The Top Ten Worst Disco Songs of All Time

The worst disco songs that charted during the music's 70s heyday

Worst disco songs? To some, all disco songs are the worst, because to call the original disco movement of the Seventies a phenomenon would be putting it mildly: it swept the nation like nothing since the birth of rock and roll and, worse, threatened to take its place for a while. And, like rock and roll, the mania inspired a lot of creativity, some outright hatred, and a truckload of ridiculous novelties. Unlike the '50s, however, 70s novelty records were a little too self-conscious, meaning that some of the entries in the hall of shame aren't even fun enough to be stupid. Let the accusations fly...

The campiest of all disco numbers, this one (co-written and produced by Bob Crewe of Four Seasons fame, if you can believe that) starts strong, with a royal horn fanfare, then somehow dissolves into what sounds like a cross between Ruby Keeler and a Sixties sitcom theme. Lead singer Monte Rock III has a grand old time playing it up ("My chiffon is wet," he demurs when asked to dance again, "My wig is wet, I am tired") but it's not enough to save this silliness. Dance records live and die by the groove.

Elton loved Philly Soul, but gay or not, he seemed to have disdain for disco itself. Or at least it seems that way from this ghastly attempt at a career comeback. Performers are forced to do things they hate more often than they let on, but there aren't many career mistakes where you can actually hear the boredom and loathing bleeding through the verses. This is one of them. It's also proof that producer Giorgio Moroder couldn't fix everything.

Smokey was, of course, not the only talent in the Miracles. But it says something that this was the only big hit they could muster up without him: there's a lot of grunting and puffing here, standing in for sexual excitement, but not much real heat. How this song managed to make it to Number One, riding the wave of a thousand other songs which did its act better, is anyone's guess. Name recognition, perhaps?

ABBA proved effectively that Europopsters could make sense of disco by tapping into the glamour, if not quite kitsch, of the movement. But this strange hit is paralyzed by culture shock -- where "Dancing Queen" feels glittery and liberating, this feels like a particularly icky Eurotrash seduction, and one with a pronounced accent. "Boogie-woogie" should not have a dozen long o's in it.

Seemingly every fading rock and roll star rushed to put out a "discofied" version of their signature song in the late Seventies; the movement was that big and pervasive. But as simple as disco's beat is, the melodies always require room to breathe, and this oldie but semi-goodie was never that thrilling a number to begin with. Frankie got a lot more mileage just progressing to the next lower level, parody, and singing "Beauty School Drop-Out" in Grease.

Another good/bad example of why the disco-as-vaudeville thing never took off, this semi-hit didn't have enough presence to be campy; anonymous vocals simply don't work with a personality-driven song like this one. Maybe some child star could have breathed life into it, but there weren't any Shirley Temples hanging around Studio 54, either. More »

There's a big difference between enigmatic and just plain lazy, and this second hit from the session group that gave us "Fly Robin Fly" proves that in spades. Beginning with an almost identical beat, this bird refuses to take off, spinning its wheels in a plodding groove broken up very occasionally by the title. How lame is this supposed dance number? Snuggie now uses it to sell their cultish blanket robes, with the occasional non sequitur exclamation of "boogie!" replaced by "Snuggie!" Then again, folks with long memories are the only target audience for this song. More »

A mainstay of Southern Soul in the Sixties, Joe Tex had already engineered a comeback with the funk classic "I Gotcha" in 1972, but five years later, the best he could do for a chart return was this limp novelty, which sounds a lot funnier than it is. Joe gets knocked down by a heavy woman who wants to do the bump, a popular dance of the time that consisted mainly of slamming the side of your rump into someone else's, and then... nothing. Tex spends another five minutes over a subdued groove trying to work up a heat, with only flop sweat to show for it.

Disco was, almost from the beginning, seen in some corners as a chance to recapture the glory days of ballroom dancing, big bands, and the attendant Latin craze which influenced both. So an instrumental of the "I Love Lucy" theme made some sense on paper. But once again, the execution was cheesy in the extreme: with a chorus of singers adding "Dance! Dance! Disco Lucy!" to the mix, one couldn't help but imagine Lucille Ball -- then nearing 70 -- trying to boogie the night away. It wasn't happening. More »

A novelty song that routinely makes the list of not only worst disco songs, but worst songs of all time, "Disco Duck" was the brainchild of then-unknown Memphis DJ Rick Dees. Memphis was a hotbed of mid-70s disco, and had a rich funk and dance novelty history, so the idea wasn't necessarily a horrible one. But getting buddy Ken Pruitt to make like Donald Duck was; it took three months to find anyone willing to record the song. Reviled as it became -- especially as disco took back off in 1978 and it returned to the public consciousness -- it made Dees' career. Worse, he followed this up with a flop called... "Disgorilla." Ouch. More »