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This is *excellent*: The Musical History Lesson Buried Beneath the Song of the Summer. “Sabrina Carpenter’s ‘Espresso’ is one of several recent hits bringing back the genre that never got a name.” (See also Dua Lipa’s Dance the Night.)

Discussion  9 comments

Jason KottkeMOD

Don't miss the accompanying Spotify playlist of the genre with no name.

Jason KottkeMOD

The article mentions how MTV didn't play Black music in the early years. Fun fact: the first rap video played on MTV was by Blondie in 1981. It wasn't until 1984 that the first rap / hip hop video by a Black artist appeared on MTV, Rock Box by Run-DMC — they were able to crossover because they rapped over a rock beat instead of a hip hop one.

Jason KottkeMOD

Ok, perhaps this shouldn't have been a Quick Link. Still thinking about this paragraph:

The early 1980s for Black artists were not a blissful respite from the eyes and ears of culture vultures, a safe space, like the proverbial barbecue, with no one there but the fam and perhaps a white friend or two ... maybe Teena, or Bobby, or Darryl & John. This wasn't some act of creative choice. This was a sonic apartheid coordinated by record executives, radio programmers, artist managers, and promoters. "Not pop" or "too Black" were their perennial, weekly, daily mantras. It rendered a tilted marketplace in which white artists did not have to compete with Black artists for eyes and ears. It was, in effect, nothing short of racketeering.

Joshua Neds-Fox

Yes, and this has stuck with me since I read it, the idea that we should maybe attribute the deaths of Michael, Whitney, Prince in no small part to the emotional cost of breaking through that barrier. Apartheid kills.

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Reb Butler

Really well-written and eye-opening article. I was in my twenties in the late 70's and early 80's, and as my main musical interests were rock and jazz-oriented, I was not a fan of disco. Howevah! I lived and worked in the D.C. area in the early 80's, and had a lot of exposure to the "nameless" genre the author describes...and it was very good.

On a related but somewhat random note, I heard "Play That Funky Music White Boy" in the grocery store today, and was kind of, um, enjoying it. All that says to me is that any music that takes you back to your 20's is allllll right.

Jason KottkeMOD

The original Wild Cherry version or the Vanilla Ice cover? 🙃

Reb Butler

Wild Cherry, for sure.

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Colter Mccorkindale

Super curious why the author considers R&B like a predecessor to disco, when R&B was still going, still transforming throughout the 80s and 90s and beyond. To me, this all fits under the R&B umbrella.

Wayne Bremser

Good point - in the 90s this "nameless genre" was called "rare groove" - some of these 12" records didn't make the leap to CD and involved crate digging, when old vinyl was cheap...

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