Few songs ever manage to capture the zeitgeist of an era quite like Irene Cara's "Flashdance... What A Feeling". Giorgio Moroder's masterpiece endures as a pulsating testament to all that was fabulous about 1980s pop music. The song also scored one of the most memorable sequences in popular movie history. Who will ever forget Jennifer Beals' steel worker/erotic dancer's audition in "Flashdance"? The stumble and the triumph! Dirty, old Geri Halliwell ripped off the scene in the video for her awful cover of "It's Raining Men", as did Jennifer Lopez in the significantly more glamorous clip for "I'm Glad". The song and the famous audition scene recently appeared in an Australian beer commercial - which resulted in Irene Cara being invited to perform "What A Feeling" at the 2006 AFL Grand Final! I'm not sure what the beer swilling football fans made of 47 year old Irene's performance but I was beside myself!
My original intention for this post was to navigate my way through the multitude of "What A Feeling" cover versions but it soon dawned on me that Irene's anthem has been covered more often than Dannii has gone on holiday. As a result, I've decided to mention a couple of craptastic international covers before concentrating on a selection of Australian versions. One of the most startling interpretations is DJ Bobo's stunningly awful rap extravaganza. The bizarre video clip, bad rapping and even worse dancing makes this a very guilty pleasure indeed! Swedish cunt, Carola Haggkvist, serves up a more traditional version, while Polish Idol, Hania Stach, struggles with the lyrics but still sounds kind of fabulous. Which is more than I can say about Swedish pop tart, Agnes Carlsson, who sounds completely disinterested. "What A Feeling" has also been warmly embraced by dance music producers. Global Deejays had a massive club hit with their dance version and spoofed the audition scene in their trashy video. The Hughes Corporation produced another worthy dance interpretation, although the soft porn video is slightly worrying.
"What A Feeling" has always been popular with Australian pop fans and has been covered numerous times. Here are some of my favourite versions:
The Young Divas' debut album of 80s covers would have felt incomplete without a version of "What A Feeling". The girls give it their all and the song duly becomes one of the album's many highlights.
The "Razzle Dazzle" Soundtrack
"Razzle Dazzle" is the latest Australian comedy to flop at the box office. The whole thing would have been completely unbearable if it wasn't for the presence of ex-"Prisoner" star Kerry Armstrong and not one but two versions of "What A Feeling"!
The strangest contributor to the "Razzle Dazzle" soundtrack is Wendy Matthews, who was hugely successful in the early 90s with sparse ballads like "The Day You Went Away" and "Token Angels". She is the last person I would have picked to sing a trashy re-make of "What A Feeling", given her recent move towards the adult contemporary market. The production on this track is pretty awful (it sounds like someone recorded it on their answering machine) but it is a fun change of pace for Wendy.
Natasha provides three tracks on the "Razzle Dazzle" soundtrack, including "What A Feeling" and an equally trashy cover of Rozelle's "Everybody's Free". Natasha has been plugging away on the live music scene for quite a few years now and I recently saw her perform as Deni Hines' backing vocalist. If Natasha has the Deni seal of approval, that's good enough for me! This version of "What A Feeling" is really quite bizarre. Check out Natasha's other songs on her informative Myspace.
Admittedly, Louis Gaston isn't Australian but this dance mix was huge on the Australian club scene. It's kind of tragic but it gets me going!
Madeline was a contestant on the recently completed first season of "Australia's Got Talent", which famously employed Dannii as a judge. Madeline covered "What A Feeling" in the semi-finals and eventually placed in the top 4. Anyone who mentions Dannii in their pre-song interview and dances around in baggy overalls is alright by me. I want a studio version!
The original Bjorn Again (they eventually licensed the name to several international acts) formed in Melbourne in the late 1980s as an ABBA tribute band. They eventually widened their musical horizons in the 1990s and covered a variety of other acts. Their rendition of "What A Feeling" makes me moist. I LOVE Bjorn Again and can hardly wait for their upcoming tour in July. This is fabulous!
I've saved the best for last! Marcia Hines is one of the holy divas of the Australian music scene and it seems only appropriate that an icon of the 80s leaves her stamp on one of the iconic songs of that decade. Marcia's version of "What A Feeling" is very faithful to the original and holds up as a fun slice of 90s pop. However, the M 1:11 Remix is by far the best and most unusual Australian interpretation of "What A Feeling". The remix transforms the song into a sunny urban groove, complete with a guest rapper - and somehow manages to NOT be shit! It's hard to explain but there is definitely some kind of genius at play here - "Take a ride with Marcia Hines, she shines all the time!"
You can purchase most of these versions from iTunes or search for physical copies on Australian Ebay. The "Razzle Dazzle" Soundtrack and Young Divas' album are available from Sanity and Chaos.