Once Upon a Time (Donna Summer album)

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Once Upon a Time
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 31, 1977
RecordedMusicland Studios, Munich, Germany (1976–1977)
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 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
AllMusic3/5 stars[4]
Christgau's Record GuideB–[5]

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 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

Charts and certifications[edit]

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 c d "Donna Summer > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
  2. ^ a b "UK Charts > Donna Summer". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 2013-02-06. 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. ^ David Kent (1993). Australian Charts Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book Pty Ltd, Turramurra, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  7. ^ "CAN Charts > Donna Summer". RPM. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  8. ^ "JPN Charts > Donna Summer". Oricon. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
  9. ^ "NOR Charts > Donna Summer". VG-lista. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
  10. ^ Fernando Salaverri (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  11. ^ "Donna Summer > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
  12. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Donna Summer – Once Upon a Time". Music Canada.
  13. ^ "Les Certifications depuis 1973". infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ "American album certifications – Donna Summer – Once Upon a Time". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.