Sunday, May 28, 2023

Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 6

This week in 1983, a new song that hit Number One, and it would remain there for a month and a half: “Flashdance... What a Feeling” from the movie Flashdance, and performed by Irene Cara. While the movie wasn’t well received, this song won numerous awards: The Academy Award and Golden Globe for best song in a movie, and it was nominated for a BAFTA, too. The soundtrack album won the Grammy it in its category, too.

The music for the song was written by Giorgio Moroder, and the lyrics were written by Keith Forsey and Cara.

I very well remember that this song seemed to be everywhere when it was Number One. I liked it well enough—or, at least, I certainly didn’t dislike it. It's hard to work out which it was I thought before all the media saturation of that time. Mainly, thought, I was glad to hear Cara again after her performance on the title track to “Fame” only a few years earlier.

The video above is the “Official Video”, which is based on the opening credits of the movie. To me, it seems more like an ad for the movie than an actual music video, as is common enough for songs from movies (especially in that era). Sometimes that’s fine, but other times? Well, in this case, the song was clearly Cara’s, but she wasn’t in the film (unlike the 1980 film “Fame”, and she also had a hit with that film's title song), so obviously she wasn't in the "What A Feeling" video. To giver her due credit, I decided to include a video of her performing the song on the 1983 Labor Day MDA Telethon:

Cara was involved in a dispute over royalties, including from the song, because she felt she wasn’t being paid what she was entitled to, both for the song and for her first two solo albums. The dispute turned nasty, with Cara convinced that her record label and others in the industry were working to vilify and smear her, and she claimed to have been “virtually blacklisted”. After years of wrangling, in 1993 a jury awarded her $1.5 million for “misaccounted funds”, essentially, accounting mistakes that prevented her from getting the royalties she was entitled to. However, she’d sued corporations, not individuals, and the companies merely declared bankruptcy, claiming they’d spent all their funds on legal fees. It’s not clear if she ever received any of the award, but she did finally start receiving royalties for her work. She never again experienced the level of success she had before the lawsuit.

Irene Cara died in November of last year from arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease. She was 63. Until I researched this post, I had no idea that Cara was around two months younger than me. Cara’s co-writer of the lyrics for the song, Keith Forsey, is now 75, and Giorgio Moroder is now 83.

The song was certainly a success: It was Number One in on the “Billboard Hot 100” for six weeks, something that propelled it to Number 3 on Billboard’s 1983 year-end chart. In addition to being Number One, it was also certified Gold in the USA. It also hit Number One in Australia, Number One in Canada (2x Platinum), Number One in New Zealand, and Number 2 in the UK (Silver).

This series now takes another extended break, returning July 9 with the new song that hit Number One that week in 1983. In the meantime, feel free to “dance right through your life”.

Previously in the “Weekend Diversion – 1983” series:

Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 1
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 2
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 3
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 4
Weekend Diversion: 1983, Part 5


Roger Owen Green said...

I may have to backfill my 1983 post with your links, since I'm doing my 1983 post in early September.

Arthur Schenck said...

I've found most of the posts in this series easier than other "Weekend Diversion" posts I've done, especially the ones with just one or two songs. However, sometimes there's a lot to cram in, like with Michael Jackson, for example.