"Stayin' Alive" is a song by the Bee Gees, released as a single in 1977. It was their second hit off of the album Saturday Night Fever ("How Deep Is Your Love" had been released two months earlier, and "Night Fever" followed two months later). "Stayin' Alive" is one of The Bee Gees' most popular and recognizable songs, in part because it was played in the opening scene of the mega-popular disco film, Saturday Night Fever. The song can still be heard in a variety of venues, ranging from dance halls to sporting events.
The producer, Robert Stigwood, called them up and asked them to write a few songs for a soundtrack to a film he was planning. At this point, the film was in very early stages and it didn't even have a title yet. All Stigwood had to go on was a New York cover story about discomania. He asked them to go on with the soundtrack anyway, and they wrote "Stayin' Alive" over the course of a few days while sprawled on the staircase at the Château d'Hérouville studio in Paris. As with Pink Floyd, a majority of the soundtrack was recorded in France for tax reasons.
Due to the death of drummer Dennis Byron's father in the middle of the song's sessions, the group first looked for a replacement. Oddly enough, the shortage of drummers in this area of France prompted the group to use a drum machine--yet it did not offer satisfactory results. After listening to the drum track of the already-recorded "Night Fever", the group (and engineer Albhy Galuten) selected two bars from the song, re-recorded them to a separate track, and proceeded with sessions for "Stayin' Alive". This accounts for the unchanging rhythm throughout the song.
As a joke, the group listed the drummer as "Bernard Lupe" (a takeoff on session drummer Bernard Purdie). Mr. Lupe became a highly sought-after drummer - until it was discovered that he did not exist.
Saturday Night Fever
The song was not originally supposed to be released as a single, but fans called radio stations and RSO Records immediately after seeing trailers for Saturday Night Fever, in which the aforementioned introductory scene was played. The single was eventually released in mid-December, a month after the album, and moved to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States in February, where it would stay for four weeks. Soon after, it would slide to number two, locking in a solid one-two punch with the Bee Gees' other hit from the album, "Night Fever". In the United Kingdom, "Stayin' Alive" was a solid seller but not as popular as it was in the United States, topping out at number four.
Further demonstrating the Bee Gees' U.S. chart domination in 1978, "Stayin' Alive" was replaced at number one with the group's younger brother Andy Gibb's single, "Love Is Thicker Than Water", followed by the Bee Gees' own "Night Fever". This was then replaced by Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You". Since Barry Gibb had a hand in writing all four of these songs, he became the only person in history to write four consecutive US Number One singles; this feat has not been matched to this day.
Besides the version that appeared on the soundtrack album (and subsequent CD release) and the edited single for the 45RPM and Top 40 radio release, there was yet another version, of the same basic mix, that was distributed to Club DJs and radio stations that specialized in airing "longer versions" of hit songs. This "Special Disco Version" as it was called, featured all the same parts as the basic album version mix, but had a mysterious "horn rhythm section" part interjected twice in this version, but turned out to be broadcast on very few U.S. radio stations.
As for the message of the song, Robin Gibb was quoted as saying, "Stayin' Alive" is about survival in the big city—any big city—but basically New York."
The music video for the song is of a completely different concept to Saturday Night Fever. It depicts the group singing the song on a movie set next to the one where they were filming "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" at the time. It was a set featuring buildings, a train station, and other features.
Acclaim and notoriety
The song was prominently featured in the 1980 disaster Parody|spoof Airplane! during a memorable flashback scene in which Robert Hayes' and Julie Hagerty's characters are shown meeting at a dive bar and engaging in an extremely exaggerated semblance of popular disco dancing. The music in the movie was however, sped up 10% over its usual speed, with permission. This parody might also have given kkkkk rise to the misconception that "Stayin' Alive" is the song played during John Travolta's famous dancing scene in Saturday Night Fever.
The song has also been included on the soundtracks of over 20 other films, and was featured in the films A Goofy Movie, Bushwhacked , A Night at the Roxbury, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, Arthur and the Minimoys, and Madagascar (film).
It is also featured in a Kaiser Permanente television commercial and is the at-bat song of New York Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca. Volkswagen used a parody of the song in a late-90s commercial entitled "Stay to the Right."
Miss Piggy and a group of pigs performed a version of the song on The Muppet Show.
It was used in That 70's show in the episode The Velvet Rope.
The Simpsons have made numerous references to the song, using it in scenes as the aforementioned "Table Five" parody Homer sang, during a scene in the episode "Two Bad Neighbors", and in a "Treehouse of Horror" scene. In [[Bart's Girlfriend, the opening is featured.
The song has been used several times across the Idol series. During the 2006 season of Nouvelle Star, the eventual winner Christophe Willem performed the song during a film music-theme episode along with "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic. During the 2007 season of American Idol, the charity event Idol Gives Back featured a video that showed celebrities, including Hugh Grant, Hugh Laurie, Blue Man Group, Miss Piggy and Keira Knightley, all lipsynching and dancing to the song. Weeks later on American Idol, during an episode featuring songs by the Bee Gees, contestant LaKisha Jones performed the song along with "Run to Me". She was later eliminated from the show on the following episode.
The Bee Gees won a Grammy Award for the song in 1977 for [[Grammy Award for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices|Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices.
Over the years, "Stayin' Alive" has earned more critical acclaim. The song was ranked number 189 on the list of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and it was also on the list of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
A number of musicians have covered "Stayin Alive'":
- Dweezil Zappa recorded a version for his 1991 album Confessions.
- Grindcore band Anal Cunt recorded a cover version for their 1995 album Top 40 Hits.
- In 1995, N-Trance released a cover version of "Stayin' Alive" which reached number two in the UK singles chart and number one in Australia.
- Ozzy Osbourne (featuring Dweezil Zappa), Wyclef Jean, and Happy Mondays have each done cover versions of this song.
- An acoustic version was recorded by the band Supple for the soundtrack to Hurricane Streets.
- The Sleeping covered the song for the soundtrack to Crank.
- Swedish death metal band Dimension Zero covered the song as the bonus track to their 2007 album, He Who Shall Not Bleed.
- In 1992, the neo-punk band Concentrated Bloo performed a punk version of the song in a television studio at Bucks County Community College. The performance is noted for capturing, on tape, the frequent brawling of band members at the end of their performances.
- On June 15, 2007, String Cheese Incident and Keller Williams covered the song at a concert at the Bonnaroo Music Festival.
- Ten Masked Men recorded a death metal cover of the song on their album on their 1999 self-titled album.
- Stayin' Alive- 4:45
- If I Can't Have You- 3:20
- Lead Vocals- The Bee Gees
- Rhythm Guitar- Barry Gibb
- Bass Guitar- Maurice Gibb
- Drums- Dennis Byron
- Keyboards- Blue Weaver
- Producers- The Bee Gees, Albhy Galuten, Karl Richardson
- Engineer- Karl Richardson