The other night I took some time to watch the classic 1994 camp film ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ with one of my favourite songs portrayed in the scene below.
Like I have noted before, the best way for me personally to get a song stuck in my head is to do some more investigation into pop music history. (And play the song over and over until I get bored or the neighbours will threaten me with an eviction.)
The original song performed by the legendary Gloria Gaynor (above) has been covered by many in the duration of the past 40 years. Thanks to the compilation video I found (below), I don’t have to post all of the different versions here.
We even have our own cover version in Finnish called ‘Oon voimissain’, published a year after the international version. Originally performed by Virve ‘Vicky’ Rosti in 1979, the translated lyrics and strong vocals pretty much sums up the original story (only in the Finnish context).
The Finnish lyrics asks if the man who dumped her ‘can’t remember how you left laughing?’ and how she ‘gathered all of her strength in order not to die’ out of the initial shock and heart break that his sudden departure caused her to go through.
Notice the way in the performance (video below) how the more the ex-in-a-suit removes his belongings around her, the more emancipated she becomes with the newly gained space around her. This woman grows from the experience of having to passively watch from the side how her loved one packs and leaves into owning her own space with dancing and being to sit on her own chair.
The end result is rather victorious; if he doesn’t voluntarily drop the intentions of getting back together and leave, she is even ready and willing to throw him ‘out into the cold winter freeze’ (which in Finland is actually a relatively horrifying scenario). Way to go, girl!
Moving on to the actual subjective part of this post: which of all of these covers is my personal favourite – and why. To be honest, nothing (for me) can beat the original disco classic, but in my opinion there’s always room for new interpretations for a fresh remake of the song.
And I have to admit listening to this emancipatory anthem at least a couple of times a week. Blame marketing etc. but the version of Demi Lovato pops up in the search results every time on Spotify. Without knowing a lot about the singer and her previous career, I actually really think she nailed it in this version – originally used in the 2016 Angry Birds film.
The three versions mentioned above were the ones I had acknowledged before making this post. The case with pretty much every big song is that they most probably are covered a million times in all kinds of reality-TV singing competitions all around the world.
Out of all the versions found on YouTube, this one really caught my attention. There is something really raw and deep in the timbre of the voice of a competitor in The Voice Portugal 2016, Laura Vargas. I especially love the way she starts the first part of the song, before the rest of the live band joins in the party.
The version performed by Nils Landgren (below) is one of the covers performed by male vocals. As much as I enjoyed it, I have to be wondering: what does all the pictures of the beautiful models have to do with the actual song and its historically important message to women?
Despite of the fact that the quality of the video below doesn’t perhaps match the standard level of even slightly popular Youtubers these days, I somehow found the performance really refreshing and original after listening to (vocals starting around 2:50) countless people who are trained and trying to sing as flawlessly as possible.
In my opinion, this style of performing really suits this song; the singer Petra Magoni succeeds in passing on the feelings of feminist emancipation. Of course, someone in the comments section calls the performance as ‘a cruel torture for a great song’ but in my opinion they did something different and rather unique – and that is something that should be valued. Perhaps it has also something to do with the culturally constructed social norms of the ways the majority of people still think women should sing…
On a side note, I think that it is not only possible but even likely that Destiny’s Child song ‘Survivor’ from the year 2001 has been inspired by ‘I Will Survive’. And surprise surprise – the two songs have been combined in a mash-up at least as early as 2011 on the television show ‘Glee’s’ third season.
However, the version below was the first mash-up that I came across with; performed in the reality-show ‘Rising Star Indonesia’ by the 17-year-old-competitor Talita Arsyta. I think it was a pretty good show!
(Finally also Gloria Gaynor herself with the powerful background choir sang a mash-up of the two songs at the 21st National Television Awards back in January 2016.)
After multiple days of torturing my dog, my neighbours, and a little bit myself too, I finally think that I am done with this song… for some while!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section and please feel free to give me suggestions if you have any ideas of the next song I should cover! (Not like record a cover and put it here but… you probably got what I meant!)