Disco music today: is it really dead?

1979, the year of the death of disco music … But is it true? After 30 years, the term “disco” is still at the center of the scene, and continues to influence music , fashion , trends . It is still a worldwide commercial phenomenon, a cultural heritage that involves several generations. Even today the disc belongs to everyone: it is a “spontaneous” music, felt by young people and adults, blacks and whites, experts and amateurs, DJs and ex-DJs, it is “the” popular music par excellence , capable of representing anything for anyone. The disco years were not just sex, hedonism and drugs, there were above all civil rights, gay rights, freedom, political concessions, a sense of community. Many contemporaries feel nostalgia for the disco, and the “70s reenactment syndrome” is widespread; the memory of an era so engaging and “rich” in content (contrary to what the detractors of the record claim) is still alive in the minds of the people, aware that that combination of independence, fun, passion, commonality is unrepeatable. In modern society the word “disco” is no longer an unpronounceable term on formal occasions.


Europe has had a different relationship with disco music, and with pop music in general, than America. The Village People, in the USA , are now accepted in the athletic field as a form of entertainment during the interval: the use of the disc as a means to express one’s machismo is unthinkable. In European pop culture, however, excessive ostentation and violence often go hand in hand. In reality, the record in Europe has had a slower evolution and diffusion than in the United States, therefore it has never been overexposed or abused: these are the reasons why the record never died on our continent. Peter Shapiro: “ Disco, like hip hop, was born in New York, but today it is as European as the welfare programs and the Mediterranean diet. Although trapped between two worldviews – between a utopian and communal dream and a cynical and harsh vision in which nothing moves except money – the record was, and is, in favor of integration and community, for the pleasure and fun and not for fatigue, for the democracy of the dance floor and not for the false idols of the stage “.


pastedGraphic.pngOn June 29, 1999 at Wrigley Field in Chicago is held the “Evening of the Seventies” . Before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers, the Village People perform in a concert and sing their biggest hits (“ YMCA ” and “In the Navy” first of all). Almost 20 years after the anti-disco riots, despite the Village People being considered completely “wrong” by deep America, the band even receives a standing ovation . About 5 months later, on November 17 , the United States Post Office presents a stamp on the disc, in the commemorative thematic series for the “Celebration of the Century”. The stamp depicts a man and woman, dressed as John Travolta and Karen Lynn Gorney in Saturday Night Fever , dancing under the mirror ball . The stamp is surpassed only by the smiley face, Sesame Street and Earth Day, and surpasses the invention of the video recorder, the bicentenary of independence, the establishment of Monday Night Football , the victory of 4 Superbowls in a row by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the feminist movement and the satellite Pioneer Nel 1998 , the disc is the subject of two movie54 and The Last Days of Disco – and has a minor role in the film Boogie Nights .

In the early 90 ‘s Take That , produced by Ian Levine, redefined the boy band concept by mixing the seriousness of Elton John with the sparkle of disco music. Levine brought the pop group to the surface by producing for it covers of Tavares’ “It Only Takes a Minute” and Barry Manilow’s “Could it Be Magic” . In 1993 Levine was replaced by Dave Lee (aka Joey Negro, one of the most experienced supporters of the disc) to make a version of “Relight My Fire” by Dan Hartman. Since then, the record has dominated the European charts in the form of covers (“Lady Marmalade” by All Saints ) or samples (“Crying at The Discoteque” by Alcazar ).


Today we can say that disco music still lives. Not only in the covers and samples included in successful hits even in our century, but also in the fashions and trends that draw heavily in the 70s-80s, one of the most creative periods of the last 30 years. In the 1980s music becomes more electronic, produced more in the studio than with real instruments, and this changes the sound of radios and dance floors. It is the decade of pop / dance groups (Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet…), but also of the formation of pop idols who grew up with disco music, such as Madonna and Michael Jackson. Djs turn into real producers and are looking for new sounds. The house music of the late 80s is a real novelty, but it has disco samples, the real key to success. With the rhythm of the 90s the beat of the discs, now cd or just files, is much higher and indiscoteca dance is mainly house music, where the almost non-existent lyrics and refrains leave room for an incessant rhythm.

pastedGraphic_1.pngToday dance music is all-encompassing (as long as it can be danced), and is commonly identified as “commercial”. It is easy to find 70s-80s evenings that are getting the right value. But in the charts , in the sales of the records , we often find that simple recipe of the record that favors the voice, the harmony, the easy refrain. Even the great Bob Sinclar , before reaching international success, changes different identities, when he resumes disco music, he flies to the top of the charts .

In short, the house is danced, but the record still sells. This is why we affirm that “GOOD MUSIC NEVER DIES”.


Posted on

31 March 2022

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