- On June 10, 2022
Disco originated as a blend of music played in clubs popular with Hispanics, African Americans, and Latinos in Philadelphia and New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a reaction of the 1960s counterculture to both the dominance of rock music and the stigmatization of dance music. Disco music was designed to be dance-friendly, and its upbeat tempo and easy-to-digest lyric content made it popular in clubs and on the radio.
The rise of disco music was largely due to the increasing popularity of dance clubs, where people could go to get their groove on. Clubs like Studio 54 in New York City became famous for their disco music and parties, attracting celebrities and the wealthy to their doors.
During the early 70s, disco music was developed further mainly by artists from the United States and Europe (most notably in Italy) eventually spawning dance crazes like ‘the Bump’, ‘the Hustle’ and disco line dancing. Disco classics always slide into our sets here at Party DJ Hire (especially at weddings and corporate functions) so we thought we would put together a list of our favourites.
Donna Summer – Hot Stuff (1979)
Hot Stuff remained at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for three non-consecutive weeks, and spent fourteen weeks in the top ten in 1979.
ABBA – Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Man After Midnight) (1979)
This song was recorded during ABBA’s North American and European tour of 1979 and was released on their Greatest Hits collection. Still a guaranteed floor filler!
Van McCoy – Do The Hustle (1975)
This track peaked at No. 1 on the Canadian RPM charts, No. 9 on the Australian Singles Chart (Kent Music Report) and No. 3 in the UK. The song won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.
Andy Gibb – Shadow Dancing (1978)
This would be Andy Gibb’s last chart-topping hit in the United States, although he would have three more in the Top 10. A platinum record was awarded to the song.
Thelma Houston – Don’t Leave Me This Way (1976)
Interesting fact, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Thelma Houston’s version of this song became an unofficial theme song for the AIDS epidemic in gay male communities of the west.
Barry White – You Are The First, My Last, My Everything (1974)
The song was co-written and produced by White. On the US Billboard Hot 100, the song reached number two, while on the UK Singles Chart, it was at number one.
The Trammps – Disco Inferno (1976)
Disco Inferno had limited mainstream success until 1978 after being included on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in 1977. It reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart in early 1977.
Sister Sledge – He’s The Greatest Dancer (1979)
Released in 1979, the song was written and composed by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, and recorded for the group’s 1979 album We Are Family.
Bee Gees – You Should Be Dancing (1976)
You Should Be Dancing is known today as the first chart-topper in which Barry Gibb uses his now-trademark falsetto in a lead vocal (he had previously used it on Fanny (Be Tender with My Love) and Nights on Broadway).
KC & the Sunshine Band – Get Down Tonight (1975)
After becoming the first of their five No. 1 hits on Billboard’s Hot 100, the song became widely successful and launched them into super star status.
Labelle – Lady Marmalade (1974)
Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan wrote this song, which was inspired by Crewe’s experiences in New Orleans and the sex workers there.
Chic – Le Freak (1978)
Billboard magazine ranked the song 21st among the top 100 songs of the first 55 years of its “Hot 100” chart.
Diana Ross – Love Hangover (1976)
Billboard Hot 100 and Hot-Selling Soul Singles ranked it number one. In addition, it reached number one on the disco charts at Record World.
Donna Summer – I Feel Love (1977)
The Financial Times credited this classic as “one of the most influential records ever made”, laying the foundations for electronic dance music.
Earth, Wind and Fire – September (1978)
September was a huge commercial success and reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart, No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart.
Funkytown – Lipps Inc (1979)
Around the world, Funkytown reached the top of the charts in many countries, including the United States, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, West Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, and Australia.
Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive (1978)
I Will Survive received heavy airplay in 1979, spending three non-consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as topping the Irish Singles Chart and UK Singles Chart.
The Jackson 5 – ABC (1970)
This tune knocked Let It Be by The Beatles off the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970, and was No. 1 on the soul singles chart for four weeks.
