Last Dance (Donna Summer song)
Front sleeve of the French vinyl release
|Single by Donna Summer|
|from the album Thank God It's Friday|
|B-side||"With Your Love"|
|Released||July 2, 1978|
|Donna Summer singles chronology|
"Last Dance" is a song by American singer Donna Summer from the soundtrack album to the 1978 film Thank God It's Friday. It was written by Paul Jabara, co-produced by Summer's regular collaborator Giorgio Moroder and Bob Esty, and mixed by Grammy Award-winning producer Stephen Short, whose backing vocals are featured in the song.
"Last Dance" became a critical and commercial success, winning the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, all in 1978.
Background and composition
Summer has a role in the film Thank God It's Friday as an aspiring singer who brings an instrumental track of "Last Dance" to a disco in hopes the disc jockey will play the track and allow her to sing the song for her fellow patrons; after refusing through most of the film the disc jockey eventually obliges Summer's character and her performance causes a sensation.
According to the song's co-producer and co-writer Bob Esty, Paul Jabara had locked Summer in a Puerto Rico hotel bathroom and forced her to listen to a cassette of him singing a rough version of "Last Dance." Summer liked the song and Jabara asked Esty to work with him on an arrangement for Summer to make her recording. Esty recalls:
I changed some of the chords and extended the 'hook' to repeat three times to finish the last phrase of the chorus. I also added a bridge to build to a climax and suggested a ballad intro à la "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and another ballad in the middle of the song building again to a high note for the last chorus ending. To our knowledge, this had never been done in a disco track. ..We did the piano/vocal with Donna and me of the full version including the two ballad sections and the ending in one 'pass'...I recorded the full track in one day, rhythm in the morning, horns and strings during the day. That same night, Giorgio Moroder recorded Donna's vocal exactly as she sang the demo, in two takes, and banning me from attending the session. In spite of the fact Giorgio didn't like the song and didn't want Donna to sing in a full voice style, I thought I would be at least credited for co-producing the track and co-writing the song with Paul. He ultimately took credit for it. And Paul Jabara took the Oscar. I learned a bitter lesson from that.— Bob Esty
"Last Dance" was also one of the first disco songs to feature slow tempo parts: it starts off as a ballad; the full-length version on the film soundtrack also has a slow part in the middle. This part was edited out for the 7". The versions found on most greatest hits packages is either the original 7" edit (3:21) or the slightly longer and remixed version from the 1979 compilation On The Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes 1 & 2 (4:56). "Last Dance" started a trend for Summer as some of her following hits also had a ballad-like intro before speeding up the tempo. On David Foster's "The Hitman Returns" DVD, David Foster introduces the song by relating a story to Donna Summer. When he played on the session in 1978, Foster thought the producer's suggestion to start the song as a ballad and change into a faster tempo was "the stupidest idea I've ever heard in my life, but we did it."
Awards and recognition
"Last Dance" won songwriter Paul Jabara a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Song, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song that same year. The song won Donna Summer at the American Music Awards prizes for Favorite Disco Single and Favorite Female Disco Artist. She would also win the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female. With a #3 peak on the Hot 100 in Billboard magazine the week of August 12, 1978, "Last Dance" became Summer's third US Top Ten hit after "Love to Love You Baby" and "I Feel Love" and almost matched the #2 hit "Love to Love You Baby" as Summer's best-charting single (at that time). "Last Dance" also afforded Summer a #5 hit on the R&B charts, and was #1 on Billboard's Hot Disco Action Chart for six weeks eventually being ranked as the #1 Disco hit for the year 1978. Certified gold by the RIAA on July 19, 1978, for sales of a million units in the US,"Last Dance" marked a downturn in Summer's chart fortunes in the UK where she'd previously had more chart impact than in the US with "Last Dance"'s UK chart peak being at #51; Summer would return to the UK Top Ten - at #5 - with her follow-up single "MacArthur Park"  a single which afforded Summer her first US #1. The song was ranked number 10 out of the top 76 songs of the 1970s by internet radio station WDDF Radio in their 2016 countdown.
