Every week on Riley and Joe in the morning we play some music in the 5AM hour that follows a theme throughout the week. The theme has been everything from "Songs With Women's Names In It" to "Songs That Are About Drugs" to "Broadway Musicals." Every week we listen to 10 songs, 2 a day, that fits that week's theme. We hit music from pretty much every genre throughout the week and honestly learn a lot while we do it.

This week's theme is listener submitted. We get them often and absolutely use the good ones. Dave called in last week as said we should compare disco and rock in the late 70s and early 80s.

Great suggestion Dave. We'll take a look at the 5 year span of 1978-1982 and listen to the number one disco track of that year, and the top charting "rock" track of the same year.

Monday's Songs - 1978

We will start in 1978, the Saturday Night Fever album was everywhere, and disco was the hottest thing running. The number one song for 1978 was Andy Gibb's Shadow Dancing.

The Gibb boys were everywhere in 1978. Shadow Dancing was one of 5 year-end top-ten hits for either Andy Gibb or the Bee Gees. It's actually pretty impressive how dominant they were.


You need to travel all the way to number 16 in 1978 to find your first "rock" song with The Rolling Stone's "Miss You."

NOTE: I realize that the definition of a "Rock" song can be interpreted in many ways. I'm counting a "rock" song as something that would be played on our sister station 96.7 The Eagle.

You can see that music got really "soft" in the late 70s. At least what was popular was getting soft and everything was adopting the disco beat. Even this tune by The Rolling Stones.

Wikipedia - Jagger and Ronnie Wood insist that "Miss You" wasn't concieved as a disco song, while Richards said, "Miss You" was a damn good disco record; it was calculated to be one... You can hear it in a lot of those four-to-the-floor and the Philadelphia-style drumming.

Tuesday's Songs - 1979

1979 saw one rock song rise above the disco tunes and land at number one at year's end. The Knack and My Sharona.

The story behind My Sharona is VERY rock and roll. From the Wikipedia page:

When Doug Fieger (The Knack lead singer) was 25 years old, he met 17-year-old Sharona Alperin, who inspired a two-month-long run of songwriting, as well as eventually becoming his girlfriend for the next four years. Fieger recounted that "It was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat; I fell in love with her instantly. And when that happened, it sparked something and I started writing a lot of songs feverishly in a short amount of time."

It should also be noted that both Fieger and Alperin were dating other people when they met and during the initial courtship.

Sharona Alperin is currently a LA real estate agent that leans into her past fame.

My Sharona was the only "rock" song to chart in 1979's year end chart. The rest is dominated by disco and soft rock.


You'll see one name on that list 3 times. Donna Summer didn't dominate like the Bee Gees did the year before but hits like Bad Girls was DOMINATING the airwaves.

A+ video from Donna right there.

Wednesday's Songs - 1980

The disco takeover starts to wane in 1980. The number one song of that year was Blondie's "Call Me."

A song that I found out this morning is about a male prostitute that was also performed on The Muppets show.

There was some internal debate on whether or not this was a disco song. We settled on "not" disco even though it was composed by Italian disco producer Giorgio Moroder and might find some playtime at a disco club in 1980, it was definitely more of a "rock" song.

So what was the top disco track of 1980? That would be Paul McCartney's "Coming Up."

This is a song that I didn't even know existed until this morning. And I have been missing out. The video above is fantastic. McCartney played every instrument on the track and the video does a great job of playing with that.

Disco is definitely starting to lose its stranglehold on the music scene in 1980 and the result is a fantastic mix of artists in the year's end top 20. Look at this list!


Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, Bette Midler, The Spinners, Christopher Cross. This list has everything.

1980. A great year for music.

Come back tomorrow for 1981.

You can listen to theme music week at 5:35AM on Riley and Joe in the Morning, every morning on 1440 WROK.

Check Out the Best-Selling Album From the Year You Graduated High School

Do you remember the top album from the year you graduated high school? Stacker analyzed Billboard data to determine just that, looking at the best-selling album from every year going all the way back to 1956. Sales data is included only from 1992 onward when Nielsen's SoundScan began gathering computerized figures.

Going in chronological order from 1956 to 2020, we present the best-selling album from the year you graduated high school.


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