Top 10 Donna Summer Songs

Donna Summer
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01
of 10

"I Feel Love" (1977)

Donna Summer I Feel Love
Donna Summer - "I Feel Love". Courtesy Casablanca

"I Feel Love" was part of Donna Summer's disco concept album I Remember Yesterday. The record presented songs from the past, present, and "I Feel Love" represented the future. As it turned out, the record did indeed represent the future and became one of the most influential dance songs of all time. Until the release of "I Feel Love," most disco records were backed by orchestras. For "I Feel Love," Giorgio Moroder created an entirely electronic backing track. The record became a landmark for future electronic dance music. David Bowie credits his musical collaborator Brian Eno with listening to "I Feel Love" and saying, "I have heard the sound of the future...This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years." "I Feel Love" reached #6 on the pop chart in the US and went all the way to #1 in the UK. The album I Remember Yesterday climbed into the top 20 of the album chart and was certified gold for sales.

Multiple publications have recognized the significance of "I Feel Love" to the history of popular music. Slant Magazine named it the top dance song of all time. Dance music authorities Mixmag and DJ Magazine both place it among the top 100 dance songs of all time. An article in The Guardian identified the release of "I Feel Love" as one of the 50 key events in the history of dance music.

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02
of 10

"Love To Love You Baby" (1975)

Donna Summer Love To Love You Baby
Donna Summer - "Love To Love You Baby". Courtesy Casablanca

Donna Summer had been living in Germany for eight years and had earned some minor success on pop charts in Europe when she suggested the lyric, "Love to love you baby," to legendary disco producer Giorgio Moroder. At first Donna Summer's recording was only intended as a demo. However, the erotic recording, with Donna Summer imagining she was Marilyn Monroe while singing the song in the studio, convinced Giorgio Moroder that it should be released as a Donna Summer single. The song found its way to Casablanca Records label head Neil Bogart in the US. He was so impressed after playing the song at a party at his home that he encouraged Giorgio Moroder to record a long, extended version of the song. Ultimately, the new recording was 16 minutes long. "Love To Love You Baby" became Donna Summer's first international smash hit single peaking at #2 on the pop chart in the US and #1 on the disco chart. The BBC initially declined to play the record due to its sexual content but it ultimately reached #4 on the UK pop singles chart.

The long version of "Love To Love You Baby" fills the entire first side of the album of the same name. The second side of the album consisted of songs with more of an R&B sound. The album peaked at #11 on the US album chart and was certified gold for sales.

Casablanca Records subsequently became the sole distributor of Donna Summer's music in the US helping propel them to the top of disco record labels. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has listed "Love To Love You Baby" as one of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. 

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03
of 10

"MacArthur Park" (1978)

Donna Summer MacArthur Park
Donna Summer - "MacArthur Park". Courtesy Casablanca

"MacArthur Park" was written by Jimmy Webb in the 1960s after the breakup of a relationship. It was first recorded by actor and singer Richard Harris. That version, released as a single in 1968, is more than seven minutes long and includes four distinct sections. The song went to #2 on the pop chart in the US in 1968. Waylon Jennings reached #23 on the country chart in 1969 with a cover version. Donna Summer recorded a "MacArthur Park Suite" for her 1978 album Live and More. The suite included the songs "MacArthur Park," "One Of a Kind," and "Heaven Knows" and topped the disco chart. It was broken apart for pop single releases and "MacArthur Park" reached #1 while "Heaven Knows" peaked at #4. "MacArthur Park" was Donna Summer's first #1 pop hit. It was also the only Jimmy Webb song to reach #1 on the US pop charts. A new remix reached #1 on the dance chart in 2013.

For many listeners, the imagery in the "MacArthur Park" lyrics is almost dream-like, but Jimmy Webb has pointed out in interviews that it is all things that he actually saw in the park. That includes the old men playing checkers and the cake left out in the rain. The same breakup that inspired "MacArthur Park" also inspired the hit song "By the Time I Get To Phoenix."

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04
of 10

"Hot Stuff" (1979)

Donna Summer Hot Stuff
Donna Summer - "Hot Stuff". Courtesy Casablanca

"Hot Stuff" was the first single off Donna Summer's 1979 double album Bad Girls. The song stretched the boundaries of Donna Summer's music by adding rock elements to the mix. "Hot Stuff" features a guitar solo by the Doobie Brothers' Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. The song quickly topped both the disco and pop charts. It spent three non-consecutive weeks at the top and was in the top 3 of the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously with "Bad Girls." Two weeks after "Hot Stuff" left the peak, "Bad Girls" hit #1. Donna Summer won a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal with the record. She was the first African-American artist to win a rock vocal Grammy Award.

Rolling Stone listed "Hot Stuff" as one of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time." It has been certified double platinum in the US for sales. It was one of the top 10 hit songs of the year overall in 1979. The double album Bad Girls was a smash hit. It hit #1 on the album chart and earned a Grammy Award nomination for Album of the Year.

