"When people said disco was dead, it wasn't -- it was a lie." - Dimitri from Paris, quoted in SEE Magazine, issue #462 (October 3, 2002)
"Despite its bad press, disco remained an appreciable factor in 1980... While disco had long since been declared dead by the media, evidently no one told Blondie, Lipps Inc., Diana Ross or Queen, all of whom had No. 1 hits with dance floor smashes." - Paul Grein in Billboard, December 20, 1980
DISCO FOR CHILDREN
The 1980 album "Johnny Young and the Young Talent Team Sing the Hits", a companion to the Australian TV show Young Talent Time, had these disco songs:
DISCO PRODUCTS AND HAPPENINGS OF 1980
In 1980 a "Disco Fever" lunch box and thermos were produced by Aladdin. In February 1980, Gottlieb came out with a pinball game called "Roller Disco" (see here for more photos and details). Also in February 1980, Marvel Comics introduced the comic character Disco Dazzler, a roller-skating disco singer with a disco-ball necklace, in "Uncanny X-Men #130". When her series went solo in March 1981 it was called simply "Dazzler" without the "Disco" prefix, but it's interesting to note that the April 1981 issue had the theme "Last Stand in Discoland" printed on its cover and Dazzler was still wearing her disco-ball necklace. Emerson released a record player called "Disco 80" that included three blinking lights. Milton Bradley came out with the "Dizzy Dolphins Disco Game" featuring "dancing dolphins". In 1980 Kenner came out with the "Darci Disco" doll, which came with a shimmering silver disco jumpsuit plus a silver-colored mirror ball, jukebox, pinball machine, spotlight, and disco-themed background artwork to represent Darci's Disco. Rollerskates were available for her in a separate disco promotion. Another of the year's disco dolls was Mattel's "Disco Skipper", distributed only in Europe.
The unofficial closing of the Studio 54 nightclub in New York City on February 4, 1980, followed by definite closure on February 28, 1980 when the last drink was served, was a major moment in the decline of disco in the early 1980s. Disco also declined because of the music industry's new insistence that new wave, rap, and country were the happening kinds of music. Many other factors played a role, including most '80s radio DJs' anti-disco attitudes (particularly in the midwest USA, where songs like "Twilight Zone/Twilight Zone" by Manhattan Transfer which were played and became hits on east-coast and west-coast USA stations were not played), the "Disco Sucks" and "Disco is Dead" campaigns, silly musical projects like the "Ethel Merman Disco Album" and "Disco Hokey Pokey", the summer 1979 hype surrounding "My Sharona" by the Knack, absurd disco-oriented films like "Can't Stop the Music" and "Roller Boogie" and television series like "Pink Lady and Jeff" (March-April 1980, where the Japanese duo Pink Lady, unable to speak English, performed disco songs like "On the Radio", "If My Friends Could See Me Now", "Knock on Wood", and "Boogie Wonderland" in an outrageously bad way), the coming AIDS crisis (which killed many disco producers, artists, and fans), the arrival of MTV in August 1981, and rock fans' resentment that rock acts like Rod Stewart, Queen, and KISS had made disco records. The final reason for disco's decline was new technology that encouraged R&B and dance musicians to replace real instruments with electronic sounds.
The Grammy for "Best Disco Recording" was awarded to Gloria Gaynor for "I Will Survive" on February 27, 1980 during the 1979 22nd Grammy Awards. The song had competed against "Boogie Wonderland", "Bad Girls", "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?", and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough". (This was both the first and last time a "Best Disco Recording" was chosen for the Grammy Awards.) But "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" gave Michael Jackson the Grammy for "Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance - Male".
Billboard's International Disco Forum 7 was held in February 1980 in Los Angeles. By this time, the dance music industry was in turmoil, sales were disappointing, and record labels announced cutbacks in the number of dance records they would release. This was followed by Billboard's International Disco Forum 8, held July 14-17, 1980 at the Sheraton Centre in New York City. Unfortunately, attendance at the July 1980 event was markedly down compared to the February 1979 peak attendance, and no additional Disco Forums were held. Later, Billboard started holding Billboard Dance Music Summits.
