1. ‘I Will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor
It starts off slowly, shrouded in fear; then the beat kicks in, the song builds in confidence, and by the end, now backed by a string section, it’s a full-bore disco anthem of self-assurance. On its beautiful face, Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ is about a woman getting over the guy who done her wrong; but in 1978, as gay liberation was gathering steam in heated nightclubs around the world, it also played like a declaration of hard-won pride (‘I used to cry / But now I hold my head up high’) and independence from the hetero norm (‘I’m not that chained-up little person still in love with you’). In the 1980s, when AIDS wiped out tens of thousands of those who danced to it, the song took on new layers of resonance. Today, ‘I Will Survive’ carries all of that baggage, and lifts it up along with the spirits of anyone who hears its message. Did you think we’d crumble? Did you think we’d lay down and die? Think again. We’re going to dance.