I Will Survive

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"I Will Survive"
Substitute I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor US 12-inch vinyl.jpg
Sleeve for one of the US 12-inch vinyl pressings of "Substitute / I Will Survive", later reprinted as "I Will Survive / Substitute"
Single by Gloria Gaynor
from the album Love Tracks
ReleasedOctober 23, 1978 (1978-10-23)
Format7-inch, 12-inch single
StudioMom & Pop’s Company Store
(Los Angeles, California)
Length4:56 (album version)
3:15 (single version)
8:01 (12" version)
Songwriter(s)Freddie Perren, Dino Fekaris
Producer(s)Dino Fekaris
Gloria Gaynor singles chronology
"Let's Make a Deal"
"I Will Survive"
"Anybody Wanna Party"
Audio sample
"I Will Survive"
Alternative cover
Artwork for German and French vinyl releases
Artwork for German and French vinyl releases

"I Will Survive" is a hit song first performed by American singer Gloria Gaynor, released in October 1978. It was written by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris. A top-selling song after its initial release, it sold 14 million copies worldwide[citation needed] (within first two years of release alone, not counting the numerous re-recordings and 200+ cover versions released in 20+ different languages world-wide) and has remained a popular disco anthem, as well as being certified platinum by the RIAA.[1]

The song's lyrics describe the narrator's discovery of personal strength following an initially devastating breakup. It received heavy airplay in 1979, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and on the UK Singles Chart on consecutive weeks. The song is also frequently recalled as a symbol of female empowerment.[2][3][4] In 2016, the Library of Congress deemed Gaynor's original recording to be "culturally, historically, or artistically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Recording Registry.


Originally released as the B-side to a cover version of the Righteous Brothers song "Substitute", "I Will Survive" became a worldwide hit for Gaynor when disc jockeys played that side of the record instead (kick-started by legendary Studio 54 DJ Richie Kaczor).[5] "Substitute" appeared on the Billboard Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart for four weeks in October–November 1978, peaking at No. 107.[6] "I Will Survive" then entered the Billboard Hot 100 in December that year and reached No. 1 on the chart in March 1979. The song received the Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording in 1980, the only year the award was given.

Gloria Gaynor performed the song "I Will Survive", which became one of her signature songs.[7][8]

A promotional video was filmed in 1979 at the New York discothèque called Xenon. Sheila Reid-Pender of Harlem is the featured skater in the video from the skating group, The Village Wizards. Although three videos were filmed that day, the "I Will Survive" video was the only one to survive. Gaynor was not present during the taping of the rollerskating segment of the video. Gaynor and Pender met for the first time on July 7, 2014 in New York at the 92nd St. YMCA after Gaynor's lecture and promotional signing of her book 'We Will Survive'.[9] In this book, Gaynor said, "I wanted everybody—including myself—to believe that we could survive".[9]

Following the success of fellow 1970s disco stars Sister Sledge with remixed singles in the UK in 1993, "I Will Survive" was also remixed and released that summer. This remix reached number five on the UK Singles Chart.

In November 2013, Gaynor released a gospel album entitled We Will Survive, which includes a new, updated remix of "I Will Survive" by DJ Shpank in both extended and radio edit formats.

Impact and legacy[edit]

VH1 placed "I Will Survive" at #1 in their list of 100 Greatest Dance Songs in 2000.[5]

Rolling Stone listed the song at number 492 in their List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.

Billboard placed it at number 97 in their ranking of The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs in 2008.[10]

In 2012, "I Will Survive" was ranked at #2 in Rolling Stone poll of The Best Disco Songs of All Time.[11]

The Daily Telegraph ranked "I Will Survive" #48 in their The 100 Greatest Songs of All Time list in November 2016.[12]

In 2017, the song was ranked number 7 in Paste Magazine's The 60 Best Dancefloor Classics list.[13]

Pitchfork Media featured it in their list of 50 Songs That Define the Last 50 Years of LGBTQ+ Pride in 2018.[14] They added,

"“I Will Survive” probably would’ve become a gay anthem even without the specter of AIDS. It has an undeniable flair for the dramatic: After moving through that filigreed piano intro, you can imagine a lone spotlight shining on Gloria Gaynor as she drags the man dumb enough to break her heart and crawl back for more. It was released as disco’s wave was beginning to break, topping the Billboard charts a few months before the infamous Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park. Had the story ended there, it’d represent the last, best gasp of a culture beaten into temporary irrelevance by thinly-veiled racism and homophobia."