The trashy disco movie "Can't Stop the Music" was released to theaters in June 1980, the only good song in it being "Give Me a Break" by the Ritchie Family. The horror movie "Prom Night", released to American theaters in August 1980 but filmed in summer 1979, features a disco dancing scene with many original disco songs as well as "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor. The soundtrack to the 1980 movie "Foxes" includes the disco songs "On the Radio" by Donna Summer, "Shake It" by Brooklyn Dreams, and "20th Century Foxes" by Angel. "Struck By Boogie Lightning" by L'Ectrique plays while the closing credits roll in the 1980 movie "Don't Go in the House", and earlier in the movie "Late Night Surrender" by Jeree Palmer and "Dancing Close to You" by the Daryll-Barber Band play (the latter is heard in the discotheque scene). Graham Gouldman's semi-disco song "Go For It" played during the scene in "Noah's Ark Disco" in the cartoon film "Animalympics" that premiered on American television in February 1980.
Macy's was still using a modified version of Odyssey's 1977 disco song "Native New Yorker" on radio commercials aired in New York City in September 1980. The Ponderosa restaurant chain made a distinctly disco commercial in 1980.
The 1980 theme to the American science education television show "3-2-1 Contact" was disco, as was the instrumental theme to WNBC News 4 New York's special broadcasts on that year's "Tri-State Vote". The 1980 version of the theme song to "Solid Gold", sung by Dionne Warwick and created by Michael Miller and Dean Pitchford, was electro-disco. The first episode of "Solid Gold" (September 13, 1980) played the disco songs "Give Me the Night" by George Benson at #8, "All Over the World" by E.L.O. at #10, and "Fame" by Irene Cara at #15 as well as many non-disco songs.
"Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" by McFadden and Whitehead was the official song of the Philadelphia Phillies during their games against the Kansas City Royals in the World Series in October 1980. And the Phillies became the champions! The cheerleaders for the Philadelphia Eagles team of 1980 also adopted this as their theme, and released their own recording of "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" through The Sound of Philadelphia (CBS Records) in 1981, but the Eagles were defeated by the Oakland Raiders at the Super Bowl in January 1981.
Here are disco songs featured on the American television show "American Bandstand" in 1980: "Last Train to London" by E.L.O. (January 5 program), "Haven't You Heard" by Patrice Rushen (January 26 program), "Twilight Zone/Twilight Zone" by Manhattan Transfer (March 1 program), "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" by Bonnie Pointer (March 8 program), "The Second Time Around" by Shalamar (March 15 program), "Ladies' Night" by Kool and the Gang (March 22 program), "Got to Love Somebody" by Sister Sledge (April 5 program), "Give Me a Break" and "Put Your Feet to the Beat" by the Ritchie Family and "Disco Flam" by José Feliciano (April 12 program), "Off the Wall" by Michael Jackson and "Body Language" by the Spinners (April 26 program), "Let's Get Serious" by Jermaine Jackson and "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson (May 24 program), "Sweet Sensation" by Stephanie Mills (July 5 program), "Power" by the Temptations (July 19 program), and "Fame" by Irene Cara (October 18 program).
