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Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording

The Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording was an award presented at the 22nd Grammy Awards in 1980. The Grammy Awards, an annual ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards,[1] are presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position".[2]

Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording
Awarded forQuality disco recordings
CountryUnited States
Presented byNational Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
First awarded1980
Last awarded1980

Gloria Gaynor and producers Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren won the Best Disco Recording award for the song "I Will Survive". However, because of a backlash against disco, the Academy discontinued the category before the 23rd Grammy Awards. In 1998, a similar category, Best Dance Recording, began being awarded to honor vocal or instrumental dance tracks, though there were concerns that the genre would be short-lived much like the disco category.



Disco is a genre of dance music that emerged in the United States during the 1970s.[3] The experimental mixing of records, combined with the newly acquired ability to play longer tracks, resulted in a genre well-suited for dance parties. During 1973–74, MFSB's "Love Is the Message" displayed "early rumblings of the disco sound", and shortly afterward the songs "Never Can Say Goodbye" by Gloria Gaynor, "The Hustle" by Van McCoy, and "Love to Love You Baby" by Donna Summer emerged.[3] In 1977, the opening of Studio 54 in Manhattan, and the success of the film Saturday Night Fever (which featured John Travolta and music by the Bee Gees), added to the popularity of the disco genre. The following year, Paradise Garage opened in Manhattan's West Village, the New York radio station WKTU became "all-disco", and the number of discothèques in the nation reached nearly 20,000.[3] At the 21st Grammy Awards in 1979, Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track, was named Album of the Year and the Bee Gees received the award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for their contributions to the soundtrack album.[4][5] By the end of 1979, the disco industry was estimated to be worth more than $4 billion, "more ... than the industries of movies, television or professional sport".[6]

However, the disco fad soon began to decline. On July 12, 1979, just a few months after Newsweek had reported on the "[take] over" of disco music, a "tongue-in-cheek" promotional event known as Disco Demolition Night was held at Chicago's Comiskey Park.[7] During a doubleheader intermission, disc jockey Steve Dahl set ablaze a bin full of disco records, causing a riot within the stadium and gaining international attention.[6][8][9] Approximately 10,000 disco records were destroyed, and around 50,000 rioters participated in the event, staying on the field forcing the Chicago White Sox to forfeit the second game.[10]

Nationally, a "backlash" took hold, as public support for disco music faded.[6][11] According to author Craig Werner, as quoted in the British newspaper The Independent, the "anti-disco movement represented an unholy alliance of funkateers and feminists, progressives and puritans, rockers and reactionaries. None the less, the attacks on disco gave respectable voice to the ugliest kinds of unacknowledged racism, sexism and homophobia."[6] By 1980 "mainstream disco" had ended, by 1985 WKTU had returned to playing rock music, and by the end of the decade the famous dance venues Studio 54, Paradise Garage, and Clubhouse had all closed.[3]


1980 award winner Gloria Gaynor, in 1976

In 1979, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences decided to add a Best Disco Recording category for the 22nd Grammy Awards, just as disco was "preparing to die".[11] Nominated works for the award included "Boogie Wonderland" by Earth, Wind & Fire, "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" by Michael Jackson, "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" by Rod Stewart, and "Dim All the Lights" by Donna Summer.[11][12] On February 27, 1980, during a live telecast from Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Gaynor was presented the award for Best Disco Recording.[12] Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren also received awards as the producers of the track.[4][13]

However, because of the decreasing popularity of disco, the Academy eliminated the award category before the 1981 ceremony was to be held.[11] According to the organization, disco was "no longer a readily definable separate music form", although its influence had "permeated all types of pop music".[14] Despite the award's short span, the award helped solidify Gaynor as one of the best-known female disco artists from the 1970s and the song "I Will Survive" as one of the most recognized and top-selling songs from the genre.[15][16]

Another dance category did not emerge until 1998 when the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording began to honor vocal or instrumental dance tracks,[17] though there were concerns that the award would be short-lived much like the disco category.[18] In 2003, the Academy moved the category from the "Pop" field into a new "Dance" field, which currently contains the category Best Electronica/Dance Album as well.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Grammy Awards at a Glance". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
  2. ^ "Overview". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on January 3, 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d "As the Ball Turns". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. December 16, 2007. pp. 1–2. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Of Note". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. December 28, 2004. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  5. ^ "Grammy Awards: Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group". Rock on the Net. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d "Disco inferno". The Independent. December 11, 2004. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  7. ^ "Disco night in Chicago a 'turn-on'". Sarasota Journal. Sarasota, Florida. July 13, 1979. p. 1C. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
  8. ^ Lapointe, Joe (July 4, 2009). "The Night Disco Went Up in Smoke". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  9. ^ "Fans Have A Blast In Chicago". The Gettysburg Times. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. July 13, 1979. p. 13. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
  10. ^ Williams, Stephen (February 27, 2005). "Burn, baby, burn: Disco inferno at the library". The Boston Globe. The New York Times Company. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c d ""I Will Survive" wins the first—and last—Grammy ever awarded for Best Disco Recording". History. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  12. ^ a b "Grammys Draw a Variety of Nominees". The Hour. Norwalk, Connecticut. January 11, 1980. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  13. ^ "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 4, 2010. Note: User must select the "Disco" category as the genre under the search feature.
  14. ^ Arar, Yardena (January 14, 1981). "Streisand, Sinatra head conservative Grammy nomination list". Anchorage Daily News. Anchorage, Alaska: The McClatchy Company. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  15. ^ "Gloria Gaynor". allmusic. All Media Guide. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  16. ^ "Gloria Gaynor still survives". The Age. Melbourne, Australia: Fairfax Media. April 15, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  17. ^ "49th Annual Grammy Awards Winners List". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on December 20, 2006. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  18. ^ "Grammys finally realize dance music will survive". Sun Journal. Lewiston, Maine: Sun Media Group. February 23, 1998. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  19. ^ Paoletta, Michael (February 1, 2003). "Beat Box". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc: 37. Retrieved June 25, 2010. For the first time, the best dance recording category is broken out into its own dance field. In previous years, this category was in the pop field...

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