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Thread: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

   
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    Default Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    I just read about this:

    Back in the summer of 1979, the Detroit rock radio DJ Steve Dahl was so aggrieved that his beloved Stones and Zeppelin were being dropped from playlists in favour of Village People, Donna Summer and Chic, that he launched his "Disco sucks!" campaign. Dahl encouraged listeners to phone in their disco requests, which he would then destroy on air with explosive sound effects. "Midwesterners didn't want that intimidating [disco] style shoved down their throats," said Dahl.
    What began as on-air mischief soon snowballed into an anti-disco movement. Joined by a failed rock guitarist called Steve Veek, Dahl took "Disco sucks!" public when Veek secured the use of Comiskey Park, the home of the Chicago White Sox that was owned by his father. In July 1979, Dahl announced that anyone in possession of a disco record would receive cheap entry to the next White Sox home game.
    Instead of the usual 16,000 fans, an unprecedented 59,000 turned up. Joined by baseball fans, they proceeded to storm the pitch, where they smashed and burned their Bee Gees vinyl. "They wore Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath T-shirts," writes Knopper, then a 13-year-old disco-hater "smashed bottles on the ground, smoked God knows what and chanted their almighty rallying cry: 'Disco sucks'!"
    If that's not enough to turn you into a disco fan, then I don't know what is. The unspoken subtext was obvious: disco music was for homosexuals and black people. Not only that, but, as Knopper notes, in the disco era "to make it with a lady a guy had to learn how to dance. And wear a fancy suit!"
    It wasn't real concerns such as the threat of war or the loss of jobs that inspired this hate-fest, but something far more malevolent ingrained in rock fans' collective psyche. What should have been harmless insurrection became a demolition rally for hard-rocking, middle American, predominantly white dudes with dubious taste. "It's incredible that rock fans would actually riot for the right to hear REO Speedwagon and Foreigner," Knopper writes.
    In the short term, this disco backlash worked. Records sales bolstered by disco's glory days of 1974 to the Saturday Night Fever-fuelled high of 1978 fell by 11% in 1979, and the major US record labels began to look elsewhere for cash cows: to hard rock, new wave and power-pop fluff.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musi...18/disco-sucks

    It was also mentioned in that latest Billboard article about Thriller:

    If that prognosis wasn't enough to give CBS Records executives sleepless nights, one aspect of radio's fragmentation was particularly scary: Since the start of the decade, black music had been increasingly banished from most white-targeted radio stations. This was partially due the virulent, reactionary anti-disco backlash that resulted in the implosion of that genre at the end of 1979. As the 80's dawned, programmers increasingly stayed clear of rhythm-driven black music out of fear of being branded "disco," even when the black music in question bore little resemblance to disco.
    http://www.billboard.com/features/mi...08031662.story



    Michael's OTW was released exactly the summer of 1979 and it still was a successful album, but reading about this I wonder how much more successful it would have been if disco has not become so uncool by the time?

    Is this anti-disco sentiment of the time maybe the reason why OTW was so overlooked at next year's Grammys? Is it maybe the reason that such gems as Can You Feel It and especially Heartbreak Hotel (which is IMO a genius composition) did not become more successful in the US?

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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    The song, "Heart of Glass" was a disco song (beginnings of New Wave, too) in January 1979 and was pretty popular and made Deborah Harry and the group Blondie household names!



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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    Interesting topic. You could be right Respect. Personally I always felt the anti disco movement had more to do with racism, a word I seldom use. Sure there were groups like the Bee Gees singing disco, but I noticed that most of the records were coming from African American artists. They were getting a lot of air play; we were dancing to their songs at the disco--all races. Disco to me changed the social/entertainment dynamic in that "Friday Nights" became more than simple going to the club to dance. With disco, "Friday nights" became a craze--there were dance competitions, and your attire down to your shoes, had to be appropriate. No jeans and sneakers. To me, no other music going on at that time caused this type of social change in the clubs.

    Such a climate would cause some negative feelings from mainstream rock who had always felt that they should be the lead music in the country. When Michael did Off The Wall, disco was out the door, and I think he knew it which is why Off The Wall is not a "heavy" disco album. Some may find that album to be a disco album, but to me in that album he tried to experiment with different sounds, because he knew a straight disco sound was not the way to go anymore. I remember in his book, Michael commented that the J5 were becoming an oldie group and he was still a teen. This shows that he was always thinking ahead to get new sounds and try to stay ahead of the fads. I hope my ramble makes sense.

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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    Quote Originally Posted by AliCat View Post
    The song, "Heart of Glass" was a disco song (beginnings of New Wave, too) in January 1979 and was pretty popular and made Deborah Harry and the group Blondie household names!