Here are disco songs featured on the American television show "The Midnight Special" in 1980: "Don't Let Go" by Isaac Hayes and "Best of My Love" by the Emotions (January 18 program), "Ladies' Night" by Kool and the Gang (January 18 and December 12 programs), "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" by Rod Stewart and "Heaven Knows" by Donna Summer with Brooklyn Dreams (January 25 program), "Macho Man" by the Village People (February 1 program), "Heaven Must Have Sent You" and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" by Bonnie Pointer and "Last Train to London" by E.L.O. (February 22 program), "Let's Boogie, Let's Dance" by the Spinners (February 22 and April 11 programs), "And the Beat Goes On" by the Whispers (March 14 program), "Got to Love Somebody" by Sister Sledge and "Body Language" by the Spinners (April 11 program), "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson and "Bourgie Bourgie" by Gladys Knight and the Pips (May 9 program), "Stomp!" and "Light Up the Night" by the Brothers Johnson (June 13 program), "Let's Get Serious" by Jermaine Jackson (June 13 and June 20 programs), "Behind the Groove" by Teena Marie (June 20 program), "Give Me a Break" by the Ritchie Family and "Can't Stop the Music" and "Milkshake" by the Village People (July 11 program), "D a n c i n'" by Stephanie Mills (July 18 program), "Sweet Sensation" by Stephanie Mills (July 18 and November 7 programs), "Take Your Time (Do It Right)" by the S.O.S. Band (September 12 program), "Fame" by Irene Cara (September 12 and September 26 programs), "Funtime" by Peaches and Herb (October 17 program), "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen (October 24 program), "Never Knew Love Like This Before" by Stephanie Mills (November 7 program), "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang (December 12 program), and "Power" by the Temptations (December 19 program).
Here are disco songs featured on the American television show "Soul Train" in 1980: "Good Times" and "My Feet Keep Dancing" by Chic and "Skate to the Rhythm" by High Inergy (February 9 program), "I Shoulda Loved Ya" by Narada Michael Walden (March 1 program), "Take That to the Bank" by Shalamar (March 8 program), "Haven't You Heard" by Patrice Rushen (March 15 program), "Dance 'N' Sing 'N'" by L.T.D. and "Keep It Hot" by Cheryl Lynn (March 22 program), "We Are Family" and "He's the Greatest Dancer" by Sister Sledge (April 5 program), "What 'Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin'" and "You Can Get Over" by Stephanie Mills (April 26 program), "Can't Stop the Music" by the Village People (May 3 program), "Let's Get Serious" by Jermaine Jackson (May 10 program), "Bourgie Bourgie" by Gladys Knight and the Pips (May 17 program), "Power" by the Temptations (May 31 program), "Stomp!" and "Light Up the Night" by the Brothers Johnson (September 20 program), "Fame" by Irene Cara (October 4 program), "Take Your Time (Do It Right)" by the S.O.S. Band (October 11 program), "I Need Your Lovin'" and "Behind the Groove" by Teena Marie (October 18 program), "Right in the Socket" by Shalamar and "Give It On Up (If You Want To)" and "She's a Rainbow Dancer" by Mtume (November 15 program), "Can't Fake the Feeling" by Geraldine Hunt (November 22 program), and "I've Just Begun to Love You" and "Do Me Right" by Dynasty (December 20 program).
Here are disco songs featured on the German television show "Musikladen" in 1980: "Que Sera Mi Vida" by Gibson Brothers (January 17 program), "Hold On to My Love" by Jimmy Ruffin and "Funkytown" by Lipps, Inc. (June 19 program), "Light Up the Night" by the Brothers Johnson and "Feels Like I'm in Love" by Kelly Marie (October 9 program), "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang (November 13 program), and "Loving Just for Fun" by Kelly Marie (December 11 program).
On Marie Osmond's short-lived television variety show "Marie" on NBC she performed multiple disco songs in electro-disco style before studio audiences. These included a rendition of Diana Ross's "I'm Coming Out" at the start of the very first episode aired December 12, a version of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" on December 19, and a version of Stephanie Mills's "Never Knew Love Like This Before" on December 26.
Teddy Pendergrass performed his 1979 disco song "Do Me" on the "Pink Lady and Jeff" show on March 14, 1980.
Kermit the Frog performed his 1979 children's disco song "Disco Frog" on the American television show "Sesame Street" in Episode 1407 on April 1, 1980. He also performed it on Episode 418 of the American television show "The Muppet Show" in February 1980.
