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Jun 08

DONNA SUMMER – “I Feel Love”

FT + Popular151 comments • 5,800 views

#409, 23rd July 1977

One of the remarkable things about “I Feel Love” is that it still sounds futuristic now. Not because the effects and techniques it uses remain way ahead of what pop’s capable of, but because it helped fix the idea of what “the future” would sound like: its specific mix of voice and electronics evoking gleaming hedonism, endless clockwork pleasure. “I Feel Love”, like robots and spaceships on sci-fi magazine covers, represents a fixed future we can’t ever quite get past.

But at the same time “I Feel Love” is a thing very much of 1977 - its sounds and beats somehow antique, with the way its internal rhythms often seem to shift out of phase giving the track its mechanical feel. It’s the pop equivalent of Voyager (which launched within weeks of “I Feel Love”‘s release) - the furthest out we’ve ever gone, but powered by primitive late-70s kit.

Back on Earth “I Feel Love” has been refitted and retooled countless times – if not a remix then another track borrowing its pulsing bassline chassis. That’s testament to its success as a pop song as well as a machine age wonder: for all that Moroder’s innovative arrangement suits the tune’s spacey bliss and transforms Summer’s coo into something entranced, “I Feel Love” is still catchy enough to have worked as a much more trad disco or glam-pop record.

The arrangement is what shifts it from good to legendary, though, from the first interlock of bassline and synthesised pulsebeat. It’s Ptolemaic pop, the play of cycles and epicycles: Moroder setting up minutely intersecting circling rhythms and watching as they interact in a music of the spheres that hasn’t stopped turning yet.

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Comments

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  1. 126
    Paulito on 3 Dec 2011 #

    Rather disappointing to see that only 75% of voters on Popular ’77 have given this a 6 or over. Clearly, not everyone here is as discerning as I thought…

  2. 127
    punctum on 17 May 2012 #

    worst news possible:

    http://www.tmz.com/2012/05/17/donna-summer-dead-last-dance/

  3. 128
    will on 17 May 2012 #

    Awful news. The deaths of famous people don’t usually affect me but this is really saddening. I have so many personal memories associated with her music, all of them positive, and 63 just feels far too young.

  4. 129
    Lazarus on 17 May 2012 #

    I had no idea she was ill to be honest. And for that reason this news is somehow even more shocking than Whitney. Just very, very sad.

  5. 130
    thefatgit on 17 May 2012 #

    Very sad to lose such a beautiful voice. I’m shocked because IFL is high on my list of all-time faves.

  6. 131
    Alan on 17 May 2012 #

    Currently topping the ft reader scores chart with an AVERAGE of 9.4, with Beach boys 2nd at 9.05

    That’s a clear lead

  7. 132
    thefatgit on 17 May 2012 #

    This seems appropriate…

    http://youtu.be/lEV7TrhkZUk

  8. 133
    AndyPandy on 17 May 2012 #

    As someone else said the deaths of famous people don’t usually affect them but this one did because her music was there at important times in their life.I agree completely. I didn’t even know she was ill so this is totally out of the blue. I haven’t felt so shocked since Michael Jackson passed away.

  9. 134
    Rory on 17 May 2012 #

    The first thing I thought of on hearing the news was that 9.4 reader score. That’s some testament.

    I’m reading another long obituary thread at MetaFilter, where this comment in particular appealed. Another linked to Sound on Sound’s Classic Tracks dissection of IFL.

  10. 135
    swanstep on 17 May 2012 #

    Yikes. Damn, she was in great voice (and basically looking great too) on Jools Holland’s show only a couple of years ago, e.g., here. Definitely made one think that it was insane that nobody from the electronic dance world had collaborated with her recently (I mean – really – what *has* William Orbit been doing the last ten years when he could have been working with DS?). The First Lady of electronic dance music absolutely.

  11. 136
    swanstep on 21 May 2012 #

    Blondie doing I Feel Love (Live) in 1979.

  12. 137
    Cumbrian on 13 Jul 2012 #

    So it’s Britain’s Favourite #1 on ITV this weekend. Any bets on how high I Feel Love (the current FT #1) will feature?

    ETA: Actually scratch that, having been to the website, I see it’s not even in the top 10 for voting. Indeed they didn’t even have a number from 1977 on the long list to start with. Numerous bunnies on the list, so I won’t bother copying and pasting.

  13. 138
    punctum on 13 Jul 2012 #

    What a boring fucking voting list. Nothing from the fifties, one from the sixties, three from the seventies, one from the eighties, three from the nineties, one from the noughties and one from this decade. You wouldn’t need Derren Brown to predict what they are or indeed which one will win.

  14. 139
    Mark G on 13 Jul 2012 #

    Well, to be scrup-fair, that’s presumably what got voted after the 12 pop experts (who?) chose the 60 to vote from.

    OK, maybe “Baby Jump” would not in all conscience make a ‘memorable’ list because of history having proved otherwise.

