There are some moments in time, some whole decades even, that would arguably be better off left in the past. The fashion choices of the eighties, the hair of the early nineties, that dark period in history where talking to SmarterChild on AIM was an acceptable way to pass the time—these are all periods in history best left to rot in the graveyard of decades past. Some would argue that certain period-specific genres deserve to be relegated to this proverbial scrap heap as well. Perhaps foremost among their hated legions is disco, the love child of the seventies. Repetitive, often seemingly mindless lyrics, catchy beats that embed themselves into the folds of your cerebellum—it isn’t hard to see how to the line between love and hate where disco is concerned would be easy to cross. What is perhaps harder to see is how a genre as solidly stuck in its own decade as disco appears to be could merge successfully with a more progressive genre like EDM—yet merge it has, and with flying, groovy colors.
While disco’s synthetic, worked over sound is by no means a newcomer to techno, electronic, house, etc. it does seem to be creeping up in a number of new albums and tracks in 2016. Justice, always praised (or accused) for their somewhat groovy sound has leaned even more in that direction with their most recent release, Woman, whose tracks like “Randy” and “Safe and Sound” could get even the most die-hard disco purist out on the dancefloor doing the hustle.
Mr. Tophat and Robyn collaborated to release a new single, “Trust Me,” in November of this year, whose spacey sound and dreamy lyrics perfectly encapsulate that particular fog-filled club vibe which is oh so seventies. Throw a disco ball into the occasion and the song practically cries out for a sequined dress, platform heels, and some dangerously generous hoop earrings. Mr. Tophat and Robyn’s new joint EP will be released in full come January. Don’t believe me about the encroaching grasp of disco? The pair even recruited ABBA drummer Per Lindvall for the song, as well as his brother, David Lindvall, who adds some bass to the equation. While we’re a long way off from Donna Summer here, the similarities are evident and produce some arguably catchy results.
In fact, disco-heavy electronic music is by no means a new development—certain groups have always had a twinge of disco funk mixed in with the more contemporary nuances of electronica. Daft Punk in particular comes to mind. Early hits like “Around the World” and “One More Time” can easily be linked back to the seventies. Even more recent tracks and collaborations such as “Instant Crush” off of Random Access Memories, which features vocals by Julian Casablancas of the Strokes, lean subtly towards the repetitive, flashy sound of finger-pointing club anthems from back in the day.
In short, if you happen to have some flared pants in shades of mustard and brown, maybe don’t toss them in the Goodwill bin quite yet. EDM and disco may just be boogying back into the limelight.