(Dino Fekaris/Freddie Perren)
Mammoth hit written by Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren and recorded by Gloria Gaynor that reached #1 on the Billboard chart in 1979 and #1 in the United Kingdom a day later.
It was not intended to be a hit, as it was released on the B side of “Substitute”, an old Righteous Brothers song (Gloria did like her remakes) but savvy DJs flipped the record over and helped turn it into a radio staple. Soon, Polydor was rushing copies with “I Will Survive” on the A side. It was a smart move, because “Substitute” didn’t even manage to break into the Billboard Hot 100 Singles.
“I Will Survive” was covered four times in 1979 alone, including a country version by Billie Jo Spears, which is more of a polka or Texas two-step than its original disco incarnation. In 1980, Gloria Gaynor’s original version won the first and only Best Disco Recording at the Grammy Awards.
It has been translated into and performed in several languages, including Czech, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Russian, and Turkish.
The song has been covered by groups ranging from the Brotherhood of Man to Cake to Gladys Knight & The Pips to R.E.M. Cake’s rendition is played when Turkey’s Galatasaray SK football team scores a goal. In 1998, it was also the theme tune for the France’s World Cup Champion soccer club.
It has featured in several movies, including The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Men in Black II. (Frank the Pug does an inimitable rendition.)
This song has pervaded just about every facet of our modern, multi-media culture, including amusement park rides, TV shows, and video games. There was even an e-card version featuring a cartoon turkey who clucks her way through a parody of the song, claiming she will survive Thanksgiving. It is the #1 e-card ever featured on American Greetings, garnering over 30 million hits.
Other animals have covered the song, including Crazy Frog and Runt of the Litter in the 2005 animated film, Chicken Little. As recently as 2009, The Pussycat Dolls used some of its lyrics in their song “Hush Hush”.
“I Will Survive”, a song that people seem to either love or hate, has delivered on the self-fulfilling prophecy in its title.
Billie Jo Spears recordings
United Artists Records UA-X1292-Y (UAST-20397)