    But.

    Boring list, not voting, not watching.

  15. 140
    punctum on 13 Jul 2012 #

    My guess as to the twelve pop “experts”:

    Una Healy of the Saturdays
    Myleene Klass
    Phillip Schofield
    Alan Halsall (Tyrone Out Of Corrie)
    Justin Lee Collins
    Sir Trevor McDonald
    Sarah Davies, ex-bassist with Hepburn
    Trinny Out Of Trinny And Susannah
    Darren Hayes DARREN HAYES OUT OF SAVAGE GARDEN EVERYONE
    Ex-Busted guitarist Ki McPhail
    Darius Danesh
    Angie Bray MP

  16. 141
    Mark G on 13 Jul 2012 #

    I’d have expected better of Sir Trevor.

  17. 142

    i heard he liked seapunk

  18. 143
    Mark G on 13 Jul 2012 #

    Was there a seapunk number one?

    Sealand doesn’t count.

  19. 144
    swanstep on 22 Sep 2012 #

    Blue Man Group doing a rocked out, drummed up version of IFL (in a ridiculously large stadium).

  20. 145
    Brendan on 22 Sep 2012 #

    I can’t believe that by far the 2 most innovative and brilliant number 1 records ever (this and ‘Good Vibrations’) were only given 9 when the mediocre likes of ‘These Boots…’ and ‘Dancing Queen’ get 10 (I’d have given them both a 7 if I was feeling generous).

  21. 146
    Alan not logged in on 22 Sep 2012 #

    Brendan – http://freakytrigger.co.uk/populist/3/ shows yr in tune w Popular readers on Donna, BBoys and Nancy, but way off on your ABBA

  22. 147
    Brendan on 22 Sep 2012 #

    I like SOS, Take a Chance on Me and The Winner Takes It All very much. But, like 1 or 2 others pointed out, Dancing Queen just doesn’t move me as it does so many others.

  23. 148
    swanstep on 10 Jan 2014 #

    2013 was a strong year for Giorgio Moroder generally, but IFL in particular was used in (’70s disco scenes in) two superior 2013 films: Behind the Candelabra and American Hustle.

  24. 149
    swanstep on 16 Apr 2014 #

    The Sound Opinions podcast has Giorgio Moroder for the hour this week. Download available here: http://www.soundopinions.org/show/437

  25. 150
    www.lingotto-parts.com on 4 Jul 2014 #

    What’s up, its understandable paragraph along with this YouTube video; I can抰 think that one can not understand this trouble-free article having with movie sample.

  26. 151
    hectorthebat on 22 Jul 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Blender (USA) – Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own (2003)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh & Kevin Stein (USA) – The 40 Best of the Top 40 Singles by Year (1981) 15
    Michaelangelo Matos (USA) – Top 100 Singles of the 1970s (2001) 4
    Pause & Play (USA) – Songs Inducted into a Time Capsule, One Track at Each Week
    Pitchfork (USA) – The Pitchfork 500 (2008)
    PopMatters (USA) – The 100 Best Songs Since Johnny Rotten Roared (2003) 38
    Rolling Stone (USA) – 40 Songs That Changed the World (2007)
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 411
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 418
    TIME (USA) – The All-Time 100 Songs (2011)
    BBC (UK) – Pop on Trial, Top 50 Songs from the 1970s (2008)
    Gary Mulholland (UK) – This Is Uncool: The 500 Best Singles Since Punk Rock (2002)
    HarperCollins GEM (UK) – Single of the Year 1949-99 (1999)
    Mixmag (UK) – The 100 Best Dance Singles of All Time (1996) 12
    Mojo (UK) – The 100 Records That Changed the World (2007) 96
    Muzik (UK) – The 50 Most Influental Records of All Time (2003)
    Paul Roland (UK) – CD Guide to Pop & Rock, 100 Essential Singles (2001)
    Q (UK) – 100 Songs That Changed the World (2003) 36
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 268
    Q (UK) – The 1010 Songs You Must Own (2004)
    Q (UK) – The 50 Most Exciting Tunes Ever (2002) 44
    Q (UK) – The Ultimate Music Collection (2005)
    Q (UK) – Top 20 Singles from 1970-1979 (2004) 3
    The Guardian (UK) – 1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear (2009)
    Uncut (UK) – 100 Rock and Movie Icons (2005) 68
    Uncut (UK) – The 100 Greatest Singles from the Post-Punk Era (2001) 11
    Panorama (Norway) – The 30 Best Singles of the Year 1970-98 (1999) 1
    Spex (Germany) – The Best Singles of the Century (1999)
    Hervé Bourhis (France) – Le Petit Livre Rock: The Juke Box Singles 1950-2009
    Les Inrockuptibles (France) – 1000 Indispensable Songs (2006)
    Volume (France) – 200 Records that Changed the World, 2008 (38 songs)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

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