Irene Cara’s song “Flashdance (What a Feeling)”, from the Flashdance movie soundtrack, goes to the top of the U.S. pop charts on this day in 1983.
“Flashdance (What a Feeling)” was not the first hit song from a movie soundtrack for Irene Cara, whose star was launched by the 1980 film Fame. Cara not only played the starring role of Coco in the movie Fame, but she also recorded not one but two Oscar-nominated songs for it: the title song “Fame” (a top-10 hit in the summer of 1980) and “Out Here On My Own” (a top-20 hit that same fall). By far her biggest impact as a musician, however, would come with her work on the movie Flashdance. Flashdance was the first collaboration between producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, and it made extensive use of what would become a signature element of their films: montage sequences set to the tune of original soundtrack music and cut in the style of the then-infant medium of music videos. This incredibly lucrative formula, which was new to the world of feature films in 1983, would later reach its apotheosis with the Simpson-Bruckheimer classic Top Gun (1986). And what Top Gun did for fighter jets, beach volleyball and Kenny Loggins, Flashdance did for blast furnaces, barefoot lobster dinners and Irene Cara. When “Flashdance (What a Feeling),” went to #1, it gave Cara the biggest hit of her career and helped propel the relatively low-budget film from which it came to the #3 spot on the total box-office revenue list for 1983.
Unfortunately for Cara, her next soundtrack hit—”The Dream (Hold Onto Your Dream)” from the Mr. T vehicle D.C. Cab—would not have nearly the same cultural impact as the song that reached the top of the charts on this day in 1983.