Tuesday, June 6, 2023

"I Will Survive" by Sa-Fire

Song#:  4141
Date:  12/16/1989
Debut:  80
Peak:  53
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Dance-Pop, House

Pop Bits:  Sa-Fire's self-titled debut album did fairly well. It peaked at a respectable #79 while spawning the #12 Pop/#4 AC hit "Thinking of You." A follow up LP was in order, but prior to that Sa-Fire would be assigned by her label to record a song for the soundtrack to an upcoming film. She would perform the cover tune "I Will Survive" for the Meryl Streep/Roseanne Barr comedy flick She-Devil. It would be released as a single, but it didn't quite catch fire. The tune would stop short of the halfway mark on the Pop chart while topping out at #30 Dance. Without a better boost the soundtrack then failed to chart.

ReduxReview:  You know a song is quality when it can be performed in various styles and it still sounds good. Sa-Fire's house-leaning take served the song well especially for the time period. I could do without the rap section, but again, it was right for the late 80s. If the arrangement sounds like something that Paula Abdul would do that is because it was produced by Oliver Leiber, who helmed hits for Abdul including "(It's Just) The Way You Love Me." It might have been nice to have this single touch the Pop Top 40, but I don't think it could have gone much further. It was a nice, timely take on a classic.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a cover of a song originally recorded by singer Gloria Gaynor. Written by Freddie Perrin and Dino Fekaris, the tune was meant to be the b-side to "Substitute," a song Gaynor's label wanted as a single. Gaynor knew "I Will Survive" would be a hit and tried to take the label into making it the a-side, but they refused and pushed out "Substitute." That tune barely scraped the R&B chart at #78, however "I Will Survive" started to become very successful in discos and it wasn't long before the song started climbing the charts. It would reach #1 Pop/#1 Dance/#4 R&B/#9 AC in 1979 and would become a platinum seller. It was Gaynor's second and final Pop Top 10 hit. The tune would go on to become a classic disco track and gay anthem. It would also be the one and only song to win a Grammy for Best Disco Recording as that category would exist for only one year. The song would be covered by many artists. The first charting cover of the song would be in 1979 when country artist Billie Jo Spears would take it to #21 on the Country chart. Sa-Fire would be the second artist to make the Pop chart with the tune. In 1996, a Diana Ross cover would get to #37 Dance. That same year, singer Chantay Savage would do a version that would get to #24 Pop/#5 R&B/#35 Dance. The following year alt rock band Cake would record the tune and it would get to #28 on the Modern Rock chart. Then of course the cast of the TV show Glee would do a mashup version of the tune along with Destiny Child's 2001 hit "Survivor." That medley would get to #51 Pop.


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