A list of essential shoegaze albums anyone new to the genre should get familiar with and explore further.

Essential Disco Deep Cuts

A List Of The Best Underrated Disco Songs of the 1980s

Today we’re taking a look at some of the best obscure 80s disco deep cuts. Often misunderstood as a genre that was purely focused on dancing and clubs, disco had a lot more depth than many people realize. While the genre is often associated with the 1970s, the 1980s were also a great time for disco music.

In the late ’70s, the United States was at peak disco fever. Thousands flocked to packed dance clubs and pumped songs about love and partying into their headphones. But as a genre, disco was nearing its end as a prominent force in popular music in America. At the same time, it was gaining popularity and a new identity thanks to new funk and disco scenes popping around the world.

Perhaps most notably, Italo-disco was born in the late 1970s and early 1980s, where a generation of Italian disc jockeys created some of the greatest dance music of all time. Unlike disco in America, which focused primarily on hedonism and partying, Italo-disco turned an eye toward mixing disco sounds and tempos with electronic instrumentation. This music represented everything that ’70s era disco was not: experimental and futuristic yet still incredibly fun to listen to.

Outside Italy, similarly exciting and innovative funk and disco scenes were also thriving in cities from Ghana to Brazil. The great thing about 80s disco was that it saw so much innovation in the genre that helped pave the way for later sounds like new wave, house, techno and other electronic sounds. With its fair share of classics and forgotten gems, 80s disco is perhaps the genre’s most appealing eras for people like myself who are into obscure music.

Making a list of the best 80s disco songs is no easy feat. There is a lot to sift through and you’re bound to leave some gems off the list. With that in mind, this list isn’t necessarily ranking all the songs that were most popular. Instead, it aims to find some of the best 80s disco songs that weren’t always hits (although some were) and maybe weren’t well-known or were overshadowed by others. The common thread here is that all these tracks still hold up today as incredible tracks and dance floor bombs.

This list is a great resource not only for DJs and casual listeners, but also for those who think they’ve heard all there is to hear within this marvelous genre. So, without further ado, let’s go.

Kano – I’m Ready

When disco died in the United States, it did so with a slow burn and not a dramatic flameout. By 1980, disco had reached a point where it was starting to lose its original appeal in the U.S. But in Europe, it was just as popular as ever. The late seventies was a time of transition for disco, with the glamorous sound of the 70s being replaced by songs with a more serious electronic edge. Italo-disco was on the rise, and one of the best ambassadors of this new sound were Kano, a duo made up of Luciano Ninzatti and Stefano Pulga.

Kano’s eponymous album debuted in 1980 with their hit “I’m Ready.” While most of their contemporaries were still exploring the outer reaches of disco and its numerous sub-genres, Kano delivered one of the first examples that Italo-disco was a distinct style separate from its American predecessor. The best dance music should grab a hold of you and make you feel things and Kano’s “I’m Ready” does just that—a perfect blend of driving force, expressive vocals and an unshakeable groove.

B.W.H. – Stop

In an age where vinyl is a precious commodity, B.W.H.’s “Stop” has become one of the most collectable Italo-disco release of them all, fetching big bucks whenever it hits eBay or Discogs. A disco lover’s dream from 1983, this record is the ultimate roller coaster of a song. Over a catchy synthesizer melody and thumping bassline, the vocals swoop up and down in perfect time with the track. At the same time, the lyrics seem to be constantly fading away into the track until they’re completely submerged by 80s-style production touches. With a beat that goes extra hard and vocals that are sometimes indecipherable, “Stop” is one of the most infectious Italo releases of them all.

Electra – Feels Good

Electra’s “Feels Good,” released in 1982, may not be as well known as it deserves to be, but it’s almost certainly one of the key tracks in the evolution of electronic music and shows that Italo-disco really is the template for modern dance music. In fact, you could argue that “Feels Good” helped lay down the foundation for modern dance staples like DFA Records. This record is the root of things like LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture; its chugging bassline, lead synth and hypnotic percussion make it sound like this could have easily been remixed by James Murphy and co. The cream of the Italo sound, 80s disco rarely sounded better than it does here.

Steve Monite – Only You

For years Monite—a Nigerian-born composer, producer and musician known for his association with his country’s disco and boogie movement—was a largely forgotten name in a country where he was once revered. Taken from his 1984 album of the same name, “Only You” helped put Monite on the map, albeit decades later.

