I Will Survive

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"I Will Survive"
Substitute I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor US 12-inch vinyl.jpg
Sleeve for a US 12-inch vinyl pressing of "Substitute / I Will Survive"; "I Will Survive" would soon be reissued as the primary single
Single by Gloria Gaynor
from the album Love Tracks
A-side"Substitute"
ReleasedOctober 23, 1978 (1978-10-23)
Recorded1978
StudioMom & Pop's Company Store
(Los Angeles, California)
GenreDisco
Length4:56 (album version)
3:15 (single version)
8:01 (12" version)
LabelPolydor
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Dino Fekaris
Gloria Gaynor singles chronology
"Let's Make a Deal"
(1976)
"I Will Survive"
(1978)
"Anybody Wanna Party"
(1979)
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 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, it is a popular disco anthem, as well as being certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (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.

Releases[edit]

Originally released as the B-side to "Substitute," "I Will Survive" became a worldwide success 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 Hot Soul Singles chart for four weeks starting October 14, 1978, peaking at No. 78.[6] It also appeared on the Billboard Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart for four weeks in October–November 1978, peaking at No. 107.[7] "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.[8][9]

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'.[10] In this book, Gaynor said, "I wanted everybody—including myself—to believe that we could survive".[10]

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 number 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.[11]

In 2012, "I Will Survive" was ranked at number 2 in Rolling Stone poll of The Best Disco Songs of All Time.[12]

The Daily Telegraph ranked "I Will Survive" number 48 in their The 100 Greatest Songs of All Time list in November 2016.[13]

In 2017, the song was ranked number 7 in Paste Magazine's The 60 Best Dancefloor Classics list.[14]

Pitchfork featured it in their list of 50 Songs That Define the Last 50 Years of LGBTQ+ Pride in 2018.[15] 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."

In 1998, the French football (soccer) team made I will survive their unofficial anthem, particularly focusing on the instrumental sub-theme. The team ended up winning the World Cup and the song enjoyed immense popular enthusiasm amongst younger generations in the country 20 years after its original release.

Accolades[edit]

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" Unranked
2008 Billboard United States "The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs" 97
2009 The Guardian United Kingdom "1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear" Unranked
2012 Rolling Stone United States "The Best Disco Songs of All Time" 2
2013 Max Australia "1000 Greatest Songs of All Time"[16] 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 United States "50 Songs That Define the Last 50 Years of LGBTQ+ Pride" Unranked

Personnel[edit]

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[edit]

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[63] Platinum 150,000^
France (SNEP)[65] Gold 652,000[64]
United Kingdom (BPI)[67] Platinum 1,020,000[66]
United States (RIAA)[68] Platinum 2,000,000^

^ 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"
Released1996
Recorded1996
GenreAlternative rock
Length5:10
LabelCapricorn
Songwriter(s)
  • Freddie Perren
  • Dino Fekaris
Producer(s)Cake
Cake singles chronology
"Ruby Sees All"
(1995)
"I Will Survive"
(1996)
"The Distance"
(1997)
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. In an interview, Gaynor stated she did not like Cake's version of the song because it used "profanity" (McCrea changed the phrase "I should've changed that stupid lock" to "...that fucking lock").[69]

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. Their version peaked at number 28 on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart in March 1997.

Track listings[edit]

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

Charts[edit]

Chart (1997) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[70] 27
Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)[71] 77
France (SNEP)[72] 37
Germany (Official German Charts)[73] 95
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[74] 27
Scotland (OCC)[75] 22
UK Singles (OCC)[76] 29
US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)[77] 28

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
GenreR&B
LabelRCA
Songwriter(s)
  • Freddie Perren
  • Dino Fekaris
Chantay Savage singles chronology
"Give It to Ya"
(1994)
"I Will Survive"
(1996)
"Baby: Drive Me Crazy"
(1996)
Music video
"I Will Survive" on YouTube

American singer Chantay Savage covered the song in 1996 as a ballad. Her version peaked at number 24 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Track listing[edit]

  • 12-inch single
A1. "I Will Survive" (Puff Daddy "Bad Boy Mix")
A2. "I Will Survive" (Silk's Old Skool Extended Mix with Clean Rap)
A3. "I Will Survive" (Original LP version – edit)
B1. "I Will Survive" (Silk's Classic House Mix)
B2. "I Will Survive" (Rhythm Radio version)

Charts[edit]

Diana Ross version[edit]

"I Will Survive"
Diana Ross-I Will Survive.jpg
Single by Diana Ross
from the album Take Me Higher
B-side"Voice of the Heart"
ReleasedApril 14, 1996
Recorded1995
Genre
Length4:48
LabelEMI
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Narada Michael Walden
Diana Ross singles chronology
"Take Me Higher"
(1995)
"I Will Survive"
(1996)
"Not Over You Yet"
(1999)
Music video
"I Will Survive" on YouTube

In 1996, American singer Diana Ross released a cover of "I Will Survive". It was released on April 14, 1996, as the fourth and final single from 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.

Critical reception[edit]

Larry Flick from Billboard wrote, "The kicker is a delicious cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", produced by Narada Michael Walden. Interestingly, that is the number that stands out in the legendary artist's current (and oh-so-festive) 2+12-hour show."[89] The Daily Vault's Mark Millan commented that it is "dealt with superbly, as the team managed to breathe new life into an old relic from the distant, dark days when disco ruled."[90] Alan Jones from Music Week stated that "the combination of two old favourites is bound to win favour with many people, and new dance mixes by Roger Sanchez will ease the track's path to success now it is a single."[91] Pop Rescue noted that the cover "definitely belts it out – vocally and musically".[92]

Track listings[edit]

  • UK CD single
  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
  • European CD maxi single
  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

Charts[edit]

Chart (1996) Peak
position
Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)[93] 57
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[94] 3
Poland (LP3)[95] 28
Scotland (OCC)[96] 16
UK Singles (OCC)[97] 14
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[98] 37

Hermes House Band version[edit]

Dutch group Hermes House Band covered the song in 1994, retitled "I Will Survive (La La La)", topping both the Dutch Top 40 and Single Top 100 charts. In 2018, their version reached number one on the French hitlist after the win from FIFA World Cup French Team.[99]

Charts[edit]

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.[114] The song debuted at number sixteen on the UK Singles Chart on 9 June 2013, and in the following week it reached number eight.[115]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2013) Peak
position
Ireland (IRMA)[116] 39
Scotland (OCC)[117] 13
UK Singles (OCC)[118] 8

Other cover versions[edit]

Billie Jo Spears' version from her 1979 album, I Will Survive, peaked at number 21 in the U.S. Country Chart,[119] number 9 in the Canadian Country Chart, and number 47 in the UK Singles Chart.[119] 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.[120] Her cover incorporated the house and hip-hop genres with the disco genre. A music video was filmed that featured clips from the movie.[121] Sa-Fire's version of the song was successful, peaking at number 53 on the Billboard Hot 100.[122]

Jona Viray recorded a cover of the song for the 2016 Philippine drama series theme song of, We Will Survive.

Demi Lovato recorded a cover of the song for the 2016 animated film soundtrack, The Angry Birds Movie.[123]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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