Disco ruled the music scene during the 1970s and it is out of this era that hugely popular disco artists emerged with hit songs like “You Should Be Dancing”, “Rock The Boat”, “Never Can Say Goodbye”, and “Le Freak”, to mention but a few. Over the years, several artists from other genres have taken it upon themselves to record their own versions of some of the most popular disco songs.
10 “Gloria” – Gloria Trevi
Laura Branigan enjoyed great success with her cover of “Gloria” after it was released in 1982. The song stayed on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for 36 weeks and peaked at No. 2.
Originally, “Gloria” was an Italian love song written and composed by Umberto Tozzi and Giancarlo Bigazzi in 1979, after which it was translated into English by Jonathan King.
Mexican singer Gloria Trevi, who is also know as the ‘The Supreme Diva of Mexican Pop’ has had worldwide success with several albums and number one hits. She recorded a lively Spanish version of “Gloria” for her Gloria Live album in 2012 and performed it live to much fanfare that same year.
9 “Funkytown” – Pseudo Echo
“Funkytown” became a monster hit for Lipps Inc. after its release in 1980, reaching the number one spot in several countries. Unfortunately, they could never replicate the success of this song, which was also used as part of the soundtrack for various movies and TV series.
Australian pop group, Pseudo Echo, released a cover of “Funkytown” in the mid-80s and it peaked at number one in Australia, number 6 in the US and number one in Canada. The song gave them their biggest international chart success, and much the same as with Lipps Inc. a repeat of this achievement eluded them in the years to come.
8 “It’s Raining Men” – RuPaul
Donna Summer was offered “It’s Raining Men” in 1979, but she rejected it on account of her Christian faith, saying that the song lyrics were blasphemous. Songwriters Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer then offered the song to Diana Ross, Cher, and Barbra Streisand but none of them were interested in recording it.
In 1982, Jabara and Shaffer pleaded with Two Tons to record the song which they eventually did, and it was then released to dance club DJs in the US in the middle of that year. The Two Tons in the meantime changed their name to the Weather Girls. “It’s Raining Men” became the number one dance hit in America, was named as one of the Greatest Songs of the 1980s and received a Grammy nomination in 1983.
Weather Girls’ member, Martha Wash, and singer RuPaul covered the song in 1998 under the title “It’s Raining Men, The Sequel and it peaked at number 22 on the Billboard chart.
7 “Y.M.C.A.” – Hideki Saijo
“Y.M.C.A.” was released in 1978 and became Village People’s biggest hit. Today it is still one of the most recognizable disco songs in the world and is often played at sporting events in Europe and America. The song has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and is a popular staple of karaoke nights just about everywhere.
Japanese singer, Hideki Saijo, wanted in on the action, and recorded a cover version of the song, titled “Young Man (Y.M.C.A.)” in 1979. It topped the Oricon chart for five weeks and became one of the top ten best selling singles in Japan that same year.
6 “Disco Inferno” – Tina Turner
The Trammps only really hit the mainstream with their song “Disco Inferno” after it was included on the soundtrack to the 1977 film, Saturday Night Fever. The subsequent re-release of the song saw it climb to number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1978.
Tina Turner started performing the song live in her early concerts, and eventually recorded a studio version for her soundtrack album, What’s Love Got To Do With It in 1993. Turner’s version remains one of the most notable covers alongside Cyndi Lauper’s version which was recorded in 1998.
5 “Boogie Shoes” – Alex Chilton
KC and the Sunshine Band had many hit songs including the very catchy “Boogie Shoes”. The song was released in 1975 and, like “Disco Inferno” became massive on the music charts after it appeared on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. “Boogie Shoes” also featured in several other movies, including Boogie Nights, The Wedding Date, No Escape and Mallrats.
Alex Chilton, singer-songwriter, and record producer started his music career as the lead singer for the Box Tops and Big Star in the 1960s. His reputation grew over the years to the extent that alternative rock bands including the Posies and R.E.M. credited him as being a major influence on their music style.
Chilton released a limited-edition album, Like Flies on Sherbert, in 1979 that included covers of songs of several artists including Ernest Tubb and Jimmy. C. Newman. The album also included a unique interpretation of “Boogie Shoes”.
4 “I Will Survive” – CAKE
“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor is still considered to be one of the most quintessential disco anthems of the 70s and has been preserved in the National Recording Registry. The song was awarded the Grammy for Best Disco Recording in 1980 and was ranked number 1 on the list of 100 Greatest Dance Songs in 2000.
There are many cover versions of the song by well-known artists, including Diana Ross, Billie Jo Spears, and Demi Lovato. American alternative rock band, CAKE, recorded their take on the classic for their album Fashion Nugget in 1996, after playing the song live for many years. Gaynor stated afterwards that she liked their cover version the least, because of the included profanity.
3 “September” – Kirk Franklin
Vocalist Maurice White and songwriter Allee Willis wrote the lyrics to “September” over the course of one month and it became one of Earth, Wind & Fire’s most popular hits, reaching the top ten on a variety of music charts. A remix titled “September 99” hit the dance floors in 1999 and quickly climbed the dance charts.
In 2007 gospel singer-songwriter and choir director, Kirk Franklin, recorded a foot-stomping version of the song that featured on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs and Hot Gospel Songs charts. He rewrote the lyrics to reflect his Christian faith, and included the single on the tribute album, Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire.”
2 “I Feel Love” – Blondie
Donna Summer became known as the “Queen of Disco” during the 1970s, and had a total of 42 hit singles on the US Billboard Hot 100. During her lifetime she sold over 100 million records, won five Grammy Awards, and was named one of the leading female singers in the world.
One of her most popular songs, “I Feel Love” has been credited for laying the foundation for electronic dance music and it has been called one of the most influential records ever made. The song also influenced and inspired artists and bands such as the Human League, David Bowie, and Blondie.
Blondie released their hugely popular tune “Heart of Glass” in 1979 which make big waves in the music industry. They followed up this success the following year, by covering “I Feel Love” during a performance at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. This cover was included on the band’s re-released single “Union City Blue” in 1995.
1 “Tragedy” – Foo Fighters
The Bee Gees were well-known for writing their own songs as well as coming up with hit songs for other artists. They were given the nickname, The Disco Kings, and with singles like “Night Fever”, “Stayin Alive”, and “Tragedy”, it is easy to see why.
“Tragedy” was released in 1979 and quickly climbed to number one in the UK and US, knocking “I Will Survive” from the top spot on the American charts. The lyrics were written in a single afternoon along with the lyrics to “Too Much Heaven.”
In 2021, American rock band Foo Fighters, released a disco album as the Dee Gees which is a nod to Dave Grohl’s initials. The album, Hail Satin, includes several Bee Gees cover songs including “Tragedy”, sung in falsetto by Grohl.
+ “Dancing Queen” – Steps
ABBA came up with a winning combination of euro-pop, rock, and disco to conquer the music world. Their hit songs have been covered multiple times by several different artists who attempted to piggyback off the band’s huge success.
“Dancing Queen” was ABBA’s only number one hit in the US, and it topped the charts in a host of other countries as well. Released in 1976, the song contains disco and pop elements and is one of the band’s most recognizable and beloved hits.
In 1999, British pop group S Club 7 put their own unique nineties spin on this classic song. It might not be the perfect cover, but it will certainly get your feet tapping.