Disco’s Best Songs
Disco and all its glory began in the early 1970’s. It is a combination of funk, soul, pop, salsa and psychedelic. It was in the year of 1974 when Disco hit the mainstream and topped the music charts. Before that the first qualified disco song was “Love Train” by The O’Jays. It reached number one on the Hot 100 in 1972. In 1974 that is when disco really caught fire. First to have a hit in that genre was Barry White with his song “Love’s Theme” a lush record with orchestral sounds reached number one on the Billboard Top 100, after that there was the group MFSB, who hit number one with TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) with the group The Three Degrees. Next to take disco to the main stream was the Hues Corporation with their infectious song, “Don’t Rock the Boat”. After that disco was heard everywhere which some people loved and some people hated. By 1980 disco had faded out, but it can still be heard from time to time with artists like Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk, and Bruno Mars help to get the beat alive.
What were some of the best songs that came from the disco era? Let us take a look and see songs that still make you want to sing and dance to them.
It was Vicki Sue Robinson’s only hit.
Turn the beat around means to start a drum pattern over.
The Best Dance Songs of Disco
“Turn The Beat Around” Vicki Sue Robinson. Before Gloria Esteben had a hit with this song Vicki Sue Robinson had a hit with this song. The year was 1976 and this song had a beat that didn’t quit. You had to have feet in cement if you didn’t want to dance to this great song. The song was from her album Never Going to Let You Go. Turn The Beat Around made it to number 10 on the Billboard Pop Charts. It is easy to see why the song has all the percussion you could ask for as well as some guitar, horns all combined to create a disco classic.
“Stayin Alive” The Bee Gees. No one was more successful in the disco era than the Bee Gees. This song proves why. “Stayin Alive” was written for the movie Saturday Night Fever in 1978. The song has serious themes in the lyrics of someone trying to survive on the streets of New York. It reached number one on the Billboard Charts and stayed there for four weeks. This song has the falsetto, the driving drum beat, and the bass that keeps it all grooving, and it all combines to keep us all dancing.
This song won a Grammy for Best Arrangement for Voices.
The song brought the Bee Gees huge success, but it also labeled them as a disco and they insisted they weren’t.
The song was inspired by the movie Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Diane Keaton was an unhappy lady going to club every night trying to find happiness. Instead it made her life worse. Even though the tune is bright and cheerful, the lyrics are saying something different.
Boogie Wonderland by Earth Wind & Fire and it featured the group The Emotions. The song was released in 1979. This is disco at its smoothest the song drives the beat on and on and doesn’t let up. If you can’t find a reason to dance to this song you have no dance in your soul. This song is considered a classic for the disco era and it is worthy. The song made it number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Shake Your Booty this song was released in 1976 by K.C. and the Sunshine Band. The song went around in circles lyric wise with the verses Shake Your Booty repeated over and over, but that helped to propel the song to number 1 on the Billboard Charts. This song had all the ingredients for a perfect disco song, strong beat, horns playing throughout, and it had that dancing beat. This song will have you dancing even if you have two left feet.
Trivia-The song was written by two of the band members lead singer Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch. They went to the clubs to observe people and they witnessed a lot of shaking of the behind and were inspired to write the song.
Rock the Boat was performed by the group The Hues Corporation in 1974. It is believed to be one of the earliest disco songs. It hit number one on Billboard after a rocky start. The song became popular in discos and dance clubs and that is when it drew the attention of radio, and the rest is history. This song has the drums, the bass, horns and smooth vocals all combining to create the perfect disco dance song.
The song was supposed to be sung by the female singer in the group, but there was fear the song wouldn’t be a commercially successful with a female lead.
The name of the band was a pun of Howard Hughes’ business Corporation.
The song appears in two episodes of The Simpsons. Barry was a big fan of the show and he also made a guest appearance on the show.
The Best Songs that say get a room why don’t you?
“Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Baby” Barry White was the go to performer if you wanted to get in the mood during the 1970’s. This song in one of his most romantic. It has that drum beat and the strings play in the background creating a lush sound. The listening audience couldn’t get enough of this song because it topped The Billboard Top 100 in 1974. It is his most popular song other than his song “Loves Theme”. This song makes you want to dance, and it can also help if you want romance, which is what helped to make this song so popular.
Donna Summer wasn’t too impressed when she first heard the song. She said to the producer, “What the hell is this Giorgio?” The song is now known to have influenced the sound of disco and also electronica and techno music.
“I Feel Love” Donna Summer had some songs that could make you blush, but this Is one of her milder songs. It was first released in 1977 from her album I Remember Yesterday. Her album was a concept album and this song was supposed to represent the future. It works because this song still has that futuristic sound. Synthesizers are prominent and move the song at a steady pace. The song reached number six on the Billboard Top 100. Rolling Stone magazine lists the song at 418 on the list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
“Love Hangover” Diana Ross. Diana Ross went to number one on the Billboard Top 100 with this song in 1976. It starts off slow and easy, and the builds up speed with Diana keeping up with the bass, drums and electric guitar. Diana didn’t really want to do a disco song at that time, but she probably changed her mind about that style of music once the song went number one. It is hard to think of anyone else who could have done the song better than her.
The producer Hal Davis had strobe light placed in the studio to get Diana in that disco mood, and it worked. It loosened her up and you can hear how playful she is in the vocals.
“Take Your Time Do It Right” S.O.S. this song was released in 1980 when disco was supposed to be dead and gone, but this song had other ideas. It was an immediate hit. It made it to number one in the r&B singles chart, number three on the pop chart, and on the dance charts it was number one for four weeks. The song is smooth, and a bit gritty at the same time. It has that slamming percussion that makes the song so easy to dance to as well as strong vocals, and the must have sounds of electric guitar, horns and, in this song, the oh so charming triangle. You will boogie down on this song.
“Love to Love You Baby” once again Donna Summer shows up this category. This song feels as though you are invading someone’s privacy due to all the moaning and groaning. The song though helped to shape the disco format due to the recording as an extended song the first to be done. Donna didn’t like the explicit lyrics and wanted to just be a demo singer and have someone else record it. The writer of the song Giorgio Moroder convinced her to do it. The song became Donna’s first U.S. Top 40 hit. It was released in 1975.
Trivia- Donna Summer said she was alone in the studio when she recorded the song, and to inspire her she thought of her boyfriend.
Best Disco Instrumental Songs
“Do The Hustle” Van McCoy recorded this song in 1974 and it is pure perfection in its arrangement. The song is known as the most popular song of the disco era. It made it to number one on the Billboard Top 100 and it is no surprise. This song has all the elements of a great song, the infectious lyric scattered throughout the song “Do the Hustle”, the thumping bass, the horns, the piccolo, the strings, the electric guitar it is a song made in disco heaven.
The song Do the Hustle was inspired by a real dance called the Hustle. Van and his music partner Charles Kipps saw people dancing the Hustle in a nightclub and a classic song was born in the process.
The writers Gamble and Huff wanted to call this song “Soul Train” because it was the theme song for Soul Train the television program, but Don Cornelius was protective of his trademark and said no. Later he said that not letting them do that was “the dumbest move I ever made.”
“TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia) “was released by the band MFSB which stands for Mother, Father, Sister, Brother. It was recorded in 1974 to be the theme song for the program Soul Train. It was thought to be the first disco song to reach number one on the Billboard Top 100. It deserves the honor because this song has it all, electronic keyboards, horns, strings, bass, drums and that dancing beat. It also features vocals from the girl group The Three Degrees. You could not turn on your radio back in the early 1970’s without hearing this wonderful song.
Barry White wanted to have vocals in the song “Love’s Theme”, but after hearing the string parts on the track he decided the string parts were too beautiful to have the vocals added to it.
