Review: 'The Note: Disco Demolition'


If you're a music fan, traditional linear television doesn't offer you many viewing options. Broadcast television limits itself to presenting music on late night talk shows and "Saturday Night Live." Even technically music-centric cable network such as MTV and VH1 air music programming only when they run out of new episodes of reality shows.

Luckily, there are a number of other great options, particularly on the growing number of OTT networks. One of my favorites is Red Bull TV, which has a number of really compelling music series and specials. My personal favorite is "The Note," which premieres a new episode this Tuesday centered around the infamous "Disco Sucks" radio promotion of 1979.

The "Disco Sucks" event is arguably the most effective piece of radio promotion in U.S. history. Chicago rock DJ Steve Dahl blows up a bunch of disco records at a Chicago White Sox game in a bit that was supposed to be just a bit of fun. But by the time it was over, fans had rioted, Dahl was a national star and the event marked the high water mark of disco music's commercial success.

But as this 14-minute documentary notes, the story is much nuanced than the highlights. Dahl's hatred of disco has a complicated backstory and given that the event took place in Chicago, there was more than a bit of racial politics involved in the promotion and its aftermath.

There are a number of great interviews and the documentary makes the point that despite the success of the "Disco Sucks" event, dance music ultimately prevailed. First, through the success of Chicago's House Music movement and eventually by the resilience of dance music itself. While rock has all but disappeared from Top 40 radio, variations of disco are lurking in many of today's hit tunes.

Click here to watch all four episodes of "The Note" or click here to watch the individual episode "Disco Demolition." Previous episodes include profiles of Latin music Eddie Palmieri's album "Harlem River Drive," the avant garde 1960's NYC collaboration E.A.T. and sonic architect Alex Rosner.