Movie Tunes: Saturday Night Fever

Saturday Night Fever is and always will be a classic. It’s particularly sentimental in my eyes, since the film came out in 1977, the very year that I was born, although I didn’t see it until I was 13 or so. It has held a spot in my personal Top 10 for quite a few years!

While the whole kit and caboodle catapulted from the disco craze of that decade, the film was propelled by not only the amazing musicians that contributed to the soundtrack, but John Travolta’s charisma, dancing ability, and one sick head of hair. That’s why they have been monster hits ever since!

Now, if you’ve even heard of the movie, you will know the first track just by me dropping the title: “Stayin’ Alive.” Everyone pictures Travolta strutting down a Brooklyn street with his large coif and platforms. It’s simply the perfect intro to this film. The Bee Gees contributed 7 out of the 17 tracks, and each one is instantly recognizable, which is great for a longtime fan (such as myself).

“How Deep Is Your Love” is a lovely track and contributes to a truly heartfelt scene in the film, showcasing Tony and Stephanie’s friendship. “Night Fever” takes us into the club that Tony and his friends call home every weekend: 2001 Odyssey (which was a real-life hot spot in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn).

“More Than a Woman” makes two appearances on this soundtrack, with the Bee Gees’ version at #4 and Tavares’ rendition at # 7. This version is slower and the vocals are done at a lower register. To this day, I never quite understood exactly why two versions were made. Take a wild guess as to which one I prefer!

Track #5, Yvonne Elliman’s version of the Bee Gees’ penned “If I Can’t Have You,” is quite poetic, considering the circumstances with the character of Annette being desperate for Tony’s love and devotion.

Two classical pieces get the disco treatment on this soundtrack! At #6, Walter Murphy (whom you young whippersnappers may know from his gig scoring Family Guy) turns Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony into “A Fifth of Beethoven.” Apparently, I’m not the only one who really thinks it was great! Robin Thicke used it as the backdrop of his track, “When I Get You Alone” from his debut album. “Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky and Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov gets twisted into “Night on Disco Mountain”, courtesy of David Shire, reminding us of the infamous “dive” off of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Can you dig it? I knew that you could!

Besides the opening track, “You Should Be Dancing” (by the Bee Gees, naturally) is the other standout, and is my personal favorite! Loaded with Latin rhythms and knockout harmony, everybody knows and will know that John Travolta is the absolute and undisputed king of the dance floor.

Kool and the Gang and KC and the Sunshine Band pay their visits at #11 and #14, with “Open Sesame” and “Boogie Shoes,” respectively. They always mix funk and great beats to create tracks that are definitely memorable and guaranteed great party starters. Nothing screams the late ‘70s than the final track, “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps. True to its name, the screen and your stereo will be on fire!

It’s no secret that I love this movie and the tunes! If you haven’t experienced SNF, it may be time for you to discover how it got its place in popular culture, and why it’s been kept for the past 30 years!

Tracks You Can’t Miss:

  • Track 1 – Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees – Listen
  • Track 2 – How Deep Is Your Love – Bee Gees – Listen
  • Track 5 – If I Can’t Have You- Yvonne Elliman – Listen
  • Track 11 – Open Sesame – Kool and the Gang – Listen
  • Track 13 – You Should Be Dancing – Bee Gees – Listen
  • Track 14 – Boogie Shoes – KC and the Sunshine Band – Listen

Movie Tunes runs every Wednesday and reviews the best (and worst) in movie soundtracks, old and new.

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