Feeling Good

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"Feeling Good"
Song
Published 1964
Genre Show tune
Songwriter(s)

"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.[1]

Nina Simone recorded "Feeling Good" for her 1965 album I Put a Spell on You. The song has also been covered by Michael Bublé, John Coltrane, George Michael, and the rock band Muse.

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, Billy Eckstine, 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
Length 2:53
Label Philips
Songwriter(s)

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.[9]

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 [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.[12]

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 Avicii's song of the same name, used by Volvo.

Simone's recording was used in the film Point of No Return,[13] and it appears on soundtracks for the movies Repo Men (2010),[14] Last Holiday (2006),[15] and the TV soundtrack Six Feet Under, Vol. 2: Everything Ends.[16] The song was used in "Chapter 6", a first-season episode of the television series Legion.[17]

Billy Paul's recording[edit]

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

Muse's cover[edit]

"Feeling Good"
Hyper Music.jpg
Single by Muse
from the album Origin of Symmetry
A-side
B-side
Released 19 November 2001
Format
Genre
Length 3:19
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Muse singles chronology
"Bliss"
(2001)
"Feeling Good"
(2001)
"Dead Star/In Your World"
(2002)
"Bliss"
(2001)
"Hyper Music / Feeling Good"
(2001)
"Dead Star/In Your World"
(2002)

The rock band Muse recorded a version for their 2001 album Origin of Symmetry. It was released as a single also featuring the song "Hyper Music".

In a poll by Total Guitar about best cover songs, Muse's version was fifth.[20] 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's [21] A BBC poll in 2014 placed it ninth.[22]

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.

Muse's version reached No. 137 on the singles chart in France and No. 24 on the singles chart in the UK.[23][24]

Michael Bublé's cover[edit]

"Feeling Good"
Feeling Good.jpg
Single by Michael Bublé
from the album It's Time
Released 4 April 2005
Format
Recorded 2002
Genre
Length 3:57
Label
Songwriter(s)
Michael Bublé singles chronology
"Spider-Man Theme"
(2004)
"Feeling Good"
(2005)
"Home"
(2005)
"Spider-Man Theme"
(2004)
"Feeling Good"
(2005)
"Home"
(2005)
Music video
"Feeling Good (Official video)" on YouTube

"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.[25] 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.

Track listing[edit]

  • German CD single
  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. 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.

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

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[26] Silver 200,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

The Pussycat Dolls' cover[edit]

"Feeling Good"
Song by The Pussycat Dolls
from the album PCD
Length 4:19
Label A&M
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
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). It charted at number 23 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs.

Reception[edit]

The Pussycat Dolls' version of "Feeling Good" received mostly negative reviews from critics. Nick Butler of Sputnikmusic criticised all four of the covers featured on the album.[27] He singled out "Feeling Good", writing that the song's inclusion on the album serves as "a pretty pointless vocal workout for Nicole."[27] He added that "None of them stand up to other covers of the same tracks, let alone the originals."[27] 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."[28] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine commented that the "rendition of 'Feelin' Good' [...] is misguided at best."[29] 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."[30] On the Billboard Jazz Songs chart, the song peaked at number 23, becoming The Pussycat Dolls' only song to appear on that chart.[31]

Live performances[edit]

The song is included on their 2006 Live from London as the fourth track of the DVD.[32] The song is performed solely by Scherzinger.[32] 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."[33]. It was additionally included the 2006 DVD Live from London as the fourth track.

Lauryn Hill's Cover[edit]

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" [34]. With Hill being considered one of the "second generation of contemporary soul stirrers" [35], 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" [36], 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" [37]. With the film blaming Simone's "descent" in the music industry on the idea that she "disappears in the Civil Rights Movement" [38], there is a lack of clear understanding on the significance that Simone's music posed for the Black community during this time. The amount 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"[39], 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" [40].

Selected list of other notable recordings[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Feeling Good", The Originals, Belgium, 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 (2005). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2005 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 725. ISBN 0-00-720076-5. 
  10. ^ "Nina Simone, Feelin' good", Disco GS (search) 
  11. ^ "Nina Simone, Felling good", Who sampled (search) 
  12. ^ "Bassnectar - Immersive Music Mixtape - Side One", Soundcloud.
  13. ^ Loftus, Johnny. "Point of No Return – Hans Zimmer". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  14. ^ "Repo Men – Original Soundtrack". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  15. ^ "Last Holiday – Original Soundtrack". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  16. ^ "Six Feet Under, Vol. 2: Everything Ends – Original Television Soundtrack". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  17. ^ Silman, Anna (29 March 2017). "Aubrey Plaza Is Serving Up the Most Terrifying Performance on TV". The Cut. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  18. ^ "Muse - Hyper Music / Feeling Good (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  19. ^ "Muse - Hyper Music / Feeling Good (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  20. ^ "TG's Best Covers EVER! | Total Guitar". MusicRadar. 23 June 2008. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  21. ^ "Muse beat The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash to win best cover song of all time". NME, 22 September 2010.
  22. ^ "Pet Shop Boys' Always On My Mind tops cover version vote". BBC News. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  23. ^ Hung, Steffen. "lescharts.com – Muse – Feeling Good". www.lescharts.com. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  24. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  25. ^ Amazon: Feeling Good – Michael Bublé. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  26. ^ "British single certifications – Michael Bublé – Feeling Good". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Feeling Good in the search field and then press Enter.
  27. ^ a b c Butler, Nick. "Review: Pussycat Dolls – PCD". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  28. ^ Murphy, John. "The Pussycat Dolls – PCD – Album Reviews". musicOMH. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  29. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (7 September 2005). "The Pussycat Dolls: PCD – Music Review". musicOMH. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  30. ^ D, Spence (14 September 2005). "The Pussycat Dolls – PCD". IGN. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  31. ^ "Pussycat Dolls Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  32. ^ a b "Pussycat Dolls – Live in London; Amazon.com: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. Amazon Inc. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  33. ^ Pidd, Helen (30 November 2006). "The Pussycat Dolls, MEN Arena, Manchester". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  34. ^ https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/hear-lauryn-hills-sultry-nina-simone-cover-feeling-good-20150617/
  35. ^ Songs in the Key of Life by Mark Anthony Neal
  36. ^ https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/hear-lauryn-hills-sultry-nina-simone-cover-feeling-good-20150617/
  37. ^ http://www.indiewire.com/2015/06/the-irresponsibility-of-what-happened-miss-simone-153559//
  38. ^ http://www.indiewire.com/2015/06/the-irresponsibility-of-what-happened-miss-simone-153559/
  39. ^ Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip Hop by Joseph Schloss
  40. ^ http://www.indiewire.com/2015/06/the-irresponsibility-of-what-happened-miss-simone-153559/
  41. ^ Avicii's single Feeling Good on iTunes. iTunes. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  42. ^ Matt Medved (May 5, 2015). "Avicii Releases 'Feeling Good' Song & Video in Partnership With Volvo". Billboard. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 

External links[edit]