For the first time since WKTU (103.5 FM) started doing top-103 countdowns for each decade, Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" is not No.1 for the '70s.
This shocking news came out when 'KTU did its latest countdown and the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" bumped Gloria to No.2.
Prince's "1999" was No.1 for the '80s, while Madonna's "Vogue" was No.1 for the '90s.
So dance music ruled for thirty years? If you'd have told me in 1976 that was going to happen, I would have broken down and cried!
It seems to me they didn't even get the best Prince song from the '80s, but I think what happens with these things is that something becomes iconic, so that it's not the song so much anymore but everything it's come to symbolize. Like for example, the way life is just a party and you wouldn't even care if it was Judgment Day, people were running everywhere, and, of course, the sky was all purple. Somehow that sums up how, looking back, you feel about the 80s.
So what are we to make of "Stayin' Alive" upsetting "I Will Survive"? Our idea of the 70s, up until recently, entailed a woman summoning up her inner powers, and now the decade feels more like a man just struggling to get by. As with "1999," we've got destruction all around -- "Feel the city breakin' and ev'rybody shakin'" -- and the singer's way to deal with it is to party: "Got the wings of heaven on my shoes/I'm a dancin' man and I just can't lose."
And actually, "Vogue" tells the same story. There's "heartache" and "the pain of life" "everywhere," and the solution: "It's called a dance floor."
So there's your formula for popular music: acknowledge that the pain of the real world and present dancing -- to this very song -- as the solution. People love that.
UPDATE: Looking at the WKTU website now, I can see the lists were specifically of dance songs. The Daily News didn't specify that, but I guess if you're in NY you know the station's format. Side note: I can remember listening to top 100 lists on a NY station in the mid-70s. Number 1 was always "In the Still of the Night."