Lift the Disco Ban

We’re getting on December, which means Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voting time. Not that I should care – but this year I kinda do, and that’s because I notice that Chic has been nominated again. Actually, this makes the 5th time. They were also up in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008 – which is, to put it in perspective, well over half of the years they’ve been elligible (to the extent that I understand these things, they’ve been elligible since 2002 – their first single having been released in 1977), and the third year in a row.

The case for Chic makes itself. Influence? Hell yes. At least three acts that are already inducted – Blondie, Queen, and Grandmaster Flash – owe them a lot. Alright, Queen maybe not so much, but I had to throw that in there just because in all the fuss about Vanilla Ice having ripped off the bass lines from “Ice, Ice Baby” from Queen’s “Under Pressure” (anyone alive in the early 90s will remember this), no one ever mentions that Queen ripped off the bass line of its biggest selling single EVAR – “Another One Bites the Dust” – from Chic’s “Good Times.” That and because I really hate Queen.

It isn’t just these three, though. Chic went on to produce just about everyone in the 80s – and if we’re sticking to Hall of Fame inductees this includes David Bowie (they practically wrote Let’s Dance for him), and most especially Madonna, who partly owes them her breakout (they inspired and then produced, at her request, her Like a Virgin album).

But the real reason, influence-wise, is that hip-hop is based on this. Quit denyin’ it. Yeah, I know, P-Funk and all that. And that’s true – P-Funk has more to do with how hip hop turned out than anyone. But Chic was important too, if not as often acknowledged.

So why all the nominations but still no cigar? Simply put, it’s because they’re a disco band.

I will never understand what it was about Disco that so offended the Rolling Stone snobs – but history speaks for itself. There was The Disco Demolition, Frank Zappa’s Sheik Yerbouti, all those “Disco Sucks” T-Shirts and buttons… Maybe this was just 60s rock realizing 10 years too late that it was dead and gone – that the hippies hadn’t managed to change humanity and bring about their twisted idea of utopia – and thank fucking God for that! There was punk, but Rolling Stone was a late adopter there too. Still, the Clash and the Ramones were eventually revered. Disco has never been forgiven … for whatever it was that it was supposed to have done.

Alright, I get it. Polyester leisure suits are silly. Yeah, but so is the Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi, not to mention everything Paul McCartney ever wrote with Wings, and people still see the good in the Beatles. Every genre has its great artists and its plastic commercial album fillers, and Disco was no different. There was a lot of shit, but there was a lot of really good stuff too. Really, really good, actually. And Chic is one of those.

Give them the award already. They deserve it, you at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame know it, and the only reason you won’t is because you’re still too childish to admit you all overreacted to Disco.

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