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The song "Last Dance" (1978) from Donna Summer (Donna Summer)

The song, which began with a slow number before taking on a deafening disco beat, became a real gem of a Robert Klein film!

The story of the song "Last Dance" by charming Donna Summer

"Last Dance" is a famous song performed by American singer Donna Summer especially for the 1978 film Thank God It's Friday. Written by Paul Jabara with backing vocals by Steven Short. After being released as part of the soundtrack album, "Last Dance" became a huge critical success! The track was awarded an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song! The composition also earned Summer herself a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance… She reached number three on the US Billboard!

Where did it all begin? Background, record...

Donna Summer
Donna Summer

Donna Summer was the real queen of the American pop and R&B scene in the late 1970s... In 1978, she topped the American album chart with her Live And More, and her cover of Jimmy Webb's MacArthur Park hit the Hot 100! By the spring of 1979, Summer had released another record-breaking album, Bad Girls. But meanwhile, at the beginning of the year, she managed to enjoy fame, having received the coveted Grammy ... In 1978, Donna Summer, a key figure in turning disco music into a world phenomenon, starred in the film Thank God It's Friday. It was one of those films that aimed to maximize the potential of the dance music boom. It featured a lot of songs, but Summer's "Last Dance" was one of the top three gold-certified successes in American pop music!

Charming Donna Summer in Thank God It's Friday...
Charming Donna Summer in Thank God It's Friday...

In the film, Summer played the role of an aspiring singer who brings the instrumental track "Last Dance" to the disco: the girl really hopes that the disc jockey will play this track, and she will be able to perform the song ... After many refusals, the disc jockey, much to Donna's happiness, agrees play this song ... And now, the finest hour is coming for our heroine:

According to Bob Esty, co-producer and co-writer of Last Dance, Paul Jabara locked Donna in a hotel bathroom in Puerto Rico! He literally forced her to listen to a cassette with a demo version of the future hit track ... And for good reason: the singer liked "Last Dance", and work on the arrangement soon began ... Let's listen to Esty:

“It took me about a day to record the track: in the morning I recorded the rhythm, in the afternoon - horns and strings ... That same night, Giorgio Moroder recorded Donna's vocals: he did it one-on-one like herself, in two takes! He forbade me to attend the session. By the way: he did not like the song from the word at all ... He also did not want Donna to perform it in full voice. However, today he is listed as one of those who participated in the creation of "Last Dance". As a result, Paul Jabara received an Oscar, and I got a bitter lesson ... "

It is worth paying attention to the fact that "Last Dance" has become a kind of mainstream, one of the first disco tracks with measured parts ... It sounds like a ballad, at least in the beginning. When listening to the full-length version of the soundtrack for the film, you might have noticed how the song slows down dramatically in the middle ... This was done for the 7-inch version, which runs 3 minutes and 20 seconds. It was from this song that Summer began to use a slow tempo in the introduction, similar to ballads ... David Foster, one of the participants in the session, later said:

“When the producer came up with his idea of starting this track as a ballad and then jumping to a faster, faster tempo, I thought, 'Are you serious? This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life!" But we did it and I was surprised by the result... It's really cool!”

Release and ... success!

Donna Summer...
Donna Summer...

The song, which began with a slow number before taking on a deafening disco beat, became a real gem of a Robert Klein film! And despite the fact that there were many other songs on the Thank God It's Friday soundtrack, it was "The Last Dance" performed by Donna Summer that won the award ... The track won both the Oscar and the Golden Globe, and on the night At the 21st Annual Grammy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, both Paul Jabara and Summer hit the big time! The composer won the Best R&B Song category and Donna won the Best Female R&B Performance category. It was the first of at least five Grammy Awards won by Summer in an illustrious career cut short by her untimely death at the age of 63 in 2012...

When the song hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1978, Summer had 3 top ten hits in the States! In addition, "Last Dance" settled at number five on the R&B chart and became the leader of the Hot Disco Action Chart (the song remained number one for 6 whole weeks!) As a result, all these achievements made the song golden in America ...

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