The 5 Greatest Disco Songs of the 1970s, Ranked

Disco music was one of the predominant forms of pop music in the 1970s. While subsequent generations made disco songs, the genre never again reached the same level of cultural saturation it did during that decade. Here’s a look at the five best disco songs from the disco decade.

The Bee Gees wearing white
The Bee Gees | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

5. ‘Bad Girls’ by Donna Summer

No discussion of disco would be complete without mentioning the undisputed queen of the genre, Donna Summer. Summer was one of a few to actually make a career out of the genre. Even within that framework, her output was diverse, ranging from the hi-NRG techno of “I Feel Love” to the pseudo-balladry of “Last Dance.”

Summer’s hit “Bad Girls” contains one of her best grooves but it’s also one of her most important songs. She makes being a “bad girl” seem both fun and dangerous at the same time. Female artists from Madonna to Lady Gaga to Tove Lo all owe a debt of gratitude to Summer in general and this song in particular.

4. ‘I Will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor

While Summer inspired a lot of other artists, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” clearly inspired a lot of other songs. While there’d been feminist pop hits before (e.g. Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” and Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain“), Gaynor combined a feminist kiss-off with the uplift of dance music. You can hear echoes of this song in everything from Ariana Grande’s “Break Free” to David Guetta and Sia’s “Titanium.”

3. ‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA

One of the most perfect top 40 hits of all time, ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” has a killer melody and packs a lot of emotion. On one level, “Dancing Queen” is a song about the joys of youth. On another level, it can serve as a nostalgic and somewhat sad callback to one’s teenage years. While “Dancing Queen” is a disco song in the broadest sense, it doesn’t quite sound like any other disco song, making it a unique classic for the ages.

2. ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees

Aside from Summer, the Bee Gees were the genre’s biggest stars. Here they found a rhythm that simultaneously earned them a permanent spot on oldies stations, made John Travolta into a megastar, and made millions forget the band had a career before they started making dance music. As long as there are dance clubs, “Stayin’ Alive” will make people get up and move.

1. ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’ by Michael Jackson

Coming at the tail end of disco’s ubiquity, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” proved Michael Jackson was not just a talented child singer but also an incredible pop songwriter. In fact, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” was the first song he wrote that topped the Billboard Hot 100.

The King of Pop proved he could do everything from hard rock to R&B ballads to Africana rhythms, but “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” remains his most impressive dance number. While we might remember him for the Thriller era first and foremost, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” proves his Off the Wall era was just as worthy.