|from the musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd|
"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.
Nina Simone recorded the song for her 1965 album I Put a Spell on You and it became a standard. The song has also been covered by many artists, most notably by Muse, Michael Bublé and American jazz musician John Coltrane.
- 1 Early performances and recordings
- 2 Nina Simone's recording
- 3 Billy Paul's recording
- 4 Muse's cover
- 5 Michael Bublé's cover
- 6 The Pussycat Dolls' cover
- 7 Selected list of other notable recordings
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early performances and recordings
Although Bricusse and Newley shared songwriting credits, the words of the song are usually attributed to Bricusse, with the music by Newley. 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.
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. It was described as a "booming song of emancipation," and a Billboard review said it was "the kind of robust number that should have strong appeal." 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. Anthony Newley's own recording appeared on his 1965 album "Who Can I Turn To" and other songs from 'The Roar of the Greasepaint'. 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. 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
|Song by Nina Simone from the album I Put a Spell on You|
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 a car manufacturer, and became popular. Released as a single, it reached no. 40 on the UK singles chart in July 1994.
Use in samples
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  and the following year in "The Twister" by Viper. 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.
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.
Use in popular culture
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. In 2009 it appeared in the video game The Saboteur (set during World War II, long before the song was written). Other uses include the film Repo Men; the Chuck season 3 episode "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners; the 2011 French comedy film Intouchables; 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". This version was used in the second trailer for the 2015 spy comedy film The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Also in 2015, the song was used to promote the second season of Writers.
The song was also used for an episode of the British soap opera Coronation Street in July 2015. The coffin of Deirdre Barlow was carried down the aisle of the church to the instrumental of this recording. In 2015, for Scandal's season 5 episode, You Got Served, the song was used in the final scene.
Billy Paul's recording
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.
|Single by Muse|
|from the album Origin of Symmetry|
|A-side||"Hyper Music" (7")
"Feeling Good" (CD)
|B-side||"Feeling Good" (7")
"Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" (CD)
|Released||19 November 2001|
|Muse singles chronology|
In a poll by Total Guitar of "the best covers ever", the Muse version came 5th in the list. 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". In 2014, a BBC poll saw the Muse version voted the ninth best cover version ever.
Use in popular culture
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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 Nestlé for their advertising, but without the band's permission, so Nestlé 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.
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||24|
Sales and certifications
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
Michael Bublé's cover
|Single by Michael Bublé|
|from the album It's Time|
|Released||4 April 2005|
|Michael Bublé singles chronology|
"Feeling Good" was later covered by Canadian singer 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
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. Another appearance of his version occurs on advertisements for Virgin Holidays.
- German CD single
- "Feeling Good" – 3:57
- "Softly As I Leave You" – 3:23
- "You'll Never Know" (Live) – 3:48
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 become 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.
|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
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
The Pussycat Dolls' cover
|Song by The Pussycat Dolls from the album PCD|
|PCD track listing|
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.
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. He singled out "Feeling Good", writing that the song's inclusion on the album serves as "a pretty pointless vocal workout for Nicole." He added that "None of them stand up to other covers of the same tracks, let alone the originals." 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." Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine commented that the "rendition of 'Feelin' Good' [...] is misguided at best." 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." On the Billboard Jazz Songs chart, the song peaked at number 23, becoming The Pussycat Dolls' only song to appear on that chart.
The song is included on their 2006 Live from London as the fourth track of the DVD. The song is performed solely by Scherzinger. 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 The Guardian while reviewing their show in Manchester commented that "she sure can sing."