    The Disco Demoliton Night which marked the beginning of the Disco Sucks! "movement" was in July 1979. OTW was released in August.

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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    Quote Originally Posted by Petrarose View Post
    Interesting topic. You could be right Respect. Personally I always felt the anti disco movement had more to do with racism, a word I seldom use. Sure there were groups like the Bee Gees singing disco, but I noticed that most of the records were coming from African American artists. They were getting a lot of air play; we were dancing to their songs at the disco--all races. Disco to me changed the social/entertainment dynamic in that "Friday Nights" became more than simple going to the club to dance. With disco, "Friday nights" became a craze--there were dance competitions, and your attire down to your shoes, had to be appropriate. No jeans and sneakers. To me, no other music going on at that time caused this type of social change in the clubs.

    Such a climate would cause some negative feelings from mainstream rock who had always felt that they should be the lead music in the country. When Michael did Off The Wall, disco was out the door, and I think he knew it which is why Off The Wall is not a "heavy" disco album. Some may find that album to be a disco album, but to me in that album he tried to experiment with different sounds, because he knew a straight disco sound was not the way to go anymore. I remember in his book, Michael commented that the J5 were becoming an oldie group and he was still a teen. This shows that he was always thinking ahead to get new sounds and try to stay ahead of the fads. I hope my ramble makes sense.
    I was a baby at the time and I'm not American, so I'm just starting to get familiar with the mood and atmosphere at the time. My interest in it was raised by that Billboard article, which I found pretty interesting in terms of giving a cultural context for Thriller and why it was such a significant album culturally, socially.

    Yeah, many say that there was an underlying racism, sexism and homphobia behind the "Disco Sucks!" movement since disco music was usually associated with black people and women and gay people also tended to prefer it to rock. Also there were a lot more female performers in disco. While rock was rather a "white males' music". But last night I have also read some rock forums where there was talk about the subject and based on that I think it's simplicistic and probably unfair to think that all those guys went out there with a racist agenda. Their POV is that disco was everywhere at the time, you just couldn't escape it and for those who did not like it it became too much. Also to date and pick up women guys had to go out to clubs and dance, and for these white kids who weren't into dancing or couldn't dance the whole thing became threatening as they started to feel socially left out.

    You are right though that OTW did not irritate them that much as other disco records. In fact, on those rock forums OTW is often brought up as an example for a good disco record (one even called it brilliant). Quality music is quality music, no matter what genre - and anyone who is not fanatically biased against a style can see that. You are also right that OTW doesn't sound like a Bee Gees record or anything that was popular disco music at the time. It was more R&B, soul and even jazz than those.

    On the other hand, according to the facts cited by the Billboard article the "Disco Sucks" movement did set back black music in general, not just disco music, and many radios and also MTV at the beginning refused to play black music in fear of being labelled "disco". Apparently for those people any rhythm-centered dancable music was "disco" even if it was not. So even if not everyone who supported it had a racist agenda, eventually it did result in artificially establishing "white hegemony" for a while in pop culture. That is until Thriller came along.

    Here is a video of that "Disco Demolition Night"

    Last edited by respect77; 09-12-2012 at 08:51 AM.

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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    I've said it before i'll say it again, rock music fans are the snobbiest most pretentious of all music fans. Obviously not everyone etc and i don't like making generalizations, but for most of them this is the case, certainly in my experience. Most of their music is so poor anyway, it's just insecurity talking through actions. The whole concept of it feeds self obsession over imagery and lifestyle, i try and stay away from all that attitude, it's just pathetic.

    I don't think it's to do with racism at all, i think it's more the fact they just think they're better than everyone else and they live the correct way to live.
    Last edited by MJultimatemusiclegen; 09-12-2012 at 08:12 PM.

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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    Respect you know I admire you greatly and think you have a brilliant mind, but for me the basic problem was racism and I do not consider it simplistic after doing some serious graduate clases on ethnic/cultural studies even in music. It was the first time that, this specific segment of the population that we are talking about was making such an impact culturally in the music world. I have heard the excuses about guys having to go to clubs to find dates and they could not dance/disco spoiled music, etc. That is all excuses thought up by a certain segment of the population, vocalized, and copied by others. What was to prevent the guys who could not dance from going to the club and ask a girl to dance once, then take her to a corner to get to know her, or go outside where it is quiet, or buy her a drink rather than dance, or exchange numbers, which is what I saw in the clubs and still continues among guys who cannot dance. Further, the majority of people have never met their mates at clubs, so that argument about the guys who could not dance is laughable.

    Now that I am older I go to the bar where there is music. The same things happen: either a guy comes up to buy you a drink/ask for your number/scream at you because the music is loud/walk you to the sidewalk to talk quietly and the new ones--ask for your facebook page/ask you if you text. All these things happen to me, so what prevented guys from doing this before, minus the facebook/text part?