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05
of 10

"She Works Hard For the Money" (1983)

Donna Summer She Works Hard For the Money
Donna Summer - "She Works Hard For the Money". Courtesy Mercury

After being signed as the first artist on the newly formed Geffen record label and achieving success with the album and single The Wanderer, Donna Summer's relationship with David Geffen began to sour. The 1981 album I'm a Rainbow was shelved and not released until 1996. She was forced to end her long-term recording arrangement with producer Giorgio Moroder and record the 1982 album Donna Summer with Quincy Jones. Her 1983 album recorded with producer Michael Omartian was on the verge of being shelved until David Geffen allowed the tapes to be forwarded to Polygram to complete a contractual obligation to Casablanca Records which was now part of Polygram. One of the gems included in the package was the #3 smash pop hit "She Works Hard For the Money." The song also hit #3 on the dance chart and #1 on the R&B chart. It earned Donna Summer a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal. She performed it live to open the Grammy Awards celebration. The song's inspiration came from a real life encounter between Donna Summer and a restroom attendant named Onetta Johnson at a restaurant in Los Angeles.

The accompanying music video was directed by Brian Grant, known previously for his work on Olivia Newton-John's Grammy Award winning "Physical" video. "She Works Hard For the Money" became the first music video by an African-American female artist to be placed in heavy rotation on MTV. 

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06
of 10

"No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" with Barbra Streisand (1979)

Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand No More Tears
Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand - "No More Tears". Courtesy Casablanca

Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand were two of the biggest pop recording artists in the world when they put together the "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" duet. It was included on Barbra Streisand's album Wet as well as Donna Summer's greatest hits collection On the Radio. The song begins as a ballad in a style more familiar to Barbra Streisand fans before the disco segment that was Donna Summer's forte. The result was a #1 smash pop hit. It was the fourth trip to the top for each artist. "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)," with the participation of Barbra Streisand, also landed in the top 10 of the adult contemporary chart.

In an unusual arrangement, "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" was released as a 7" single on both Columbia (Barbra Streisand's label) and Casablanca (Donna Summer's label) in slightly different versions. Billboard combined the sales of both in creating chart positions for the song. The pair never performed the song live together. In 2017, a remix of "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" hit #1 on the dance chart.

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07
of 10

"Last Dance" (1978)

Donna Summer Last Dance
Donna Summer - "Last Dance". Courtesy Casablanca

In 1978 Donna Summer received an acting role in the disco themed movie Thank God It's Friday. She is an aspiring singer who brings an instrumental track of a disco song to a local DJ hoping he will play it and let her sing the song live. The song is "Last Dance." Producer Giorgio Moroder created another disco innovation by opening the song in ballad style before segueing into full disco mode. It was the first of a series of songs using the technique including Donna Summer's own "MacArthur Park" and "Dim All the Light." "Last Dance" became Donna Summer's third top 10 pop hit peaking at #3 and was the top disco hit of the year 1978. "Last Dance" earned an Academy Award for Best Song for songwriter Paul Jabara. The song's mix features backing vocals by British producer Stephen Short.

Famed producer David Foster has said that he thought the slow intro to "Last Dance" was one of the "stupidest ideas I've heard in my life." "Last Dance" earned a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance Female.

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08
of 10

"Dim All the Lights" (1979)

Donna Summer Dim All the Lights
Donna Summer - "Dim All the Lights". Courtesy Casablanca

"Dim All the Lights" is Donna Summer's only hit single for which she received sole writing credit. She originally wrote the song to give to Rod Stewart but decided to record it herself at the last minute. Like "Last Dance" it begins with a ballad section before moving into the main disco section of the song. "Dim All the Lights" is notable for containing the longest single sustained note held by a female artist in a top 40 hit lasting 16 seconds. "Dim All the Lights" was a #2 pop smash hit. It was in the top 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously with "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)." Laura Branigan covered "Dim All the Lights" in 1995 and took it to the top 40 on the dance chart.

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09
of 10

"The Wanderer" (1980)

Donna Summer The Wanderer
Donna Summer - "The Wanderer". Courtesy Geffen

Following disputes with Casablanca label boss Neil Bogart, Donna Summer became the first artist signed to David Geffen's record label Geffen in 1980. She continued to work with her producers Girogio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. However, sensing that the disco era had passed, "The Wanderer" incorporated elements from the rising sound of new wave. It was a success and peaked at #3 on the US pop singles chart. It was less successful overseas peaking at #48 in the UK. "The Wanderer" was Donna Summer's last single to be certified gold for sales until 1989's "This Time I Know It's For Real."

The album The Wanderer was a moderate commercial success. It peaked at #13 on the album chart. It included two Grammy Award nominated songs. "Cold Love" received a nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal and "I Believe In Jesus" was nominated for Best Inspirational Performance.

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10
of 10

"Bad Girls" (1979)

Donna Summer Bad Girls
Donna Summer - "Bad Girls". Courtesy Casablanca

Donna Summer's seventh studio album Bad Girls was a double album loosely based around the concept of prostitution. It blended more rock elements into her trademark disco. It became a smash hit spending eight weeks at #1 and earning a Grammy Award nomination for Album of the Year.

Donna Summer wrote the rough original version of the title song "Bad Girls" a few years before it was recorded. Casablanca Records head Neil Bogart originally wanted her to offer the song to Cher for a recording, but Donna Summer refused and kept the song for herself. "Bad Girls" became the second #1 pop hit single from the album of the same name and topped the pop, disco and R&B charts simultaneously. It also earned Grammy Award nominations for Best Female Pop Vocal and Best Female R&B Vocal.

Donna Summer stated in interviews that the inspiration for "Bad Girls" came from the experience of one of her assistants who was mistaken by a police officer for a prostitute. Ultimately, "Bad Girls" was the second biggest pop hit of 1979. 

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