INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Wired MAY 17, 2012 - by Geeta Dayal
REMEMBERING DISCO QUEEN DONNA SUMMER, THE VOICE OF 'I FEEL LOVE'
Donna Summer, the disco queen whose 1977 smash hit I Feel Love was nothing short of seismic in its impact on electronic music, died Thursday of cancer at the age of sixty-three.
Produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, I Feel Love fused Summer's breathy, ethereal vocals with a hard, driving synthesizer pulse. Few tracks can lay claim to altering the course of popular music, but the reverberations of I Feel Love could be felt in the electro, house and techno that followed in the 1980s and beyond.
"It's basically the blueprint for all electronic music that came after it," said Peter Shapiro, author of Turn The Beat Around: The Secret History Of Disco, in a phone interview with Wired. "It came out in 1977, the same year that [Kraftwerk's] Trans-Europe Express came out, the year that Parliament did Flashlight. To me, those are the three great synth tracks."
"What I would really like to do," Eno said, "if I could have a sort of kingship for a short time and organize the group of my dreams - I would make one group which was a combination of, say, Parliament and Kraftwerk - put those two together and say, 'Make a record.' Something like that would be an extraordinary combination: the weird, physical feeling of Parliament, with this strange, rigid, stiff stuff over the top of it.
"Donna Summer was actually the beginning of this idea for me," Eno continued. "When I heard [I Feel Love], I was so knocked out, I thought it was really making progress."
Summer's voice was perfect for disco's eventual shift from lush, soulful, symphonic orchestrations to a more overtly electronic sound.
"Moroder and Bellotte found the perfect frame for her voice in I Feel Love, in the synth cathedral they created for her," said Shapiro. "The reason she was a great singer for disco is that she wasn't a traditional soul singer at all. She's much more of a Broadway singer, kind of a show tunes singer. In fact, that's the way Moroder discovered her - she was in the touring company of Hair... In the sense that disco is in some ways a break from traditional soul, her style was perfect."
Summer had several hits over the course of her storied career, from 1975's epic Love To Love You Baby to a string of successes in the late '70s and early '80s, including Hot Stuff, Bad Girls, MacArthur Park and many more. But I Feel Love was the track that made her immortal.