Alicia Bridges – I Love The Nightlife (1978)
I Love The Nightlife became a huge hit, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100, and found worldwide success, reaching the top 10 in Canada, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and South Africa, as well as reaching the top 30 in the UK.
ABBA – Dancing Queen (1976)
A real Europop gem the track was released as the lead single from their fourth studio album, Arrival (1976). It was written by Stig Anderson, Benny Andersson, and Björn Ulvaeus.
Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing (1975)
Originally released in October 1975, the song reached number two on the UK Singles Chart in November 1975 and number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 in December 1975.
John Paul Young – Love is in the Air (1978)
With a peak of No. 3 on the Australian and No. 5 on the UK charts, the song became a worldwide hit in 1978.
Amii Stewart – Knock on Wood (1979)
Amii Stewart released a disco version of Knock on Wood in 1979 and it reached number one on the US charts in April 1979, as well as the soul singles and disco charts.
Leo Sayer – Thunder In My Heart (1977)
From English-Australian singer Leo Sayer, and from his fifth studio album, Thunder in My Heart (1977). The song was produced by Richard Perry, while written by Sayer and Tom Snow.
Ohio Players – Love Rollercoaster (1975)
Originally featured on their 1975 album Honey the track was a number-one US hit in January 1976, and was certified gold.
Marvin Gaye – Got to Give It Up (1977)
The song was written by Gaye and produced by Art Stewart as a response to a request from his record label for him to explore a more disco-themed direction.
McFadden & Whitehead – Ain’t No Stopping Us Now (1979)
Spending a week at number one on the R&B singles chart this track also proved to be a successful crossover hit, peaking at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough (1979)
Jackson had creative control over this recording for the first time. The song is the first track from Jackson’s fifth studio album Off the Wall (1979).
The Hues Corporation – Rock the Boat (1973)
Rock the Boat was released as the third single from their album Freedom for the Stallion in early 1974, to follow up Stallion‘s title track, which had peaked at number sixty-three on the Hot 100.
The O’Jays – Love Train (1972)
This was the O’Jays’ first and only number one record on the US pop chart. The song was significant however as it has been considered a key in bringing disco music to the masses.
Peaches & Herb – Shake Your Groove Thing (1978)
The track shook its way to No. 2 for four weeks on the Billboard Disco chart in 1978. The song spent 22 weeks on the American charts, and became a Gold record.
Wild Cherry – Play That Funky Music (1976)
A Billboard magazine list of All-Time Top 100 Songs ranked the song 93 on the list in 2018. It was also the group’s only US Top 40 hit.
Prince – I Wanna Be Your Lover (1978)
After reaching number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks on January 26, 1980, the song was Prince’s first major hit single in the United States.
Anita Ward – Ring My Bell (1979)
In addition to reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Ring My Bell topped the Disco Top 80 chart and the Soul Singles chart as well.
Rod Stewart – Da Ya Think I’m Sexy? (1978)
The song was released as the first single from Blondes Have More Fun in November 1978. It topped the UK Singles Chart for one week, and in February 1979, it topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks.
Rose Royce – Car Wash (1976)
Rose Royce’s first studio album, Car Wash, contained the lead single of the same name, the theme from the 1976 film Car Wash.
Bee Gees – Night Fever (1977)
In one week in March 1978, Bee Gees-related songs held five of the top five positions on the Hot 100 chart, with Night Fever taking the top spot.
Blondie – Heart of Glass (1978)
Written by singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein Heart of Glass reached number one on the charts in several countries. It featured on Parallel Lines (1978) – the band’s third studio album.
Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King – Shame (1978)
Shame was a big success on the Billboard music charts and would become one of King’s signature songs. The song was covered by Zhané in 1994 and Kim Wilde in 1996.
Earth, Wind & Fire – Shining Star (1975)
Shining Star climbed to No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Hot Soul Songs chart, becoming their first single to top both lists.