Episode 524 of "The Muppet Show", which premiered September 27, 1980, included a Viking pig-themed comedy skit with an electro-disco cover of the Village People's song "In the Navy".
The disco songs of 1980 were not just hits as singles, either. A lot of albums containing the above songs were popular, including "diana" (May 1980, with "I'm Coming Out"), "Celebrate!" (with "Celebration"), "Give Me the Night" (with "Give Me the Night" and "Love X Love"), and "Light Up the Night" (with "Stomp!" and "Light Up the Night").
On the other hand, Sister Sledge didn't fare as well this year as with 1979's "We Are Family" album. Sheila and B. Devotion, releasing a 1980 album called "King of the World", was popular only in Europe and South Africa; yet, the group's late-1979 single "Spacer" sold more than 5 million copies worldwide! Crown Heights Affair's songs this year didn't have success in the charts. A lot of other groups also started to struggle, including Chic, whose summer album "Real People" sold in fewer numbers than their earlier albums "Risqué" and "C'est Chic". The two 1980 Chic singles were "Rebels Are We" (#8 R&B) and "Real People" (#79 Pop). Meanwhile, Chic's single "My Feet Keep Dancing" got no higher than #101 on the Billboard Pop chart in December 1980, though it reached #21 in the United Kingdom in January 1980. The Gap Band's single "Party Lights", which had been released in 1979, did only modestly on the United Kingdom charts in late 1980, peaking there at #30 Pop.
1979 disco songs that hit the charts big during 1980 included Ottawan's "D.I.S.C.O.", Kool and the Gang's "Ladies' Night", the duet by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway titled "You Are My Heaven", "Sexy Eyes" by Dr. Hook, Lipps, Inc.'s "Funkytown", and Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" and "Rock With You". "Holdin' On" by Tony Rallo and the Midnight Band was popular in the United Kingdom during 1980. "D.I.S.C.O." charted in the United Kingdom in the top 40 even as late as November 1980, peaking at #2 in October. "High On Your Love" by Debbie Jacobs peaked in March 1980 (#70 Pop in the USA). "All Night Thing" by the Invisible Man's Band reached #9 R&B in 1980 in the United States. "Sexy Eyes" reached #5 Pop in the USA 15 weeks after its February 16, 1980 single release. "Dance Yourself Dizzy" by Liquid Gold reached #2 Pop in the U.K. in April 1980. "I Owe You One" by Shalamar reached #13 Pop in the U.K. in October 1980. "I Shoulda Loved Ya" by Narada Michael Walden reached #8 Pop in the U.K. in May 1980. "Funkytown" was a #1 pop hit in the summer (May-June 1980) in the United States and also reached #1 in Canada, Israel, and Spain. In Britain, "Funkytown" reached #2 Pop in June 1980 and "Ladies' Night" reached #9 Pop in January 1980. "The Second Time Around" by Shalamar reached #8 Pop in the USA in March 1980. "On the Radio" by Donna Summer reached #5 Pop in the USA in March 1980. "Rock with You" was number 1 on the pop singles charts in January 1980. Michael Jackson's 3 big disco songs from 1979 were made into music videos by 1980. Jackson's "Off the Wall" album (released August 1979) ended up being the 2nd most popular album sold during 1980, according to Rolling Stone Magazine's "Top 100 LP's of 1980" list on pages 130-131 in the January 8, 1981 issue. Here are some other albums with disco songs that sold well in 1980: Donna Summer's compilation "On the Radio - Greatest Hits" volumes 1 and 2 was #22 on the Rolling Stone Magazine chart for the year. Also prominent on the RSM chart are: "diana" #27, "Light Up the Night" #46 (included "Stomp!"), the "Fame" soundtrack #52, "Let's Get Serious" #58, "Give Me the Night" #59, "Roberta Flack Featuring Donna Hathaway" #76 (included "You Are My Heaven"), "Mouth to Mouth" #80 (included "Funkytown"), "The Glow of Love" #88 (by Change), "Sweet Sensation" #90 (included "Never Knew Love Like This Before"), and "S.O.S." #97. The numbers don't lie - disco was not "dead" in 1980.
