Saturday, May 19, 2012
Donna Summer, Disco and Sci-Fi
'I Feel Love' owes much to Summer's voice, but for me it's the arrangement of Giorgio Moroder that sells the track; an escalating of upper register vocals gradually climbing the scales through each verse until, finally, releasing, Summer returning to a middle range and delivering the song title in a simple repeated line for the chorus. It's a killer, and it's no surprise to me that the song's been sampled and adopted by so many over the years. The chorus is what reveals Summer's presence more, almost a snarl of a delivery compared to the seemingly modulated vocals building previously. I doubt there's any more electronic trickery there than the usual production, but the way her vocals sustain the single-note "ooooh" with every line while a flanged synthesiser wash follows further down the scale (the closest you're going to get to a bass line in this song) and Moroder's looped rhythm track repeats its own climb up the scale, turns the vocal into another synthetic trick. It's such a succesful matching that Summer's voice is less recognisable for it; for some time I though it was Debbie Harry, another of Moroder's later collaborators.