A song that was largely overlooked when it was released, “Only You” has undergone a resurgence in recent years. Perhaps more well known than most other tracks on this list, it’s nonetheless worth highlighting as a real 80s disco gem. Its space-synth sounds ripple and vibrate, and the incessant grooves keep things moving alongside Monite’s smooth voice. It’s also a cut that serves as a showcase for Nkono Teles’ immense production prowess. There’s something joyous and infectious about the whole song – the way it lifts you up into the air like a big helium balloon and keeps you there for six minutes or so before gently letting you down again.

Dharma – Plastic Doll (Instrumental Mix)

Dharma’s “Plastic Doll” is one of the dreamiest Italo-disco dancefloor tracks you will ever hear. An essential artifact of the genre, it’s a cult classic for good reason. “Plastic Doll” is one of those magical moments, an instrumental gem that will cast a spell on everyone who hears it. Everything about this song is immaculate—the beat is heavy and relentless and the exquisite synth melody sounds like it was organically grown in space. It’s ultra-obscure material, but also one of the most epic sounding instrumentals out there too, an 80s gem that belongs in any die-hard lover’s collection.

Doctor’s Cat – Feel The Drive (Instrumental)

Classy and stylish, “Feel The Drive” by Doctor’s Cat deserves its place in the 80s disco pantheon. A masterful mixture of driving grooves and lush, flowing synth pads, “Feel The Drive” is a pulsating cyberpunk disco track that has all the right ingredients to bring the dance floor alive. If you’re looking for a disco record that doesn’t take itself too seriously, this is the one. Filled with all the sparkly, over the top 80s disco sounds and laced with just enough cheese, this track stands out as being one of the best hidden gems of its era.

Klein & MBO – Dirty Talk

“Dirty Talk” is a seminal Italo-disco record. A favorite in clubs, lounges and bedrooms ever since it was released in 1982, it has been remixed, reworked and ripped off perhaps more times than any other tune in dance music history. Needless to say, it’s a certified club classic and with good reason. A contagious and joyful slice of electro-Italo-disco, it verges on pure ear candy; the melody is light and simple, the bassline funky but not so deep it gets lost in the mix, and the percussion rubs up against your ears in a way that sounds like a perfectly lubed machine. To date, it remains an inspirational part of house’s DNA and has been sampled by a vast array of artists including New Order. It’s one of those records that has influenced so much music, yet it sounds fresh 40 years on.

Gino Soccio – Remember

Gino Soccio’s “Remember” has been a go-to track to get any party started since 1982. Coming out of Canada with a signature production style all his own, Soccio took disco to new heights with his unforgettable hooks and rhythmic sounds. The quintessential 80s disco song, “Remember” has a heavy dance floor pulse that keeps you moving. Vintage synths, sweeping rhythm, and an unforgettable chorus all combine to create a perfect pop confection, with Gino Soccio’s incredible ear for harmony giving the track its lasting appeal. This was a big hit in the 80s and it sounds as fresh and vital today as it did then.

Mr. Flagio – Take A Chance

“Take A Chance” by Mr. Flagio is one of the most influential songs in the Italo-disco era. Mr Flagio is one of the the most famous Italo-disco artists, and this song is the best of all his tunes. Considered by many to be the pinnacle of Italo-disco, it’s an infectious, exciting song that is a must-hear if you want to get into the genre. Everything about this song is just magic—from the 80s synth sounds to the absurdly fun lyrics which all work so well together. The music, melody and rhythm are so infectious and timeless that it never sounds dated.

Marcos Valle – Estrelar

It took a little time before funk and disco finally caught on as a ubiquitous genre in Brazilian music, but when they did their influence was undeniable. Marcos Valle is not only one of the inventors of that sound, but also one of its most prolific and high-profile contributors. “Estrelar” is a prime example of Valle’s signature sound. The song is an exercise in pure groove, showcasing Valle’s unorthodox voice and setting it against a backdrop of well-placed horns and Brazilian flare. The blend of Brazilian rhythms and contemporary sounds of the time create an exuberant, danceable sound. A combination of American funk and baião syncopation, it’s the perfect album opener and the ultimate 80s disco cut from Brazil.