Roy’s Top 10 1970’s Dance Songs

No genre of music in the history of popular music has created more controversy or polarization within the fandom of music than 1970’s dance music, known more simply as disco. One either loves or hates this brand of pop dance music, which swept into the music scene during the1970’s but was pretty much swept away by the early 1980’s. Yet the genre of trance dance music in the 21st Century, which can claim its own channel on Sirius Satellite Radio, goes back to 1970’s dance works for inspiration. Well, I am on the side of being a lover of 1970’s disco, so I would like to share with you my Top 10 favorites from that time. These are in descending order all the way to Number 1!

10. Le Freak by Chic: Fusing into disco. This particular track is the first song many disco fans and non-fans alike think of first when the word “disco” is mentioned, and not surprising because of its unabashed energy and flow, making Le Freak an inviting song to dance to. Yet the group Chic didn’t start out to take the dance floors by storm with their music. Their original name was The Big Apple Band until 1977. They had initially performed power-fusion works. The group changed their name in 1977 as well as their music. It worked. Le Freak took America by storm as 1978 gave way to 1979, climbing the Top 10 all the way to Number 1.

9. MacArthur Park: Disco hypnotic. Donna Summer sang some of the most bizarre lyrics in music history in 1978. Her words are drenched in some very hypnotic and epic music, as her full album cut runs some 17 minutes in length�

MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
’cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again

Yet MacArthur Park is a song that zig-zags all over the place in meaning, because Frank Sinatra performed the same tune in his 1980 Trilogy release, stressing a more rational section of this song. He reminisced about a special love that stood the test of time.

8. Night Fever by The Bee Gees: Disco contagious…

Listen to the ground
There is movement all around
There is something goin’ down
And I can feel it

Night Fever was featured in the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever as the centerpiece song for the film. While disco can be enjoyed at anytime of day or night, its legend grew because of the fever that hit millions of people during weekend nights to go out and dance, dance, and dance some more until early into the next morning. This 1978 movie soundtrack hit captures the essence of the disco era.

7. Theme From S.W.A.T by Rhythm Heritage: Arresting disco. This 1976 Top 10 and eventual Number 1 instrumental hit by the Los Angeles-based studio group was heard on television each week the action-packed, but short-lived, police drama S.W.A.T., aired. It was a popular selection at disco-techs for its fast paced and riveting sound. Rhythm Heritage also performed the theme song to the Robert Blake series Baretta.

6. Heart of Glass by Blondie: Disco trance. The New York-based group Blondie, led by the flamboyant Deborah Harry, was one of the early pioneers of punk and new wave music, but scored big in 1979 with Heart of Glass, which had some trace elements of punk and new wave mixed into the dance beat. Artists like Madonna and Gwen Stefani were influenced by Blondie, who continues to tour and record in the present day. Blondie is the only American band to have had UK Number 1 singles during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. So many groups with disco hits have come and gone, but Blondie’s music has stood the test of time. The group will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2006.

5. Disco Duck by Rick Dees, et al: humorous disco. When Rick Dees His Cast of Idiots released Disco Duck in 1976, it took the country by storm. Disco Duck is the perfect parody song which made the disco nation laugh at itself, while shaking their groove things of course! Rick Dees would go on to host a worldwide radio countdown show for over 20 years, and as for the Disco Duck�ever seen those Aflac commercials?

4. That’s The Way (I Like It) by KC and The Sunshine Band: Parental Advisory disco without the label! KC and the Sunshine Band’s lyrics to this 1975 smash hit single include:

That’s the way, uh-uh, uh-uh, I like it, ah huh, ah huh,
That’s the way, ah huh, ah huh, I like it, ah huh, ah huh,
That’s the way, ah huh, ah huh, I like it, ah huh, ah huh,

Well, in an ensuing generation, some of KC’s albums would’ve been flagged for a Parental Advisory label, but instead, children like myself could go out and buy the music of this motley crew of Floridians with our lawn-mowing money without so much a look of concern from department store personnel. Yet for us kids, it was just good fast-paced music to enjoy, rather than being corrupted by the lyrics of the above work or some of KC’s other sexually suggestive hits like Keep It Comin’ Love or (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty.

3. A Fifth of Beethoven by Walter Murphy: Classical fare disco. Walter Murphy was an arranger for Doc Severinsen and The Tonight Show orchestra but scored a big hit in 1976 with this lively disco instrumental that honored Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Murphy’s work would be used in the disco anthem film Saturday Night Fever, adding more fuel to its popularity as well as a hallowed place in the greatest and most memorable hits of disco.

2. Fly, Robin, Fly by Silver Convention: Elegant disco. “Fly, robin, fly…Up, up to the sky.” How do you make a Number 1 hit with just two distinct lines? If you don’t think it’s possible, ask the Munich-based Silver Convention, whose solid gold song flew up the charts like a soaring eagle in 1975. Despite its lack of words, Fly, Robin, Fly is surrounded by the most elegant of conceptual symphonic mix and calls to put on your boogie shoes! This is another song whose influence can be found in many of the trance hits of today which are short on lyrics but long on the esoteric.

1. In The Navy by the Village People: The energy and added benefits of disco! No group in the history of disco has generated more talk about their off-stage lifestyles as well as ridicule for their uniqueness than the Village People. Yet for me, the Village People’s 1979 hit In The Navy is so full of energy on one level, yet also serves as an educational song on another level, giving us disco fanatics some career advice as we boogie into the night! The Village People even performed a travel tip hit that’s appropriate for a Frommer’s Travel Guide with their Platinum smash hit Y.M.C.A. How many dance songs, or any songs for that matter, can you say contain some valuable consumer information? This group from The Big Apple is very easily identified in the annals of music history due to the variety of on-stage uniforms they donned, ranging from construction worker to Indian Chief get-ups, as they performed their hits before millions of disco fans and the blatantly curious!

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