Monday, February 04, 2008

2008 Year of Disco?

Friday Project blogger Scott Pack has recently started a "music club" where half a dozen people share CDs. I was too late to join, but probably for the best, since looking at the tracklistings so far, its all a bit Uncut magazine for me. For like it or not, 2008 is turning out to to be the year of disco. There's four great disco records in this weeks top ten - Kelly Rowland's "Work", Britney Spear's "Piece of Me", Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music", and Hot Chip's "Ready for the Floor" (and doesn't it sound a bit like peak-era OMD?). And they're not just disco - they're that very New York-style electronic disco reminiscent of Arthur Russell's Loose Joints classic "Is it all over my face?" or Shannon's "Let the Music Play." Yet, disco remains a music that people turn up their noses at. My favourite record last year was Robyn's "With Every Heartbeat", and that and her 2 follow ups were disco through and through as well; yet I was at a party the other week for some slightly older friends, (who'd have been around during the disco heyday), and though they loved the reggae, soul, glam, pop and rock I'd put on the tape, they turned up their noses at Candi Staton's immense "Young Hearts Run Free." Perhaps too many disco records have been pulled down by the cheesiness of their use? Or maybe a music that's so obviously just about dancing won't ever be taken seriously. I remember reading the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock years ago, and the disco chapter is almost apologetic - so big a movement that it can't be missed out, but always slightly tongue-in-cheek, a little too gay, a little too black, a little too pop to be taken seriously. Yet in many ways disco - then, and now - is pop and soul and dance music and r&b when it gets it right on every front. Hot Chip are indie darlings, but could have stayed in their bedrooms playing obscure white labels for each other; Kelly Rowland's the other one out of Destiny's Child. Disco, primarily a producers music demands hits, not albums, and I think just as its heyday was in that uncertain period between opulence and decadence that was the mid-seventies, perhaps our current economic period - teetering on bust, whilst still gorging on boom - is a perfect time for disco to take us away from all our troubles; and whilst then it was the 12" maxisingle that threatened the life sapping hegemony of the concept album, perhaps its all the perfect music for the download/youtube era. Four records don't make a scene I guess - and the current number one, the rave-lite (or should that be disco?) of Basshunter is hardly great art - but the great thing about dance music is that it copies whatever's hit the month before, and right about now, its the best kind of electronic disco music we've heard since the golden days of house. Rave on.

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