“Loves Theme “was a song by Barry White that was recorded in 1973. This song was the one of the first to have that disco sound, and it was the first instrumental to reach the Billboard Top 100. The strings go higher and higher to begin the song and just when you think it might be too mellow for the Top 100 it starts gliding and you also begin to hear the electric guitar in two different sounds as well as the bass, and then the horns top it off. There is even a harp it all blends together to create a timeless song.
“Shaft” was a song ahead of its time, and for a long time the song was considered risqué. It is also the first song in the Billboard Top 100 to use a swear word “damn”.
“Shaft “Isaac Hayes created this song in 1971. It is considered a song that is part soul, part funk and disco although disco didn’t really become well known until about 1974. “Shaft” is a song written for the movie Shaft which was about a black detective. The song begins with a funky guitar riff, with orchestra sounds swirling all around. The song builds and then the vocals begin. Isaac brings an attitude to the lyrics. He tells the story in a song about the detective and the listener is drawn in not only by the words but by the music. The year after the song was released it won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Walter Murphy was an orchestral leader who studied both Classical and Jazz and music piano at the Manhattan School of Music. The song on featured on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
“A Fifth of Beethoven” Walter Murphy came out with this song in 1976. It is thought to be the most popular songs of the disco era. Walter Murphy played most of the instruments himself.
A producer came up with the idea of updating a piece of classical music. Murphy then produced and recorded the song. It took 19 weeks before the song made it to number one on the Billboard Charts. The song proves that good music never dies and can sound contemporary even decades from the time it was written.
Thelma Houston was ranked number 86 on VH1’s 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders. She also ranked number 2 on VH1’s Greatest Dance Songs list.
Best Disco Regret Songs
“Don’t Leave Me This Way” this song originally was a hit for the group Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes in 1975. Later the song was going to be given to Dina Ross, but it was then decided to give it to Thelma Houston an upcoming artist for Motown records. Discos noted the popularity of this song from her album Any Way You Like It, it was decided to release the song as a single. “Don’t Leave Me This Way” became an international hit song for Thelma. Thelma, just had Teddy Pendergrass did in his version of the song, brings great emotion of a love that is ending. The song’s lyrics may be sad but the music is meant to dance to. The beat is jamming and the song just moves and grooves all the way through the record. It is easy to see why this song was so successful it is a classic.
The song was unique because it didn’t have multiple layers of sound to it, and there were no background singers like on so many other disco records.
“I Will Survive” Gloria Gaynor released this song in 1978. It is a song of regret at first, but then becomes a song of empowerment when the singer realizes that she is better off without her old love. The song was popular when it was first released. It is a disco anthem. The funny thing is the song was on the B side of the record “Substitute”, but the DJs liked the song “I Will Survive” better and kept playing that side.
According to the website Songfacts the song was supposed to be a slow, painful ballad, but the co-writer of the song thought it was too slow when it was being recorded in the studio. They sped it up and that started the whole Philly disco sound.
“The Love I Lost” This song was recorded in 1973 by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. It was million seller. The song has it all harmonies, soulful vocals, and beautiful instruments that help keep the emotion going throughout the song. The lyrics tell the story of a love that is lost, a love so strong that the singer will never know that kind of love again. Disco had a way of finding a way to make you dance even with a lyrics that are sad. Great arrangement.
“Touch Me In the Morning” was recorded by Diana Ross in 1973. It reached number one on the Billboard Top 100 charts. A perfectly crafted song of a love that is ending with Diana talking and singing and making the listener feel all the regret of this lost relationship.
Diana Ross struggled with this song saying it was too difficult for her. She said it was a “draining experience”, but with that struggle she created her longest charting pop record.
Disco has gotten a bad rap, but upon listening, you will find gems of soulful singing, lush arrangements, and danceable songs. It is an era that needs to be revisited in order not to forget some songs that have stood the test of time.