Once Upon a Time (Donna Summer album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Once Upon a Time
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 31, 1977
RecordedSeptember 1977
StudioMusicland Studios, Munich, Germany
Donna Summer chronology
I Remember Yesterday
Once Upon a Time
Live and More
Singles from Once Upon a Time
  1. "I Love You"
    Released: December 1977
  2. "Fairy Tale High"
    Released: December 1977 (Germany only)
  3. "Once Upon a Time"
    Released: 1978 (Japan only)
  4. "Rumour Has It"
    Released: March 1978

Once Upon a Time is the sixth studio album by American singer-songwriter Donna Summer. It was released on October 31, 1977, and peaked at No. 26 on the US Billboard 200,[1] number thirteen on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart[1] and No. 24 on the UK Albums Chart.[2] The entire album charted as one entry at No. 1 on the Hot Dance/Disco chart. Once Upon a Time includes the singles "I Love You", "Fairy Tale High", "Once Upon a Time" and "Rumour Has It". The album did not spawn a hit single as popular as "I Feel Love".

The concept album was Summer's (and Disco's) first double album, telling a modern-day Cinderella-themed story through means of disco music. The album's story concept was conceived by Joyce Bogart, Susan Munao and Donna Summer based on an idea by Al Bogatz. The songs were written in collaboration between Summer, Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. The album was her last to be recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich. Arrangements were handled by Bob Esty while electronic arrangements were the work of Moroder. The artwork was designed by Stephen Lumel and Gribbitt! with photography by Francesco Scavullo.

Concept and image[edit]

Summer's previous two records were musical concept albums: 1976's Four Seasons of Love told the story of a love affair by relating it to the four seasons, while 1977's I Remember Yesterday presented a musical catalogue of musical styles and lyrical themes from the past, present and an imagined future. Once Upon a Time is another concept album—the first "disco opera" per Robert Christgau[3]—developed by Joyce Bogart, Susan Munao and Donna Summer as a modern-day Cinderella narrative.

Throughout the album and as described in the liner notes storyline,[3] the songs tell the story of a young woman who lives in a fantasy world of make-believe in which she is seemingly trapped, but thanks to her belief in her dreams she embarks on an adventure that ends with the man she loves entering her life. The "rags to riches" story is brought into the modern day via the use of the electronic disco sound.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideB−[5]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[6]
Record Mirror[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[8]

The album sold reasonably well as it made the US Top 30 and was certified gold in the U.S. by the RIAA that same year. It spawned the European hit single "I Love You", which became her fifth Top 10 in the UK in less than two years, and it also hit the US Top 40. "Rumour Has It" was also a UK Top 20 hit.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, and Pete Bellotte; all tracks produced by Moroder and Bellotte.

Side 1
1."Once Upon a Time"4:02
2."Faster and Faster to Nowhere"3:34
3."Fairy Tale High"4:25
4."Say Something Nice"4:44
Side 2
5."Now I Need You"6:09
6."Working the Midnight Shift"5:07
7."Queen for a Day"5:59
Side 3
8."If You Got It Flaunt It"4:43
9."A Man Like You"3:34
10."Sweet Romance"4:31
11."(Theme) Once Upon a Time"0:48
12."Dance Into My Life"4:10
Side 4
13."Rumour Has It"4:57
14."I Love You"4:43
15."Happily Ever After"3:51
16."(Theme) Once Upon a Time"3:58


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[23] Gold 50,000^
France (SNEP)[24] Gold 100,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[25] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[26] Gold 500,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Cover versions, appearances in other media etc.[edit]

"Sweet Romance" has been sampled by Ilacoin for his underground hit "By a Stranger", which had guest appearances from Labba and Black Rob and featured on Grand Theft Auto III. In 2001, Awaken covered "(Theme) Once Upon a Time" in their album Party in Lyceum's Toilets.

The song "I Love You" was also featured prominently in the Saturday Night Live skits featuring Tom Hanks "Sabra Shopping Network" and "Sabra Price is Right".


  1. ^ a b "Donna Summer > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
  2. ^ "UK Charts > Donna Summer". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
  3. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Once Upon a Time > Review". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2011-09-24.
  4. ^ Freedberg, Michael. "Once Upon a Time > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: S". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 13, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  6. ^ Larkin, Colin (1998). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Vol. 7 (3rd ed.). New-York: Muze UK Ltd. p. 5225. ISBN 1-56159-237-4.
  7. ^ Shearlaw, John (November 19, 1977). "It's Been a Bad Summer. Donna Summer — Once Upon a Time… Happily Ever After" (PDF). Record Mirror. p. 14. ISSN 0144-5804. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-03-09.
  8. ^ Tom, Hull (2004). "Donna Summer". In Brackett, Nathan; Christian, Hoard (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 792. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  9. ^ Suck, Jane (November 26, 1977). "Donna Summer – Once Upon a Time review". Sounds.
  10. ^ "Music Records: EW&F, Midler, Boz, Wakeman, Crosby-Nash, Allman-Cher, Van, Rawls, Genesis Top New LPs". proquest.com. Vol. 298, no. 4. Variety. November 30, 1977. p. 58. ProQuest 1401321975.
  11. ^ David Kent (1993). Australian Charts Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book Pty Ltd, Turramurra, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  12. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 5431a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
  13. ^ Racca, Guido (2019). M&D Borsa Album 1964–2019 (in Italian). ISBN 978-1094705002.
  14. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970-2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  15. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Donna Summer – Once Upon A Time...". Hung Medien. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
  16. ^ "Hits of the World" (PDF). Billboard. April 8, 1978. p. 76. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  17. ^ Fernando Salaverri (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  18. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
  19. ^ "Donna Summer Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
  20. ^ "Donna Summer Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
  21. ^ "Donna Summer Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
  22. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums - Year-End". Billboard. Archived from the original on April 17, 2021. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
  23. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Donna Summer – Once Upon a Time". Music Canada.
  24. ^ "Les Certifications depuis 1973". infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  25. ^ "British album certifications – Donna Summer – Once Upon a Time". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Once Upon a Time in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  26. ^ "American album certifications – Donna Summer – Once Upon a Time". Recording Industry Association of America.