    Of course I understand some will not like disco; some can't sing that way; but when they is a campaign against music people can't sing or do not like something is wrong with the picture. Many people cannot sing country or do not like it, and I do not see any big campaign to stop it. Of course some might say that country and western did not take over the music scene, but anyway it is a form of music that many people find annoying.

    Multimate I agree that many rock lovers feel this is the mainstream music. I also find this elitist attitude among some who love classical music, even though I love classical music too. Many people listen to only classical and find other forms of music inferior and I have heard them say so.

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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    Quote Originally Posted by MJultimatemusiclegen View Post
    I've said it before i'll say it again, rock music fans are the snobbiest most pretentious of all music fans. Obviously not everyone etc and i don't like making generalizations, but for most of them this is the case, certainly in my experience. Most of their music is so poor anyway, it's just insecurity talking through actions. The whole concept of it feeds self obsession over imagery and lifestyle, i try and stay away from all that attitude, it's just pathetic.

    I don't think it's to do with racism at all, i think it's more the fact they just think they're better than everyone else and they live the correct way to live.
    There are folks who will approach any genre of music with an elitist attitide. Not exclusive to any genre by any means. However, you're perpetuating that same attitude by saying "Most of their music is so poor anyway."

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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    Quote Originally Posted by cmstrike View Post
    There are folks who will approach any genre of music with an elitist attitide. Not exclusive to any genre by any means. However, you're perpetuating that same attitude by saying "Most of their music is so poor anyway."
    I know what you're saying, but in my experience i really have found it to be by far the worst amongst rock fans.



    And Petrarose, i do classical, i play in 5 orchestras (not full time), and it can be a problem, but i've found it to not be as bad as Rock, i think in classical it used to be worse in the past than it is today. I also play and love jazz, but it's really bad in Jazz the whole elitism thing. My order from my own experience of elitism is Rock, Jazz, Classical, and then everything else. Yes it might come across a bit in my own writing, but i actually understand music to a level to at least be able to create constructive arguments. I would never attack another genre unprovoked, but eventually after enough swipes you end up resorting to little jabs yourself, for which is a little silly i know. I actually don't mind rock music, it's ok imo i like some of it, it's the attitude of a lot of rock fans i've come across in the past thats caused this really, that distinction is important to make.
    Last edited by MJultimatemusiclegen; 10-12-2012 at 12:31 AM.

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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    Quote Originally Posted by MJultimatemusiclegen View Post
    I've said it before i'll say it again, rock music fans are the snobbiest most pretentious of all music fans. Obviously not everyone etc and i don't like making generalizations, but for most of them this is the case, certainly in my experience. Most of their music is so poor anyway, it's just insecurity talking through actions. The whole concept of it feeds self obsession over imagery and lifestyle, i try and stay away from all that attitude, it's just pathetic.

    I don't think it's to do with racism at all, i think it's more the fact they just think they're better than everyone else and they live the correct way to live.
    I somewhat agree with you that it wasn't about racism, but about rock fans being a bit "stuck up", and I don't mean to say all of them, but some.
    Usually it is not even the bands or musicians, but fans that are stuck up. Usually there is a mutual respect between musicians, its the fans that are creating arguments over nothing:-)

    If there is a poll where people can vote for their favourite, for example MJ, The Beatles or Elvis, and if you read comments from rock fans, you'll see their funny sense of superiority when they talk about Elvis or The Beatles against MJ, after all The Beatles and Elvis were singing rock, and MJ just pop


    @Respect, I read it somewhere (could've been wiki?) that the reason why disco was killed because some rock fans in the radio thought it was taking money out of rock musicians
    If that was the reason, they should have thought why people listened rather disco than rock, after all maybe it was because rock sucked that time

    I hate that sort of carrying on, I want to decide myself what I want to listen, not some idiot on the radio telling that some music it not for my ears. It is/was nothing but one form of bullying and Steve Dahl (DJ who started it) has nothing to be proud off, quite opposite.

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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/DzBUEutADF0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    .....

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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    I didn´t know there was a disco sucks movement.

    You can say this is an anti-disco song...you can read why in the lyrics
    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/RHoP8FWgdOE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


    This rather small floor, here we are you and me, the crowds and smoke.
    Oh, almost noon, in the head, it is around a murmur out light.
    It's called disco, we move a little on two meters distance
    Oh, é a weird game, you can hardly find each other, stop, what I want.

    Hug you, Oh
    (may I ask you and hug me)
    Mmm, I want to hold you.
    (why must it be like this)
    Ooh, why é it this way.
    (when I just want to hug you, answer me)

    Here you stand like a fool, and bounce up and down, you see nothing.
    Oh, the music's din, I try to get what I want, again.

