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"Stayin' Alive" is a song by the pop group Bee Gees from the Saturday Night Fever motion picture soundtrack. The song was written by the Bee Gees - Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb - and produced by the Bee Gees and Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson. It was released on December 13, 1977 as the second single from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.

Upon release, Stayin' Alive climbed the charts, hitting the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of February 4, 1978, and staying there for four weeks. In the process, it became the band's most recognizable tune, likely in part because of its place at the beginning of Saturday Night Fever.


The producer of the soundtrack, Robert Stigwood (who doubled as the Bee Gees' manager) 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 early stages and it didn't 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'Hérouvillemarker studio in Parismarker. 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 mother 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 U.S. number one singles.

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 album version, but had a mysterious horn rhythm section part interjected twice, but turned out to be broadcast on very few U.S. radio stations. This version was finally released on CD when Reprise re-issued Bee Gees Greatest in 2007 in an expanded & remastered edition.

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 especially New York."

Music video

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. There is also another music video for the song that was played in Europe at the time. It features the brothers singing the song in a dark studio cut with images from New York City streets. Most notable about this video is Barry Gibb's appearance. In this version of the music video he had shaved off his beard and only had side burns. The reasoning for the altered appearance is unknown.

The original three music videos for the movie Saturday Night Fever were shot on the studios of and edited at Video City Inc in North Miami, Florida.The European video for "Stayin' Alive" as mentioned above (with Barry sans his beard) was one of these original three. These original music videos were scrapped and re-shot in California after Barry grew his beard.

Acclaim and notoriety


The song was prominently featured in the 1980 disaster spoof Airplane! during a memorable flashback scene in which Robert Hays' 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 rise to the misconception that "Stayin' Alive" is the song played during John Travolta's famous dancing scene in Saturday Night Fever. The film Foul Play featured the song in a particular scene (Dudley Moore's apartment scene).

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, Young @ Heart, Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult, Madagascar and Airplane!


The Bee Gees won a Grammy Award for the song in 1977 for 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.

The song is also listed at #46 on Billboard's All Time Top 100.[149911]

A number of musicians have covered "Stayin Alive'":


It is also featured in a Kaiser Permanente television commercial and is the at-bat song of Major League Baseball catcher Paul Lo Duca. Volkswagen used a parody of the song in a late-90s commercial entitled "Stay to the Right."

It was featured in the 15th episode of Spin City.

Was featured in a commercial for Gillette Fusion razors.

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".

It featured twice on the HBO series, Entourage, in the episodes "Aquamansion" and "The Dream Team". It is the only song to feature in more than one episode of the series.

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.

A clip of the song featuring images from The Lion King, parodically taking the theme back to a literal "law of the jungle" interpretation, was ran by Disney Channel in one of its many music and song videoclip adaptations.

It was used in an episode of Everybody Hates Chris.

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, Helena Bonham Carter, 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. In 2009, American Idol Season 8 contestant Matt Giraud covered the song on disco week.

On Jeopardy!'s 14 September 2006 episode, the last 3 categories in the Jeopardy! round referenced the opening lines of the song:
  • YOU CAN TELL BY THE WAY I USE MY "WALK" ("walk" appeared in each correct response)
  • I'M A WOMAN'S MAN (which was about famous ladies' men)
  • NO TIME TO TALK (about silence)

Ventriloquist show

U.S. ventriloquist Terry Fator uses "Stayin' Alive" in his stage show at The Miragemarker in Las Vegas, Nevadamarker. One of Fator's puppets, Winston the Impersonating Turtle sings part of the song. The performance is included on the DVD "Terry Fator: Live from Las Vegas".

Medical training

"Stayin' Alive" was used in a study to train doctors to provide the correct number chest compressions per minute while performing CPR. The song has exactly 103 beats per minute, and 100 chest compressions per minute are recommended for CPR. The study found that doctors who think about "Stayin' Alive" are much more likely to do CPR correctly.

During an episode of The Office, Michael is told this method by the CPR training instructor, but instead he ends up singing and dancing with his co-workers rather than listening to the instructor. Soon afterward, Dwight cuts the face from the CPR training dummy, and is later seen with it in the bathroom.

See also


  1. YouTube - Broadcast Yourself
  2. YouTube - stayin alive(alternate version)

External links

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