7 of the Best Disco Songs of the ’70s

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

The Father of Disco, composer/producer Giorgio Moroder, once said, “Disco is music for dancing, and people will always want to dance.” We’ve been dancing to disco music ever since we heard that declaration. So, to properly capture the spirit of disco, we’ve found seven of the best disco tracks from the decade where it first peaked—the 1970s.

1. “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees (1977)

A normal resting heart rate for an adult falls between 60 and 100 beats per minute. The song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees has a tempo of 103 beats per minute. No wonder listening to “Stayin’ Alive” gets your foot tappin’ and hips swingin’—it’s designed to bring excitement to the scene by imitating a rapidly beating heart.

2. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor (1978)

Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” is an anthem for the people. It applies to breakups, female empowerment, and the LGBTQ+ community—a ballad for any and everyone.

At first I was afraid, I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong
And I grew strong
And I learned how to get along
.

3. “Dancing Queen” by ABBA (1976)

If you’re younger or older than 17, never fear, “Dancing Queen” is truly timeless. You are always able to dance and jive—just have the time of your life. Stepping back for a moment, though, we will note that “Dancing Queen” quickly became the Swedish group ABBA‘s most successful single after the band decided to imitate American disco music.

4. “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire (1978)

Do you remember the 21st night of September? No? Well, it was the night our hearts were ringin’ in the key that our souls were singin’.

5. “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (1975)

Coming in hot is another disco track that immortalizes one particular time, one chance encounter. “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” is mesmerizing in both its nostalgia and harmonies by the four-piece from New Jersey.

6. “Le Freak” by Chic (1978)

Ah, freak out! Chic, now known as Nile Rodgers & Chic, created the popular disco track “Le Freak” during a jam session in Bernard Edwards’ apartment. In that original jam session, the refrain “freak out” was “fuck off,” but the former stuck after realizing that the latter just wasn’t a fit for the carefree disco scene. That shift in lyrical approach worked well for Chic, as we well know today.

7. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson (1979)

“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” was Jackson’s first chart-topper that he wrote for himself, and he wrote it for an exceptionally high vocal range. Jackson’s trademark shrills are also heard throughout this track which would become even more successful in Jackson’s subsequent album, Thriller.

Featured photo of the Bee Gees courtesy of Capitol Records

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  1. Well, you got at least two right… Chic’s “Le Freak,” and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” In the Bee Gees’ magnificent opus, I would have picked “Jive Talkin'” as it predates “Stayin’ Alive” and was seminal in bringing disco to a white audience. However, this list makes it obvious that this writer never set foot in a 70s-era disco. Any list that omits The Champs’ “Disco Inferno” is sadly incomplete. Also, FYI, in the earliest days of disco (pre-Saturday Night Fever) one of the most spun records was The Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Running.” Peace.

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