    Hug you, yes I want
    (may I ask you and hug me)
    Mmm, I want to hold you.
    (why must it be so here)
    Ooh, why é it this way.
    (when I just want to hug you, answer me)

    I want to hug you
    (may I ask you and hug me)
    ooh, I want to hold you.
    (why must it be like this
    Ooh, (when I just want to hug you)
    I want to hug you I want to hug you
    (answer me)

    I just had to post Frank Zappa, I used to dance to this
    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/unDWTZwaZS8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    "How much did I really know about life on earth? What responsibility did I feel for creatures outside my little space?
    How could I lead my life so that every cell of living matter was also benefited?" Michael Jackson
    "Love no violence ever, remember a beautiful future promise of tomorrow "MJ

    http://youtu.be/sPJV7aw0cak
    stop the killing of pets. Save lifes,spay and neuter your pets
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQsgJ...cvloPsmq1YvNRg
    Adopt from an animalshelter

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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?




    Diana Ross' "Upside Down" (1980).
    Crossover appeal
    Disco's popularity led many non-disco artists to record disco songs at the height of its popularity. Many of their songs were not "pure" disco, but were instead rock or pop songs with (sometimes inescapable) disco influence or overtones.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco

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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    Quote Originally Posted by Petrarose View Post
    Respect you know I admire you greatly and think you have a brilliant mind, but for me the basic problem was racism and I do not consider it simplistic after doing some serious graduate clases on ethnic/cultural studies even in music. It was the first time that, this specific segment of the population that we are talking about was making such an impact culturally in the music world. I have heard the excuses about guys having to go to clubs to find dates and they could not dance/disco spoiled music, etc. That is all excuses thought up by a certain segment of the population, vocalized, and copied by others. What was to prevent the guys who could not dance from going to the club and ask a girl to dance once, then take her to a corner to get to know her, or go outside where it is quiet, or buy her a drink rather than dance, or exchange numbers, which is what I saw in the clubs and still continues among guys who cannot dance. Further, the majority of people have never met their mates at clubs, so that argument about the guys who could not dance is laughable.

    Now that I am older I go to the bar where there is music. The same things happen: either a guy comes up to buy you a drink/ask for your number/scream at you because the music is loud/walk you to the sidewalk to talk quietly and the new ones--ask for your facebook page/ask you if you text. All these things happen to me, so what prevented guys from doing this before, minus the facebook/text part?

    Of course I understand some will not like disco; some can't sing that way; but when they is a campaign against music people can't sing or do not like something is wrong with the picture. Many people cannot sing country or do not like it, and I do not see any big campaign to stop it. Of course some might say that country and western did not take over the music scene, but anyway it is a form of music that many people find annoying.

    Multimate I agree that many rock lovers feel this is the mainstream music. I also find this elitist attitude among some who love classical music, even though I love classical music too. Many people listen to only classical and find other forms of music inferior and I have heard them say so.
    I think there are many faces of racism. And sometimes even those who "practice it" do not realize that what they say or do is a racist attitude. In that sense, yes, I agree that much of the "Disco Sucks!" movement was racist. I do not necessarily think though that each and every kid that went there was consciously racist. What I mean by subconscious racist attitudes is that, for example in this case, rock fans (ie. mainly white males) thought that their music, culture and taste HAD to be the dominant music, culture and taste. And everything else sucked, everything else is inferior.

    It's interesting that MJultimatemusiclegen brought up the elitism of rock fans. I agree with him. While there is snobism in every genre, but my experience too is that I see the most snobism in rock fans in popular music. Heck, those music magazines, Rolling Stone, NME etc. are the prime examples of that! And I do feel that RS, for example is a racist magazine in the subconscious way I talked about above. That the music that is generally closer to white people's tastes is usually held in much higher regard. They may not do it deliberately (or maybe they do, who knows?) But the assumption that "white taste" should be dominant and be held in higher regard is inherently there.

    (It's hard to talk about such things without the risk of generalizing though. I'm white and I always preferred soul, R&B to rock. Obviously there are black people who like rock. Just think of Jimi Hendrix. Michael himself did a couple of rock songs and he was a fan of Led Zeppelin as I heard. And actually music should not have racial or any kind of boundaries (and I think this was exactly Michael's point when he went rock). On the other hand, it's a fact that white people tend to prefer rock and black people soul, R&B, hip-hop. So that's the sense I talked about "white taste". Not that each and every single white person likes rock.)
    Last edited by respect77; 11-12-2012 at 10:42 AM.

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    Default Re: Did the 1979 "Disco Sucks" movement affect Michael?

    I think that there have been plenty of pop bands like a-ha, Tears For Fears, Duran Duran, The Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode who have put out songs that are just as good, if not better than all the rock bands out there.

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