Appearances in other media
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- In 1980, the song was covered by Greg Evigan and Pink Lady on an episode of the variety show Pink Lady and Jeff.
- Jackee Harry sang this song in an episode of 227.
- On an episode of Family Matters, Summer played Steve Urkel's aunt, Aunt Oona from Altoona, and performed this song in a karaoke contest.
- Brazilian countertenor, pop and jazz singer Edson Cordeiro covered the song in his 1998 album Disco Clubbing ao Vivo.
- The song is briefly sung by Michael Clarke Duncan in the outtakes of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. It also appears in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.
- Tejano superstar Selena performed the song as a medley which included Summer's "On the Radio" during her last televised concert in February 1995 at the Houston Astrodome. The medley was initially released on the soundtrack for the film Selena, but was later released on the CD and DVD release of Selena: Live! The Last Concert.
- In 2002, Vonda Shepard sang the song on an episode of Ally McBeal.
- In 2003, Whoopi Goldberg, Thelma Houston, Mýa, Taylor Dayne and Gloria Gaynor performed the song for the finale of the concert television special The Disco Ball.
- In The Simpsons episode "Today I Am a Clown", part of the song plays as Homer takes Santa's Little Helper on a night out.
- In early 2006, Lucy Benjamin covered this song in The X Factor: Battle of the Stars.
- In 2007, CeCe Peniston recorded live her own cover version of the Summer's song, which was released in 2008 as the second song on a Peniston's three track digital "EP Live". In 2010, Peniston's version was available in Europe also on live CD Divas Of Disco: Live.
- The song has been performed three times on American Idol: by Ryan Starr, Brenna Gethers and LaKisha Jones.
- On the seventh season finale, the top 12 females performed this song alongside Summer.
- The song was played on the final episode of As the World Turns, that aired September 17, 2010.
- Ariana Grande covered the song in December 2011.
- The first verse was heard at the end of a 2014 episode of Castle.
- The song is frequently used by many radio stations as their last song before changing formats, being used by many "Jammin' Oldies" stations in the US before the downfall of the format early in the decade of the 2000s. It was also used as the last song on the SiriusXM channel The Strobe in October 2010. On June 6, 2016 at 12 p.m., classic hits station KOSF in San Francisco, California played "Last Dance" before flipping from "Big 103.7" to 1980s hits as "iHeart 80s at 103.7".
- In 2018, the song was included in the Broadway musical Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.
- In 2019, the song was used for the "lip sync for your life" segment in the eleventh season of RuPaul's Drag Race.
- In 2020, the song was covered by the ‘Night Angel’ on The Masked Singer.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 136. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Bob Esty Question Time". www.donnasummer.it.
- "WDDF Radio".
- http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/films-videos-sound-recordings/rpm/Pages/image.aspx?Image=nlc008388.4638a&URLjpg=http%3a%2f%2fwww.collectionscanada.gc.ca%2fobj%2f028020%2ff4%2fnlc008388.4638a.gif&Ecopy=nlc008388.4638a RPM Top Singles, August 26, 1978
- "Dutchcharts.nl - Discografie Donna Summer". © 2006-2011 Hung Medien. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
- "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart, 10 September 1978". nztop40.co.nz.
- Fernando Salaverri (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 556.
- Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 234.
- "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2017-04-05.
- "Official New Zealand Music Charts: Top Selling Singles of 1978". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2017-04-05.
- "Top 100 Hits of 1978/Top 100 Songs of 1978". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
- "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1981". Tropicalglen.com. 1981-12-26. Archived from the original on 2016-10-22. Retrieved 2016-10-19.
- 'CeCe Peniston, Digital EP Live (Keep on Walkin', Last Dance, Finally' Discogs
- 'Divas of Disco: Live, CD Album, Europe, PEG CD 702' Discogs
- "KOSF Becomes iHeart80s 103.7". Format Change Archive. RadioBB Networks. June 6, 2016. Retrieved August 30, 2018.