Year Publisher Country Accolade Rank
2000 VH1 United States "100 Greatest Dance Songs" 1
2004 Rolling Stone United States "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" 492
2005 Bruce Pollock United States "The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000" *
2008 Billboard United States "The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs" 97
2009 The Guardian United Kingdom "1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear" *
2012 Rolling Stone United States "The Best Disco Songs of All Time" 2
2013 Max Australia "1000 Greatest Songs of All Time"[15] 120
2016 The Daily Telegraph United Kingdom "The 100 Greatest Songs of All Time" 48
2017 Paste Magazine United States "The 60 Best Dancefloor Classics" 7
2018 Pitchfork Media United States "50 Songs That Define the Last 50 Years of LGBTQ+ Pride" *

(*) indicates the list is unordered.


Official versions[edit]

Recorded by Gloria Gaynor

  • "I Will Survive" (1978 single version) – 3.15
  • "I Will Survive" (1978 album version) – 4.56
  • "I Will Survive" (1978 12" Mix) – 8.02
  • "Yo Viviré" (I Will Survive Spanish 12" Mix) – 7.55
  • "I Will Survive" (Tom Moulton Mix) – 10.33
  • "I Will Survive" (2009 re-recording) – 5.35
  • "I Will Survive" (2009 re-recording Spanish version) - 5.37

Charts and certifications[edit]

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[50] Platinum 150,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[52] Platinum 1,020,000[51]
United States (RIAA)[53] Platinum 2,000,000

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

Cake version[edit]

"I Will Survive"
I will survive CAKE.jpg
Single by Cake
from the album Fashion Nugget
B-side"Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle"
FormatCD single
GenreAlternative rock
Songwriter(s)Freddie Perren, Dino Fekaris
Cake singles chronology
"Ruby Sees All"
"I Will Survive"
"The Distance"
Music video
"I Will Survive" on YouTube

Cake covered the song soft rock-style in 1996, on their album Fashion Nugget. In addition to many subtle changes, lead singer John McCrea altered the lyrics (leading Gaynor to describe the cover as her least favorite version of the song, due to the presence of "profanity" - in the line originally rendered as "I should've changed my stupid lock").[54] The music video of Cake's version features McCrea as a city parking enforcement officer driving around in a Cushman three-wheeled scooter as he leaves tickets on various cars. This version was a top 30 hit for the band in March 1997 on the US Modern Rock Tracks, peaking at #28.

Track listing[edit]

CD single
  1. "I Will Survive" (Radio Edit) – 4:14
  2. "Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle" – 4:12
Promo CD single
  1. "I Will Survive" (Radio Edit) – 3:52
  2. "I Will Survive" (Long Radio Edit) – 5:11

Chantay Savage version[edit]

"I Will Survive"
I Will Survive Chantay Survive.jpg
Single by Chantay Savage
from the album I Will Survive (Doin' It My Way)
ReleasedJanuary 23, 1996
FormatCD single, 12"
Songwriter(s)Freddie Perren, Dino Fekaris
Chantay Savage singles chronology
"Give It to Ya"
"I Will Survive"
"Baby: Drive Me Crazy"
Music video
"I Will Survive" on YouTube

R&B singer Chantay Savage covered the song in 1996 as a ballad. Her version peaked at #24 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and was certified Gold by the RIAA.

Track listing[edit]

12" single

Side A

  1. "I Will Survive" (Puff Daddy "Bad Boy Mix")
  2. "I Will Survive" (Silk's Old Skool Extended Mix with Clean Rap)
  3. "I Will Survive" (Original LP version – edit)

Side B

  1. "I Will Survive" (Silk's Classic House Mix)
  2. "I Will Survive" (Rhythm Radio version)

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1996) Peak
UK Singles Chart 12
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 24
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 35
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 10
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 5

Diana Ross version[edit]

"I Will Survive"
Diana Ross-I Will Survive.jpg
Single by Diana Ross
from the album Take Me Higher
ReleasedApril 14, 1996
Producer(s)Narada Michael Walden
Diana Ross singles chronology
"Take Me Higher"
"I Will Survive"
"Not Over You Yet"
Music video
"I Will Survive" on YouTube

In 1996, American singer Diana Ross released a cover of "I Will Survive". It was released on her 1995 album, Take Me Higher. The song is produced by Narada Michael Walden and peaked at number 14 in the United Kingdom. It also reached number 3 in Iceland and number 16 in Scotland. In the United States, it peaked at number 37 on the Billboard Dance Music Charts. Ross also performed it during her celebrated Super Bowl XXX halftime show in 1996.[citation needed][55]

Track listing[edit]

CD single, United Kingdom (1996)
  1. "I Will Survive" - 4:48
  2. "I Will Survive" (Roger Sanchez Atmospheric Mix) - 4:31
  3. "I Will Survive" (Motiv 8 Radio Mix) - 3:58

