How French duo Daft Punk is reviving black dance music

Break out the mirror ball, disco is back.

The dance music of the 70’s is back in vogue thanks to the success of electronic duo Daft Punk’s latest number one album, Random Access Memories. The album features music from Nile Rodgers, the genius behind classic disco songs on the single, “Get Lucky’’ featuring Pharrell.  The white French artists have embraced disco and have openly declared that artists like Rodgers are big influences on their brand of electronic dance music.

Just as white rock stars are often the most visible champions of older black blues artists, white electronic artists are seen as paying homage to disco more than black musicians. However, with so many R&B songs being infused with dance melodies, why aren’t more black artists embracing disco, a genre created by black artists?

Disco defined a decade

Disco gained popularity in the 1970’s with black DJs like Larry Levan combining soul, funk, and pop into a danceable beat. The music was always a favorite with African-American audiences and was dominated by many black artists, like Rodgers, Gloria Gaynor, and Donna Summer.

Though disco was declared dead in 1980, it still lives on and influenced many European artists in their dance music. Disco’s influence can be heard in house, techno, and other types of dance music made popular in songs by Rihanna and Ne-Yo. However, these artists often work with Norwegian producers like Stargate and overlook the black American artists who created the music that inspired these producers.

Who dropped the Disco ball?

Disco may seem dated to these pop artists, but many disco songs have a sound that makes the music timeless because of its infectious hooks. Songs like “Love to Love You Baby’’ are often sampled or covered because of the lush production values of the songs. Unlike a lot of current dance music, disco utilized live instruments.

Daft Punk member Thomas Bangalter told Pitchfork.com in a recent interview, “Something we love about disco is the idea of playing the same groove over and over again—your brain can tell it’s not a sample that’s being replayed.”

Disco is a genre of music that has a human touch that some may consider to be missing from today’s generation.

What’s next?

Imitation in the music industry is typical.  The success of Daft Punk’s album may lead to more artists having disco-infused dance songs.

Hopefully, black pop artists will get inspiration from artists like Nile Rodgers who revolutionized dance music with excellent guitar hooks, four-on-the-floor beats, and songs that inspired African-American listeners to escape from their problems and dance, dance, dance.