, Robert (2011). 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die. Octopus Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-8440-3717-9. 
  23. ^ "All-TIME 100 Songs: ‘Stayin’ Alive’". Time. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  24. ^ "Australia n°1 Hits – 70's". Worldcharts.co.uk. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  25. ^ "Bee Gees – Stayin' Alive – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  26. ^ "Ultratop.be – Bee Gees – Stayin' Alive" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  27. ^ (Dutch) "Stayin' Alive – BEE GEES". VRT. Top30-2.radio2.be. Retrieved 27 January 2014. "Hoogste notering in de top 30 : 2" 
  28. ^ "CHART NUMBER 1100 – Saturday, February 11, 1978". CHUM. Archived from the original on 12 February 2006. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  29. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 28, No. 21, February 18, 1978". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  30. ^ "Adult Contemporary – Volume 28, No. 25, March 18, 1978". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  31. ^ "Dance/Urban – Volume 28, No. 21, February 18, 1978". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  32. ^ "Song title 140 – Stayin' Alive". Tsort.info. Steve Hawtin et al. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  33. ^ (Finnish) Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3. 
  34. ^ (French) "InfoDisc : Tous les Titres par Artiste". Dominic DURAND / InfoDisc. InfoDisc.fr. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.  Select "Bee Gees" from the artist drop-down menu
  35. ^ "Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive". Charts.de. Media Control. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  36. ^ "The Irish Charts – All there is to know". IRMA. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  37. ^ (Italian) "SINGOLI - I NUMERI UNO (1959-2006) (parte 2: 1970-1980)". It-charts.150m.com. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  38. ^ "Billboard – Hits Of The World". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 90 (32): 78. 12 August 1978. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  39. ^ "Billboard – Hits Of The World". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 90 (35): 73. 2 September 1978. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  40. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Bee Gees - Alive search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  41. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Bee Gees – Stayin' Alive" (in Dutch). Mega Single Top 100. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  42. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Bee Gees – Stayin' Alive". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  43. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Bee Gees – Stayin' Alive". VG-lista. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  44. ^ "Billboard – Hits Of The World". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 90 (27): 65. 8 July 1978. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  45. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (B)". Rock.co.za. John Samson. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  46. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Bee Gees – Stayin' Alive". Singles Top 60. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  47. ^ "Bee Gees – Stayin' Alive – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  48. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  49. ^ a b c d "Saturday Night Fever – Awards". Allmusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  50. ^ Trust, Gary (15 July 2011). "The Top 100 Adult Contemporary Songs Ever". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  51. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending FEBRUARY 4, 1978". Cash Box magazine. Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  52. ^ "RECORD WORLD 1978". Geocities.com. Record World. Archived from the original on 9 May 2006. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  53. ^ a b c "Lescharts.com – Bee Gees – Stayin' Alive" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  54. ^ BigKev. "Forum - ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1970s". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  55. ^ (German) "Jahreshitparade 1978". Austriancharts.at. Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  56. ^ (Dutch) "Jaaroverzichten 1978". ULTRATOP & Hung Medien / hitparade.ch. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  57. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 30, No. 14, December 30, 1978". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  58. ^ (French) "TOP – 1978". Top-france.fr. Fabrice Ferment. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  59. ^ (Italian) "I singoli più venduti del 1978". HitParadeItalia. Creative Commons. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  60. ^ (Dutch) "Single Top 100 – 1978" (PDF). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  61. ^ (Dutch) "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1978". Hung Medien / hitparade.ch. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  62. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1978". Rock.co.za. John Samson. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  63. ^ (German) "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1978". Hitparade.ch. Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  64. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1978". The Longbored Surfer. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  65. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1978". Cash Box magazine. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  66. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Bee Gees – Stayin' Alive". Music Canada. 
  67. ^ "French single certifications – Bee Gees – Stayin' Alive" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  68. ^ (French) "Les Singles en Or". Dominic DURAND / InfoDisc. InfoDisc.fr. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  69. ^ "British single certifications – Bee Gees – Stayin' Alive". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Stayin' Alive in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go
  70. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum Searchable Database – Bee Gees". RIAA. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  71. ^ Grein, Paul (26 August 1978). "Platinum 45s: New High". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 90 (34): 114. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  72. ^ "Happy Mondays – Judge Fudge (CD) at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  73. ^ "The Bee Gees". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 

External links[edit]