4 "Voice Of The Heart" - 4:55

CD maxi, Europe (1996)
  1. "I Will Survive" (Album Version) - 4:46
  2. "I Will Survive" (Roger Sanchez Radio Edit) - 4:02
  3. "I Will Survive" (Motiv 8 Radio Edit) - 3:56
  4. "I Will Survive" (Sure Is Pure Vocal) - 8:58

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1996) Peak
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[56] 57
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[57] 3
Poland (LP3)[58] 28
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[59] 16
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 14
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 37

Hermes House Band version[edit]

Hermes House Band from the Netherlands, covered the song la la la-style in 1994, and scored several number 1 hits in the Netherlands, Belgium and France with this version. They sold more than 2.5 million copies of I Will Survive-la-la-la worldwide. In 2018 the band reached No.1 in French hitlist after the win from FIFA World Cup French Team.[60]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2018) Peak
France (SNEP) 1[61]

Leah McFall version[edit]

The Voice UK contestant, Leah McFall, performed the song on the first live show in the style of Chantay Savage. Following the programme, the studio recording of the performance was released and reached number three on UK iTunes.[62] The song debuted at number sixteen on the UK Singles Chart on 9 June 2013, and in the following week it reached number eight.[63]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2013) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[64] 39
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[65] 13
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[66] 8

Other cover versions[edit]

Billie Jo Spears' version from her 1979 album, I Will Survive, peaked at #21 in the U.S. Country Chart, #9 in the Canadian Country Chart, and #47 in the UK Singles Chart.[citation needed] Her version earned her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female.

Puerto Rican singer Sa-Fire recorded a cover of the song for the 1989 comedy film She-Devil.[67] Her cover incorporated the house and hip-hop genres with the disco genre. A music video was filmed that featured clips from the movie.[68] Sa-Fire's version of the song was successful, peaking at #53 on the Billboard Hot 100.[69]

British recording artist Robbie Williams incorporated the string-laden instrumental bridge in a section of his 2000 song Supreme, which became a major hit in several[which?] European markets.[citation needed]

Popular culture[edit]

In 1998, the song became an anthem and gained more popularity in France when the France national football team won the 1998 FIFA World Cup.[70]

In 1999, Gaynor performed the song at the school prom on That '70s Show episode 19 "Prom Night" to cheer up a disheartened, lovelorn Fez, who disco-dances and bumps with her as the song is performed.[71]

It is featured in the 1994 Australian film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert as a lip sync song performed by drag queens Mitzi Del Bra (Hugo Weaving), Bernadette Bassinger (Terence Stamp), and Felicia Jollygoodfellow (Guy Pearce) at an Australian Aboriginal corroboree. The song proves to be a symbol of the vitality and resistance in the face of discrimination exhibited by the two groups: the LGBTQ+ community and the Aboriginal Australian community.[citation needed]

It was featured in the jail scene and closing for the 2000 movie The Replacements.

It is featured in the 2012 film Zero Dark Thirty.[citation needed]

It is featured on video games, SingStar Dance and Just Dance 2014, released in 2013.

It is featured during the ending credits of the 2015 movie The Martian, in which the protagonist left behind on Mars must find a way to survive.

In the French film One Man and His Cow (La Vache, 2016), the protagonist sings a Raï-style version of the song at a village festival.[72]

It appears in a 2017 TV commercial for Capital One, which features Gaynor and Charles Barkley.

"I Will Survive" has been covered in several animated films. In Rio 2, it was sung by Nigel the cockatoo, played by Jemaine Clement. The 2008 Danish-German film Disco Ormene (known in English as Sunshine Barry & the Disco Worms) features the song performed by Gloria the earthworm (Trine Dyrholm). In 2007's Noah's Ark, an Argentine-Italian animated comedy adventure film, a version of the song is performed by a panther named Panthy.

"I Will Survive" has been featured as welcome back return song for broadcasting legend Tony Blackburn to BBC Radio on New Year's Eve 2016 after his temporary departure.

The song's tune is used in the ABS-CBN TV Plus Go TV commercial featuring Anne Curtis.

See also[edit]


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  54. ^ 'I Will Survive' is disco queen's mantra for hope, by Kevin C. Johnson, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via archive.org); published February 14, 2008. Retrieved April 11, 2016
  55. ^ "Super Bowl XXX Halftime Show: Diana Ross (1996) | THE DIANA ROSS PROJECT". Dianarossproject.wordpress.com. July 21, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
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  62. ^ "The Voice UK Favourite Leah McFall Storms iTunes Chart Despite Ratings Hitting New Low". Entertainmentwise. June 9, 2013. Archived from the original on May 24, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
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External links[edit]