disco, style of popular music that flourished during the 1970s. Originating in the United States, it evolved mainly from funk, soul, and salsa and became popular worldwide. Characterized by a heavy, thumping rock and roll beat, a soulful singing style, and surging orchestrations, disco was primarily dance music, and it became the dominant musical feature of clubs throughout the country as the 1970s progressed. The music was particularly popular in the gay community, where its songs became anthems for new freedom and visibility. The first disco song is said to have been recorded in 1972; the style's heyday ran from 1973 to 1979. Among the major stars of disco were Abba, the Bee Gees, Gloria Gaynor, Labelle, Sister Sledge, Donna Summer, and the Village People. In the 1980s a strong counterreaction emerged to disco and its dominance of the pop music scene, but the style has exerted a lasting influence on pop music.
See studies by A. H. Goldman (1978), E. Haas (1994), J.-M. Andriote (2001), A. Jones and J. Kantonen (2001), A. Echols (2010), and P. Shapiro (2010).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.