Musical styles always build on the past to a certain extent, lending beats and melodies like a sort of genre-blending musical roundtable that grows over time.
Music has always had epoch-defining sounds—but in recent decades, it’s been more of a borrowing game than ever, with country music featuring rap verses and rock music edging into mainstream pop.
And, in 2017, alternative-rock appears to be taking its cues from ’70s disco jams. One would assume electronic music is the evolution of disco, but that isn’t the case—The Chainsmokers, David Guetta and artists alike becoming too mellow to be linked to the upbeat genre, and alternative radio has found refuge in 4/4.
From The Killers to Arcade Fire and more, alt-rock bands are leading audiences to places they didn’t know they wanted to go with fun, Saturday Night Fever-inspired rock. Although the comparison seems odd at first, the blending of these two genres actually makes a lot of sense.
Take a side-by-side look at some of contemporary alt-rock’s biggest hits and their disco-ey counterparts.
“The Man” – The Killers vs. “Easy Evil” John Travolta
The Killers’ new single “The Man” strutted onto the scene this summer like a 1978 bell-bottom-wearing John Travolta. With a growling synth hook and Brandon Flowers’ croon, “The Man” could easily have been played 30 years ago in a disco club under the neon lights.
“Everything Now” – Arcade Fire vs. “Dancing Queen” – ABBA
Arcade Fire have previously said their latest album, Everything Now is inspired by ABBA, and when you put the album’s title track next to “Dancing Queen,” the similarities are uncanny. Being one of the most famous disco tracks ever, “Dancing Queen” lends its glitter, pulse and manic hook to Arcade Fire for a much different flavour than 2013’s Reflektor.
“J-Boy” – Phoenix vs. “Heart of Glass” – Blondie
French alt-rockers Phoenix are deemed as one of the first to lead the 2017 disco trend with their album Ti Amo. The LP plays right into the groove, beats and rhythm’s of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”—one of the most beloved dance songs of its decade.
“Hot Thoughts” – Spoon vs. “Everybody Dance” – Chic
Spoon’s frisky Hot Thoughts is the Texas quartet’s most sonically inventive album to date. With their once-piercing guitar chopped up like that of Nile Rodgers, the title track has hints of a slower, rougher version of Chic’s disco classic “Everybody Dance.”
“Carolina” – Harry Styles vs. “Rebel Rebel” – David Bowie
No one could ever fill the shoes of pop culture icon David Bowie, but Harry Styles’ debut solo album has us feeling very Aladdin Sane. The former One Direction member brings a Bowie-esque vibe to his album with comparable ballads and bangers.