Why Disco still sucks

There’s a part in Frank Zappa’s concert film “Baby Snakes” where he addresses his dismay at Perter Frampton and his recent image change with the song “I’m In You”
In all fairness, Frampton kinda got tricked into taking a sexy pic at the end of a photo shoot and the next thing you know, it’s his next album cover
But the lead in to the Zappa rant started with “Some of you already have those cute little T-shirts on that say DISCO SUCKS. That’s not all that sucks…”
The way it came across to me is that Zappa wasn’t just addressing Disco the music but Disco the industry
Disco the music was usually played by very accomplished session musicians including real live orchestral musicians
Yes kids, there was a day when you had to use real musicians
Not to say that programming is The Devil and it’s not art
Nor am I implying that programming today sounds phony or artificial
But this is the late 70’s and you just couldn’t get away with replicating all of the lush strings of most disco hits of the day
It sounded fake because the technology wasn’t there and the public hadn’t evolved enough to accept it
Most disco was written, recorded, produced and performed very well
I challenge you to listen to Barry White’s “Love Theme” and tell me it sucks based purely on musical merit

No, the issue that both Mr Zappa and I have with disco is the artificiality
Not the trance like (no, not that trance)and amazingly erotic Donna Summer song “I feel Love” featuring Giorgio Moroder’s pulsating alien synth
We’re talking about the artificiality of Disco’s presentation at it’s height
The exploitation that record companies refined during the early 70’s multi-million dollar rape of Rock n’ Roll live on an arena stage was perfected with disco

The thing that temporarily saved rock n’ roll (now just named rock) was that the real musicians of the movement stood up and took some of the spotlight back from all of the pop idols who were mostly singers
Disco had no such strength because, although it was an offshoot of the very real Funk and RnB genres, it was basically a cheap bastardization of the two
There was one basic element that made disco far more exploitable than rock

Dancing

There’s a reason why both Musicians (and White Southern Baptists) are afraid of dancing
It has incredible power to get people to stop thinking and musicians are especially threatened by the fact that dancing takes the focus off the musician and puts it more in the hands of any producer that can get asses wigglin’ on the floor (and as cheap as possible as far as the record company is concerned)
It seems the last time it took a good band to get dancers on the floor was the Jazz era
The televised pop culture of the 50’s effectively ended the need for you to go see a live preformance in order to dance
Of course, Jazz was made popular in the phonograph age and people did dance to records
But the the engine that powered the Jazz hype machine was a giant sounding band
The kids of the 50’s learned about new music from what they saw on TV
A TV that was quicly rcognized as a tool for exploitation
All the lessons learned from that era would be applied to a new dance music
Dance music is inherantly going to be pop music
I don’t care what “DeeJay Douchebag” says about whatever latest mutation they present as so obscure it can’t be pop
If you can dance to it, it is pop music
You can dance to Motorhead and Lemmy would be flattered to be called pop music
Slayer, on the other hand, could never be considered pop and moshing is not dancing
TAlthough,the only thing pop about Slayer is that they have been pandering too much to the fans on the last album
HOWEVER
My personal feelings about Slayer aside…..

If you are making music with the sole intention of making people dance then you are making POP music
This meant that, no matter what skilled session musicians you had on the recording, the only thing the public was going to see when this music appeared on TV was a singer
And singers are a dime a fucking dozen so it is easy to prop up a good looking model for your new musical direction and accompanying fashion trend
What’s different between the Disco poodle (stolen from Frank) in the silver spandex and Teen Dream Rock Hearthtrob?
It was at least implied that teen dream was some sort of musician
After all, they usually had them in front of real live ones (who were unplugged and playing to a tape) in order to insinuate that this was still real music
The exploitation of Disco would benefit from one other major influence
The shallowness of the audience

The mid to late 70’s was perfect for disco because the people who consumed it were, for the most part, interested in Disco as a fashion statement and a vehicle for getting laid
Of course, I am speaking from a male perspective and will grant you that most women jsimply love to dance
Most men dance to get laid
Don’t believe me?
Try to get two straight guys to dance with each other

Taking the focus off musical talent now shifts the focus on the participants results in a form of music that caters exclusively to the individual instead of the group
If you wanted to get chicks in the rock climate of the 70’s, you had to be a fairly decent musician
With disco, all you had to do was be one of 3 things
Good looking, rich enough to buy a complete disco outfit or a good dancer (which is the most admirable of the 3)

What sleazy record executive wouldn’t see gold in them thar hills?

Record companies and image makers have become so all powerful thanks to these empty people
There have always been douchebags and they are an incredibly valuable demographic
Because they tend to be the types with more disposable income than brains or even taste
Since this culture didn’t give a fuck about anything but dancing, dressing up and getting laid then you could put out any kind of shit you wanted as long as there was the appropriate disco doll staring back at you
And you barely noticed that person because you were busy doing the aformentioned 3 activities

So, why do I think that Disco still sucks?
Is it because of the music?
I would say no because the best music from the disco era survived
KC and the Sunshine band, Donna Summer and yes, even the Fucking Bee Gees were all very talented musicians who wrote great songs
No, Disco Sucks because the spirit of everything that was wrong about Disco still lives today
It lives in every marginally talented pop star that looks good in whatever outfit is trendy at the time
It shows itself every time you accept someone lyp synching because “dancing and singing at the same time is just freaking hard” (Tell that to the Jackson Family or Tina and the Ike-ettes)

Disco will always suck as long as there are empty people who put more value on getting laid and dancing than consuming art
There are exceptions like Madonna and Lady Ga Ga and even Justin Timberlake who transcend the pop/dance genre
But, for the most part, there will continue to be a parade of empty cardboard cutouts propped up to compliment the equally empty people in the audience
And
You will always be fed this diet of empty calories by your local DeeJay who is another douchey result of the shift from the musician to the person who presents the music

The lesson that the entertainment industry learned from Disco has now been applied to every possible genre and sub-genre
Even when dancing is not applicable, the Disco mindset is still applicable
Hell, the last time I saw Slayer, they played a video on The Hot Topic/Jagermeister Screen of some Nu-metal Boy Band

And that is why Disco still sucks

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