Donna Summer’s 1977 single “I Feel Love” is, quite simply, one of the greatest pop songs of all time. Before “I Feel Love,” Summer and her regular collaborator Giorgio Moroder had already pushed the boundaries of disco, stretching tracks out long past the 10-minute mark and transforming them into psychedelic, electronic sex odysseys. With “I Feel Love,” they made something eternal. Moroder and Pete Bellote produced the song, creating a circular tick of a rhythm that sounds like time spiraling into infinity. Summer cooed the title over and over, turning it into a koan. The song peaked at #6 in the US, and it pretty much established what electronic dance music could be. 42 years later, it still sounds futuristic.
Today, Sam Smith has taken on “I Feel Love.” There is a reason for this: Smith’s version will be featured in a forthcoming Target Christmas ad campaign. (Hopefully, Moroder is getting a fat check off of this.) But considering that Smith got their start in dance-pop, it also gives them a chance to pay tribute to an originator. Smith first hit the pop radar by singing on Disclosure’s 2012 single “Latch,” and the “I Feel Love” cover brings Smith back together with one half of Disclosure; Guy Lawrence, one of the two Disclosure brothers, produces.
Smith does not attempt to reinvent “I Feel Love,” which would be pretty much impossible anyway. Instead, Lawrence simply recreates the original beat as closely as possible, while Smith reaches out for that elusive Donna Summer vocal register. There’s also a bit where they chant the lyrics in a spoken monotone, which is pretty funny. Listen to the Sam Smith cover and the original 12″ version of the Donna Summer classic below.
Sam Smith’s “I Feel Love” is out now on the streaming services.