"You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" is the title of a 1978 single by American disco singer Sylvester James, who performed using just his first name, Sylvester. The song was written by James Wirrick and Sylvester and appears on the singer's 1978 album, Step II.
The track was originally recorded as a mid tempo piano driven gospel tune, however after producer Patrick Cowley saw a rehearsal of the song at San Francisco's city disco, he offered to remix the song.
The song was Sylvester's first Top 10 hit in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at #8 on the UK Singles Chart in October 1978. In Sylvester's home country, the single was his second Top 40 hit, peaking at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1979. The song also reached #20 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart. A 12" single was released in 1978, with "Dance (Disco Heat)" as the A-side and "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" as the B-side, and these two extended dance mixes proved to be very popular in dance clubs at the time. The two songs held down the top spot on the Billboard Dance/Disco chart for six weeks in August and September 1978. These two songs helped to establish Sylvester's career as a noted disco and dance music performer, both in the U.S. and abroad.
The song has been recorded by other musicians, including British singer Jimmy Somerville, formerly of the bands Bronski Beat and Communards. His 1989 cover version of the song also received substantial club play, and it peaked at #5 on the UK Singles Chart in January 1990. To date, this is the highest-charting version of the song in the UK. Somerville's cover of this song appears on his first solo album, Read My Lips.
In 1991, actress-comedian Sandra Bernhard recorded her own version of the single, which is a tribute to James, on her album Excuses for Bad Behavior (Part One). A series of 12" remix singles was released in 1994 by Epic Records' 550 Music imprint, who also signed Bernhard and picked up her album for a major push that same year. It peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in late 1994.
Also recording a cover of this song was Chicago-born house music singer Byron Stingily, formerly of the band Ten City. Like Sylvester's original recording, Stingily's cover version of "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" (produced by UK music producer Damien Mendis) also went to #1 on the American dance chart, where it spent one week atop the chart in March 1998. Although there have been instances where the same song, recorded by two different artists, has reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart ("Don't Leave Me This Way" is one example), it is still a fairly rare occurrence. This version also reached #13 in the UK.
- Sylvester's version of the song was featured in the 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk where Sylvester is seen in the documentary's file footage, the 1998 film 54 as well as the 2008 film Milk.
- The style of New Order's 1983 release "Blue Monday" was influenced by "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)".
- Danny DeVito dances his striptease for Phoebe's bachelorette party to this song on Friends "The One Where the Stripper Cries" (season 10, episode 11)
- In the Chris Rock movie Head of State, the song plays when Rock's character campaigns at a gay club.
- LMFAO's Song "Hot Dog" on their 2011 album Sorry for Party Rocking (Deluxe Edition) has a very similar song progression and is clearly influenced by "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)".
- "Fly Away (Bye Bye)", a 2000 hit by Eyes Cream included a sample of "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" throughout the song.