A lot of speculation has been made about the reason for the sudden backlash against disco at the close of the 70s. Perhaps it was grounded more in elitism, homophobia and racism than simply a reaction against bad music. While that may be true for some, the fact is that disco had become omnipresent by 1979; commercialized beyond all reckoning. What began as an innovative and underground sound had become a clownish watered down behemoth. Disco had reached critical mass and imploded under its own weight by the close of 1980.
I can't begin to list all of the insanely improbable and brazenly awful examples of late 70s disco projects, so let's take look at 20 reasons (in no particular order) why disco bit the dust.
1. The Ethel Merman Disco Album (1979) - Listen here (courtesy of Frank's Vinyl Museum ); here's a tip: have large doses of hydrocodone handy to help dull the pain
2. "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" by Rod Stewart (1978)
3. "Soul Dracula" by Hot Blood (1977) - Listen here
4. "I Was Made for Loving You" by KISS (1978) - Listen here to have Paul Stanley destroy your faith in rock music forever.
5. Avenging Disco Godfather (1980) - Oceans of polyester, roller-skating, and indiscriminate use of neon make this film one of the leading culprits in the death of disco.
6. The Sesame Street Fever LP (1978)- Listen to the disco version of Rubber Duckie; followed closely by the Sesame Disco! LP in 1979
7. The Polka Disco LP (1979) - the two most hated words in music -- brought together for the first (and probably the last) time on this 1979 release from Jimmy Sturr and his orchestra. See it here.
8. Disco Christmas albums - For example, Disco Noel (1979); listen to a track here courtesy of Frank's Vinyl Museum - also see Christmas Disco Party and Christmas Disco below (click to enlarge).
9. The disco version of Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Ronnie Aldrich (1978) - Listen here and pretend your disgusted by it, but secretly love its funky grooves.
10. Can't Stop the Music (1980) - This film starred Steve Guttenberg, Bruce Jenner and The Village People. If you're wondering what's so bad about it, then perhaps you need to read the previous sentence again.
11. Dazzler - Imagine Olivia Newton John, circa "Xanadu", as a Marvel superhero. Now imagine her powers are really, really shitty. You got Dazzler! (Note: by the 1980s, Disco Dazzler had morphed into Flashdance Dazzler)
12. Dance Fever - This show actually outlasted disco, running from 1979 to 1987.
13. Roller Disco -This lame idea was marketed at any and every opportunity. A slew of roller disco movies all came out at once: Xanadu (starring Olivia Newton-John), Roller Boogie (starring Linda Blair), and Skatetown U.S.A.(starring Maureen McCormick).
14. The Saturday Night Fiedler LP- From 1930 to 1979, Boston’s native son Arthur Fiedler conducted the Boston Pops orchestra. Listen to Night on Disco Mountain to hear him piss it all away.
15. "A Fifth of Beethoven" by Walter Murphy (1976). It is my personal belief that the spirit of the great composer placed a curse on disco after the release of this song.
16. Unforgivable Album Covers - Every genre of music has its share of bad album covers, but disco LP's seemed to thrive on buyer displeasure. I wonder how many lines of coke were snorted off the cover of this LP?
17. "Disco Duck" by Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots (1976). "All of a sudden I began to change. I was on the dance floor acting strange. Flapping my arms, I began to cluck. Look at me, I'm the..." MAKE IT STOP!!!!!
18. "Street Player" by Chicago (1979). We can forgive Streisand and Herb Alpert for going disco, but this is where Cetera really began losing street cred. Listen here.
19. As early as November 28, 1976, the warning signs of disco's demise were already appearing on the pilot episode of The Brady Bunch Hour. The fake Jan and the rest of the Bradys dance to "The Hustle" and "Shake Your Booty". Yes, disco had already jumped the shark by the end of '76.
20. Staying Alive (1983)... the final nail in the coffin. Disco R.I.P.