Amy Douglas does not hold back. If you’ve ever met her, or even if you just follow her on Instagram — where she tends to lay it all on the line, to say the least— then you know. But even if you haven’t or don’t, you can hear it in the New Yorker’s vocals, which can range from an intimate and sultry croon to a soul-banshee wail. In recent years, that voice has made her one the go-to singers of house music, with a subspecialty in the boogie-tinged end of the house spectrum. Just in the past year or so, you may have heard her via Horse Meat Disco’s ‘Let’s Go Dancing,’ the DFA label’s ‘Never Saw It Coming’ or, speaking of Banshees, her cover of Siouxie’s ‘Cities in Dust,’ among other goodies. And there’s more on the way, including further collaborations with HMD on their upcoming album; another DFA release, this time with Man Power at the controls; and a record with Joe Goddard on Domino.
Perhaps by the time of their release, coronavirus willing, you’ll be able dance in an actual nightclub to those tunes or, dare we dream, experience the force of nature that is Amy in a live setting. But Douglas isn’t sitting idly by waiting for that day—instead, she’s spent a bit of her downtime crafting this (mostly) disco-tastic Gimmie Five list for our entertainment. As she puts, “Were there a female-driven Mount Olympus where this area of art is concerned, I believe these would be the reigning deities!”
The Donna Summer Special, 1980
Oh my god, there was actually a time in my life where if I didn't get to see this at least once a day I felt weak as a wee tot. From soup to nuts, this is an outrageously ’70s-style variety show, along with moments of Donna at the Hollywood Bowl—and looks for eons. She also completely sings her face off. As someone who is rock-and-roll-obsessed, but also somewhat vintage-disco-obsessed, Donna is just my hero, she's that perfect merge. And you can just smell the drugs.
Grace Jones performing ‘I Need A Man’ on TV, 1977
Need I say more about this iconic performance AND that peach…awesome…fabulous…piece of deliciousness she is rocking? As only she ever could and forever after?
Phoebe Legere 'Marilyn Monroe' from the 1988 film Mondo New York
This moment left such an impression, likely to the chagrin of my family. I'm still trying just to find the movie clip and not the music video they spun out from. I am a fan of freak-outs, especially ones that are equal parts psychotic and sexual, and this one? Oh my god - Top 5 worthy indeed.
Can't Stop The Music
Disco movies never worked for me, even for pure kitsch for some reason. (Saturday Night Fever is a bona-fide film so that doesn't count.) However, Can't Stop The Music is the so surreal, so incredulous, so beyond, that it's on par in WTF-worthy moments of laughter as Beyond The Valley of The Dolls. It's the moment also when you knew something was going to give— pity it would be a racist, homophobic driven rally in Chicago. It's almost balls and punk rock that this film was actually released post the Disco Demolition in Comiskey. They couldn't see it was their own co-opting and bloat they wanted to kill, not a culture, and certainly NOT the music, pardon the pun.
Ami Stewart 'Knock On Wood'
From soup to nuts, this is one of my favorite covers because it's so bananas—uptempo without being like…Italo or HiNRG. It's like the most coked-up triplet shuffle ever but that video, that headpiece, the visuals, and just all of it! Oh my god, YES. Just YES YES YES YES.