Pop Goes The Movies: FLASHDANCE... WHAT A FEELING - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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In the grand tapestry of cinema, certain films are forever twined with their soundtracks, the two together creating an indelible cultural moment. "Flashdance" is one such film, and its central anthem, "Flashdance... What a Feeling", is one such song. In a symphony of synth and sentiment, the track didn't just climb the charts but became a clarion call of aspiration in the early 1980s.

"Flashdance", the 1983 film directed by Adrian Lyne, tells the story of Alex Owens, a Pittsburgh steel mill worker by day and a bar dancer by night with dreams of becoming a professional ballerina. The film, much like its protagonist, was an underdog; a modestly budgeted project that exploded into a cultural phenomenon, due in no small part to its soundtrack.

The beating heart of this soundtrack is "Flashdance... What a Feeling", performed by Irene Cara. Cara was no stranger to the musical landscape, having already won audiences over with "Fame". Yet, it was "Flashdance" that would cement her legacy in the annals of pop culture. The song is a stirring blend of synth-driven pop and emotive lyrics, crafted by Giorgio Moroder, Cara, and Keith Forsey. It's a masterpiece of production, with Moroder's electronic influence creating a soundscape that is both of its time and timeless.

"Flashdance... What a Feeling" functions in the film as an anchor for Alex's dreams, playing during both the opening credits and the climactic audition sequence. Its use in the film is emblematic of the narrative itself – a story of struggle, passion, and the euphoria of chasing one's dreams. The song earned a top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, and it also fared well in the UK, reaching the top 5 on the singles chart.

The era of the early '80s was ripe with iconic movie soundtracks — from "Eye of the Tiger" in "Rocky III" to "Up Where We Belong" from "An Officer and a Gentleman". Yet "Flashdance... What a Feeling" stood out not just for its chart-topping prowess but for its embodiment of the film's spirit. It wasn't merely a song from a film; it was the emotional core of the film itself.

The song's critical reception was as warm as its commercial one. In an article published in Billboard Magazine, it was praised as a "perfect synthesis of narrative and melody, a song that feels like the '80s yet also feels like hope, ambition, and pure joy." Meanwhile, a New York Times review noted, "The song's pulsating beats and Cara's soaring vocals deliver a dose of pure, unabashed pop optimism."

"Flashdance... What a Feeling" earned the Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Golden Globe, and even snagged a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, a testament to its impact and Cara's evocative delivery.

The production of the song itself was a tale of synergy and serendipity. Moroder, already a legend for his work with Donna Summer, crafted the instrumental track, while Cara and Forsey infused it with lyrical life. In interviews, Cara has recounted the organic process of creating the song, with each element falling into place like destiny. Moroder's synthesizers set the stage, but it was Cara's voice that gave the song its soul.

Yet the song was not without its critics. Some found the synthesizer-heavy production to be overbearing, with a Village Voice review describing it as "an overproduced monstrosity that overwhelms the simplicity of the narrative." However, these critiques did little to dampen the song's success or its longevity.

The legacy of "Flashdance... What a Feeling" is multilayered. It not only represents the peak of '80s pop culture but serves as a beacon for the power of film soundtracks to transcend their origins. It has been covered and parodied, revered and critiqued, but above all, it remains a touchstone for the enduring relationship between music and film.

In closing, "Flashdance... What a Feeling" is more than a song; it's a sensory artifact that captures the essence of an era and the timeless narrative of pursuing one's dreams against all odds. Its pulsating beats and triumphant chords continue to inspire listeners to dance right through their lives with the resilience of Alex Owens, a welder by day, a dancer by night, and forever a dreamer at heart.

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