About the song
If you are a fan of disco music, chances are you have danced and sung along to Gloria Gaynor’s iconic hit “I Will Survive”. But do you know the story behind this song that has become a symbol of female empowerment and resilience? In this blog post, we will explore the history of “I Will Survive”, from its origins as a B-side to its impact on pop culture and social movements.
“I Will Survive” was written by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris, two former Motown staff writers who had left the label in the mid-1970s. Fekaris was inspired by his own experience of getting fired by Motown and finding a new career as a songwriter. He told Songfacts: “I remember jumping up and down on the bed saying, ‘I’m going to make it. I’m going to be a songwriter. I will survive!'”.
Perren and Fekaris teamed up with Gloria Gaynor, a disco singer who had scored some hits in the early 1970s but was in need of a comeback. They produced a song called “Substitute” for her, which was originally recorded by the Righteous Brothers. However, they also had another song that they thought was better: “I Will Survive”. They gave Gaynor the lyrics of the song scribbled on a piece of brown paper, and she immediately recognized it as a hit.
However, Gaynor’s record company, Polydor, did not share their enthusiasm. They decided to release “Substitute” as the A-side of the single, and “I Will Survive” as the B-side. They thought that “Substitute” was more commercial and catchy, while “I Will Survive” was too slow and personal. They were wrong.
Club DJs and radio stations soon discovered “I Will Survive” on the flip side of the single, and started playing it instead of “Substitute”. The song resonated with listeners who related to its message of overcoming adversity and finding strength in oneself. The song became a huge hit, reaching number one on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart in 1979. It also won the first and only Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording in 1980.
“I Will Survive” has since become a timeless classic that transcends genres and generations. It has been covered by many artists, such as Diana Ross, Cake, Chantay Savage, and Aretha Franklin. It has been featured in many movies, TV shows, commercials, and video games, such as The Martian, The Replacements, Shrek 2, Sex and the City, Glee, and Just Dance. It has also been adopted as an anthem by various groups who have faced oppression or discrimination, such as women, LGBTQ+ people, people of color, and immigrants.
In this blog post, we will dive deeper into the history of “I Will Survive”, and explore how it became one of the most influential songs of all time. We will look at how it reflects Gaynor’s own personal struggles, how it influenced disco music and culture, how it inspired social movements and activism, and how it continues to empower people today. Stay tuned for more!