Disco, the music that stubbornly refuses to die
Bee Gees star Robin Gibb has died at 62 after a long battle with cancer. There will be some funky beats at the pearly gates today.
The Gibb brothers who co-founded the band (Maurice, Barry and Robin) sold more than 200 million records over four decades. The disco genre was dominated by the music of African-Americans. It’s incredible that a bunch of boys who lived in Brisbane (ex- of Manchester, UK) could make such a lasting impression on that scene. Indeed, they pretty much owned it.
Whether you consider yourself a Bee Gees fan or not, your love for them probably runs deeper than you think. Here are three examples of songs they wrote for others: Diana Ross’s “Chain Reaction”“, Dionne Warwick’s “Heartbreaker” and (Punch editor Tory Maguire’s personal fave) Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “Islands in the Stream”.
In the mid ’70s, the music of the Bee Gees was inescapable on the radio. “More Than A Woman”, “How Deep is Your Love”, “Tragedy”, “Stayin’ Alive”. Every one a megahit. And the list goes on…
Gibb is the second disco star to die in a week. The “queen” of the genre, Donna Summer of “Love To Love You Baby” fame, died of cancer at 63 last week. But today isn’t the day the disco died. The music keeps finding new fans.
Disco has had a huge influence on our culture. Without it, today’s dance music scene could never have happened. But unlike ’80s, ’90s and 2000s dance music, disco lives on. Look at all the ABBA musicals and revivals out there. You don’t see many musicals being made about ’80s New Wave acts.
Some things from the disco era have been rejected from today’s culture. The fashion, for one. But the thing that’ll keep the Bee Gees and the Gloria Gaynors and the Village Peoples in our heads is their distinctive knack for creating excellent lyrical hooks, and tunes you just couldn’t get out of your head.
On mainstream dance floors today, you’re more likely to hear tunes that don’t feature a strong lyrical hook, just lots of electronic mashing. Particularly in the case of songs that many Australians take “disco” biscuits to. Case in point: the dubstep video below.
I don’t reckon this video has quite the same X factor that the Bee Gees had. It’ll be forgotten long before the classic hits of the disco era. Disco has got plenty of its life yet to live and plenty of love to give. It will survive, it will survive.
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