7 Rock Acts Who Went Disco
Sometimes, You Just Gotta Hustle
Disco era – the bane of every rocker’s existence. It was a dark time in rock ‘n roll for the most part because it almost felt as if no other genre mattered except that which allowed you to dance along with your friends on Saturday nights. It was fun and catchy but like a thief in the night, it ruled the radio.
Still, there were bands who resisted and fought against this onslaught. They knew it was fleeting and all they had to do was continue what they were doing. They were rockers and disco had no place in their catalog. They… Oh wait, wrong post.
This is actually about those who did catch the fever and found themselves unable to escape the mania. It’s the classic case of “if you can’t beat em, join ’em” which basically caused die-hard fans to quiver in fear believing that rock ‘n roll was nearing its end. Nevertheless, admit it or not, some of these songs are actually pretty good if you just remove any bias before even hearing them.
Let’s check out these tunes and then decide if it’s worth listening to a second time.
7. The Rolling Stones – “Miss You” (1978)
If we weren’t so passionate about rock ‘n roll and so horrified at the idea of our favorite bands foraying into disco, more people would undoubtedly love this song. It’s groovy and Rolling Stones peppered some kind of magic to make it hypnotic and addicting.
Truth be told, it sounds like something we’d add to our playlist – you don’t have to crucify us for that opinion because by whatever sorcery this is, this tune actually suits the hard rocking boys of Rolling Stones.
“’Miss You’ wasn’t disco disco. Disco records at that time didn’t have guitars much, and they all had shimmering string lines and ooo-eeooo-ee girls. It was influenced by it, but not it. I like that.” – Mick Jagger
For the record, we’re not overly fond of disco either but we know how to appreciate good music when we hear one and we all agreed that “Miss You” isn’t something you’d sweep under the rug.
Did they betray rock because of this record? We don’t think so. And if we had to pick the best disco tunes, this would certainly be in the top 10.
6. Paul McCartney & Wings – “Goodnight Tonight” (1979)
This is one of those songs that fall under the “I shouldn’t like it but I actually do” category. And we’re not even sorry. It’s funky and may not sound like the work of a former Beatle but only Paul McCartney can make a disco song and still blow everyone away with the bass line.
And the flamenco and guitar duel? It can only be the work of a musical genius.
“We decided, ‘No, it isn’t all right; we won’t put it out. So we scrapped the whole thing. And about a week later, I played the record again. I thought, ‘That’s crazy, we’ve made it; it’s stupid, why not put it out! Just because people are going to pan it.’ I liked it, and other people had taken it home and played it to people at parties. So we decided to do it.” – Paul McCartney
Macca was never one to shy away from trying out something new and different. That’s just how he was a songwriter. He may have given in to the disco mania but he got away with it because of his gorgeous and unforgettable melodies.
The only way you can hate the song is if you didn’t even attempt to listen to it.
5. David Bowie – “Let’s Dance” (1983)
What’s disco without some glitter or anything shining and shimmering? And of course, David Bowie couldn’t resist that. Out of all these rockstars who tried dipping their toes into these unfamiliar waters, Bowie was the one that didn’t surprise us at all. In a way, we expected him to succumb to it. But being David Bowie, he did it in grand style. He was never the type to do anything half-baked.
Always up for experimentation, Bowie fully embraced his disco sound. Any open-minded fan would acknowledge that it’s not your typical mediocre tune anyone will forget a few weeks later.
“…the combination of Bowie and Rodgers on the title track was perfect – Bowie’s epic lyric about dancing under ‘serious moonlight’ and the brilliant filching of the crescendo ‘ahh!’s from the Beatles’ version of the Isley Brothers’ ‘Twist and Shout’ were masterstrokes, each welded to a loud, stadium-ised drum and bass sound.” – BBC’s David Quantick
It’s quite underrated and we think more people should listen to it. If you don’t, you’re about to miss out big time.
4. The Clash – “Magnificent Seven” (1983)
The Clash just went from punk to funk – let that sink in. You see, punk’s not dead – they just went and jumped on the disco bandwagon. These boys rebel at any chance they get and the best part is, they don’t care what anyone thinks.
They still wanted to deliver their political and social statements but this time, they did it with a different style. We don’t know about you but The Clash and “rap” don’t even belong in the same sentence.
“The Magnificent Seven” is cool but the dance version didn’t really impress a lot of their fans – some of them still cringe at the thought of it.
“When we came to the U.S., Mick stumbled upon a music shop in Brooklyn that carried the music of Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five, the Sugar Hill Gang…these groups were radically changing music and they changed everything for us.” – Joe Strummer
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and rock snubs will scoff at the slightest mention of this song. We think it’s okay but we’re also glad they didn’t have more of this.
3. Rod Stewart – “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” (1978)
When this came out, people were like “What the heck was he thinking?” And when he decided to remake it this year, we were like “No not again.” You know what, let’s all be honest here. Some of the songs on this list were surprisingly good even for those who aren’t big on disco tunes. But Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” is still confusing for us. It gives us mixed feelings.
He wanted something like The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” and we’re not sure if he’s happy with what he achieved.
“Some regarded disco as the bitter enemy, and wondered what I was doing, consorting with the other side.” – Rod Stewart
It did feel like he just turned his back to rock ‘n roll and fans weren’t having it. It was cheesy and sleazy and disco fans bought it. For the rest of us listeners, we’d love it if he would stop remaking the track. His career would’ve been fine if he never came up with the song in the first place. On the plus side, it was a chart-topper so there’s that.
2. Queen – “Back Chat” (1982)
Like David Bowie, Freddie Mercury probably didn’t want to pass up the chance to go disco not because they have to but because he’s never been the guy you can confine in one genre or style – remember “Bohemian Rhapsody?”
“Back Chat” is from the “Hot Space” album which also contains Queen’s collaboration with David Bowie “Under Pressure.” Obviously, both are danceable tracks and well, they’re groovy enough for every disco-loving fan.
“”Back Chat” is a hot rock-funk tune, with guitar tracks as slick as an icy dance floor.” – The Rolling Stone magazine’s John Milward
Anyone who tries to look for something that remotely resembles rock will only be disappointed. John Deacon made sure to remove any elements of rock which didn’t sit well with Brian May. We totally understand May though – he was probably hesitant to go with something that might get lukewarm reception at best.
Oh and we think the best part in this tune is Freddie Mercury (isn’t he always?) and his infectious enthusiasm. See? The guy could pull off ANYTHING!
1. Kiss – “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” (1979)
KISS is one of those bands who profited from the disco mania. “I Was Made For Loving You” is cheesy, funky and groovy. The KISS Army wasn’t too fond of it but the group still managed to sell more than a million copies thus earning them their second gold.
In case you’re wondering why this was such a huge hit, just take a look at Paul Stanley’s co-writer Desmond Child – the man responsible for other classics like Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” and Aerosmith’s “Crazy.”
“Paul wanted to write a good disco song and I decided to help him with that. Paul started to write lyrics and chords then I played the song on the guitar and said ‘OK, we’ll do something to improve this and make it really a good song.’” – Desmond Child
It’s a no-brainer, really. Disco was the thing back then and KISS decided to capitalize on it. That wasn’t exactly a big deal for a band who sells coffins and lunch boxes with their name on it. It was only a matter of time before they jumped on the bandwagon.