WHO SHE IS: The queen of disco–a designation that’d seem rather fusty a few decades ago, when disco as a genre was seen as the over-spangled, overly shallow diversion the world long sincegot past. But lots of reappraisal later, that designation means what it should. Of all the genres’ varied and often anonymous hitmakers, she’s one of the few with genuine name recognition–one of the few genuine legends.
BEST KNOWN FOR: Two tracks in particular: the Giorgio Moroder collaboration “Love to Love You Baby,” a minimal yet provocative track which got people at Time Magazine to tally its simulated orgasms (there were 22, in case you wondered), and follow-up “I Feel Love,” as chilly as it’s slinky; its synthesizers sound like metal scaffolding feels. We should also mention fellow disco hits like “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls,” plus her ’80s R&B pivots like “She Works Hard for the Money.”
STILL GETTING IT DONE: Disco, as a genre, isn’t exactly doing so poorly right now, and Summer, being one of its greatest artists, has got to share some of the credit for that. But if you want more explicit influence, the list of Donna Summer samples is huge and very current.
LEAST PROMISING ENTRY IN THE HUGE LIST OF DONNA SUMMER SAMPLES: “Rocket to Uranus” by Vengaboys feat. Perez Hilton, which samples “I Feel Love.” (Other artists include the far more respectable likes of TLC, Beyonce, Dr. Dre and Timbaland.)
CHEESIEST COMMERCIAL EVER SOUNDTRACKED: Diesel’s “Loverdose” fragrance ad last year. It’s cheesy because it ascribes the various fainting/vapors/dropped traffic tickets to her perfume and not the song.
CLOSEST SHE’S COME TO THAT OTHER HALL OF FAME: 2010, where she was nominated but not inducted. To be fair, The Hollies were desperately in need of their recognition, right then.