Selected list of other notable recordings
- 1965: Andy Bey & the Bey Sisters on 'Round Midnight
- 1965: John Coltrane on The John Coltrane Quartet Plays
- 1965: Jean DuShon on the album Feeling Good
- 1965: Julie London on the album Feeling Good
- 1965: Chris Connor on the album Sings Gentle Bossa Nova
- 1965: Billy Eckstine on the album The Prime of My Life
- 1965: Sammy Davis, Jr. on the album The Sammy Davis, Jr. Show
- 1965: Dorothy Ashby on the album The Fantastic Jazz Harp of Dorothy Ashby
- 1966: Stanley Turrentine on the album Rough 'n' Tumble
- 1966: Bobby Darin on the album Bobby Darin: In A Broadway Bag 
- 1966: Jack Jones on his album Impossible Dream
- 1966: Freda Payne on the album How Do You Say I Don't Love You Anymore
- 1966: Carmen McRae on her live album Woman Talk
- 1968: Nichelle Nichols on the album Down To Earth
- 1969: Black Cat Bones on the album Barbed Wire Sandwich
- 1969: Traffic on the album Last Exit
- 1969: Mahogany on the album Mahogany
- 1991: Carla White on the album Listen Here
- 1993: Elaine Paige on her album Romance & the Stage
- 1997: Sheryl Crow on the song "Tomorrow never dies" in the album Tomorrow Never Dies
- 2000: Eels on the album Oh What a Beautiful Morning
- 2000: Frank Cunimondo Trio on the album Feelin' Good
- 2003: RZA samples Freda Payne's rendition in the lead track of the album Birth of a Prince, "Bob 'N' I"
- 2003: Sacred Spirit on their song "A New Dawn" from the album Jazzy Chill Out
- 2004: Michelle McManus on her debut album The Meaning of Love
- 2004: Sophie B. Hawkins on the album Wilderness
- 2005: Wax Tailor on the album Tales of the forgotten melodies, sampled on the track "How I feel"
- 2005: Quantic Soul Orchestra on the album Pushin' On
- 2006: Lil' Wayne & Juelz Santana on the shelved mixtape "I Can't Feel My Face", sampled on the track "Birds Flyin' High"
- 2007: Toše Proeski on the album Igri Bez Granici
- 2007: John Barrowman on the album Another Side
- 2007: Blackmailers on the album Paradise Fanfare Blues
- 2007: Randy Crawford and Joe Sample on the album Feeling Good
- 2007: UNC Clef Hangers on the album Time Out. The track was also included in the a cappella compilation album Sing III.
- 2008: George Michael on his Greatest Hits compilation, TwentyFive
- 2009: Adam Lambert on the album Season 8 Favorite Performances
- 2009: Joe Bonamassa on The Ballad of John Henry
- 2009: My Brightest Diamond on Dark Was the Night
- 2009: Oleta Adams on Let's Stay Here
- 2009: Escala on Escala; used as a floor music by Sandra Izbasa in 2013.
- 2010: Gregory Porter in his album Water
- 2010: Asa on her Live in Paris Album
- 2010: M.I Abaga in his album "Illegal Music"
- 2010: Noize MC on the song "Mersedes S666" in the album Последний альбом (альбом Noize MC)
- 2011: Melanie Amaro in The X Factor (U.S. season 1)
- 2011: Jennifer Hudson album track from I Remember Me
- 2011: Jay-Z and Kanye West on the song "New Day" in the album Watch the Throne
- 2011: Ronan Parke in his debut album Ronan Parke
- 2013: Ane Brun in her retrospective album Songs: 2003-2013
- 2013: Leslie West (with Dee Snider) on his album Still Climbing
- 2013: Aynsley Lister on his album Home
- 2014: George Michael on his album Symphonica
- 2014: Prabhu Deva on his movie Action Jackson
- 2015: Avicii as a same-titled single, with amended lyrics. Performed by Audra Mae, the song was in cooperation with Swedish multinational car manufacturer Volvo for use in a promotional advertisement by Volvo new line Volvo XC90 highlighting the slogan "A New Beginning".
- 2016: Max Vangeli sampled for his song "Shine" (feat. Francis Marvel & Kacie Marie).
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- Judy Harris, The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd. Retrieved 6 January 2014
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- Avicii's single Feeling Good on iTunes. iTunes. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
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