Sister Sledge – We Are Family (1979)
We Are Family went gold, becoming the number one R&B and number two pop song on the American charts in 1979.
Brothers Johnson – Stomp (1979)
Stomp! was featured on the Brothers Johnson’s fourth album, Light Up the Night, in early 1980 and it reached number one on the Dance singles chart.
Boney M – Daddy Cool (1976)
Daddy Cool was a 1976 smash hit and still a solid staple of disco music, and became Boney M.’s first hit in the United Kingdom.
Candi Staton – Young Hearts, Run Free (1976)
Released in 1976 from the album of the same name, the fun tune spent a week at number one on the Hot Soul Singles chart. It also reached number twenty on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Brick House – The Commodores (1977)
This hit single from The Commodores peaked at number 5 in the USA and number 32 in the UK Singles Chart.
Chic – Good Times (1978)
On top of being one of the most sampled tunes in music history, Good Times ranks 68th on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Tavares – Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel (1976)
The Tavares song boasted international chart success, reaching number one in the Netherlands, and charting in Canada (11), Australia (30), the UK (4), and South Africa (16).
KC & the Sunshine Band – That’s the Way I Like It (1975)
The single became the band’s second No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and it is one of the few chart-toppers in history to hit No. 1 on more than one occasion during a one-month period.
Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – December 63 (Oh What a Night) (1975)
This was the final Four Seasons’ song to hit number one, although Valli would have one last massive chart-topper as a solo act in 1978 with the theme song to the film Grease.
Village People – YMCA (1978)
Although the song did not reach No. 1 in the United States, it became a No. 1 hit throughout the globe and has remained popular at wedding receptions parties, sporting events, and functions ever since.
Patrick Hernandez – Born To Be Alive (1978)
Initially conceived as a hard rock song, Born To Be Alive eventually became a worldwide hit and reached number one on the US Disco chart in 1979.
Bee Gees – Stayin Alive (1977)
Considered one of the Bee Gees’ signature songs, Stayin’ Alive was placed at No. 189 on the list of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.
The Real Thing – You To Me Are Everything (1976)
Surprisingly, You to Me Are Everything was the Real Thing’s sole number-one single on the UK Singles Chart, spending three weeks at the top in July 1976.
Vickie Sue Robinson – Turn the Beat Around (1976)
This gem went to number one on the Billboard disco chart for four weeks and also earned Robinson a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Kool & the Gang – Ladies Night (1979)
Amongst other things, Ladies Night provided Kool & the Gang with their first hit in the United Kingdom in August 1979, peaking at number nine in the UK Singles Chart.
Yvonne Elliman – If I Can’t Have You (1977)
The song was recorded by Yvonne Elliman for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. The song was written and later also recorded by The Bee Gees.
Boney M – Rasputin (1978)
Rasputin rose to the top of the charts in Germany and Austria and made it to No. 2 in the UK and Switzerland. It also scored them their second No. 1 hit in Australia.
Boogie Bonus songs!
You may have noticed some obvious exclusions from the above list and there is a special reason. Just for fun, I thought I would compile a list of ten great disco tracks with the word boogie in the title, seeing the word is so darn synonymous with funk and the disco genre. You are welcome!
- The Gap Band – Baby Baba Boogie (1979)
- Earth, Wind & Fire – Boogie Wonderland (1978)
- The Jackson 5 – Blame It on the Boogie (1978)
- Baccara – Yes Sir, I Can Boogie (1977)
- Heatwave – Boogie Nights (1977)
- Taste of Honey – Boogie Oogie Oogie (1978)
- KC & the Sunshine Band – I’m Your Boogie Man (1976)
- The Sylvers – Boogie Fever (1976)
- KC & the Sunshine Band – Boogie Shoes (1978)
- Kool & The Gang – Jungle Boogie (1973)
If you like your 70s disco, then you might like this hip-hop-related post – Banging Hip Hop Songs From The 90s.
You can enjoy the playlist on Spotify below: