The news of Donna Summer’s untimely passing Thursday (May 17) weighed heavily on all those who knew and loved the undisputed Queen of Disco.
Despite the fact that “disco fever” lived and basically died in the 1970s, Summer’s music continues to live on. Her many unforgettable hits like “Last Dance,” “Love to Love You Baby” and “She Works Hard for the Money” transcended genres and left an indelible mark on all pop culture , from the music charts to television and film. A quick perusal of Summer’s eclectic IMDb page demonstrates the fact that her music is the go-to for filmmakers and show-runners looking for that perfect dance number in their TV show or film.
“Her songs are so iconic that people use them as shorthand either to convey disco or those songs lend themselves to montage-type stuff,” Entertainment Weekly music editor Leah Greenblatt told MTV News. ” ‘She Works Hard for the Money’ is always used for when a lady is going about her business. Songs like ‘Love to Love You’ and ‘I Feel Love’ are almost like a ‘bow-chicka-bow-wow,’ in that they always convey sex, whether that’s in an ironic way or in a real way.”
Two relatively recent comedic examples include the memorable love scene/orgy in “Zoolander” set to “Love to Love You” and Cameron Diaz’s group dance number in “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” set to “Last Dance.”
“A lot of her songs were almost cinematic in the way that their lyrics and music were arranged,” Greenblatt said of the repeated use of Summer’s songs for television and film. “A lot of [scenes] can go out or end on ‘Last Dance.’ ‘She Works Hard for the Money’ is all about when a woman has to go out and earn in a movie; it’s the perfect music cue. And when someone is having a threesome with a Sherpa [like in 'Zoolander'], her music was so great for that.”
Greenblatt went on to say that Summer’s songs will continue to provide the soundtrack to key moments in our lives.
“There was a time when disco was really derided and dismissed, but it would be really hard to find a person over 25 or 30 who doesn’t have these songs as part of their DNA. Whether or not you liked disco, it’s really hard to deny her voice and her talent,” she said. “Her music stands out because she was such a great singer and because a lot of her songs were about emotions too. You can really feel in her voice that she means it.
“Also, how many artists have music that has been featured on ‘Sex and the City,’ ‘Parks and Recreation’ and in ‘Frost/Nixon’?” Greenblatt added. “For whatever reason, comedians love to use her too. There’s the campy tributes but also a sincere love for her. And anytime anyone takes their clothes off [in TV or film], someone has got to play ‘Hot Stuff.’ ”
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