A lot of non-disco dance songs were released in 1980. Examples are Loose Joints's "Is It All Over My Face?" and Diana Ross's "Upside Down" (#1 on the U.S. Disco chart in August 1980 and #1 on the U.S. Pop chart in September 1980 for 4 weeks; #2 Pop in the U.K.) which are both more funk than disco. Other 1980 funk songs are "Don't Push It, Don't Force It" by Leon Haywood (#2 R&B in the USA in 1980), "Don't Stop the Music" by Yarbrough and Peoples (#19 Pop in the USA in April 1981, #1 R&B for 5 weeks), "And Love Goes On" by Earth, Wind and Fire, "Big Time" by Rick James, "Bumper to Bumper" by Avenue B Boogie Band, "Catch Me (Before I Have to Testify)" by Average White Band, "Celebrations" by Brothers Johnson, "Checking You Out" by Young and Company, "Dancin' Dancin'" by the Blackbyrds (up-tempo R&B), "Disco Can't Go On Forever" by Gonzalez, "Disco Party" by Larry Hobb's, "Everybody" by Instant Funk, "Fantastic Voyage" by Lakeside, "Feel My Love" and "Watching You" by Slave, "Free Bass" by Wizzdom, "Give Up the Funk (Let's Dance)" by B.T. Express, "Gonna Lift You Up" by Starpoint, "Here's to You" and "High" and "Super Love" by Skyy, "Open Your Heart" and "Boogie Body Land" by the Bar-Kays, "Positive Energy" by Southroad Connection, "Rapp Payback (Where is Moses?)" and "Don't Stop the Funk" (electro-funk) by James Brown, "S.O.S. (Dit Dit Dit Dat Dat Dat Dit Dit Dit)" by S.O.S. Band (which however has a very nice disco section lasting 30 seconds in the middle of the song), "Sure Shot" by Crown Heights Affair, "Take It Light" by Jumbo, "The Louder" by Peter Jacques Band (electro-funk), "This Feelin'" by Frank Hooker and Positive People, "Your Place or Mine" by Quinella, "Bon Bon Vie (Gimme the Good Life)" by T.S. Monk (electro-funk), "Boogie to the Bop" by Mantus (electro-funk), "Come On and Boogie" by Chuck Brown (electro-funk), "Dance to the Funky Groove" by Maurice Starr (electro-funk), "Don't Stop" by Firefly (electro-funk), "I'm Ready" by Kano (electro-funk/Hi-NRG), "Just Can't Help Myself (I Really Love You)" by Common Sense (electro-funk), "Make Me Over" by the Escorts (electro-funk), "Play Me or Trade Me" by Parlet (electro-funk), "Shake Your Body (At the Disco)" by E.S. Funk (electro-funk), "Dynamite!" by Stacy Lattisaw, "Far Beyond" by Locksmith, "Coma Ta Ya Ha Dance (We Came to Earth to Dance)" by Denise LaSalle, "Magic of You (Like the Way)" by Rafael Cameron (electro-funk), "Keep It Hot" and "Your Love Takes Me Out" and "Shake Your Pants" by Cameo, "Real People" and "Chip off the Old Block" by Chic, "Too Tight" by Con Funk Shun, "Make it Last" by Midnight Star, "I Just Wanna Dance With You" by Starpoint, and "Can You Feel It" and "Lovely One" by The Jacksons. Those are good songs, but not disco. "Let's Groove" by Earth, Wind, and Fire, which reached #3 Pop in the USA in December 1981 and #1 on the American R&B Chart for 8 weeks starting in October 1981, plus #3 Pop in the U.K. in November 1981, is also electro-funk. Denise LaSalle's "I'm So Hot" (#33 Disco, #82 R&B in the USA) has the same beat structure as "Let's Groove", and even though it has real bass and violins unlike "Let's Groove", it isn't technically disco, but more like a form of R&B. Nor are heavily electronic songs like "Save the Last Dance for Me" by Free Expression, "Can't Be Love (Do It To Me Anyway)" by Peter Brown, "Sexy Thing" by Jumbo, "Young Girls" by Sparks, "Provincial Disco" by Zodiac, "Now Baby Now" by Kano, "Nobody's Got Time" by Eddy Grant, "Party Boys" by Foxy, "Ai No Corrida" by Chas Jankel, "Bad Love" by Cher, "Space Ranger" by Sun, "So Much for L.A." by D.C. LaRue, "How Long" by Lipps, Inc., "Disco Lady" by Lokice (electro-dance in Serbo-Croatian), "Get Up (Rock Your Body)" by the 202 Machine (electro-dance), and "Stop, He's a Lover" and "One Night Queen" by Claudja Barry. "Radio Action" by Claudja Barry, "I Depend on You" by Two Tons of Fun, and "Your Love" by Lime are described as Hi-NRG songs. "Exotically" by Peter Jacques Band also qualifies as Hi-NRG. "Keep On Talking" by Carrie LaPorte is a rockish form of Hi-NRG. "Red Light" by Linda Clifford and "Passion" by Rod Stewart were rock-dance songs. The album version of "I Love You Dancer" by Voyage is a very good electro-rock-dance song that's heavy on synths. Other notable electro-rock-dance songs were "Mondo Man" by Roni Griffith, "Rock Disco" by Swan, "It's a War" by Kano, "I Don't Want to Fall in Love Again" by Voyage, "Rock 'n' Roll People in a Disco World" by Sparks, and the cover of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Boney M. "To the Boys in the Band" by La Flavour has an electronic bassline, electronic keyboards, and a latin flavor throughout including in the guitar-playing. "Rescue Me" by A Taste of Honey, which reached #16 R&B in the U.K., is a funk/pop song. "Love No Longer Has a Hold on Me" by Johnny Bristol, "You've Got to Like What You Do" by Shirley Brown, and "Pretty Baby" by Sister Sledge are noteworthy R&B songs. "Cupid/I've Loved You for a Long Time" by the Spinners was a soul hit. "Xanadu" by Olivia Newton-John and the Electric Light Orchestra is not really disco either, nor are "Emotional Rescue" and "Dance (Part 1)" by the Rolling Stones (even though they are influenced by disco), nor "Your Body Won't Move if You Can't Feel the Groove" by Leon Huff. Christopher Cross's hit "Ride Like the Wind" was disco-influenced lite-pop. "The Groove" by Rodney Franklin (#7 Pop in the U.K.), "Painted Lady" and "Visualise Yourself (And Your Mind)" by Light of the World, "Motivation" by Atmosfear, the incredible "By All Means" by Alphonse Mouzon, "Splashdown" by Breakwater (#62 Disco in the USA in mid-1980), and "You Ga (Ta Give It)" by the Brecker Brothers are jazz-funk. 1980 was also the year for "The Breaks", a very good disco/funk-sounding rap song by Kurtis Blow, and "Double Dutch Bus", a funk-rap song by Frankie Smith, as well as the smooth groovers "Just the Two of Us" by Grover Washington Jr. featuring Bill Withers, "I Can't Get Along Without You" by Vance and Suzzanne, "Love Me, Love Me Now" by Curtis Mayfield, and "All I Do" by Stevie Wonder. "Love Money" by T.W. Funkmasters is electro-disco-backed rap. "Sure Shot" by Xanadu is disco-backed rap where the background music is a cover of the Whispers hit "And the Beat Goes On". "Oh Yeah" by The Jackson Two is electro-disco-backed rap. "Rhythm Rap Rock" by Count Coolout is disco-funk-backed rap.
Disco Music released before 1980:
Disco Music released after 1980: