Friday, May 18, 2012

Donna Summer • Pop Tribute

Donna Summer Bad Girls Donna Summer On The Radio
Donna Summer She Works Hard For The Money Donna Summer Another Place & Time

While many will remember Donna Summer as the Queen of Disco, a quick look at her discography would show you that while she did command the dance floor in the early part of her career, she also moved on and made some amazing Pop/Rock music. In many ways, Summer paved the way for some of the great women who followed, like Madonna, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry, showing some sass and sensuality, more than the ladies before her. She also laid the groundwork of what it meant to repackage a performer, from Disco coquette to Pop's Everywoman, from a curiosity to a star who could sing with the best in the business. Her voice was rich and full, with tone to spare. She also had an amazing range, and could sing any and all of her songs for a live audience, something many Pop singers could never say without being hit by a bolt of lightning. Take, for instance, this mash-up of two great songs from 1979, both claiming the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. This is Donna singing "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls" in a live performance.

I remember when the next song hit the airwaves. You see, it was back in the days I actually listened to the radio. There was some good music being made, and Donna Summer was one of the people who was making it. As stories go, this has a good one. Back in the late 1970s, Summers wrote "Dim All The Lights" and was planning to give it to Rod Stewart to record, only she changed her mind, and decided to save it for herself. When she released it in 1979 on the heels of "Hot Stuff" and Bad Girls", as well as the smash hit "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" with Barbara Streisand, who knew this would be her fourth song to zoom up the charts that year, as it claimed the #2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, the third hit off the Bad Girls album.

By the time 1979 & 1980 rolled around, the term "disco" became a four-letter-word, and anyone associated with felt the pinch. That included Donna Summer, despite the fact of having several non-Disco hits, including the three above. So many were writing the diva off, and, well, they shouldn't have. The label thought it time to release a collection of greatest hits for the young woman who had been scoring hits for more than five years. As an added incentive for her fans, a song not yet released was added. With music by Giorgio Moroder and lyrics by Donna Summer, "On The Radio" was released in 1980, and went to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was off the collection cleverly named On The Radio: Greatest Hits Vol 1 & 2.

While she took a bit of time off to start a family, soon Summer was back at work, and in 1983, she was back on the charts, and in a big way, too. Released off an album of the same name, "She Works Hard For The Money" made it to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and made everyone know your could never discount her talent.

By the time 1989 came along, there were many who thought the charms of Donna might have worn off. Yes, it seems these people never learn a lesson, for that is when Summer released Another Place And Time, and had the #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the great "This Time I Know It's For Real."

In 1999, she had a special on VH1, Donna Summer - Live And More Encore. The following year, she was a star in the VH1 Diva 2000, sharing the stage with Diana Ross, Mariah Carey, and Faith Hill, with special guest performers Destiny's Child and RuPaul. While she continued to make music, she never really returned to the top of the Pop charts after 1989. To enjoy more of her music, you can find The Journey: The Best of Donna Summer on iTunes and Amazon, or her Live And More album, on iTunes and Amazon.


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