1979, Music

Bad Girls (1979) by Donna Summer

I do not like disco. I do not like disco for both intellectual reasons and emotional ones. My intellectual reasons? Disco, to me, sounds like robotic, neutered, safe funk where everything musically interesting within funk has been abandoned to emphasize repetitiveness and sameness. My emotional reasons are more complex. I am pretty self-reflective and can usually identify at least some of the moments in my childhood that caused my adult neuroses, but I don’t know why I don’t like to dance, I just know I do. I will dance if I have to, but only to slow songs. Otherwise, I need a ton of alcohol to remove the strong inhibition I have. I don’t know why that is – I don’t remember being made fun of anything when I danced as a child – but I do know it makes me find dance music extremely boring. So yeah, I don’t like disco.

But, as with other forms of music I don’t like, I’m trying to give disco its due, I’m trying to be fair to it. I’m doing this because I understand that lots of other people like disco, and it’s even made a bit of a comeback in the last decade or so. (Something teenage me would have thought was just the worst thing.)

There are a few things about this very long disco record that I think make it probably better than a lot of disco records (not that I know):

  • First of all, Donna Summer is a great performer. If you’ve ever heard any of her hits, you know that. But this is 70+ minutes of proof that she is. A lesser singer would likely make this more of a slog.
  • Second, it’s relatively diverse. It’s not all disco, there are soul ballads and the odd other thing, which keeps it from getting monotonous.
  • Third, the material is (I assume) better than average for the genre, as a lot of it is pretty catchy even if the lyrics are pretty inane (though some of them are risque for the era) and it’s pretty remarkable to have this much catchy material on a double album. It’s a pretty quick listen for 71 minutes, to my ears.
  • Finally, it’s well made. The most impressive thing to me is how the early disco tracks bleed into each other. This is an idea I’ve always liked and it seems to make far more sense in a genre like disco than other genres. You could put the A side of this record on at a club and not have to do anything else until you need to flip it, because the music never stops. Then you could do the same thing with side B. After that they stop doing it but it’s cool concept that appeals to me on an intellectual level when the music is not.

So I think this is probably a pretty good disco record as far I know.


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