You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)

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"You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)"
Single by Sylvester
from the album Step II
B-side "Grateful"


January 1979 (U.S.)
Format 7", 12"
Recorded 1977
Genre Disco , Hi-NRG
Length 6:39
Label Fantasy Records
Writer(s) James Wirrick, Sylvester
Producer(s) Harvey Fuqua, Sylvester, mixed Patrick Cowley

"You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" is the title of a 1978 single by American disco singer Sylvester James, who performed using just his first name, Sylvester. The song was written by James Wirrick and Sylvester and appears on the singer's 1978 album, Step II.


The track was originally recorded as a mid tempo piano driven gospel tune, however after producer Patrick Cowley saw a rehearsal of the song at San Francisco's city disco, he offered to remix the song.[1] The result was one of the pioneering disco records using electronic instrumentation and effects, following closely on from "I Feel Love", by Donna Summer, that would have such an influence on 80s and 90s dance music.


The song was Sylvester's first Top 10 hit in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at #8 on the UK Singles Chart in October 1978.[2] In Sylvester's home country, the single was his second Top 40 hit, peaking at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1979.[3] The song also reached #20 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart. A 12" single was released in 1978, with "Dance (Disco Heat)" as the A-side and "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" as the B-side, and these two extended dance mixes proved to be very popular in dance clubs at the time. The two songs held down the top spot on the Billboard Dance/Disco chart for six weeks in August and September 1978.[4] These two songs helped to establish Sylvester's career as a noted disco and dance music performer, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Other notable versions[edit]

The song has been recorded by other musicians, including British singer Jimmy Somerville, formerly of the bands Bronski Beat and Communards. His 1989 cover version of the song also received substantial club play, and it peaked at #5 on the UK Singles Chart in January 1990.[2] To date, this is the highest-charting version of the song in the UK. Somerville's cover of this song appears on his first solo album, Read My Lips.

In 1991, actress-comedian Sandra Bernhard recorded her own version of the single, which is a tribute to James, on her album Excuses for Bad Behavior (Part One). A series of 12" remix singles was released in 1994 by Epic Records' 550 Music imprint, who also signed Bernhard and picked up her album for a major push that same year. It peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, and #86 in the UK singles chart in late 1994.[2][5]

Also recording a cover of this song was Chicago-born house music singer Byron Stingily, formerly of the band Ten City. Like Sylvester's original recording, Stingily's cover version of "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" (produced by UK music producer Damien Mendis) also went to #1 on the American dance chart, where it spent one week atop the chart in March 1998.[6] Although there have been instances where the same song, recorded by two different artists, has reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart ("Don't Leave Me This Way" is one example), it is still a fairly rare occurrence. This version also reached #13 in the UK.[2]

Appearances in other media[edit]

  • Sylvester's version of the song was featured in the 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk where Sylvester is seen in the documentary's file footage.
  • The style of New Order's 1983 release "Blue Monday" was influenced by "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)".[7]
  • Danny DeVito dances his striptease for Phoebe's bachelorette party to this song on Friends "The One Where the Stripper Cries" (season 10, episode 11)[8]
  • In the Chris Rock movie Head of State, the song plays when Rock's character campaigns at a gay club.
  • LMFAO's Song "Hot Dog" on their 2011 album Sorry for Party Rocking (Deluxe Edition) has a very similar song progression.
  • "Fly Away (Bye Bye)", a 2000 hit by Eyes Cream included a sample of "You make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" throughout the song.
  • Australian singer and TV personality Dannii Minogue sampled the melody of "You make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" on her 2007 single "Touch Me Like That" from the album Club Disco.
  • The song was used in the final episode of Banshee, a Cinemax TV series.
  • The song was used in a 2014 Target television commercial for Peter Pilotto womenswear.
  • The song was used in the 2014 HBO movie The Normal Heart in the opening scene at the Fire Island Pines party on the beach.
  • The song was used in the trailer for the 2014 British film Pride.
  • The song features in the 2013 film Test during the scene where Frankie meets his older neighbour Bill.
  • The song features in the 1998 film 54, about the Studio 54 nightclub.
  • The song features in the 2008 film Milk, about the life and times of Harvey Milk.
  • In 2015, the song was sung a cappella on Empire by Miss Lawrence.
  • The song was used on the eighth season of RuPaul's Drag Race in a lip sync between Derrick Barry and Bob the Drag Queen. It was the first song ever lip synced on the show by a male artist (except Rupaul).

Other contributions Sylvester made with his music[edit]

Along with being a great performer and musician, Sylvester also made huge contributions to raising awareness for HIV/AIDS in the gay community. He himself had suffered from the disease not allowing him to continue to perform his music in the way that he wanted. Although he was bound to a wheel chair because of the disease, he still was very active in spreading a message especially through his music. He participated and sang his songs, this one in particular, in many gay parades and campaigns alongside those in the gay community. His influence of popularity, music, and personality enabled him to be a part of raising awareness instead of letting the disease get the very best of him. He was able to use and channel his music for an even greater cause, because he was such a huge symbol for the advancement of the gay community.


  1. ^ Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco, Peter Shapiro, p76, Macmillan, 2006
  2. ^ a b c d "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) - Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 619.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco 1974-2003, (Record Research Inc.), page 252.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco 1974-2003, (Record Research Inc.), page 33.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco 1974-2003, (Record Research Inc.), page 247.
  7. ^ "New Order:Singles:Blue Monday". Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  8. ^

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Hot Shot" by Karen Young
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single (Sylvester version, with "Dance (Disco Heat)")
August 19, 1978 - September 23, 1978
Succeeded by
"Keep on Jumpin'" / "In the Bush" by Musique
Preceded by
"Off the Hook" by Jody Watley
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single (Byron Stingily version)
March 14, 1998
Succeeded by
"Stay!" by Sash! featuring La Trec