"I Feel Love"
A Dance Floor Milestone
Donna Summer first experienced fame in 1975 via the brazen moaning and sexy breathing that made her debut single, "Love to Love You Baby," a worldwide smash. She parlayed that novelty hit into an influential career: Over the next four years, she and producers Georgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte created a string of songs that defined and then transcended disco. "I Feel Love," from the erratic I Remember Yesterday (1977), was among the team's first and most significant experiments—a wickedly bouncy synthesized utopia that fore-shadowed house, techno, and other forms of electronic dance music of the '80s and '90s. Forward-looking producer Brian Eno pronounced the song "the future of music" when he heard it.
At the very least, it's the sound of restless producers having a little what-the-hell-let's-try-this fun. Unlike most of Summer's hits, "I Feel Love" is minimal—a few lines of lyric, an ingratiating beat, simple keyboards. Its genius is in repetition: The popcorn-popping keyboard parts and busy bass lines move in cool, steady loops that cycle around at regular intervals. This backdrop is so beguiling Summer doesn't need to do much, and she doesn't—her cooing vocal hook seems to just float on top of the arrangement.
This track showed that Summer, then a rising star, had some artistic range. After it, on such torrid albums as Bad Girls, she and her production team began to explore styles that stretched well beyond the dance floor. Several tunes built on rock and funk backbeats became chart-topping singles, but none have aged as well as this iconoclastic wonderment of a song. Despite its disco-era origins, "I Feel Love" crackles with rhythmic vitality. Still.
Released: 1977, Casablanca
Appears On: I Remember Yesterday; The Donna Summer Anthology
Catalog Choice: Bad Girls; The Donna Summer Anthology
Next Stop: Gloria Gaynor: Never Can Say Goodbye
After That: Chic: C'est Chic
Book Page: 755