Disco Duck


Date Aired
April 1, 2021
Running Time
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Todd plays "Disco Duck" on the piano.

A one-hit wonder retrospective

Todd: Welcome back to One Hit Wonderland, where we take a look at bands and artists only known for one song. I admit, I have a minor fascination with disco.

(Clip of people dancing to disco music)

It's the best disco in town, number one in disco sound!

Todd: Not so much the actual music, which, uh, I like as much as anyone, but the perception of it. For five or six years it was basically the only music being made.

(Clip of disco demolition night(?))

Todd: And then it got hit with backlash so hard that all of a sudden-

(Image of man in glasses ripping his shirt open to reveal a white t-shirt that says "DISCO SUCKS!")

Todd: It was the worst music ever made.

(Clip from the Simpsons of man in disco gear dancing)

Todd: And then after about twenty years of being a total punchline

(Clip of "Get Lucky" - Daft Punk)

Todd: It flipped so hard in the other direction that now if you try and say that disco sucks people look at you funny. Like, "oh, you dislike music made by black and gay people, huh?" [camera zooms in on Todd] "What are you trying to say, huh?" [camera zooms in more] "HUH???"

[camera resets]

Todd: But-

(Clip of people dancing to disco music)

Todd: Even with the massive reputational turnaround that disco has had, there is still one big disco smash that it is still okay to dislike. One that no critical reappraisal has been able to take off (image of...) the "Worst Songs Ever" list.

(Music video for...)

Todd: I am of course talking about the one and only, the eternally infamous...

Disco Duck: Everybody do it, the disco, disco duck! Disco, disco duck!

(Todd sits in solemn silence, then shrugs)

Todd: Yes, it is finally time to look at the mid-70s phenomenon, "Disco Duck." One of the most confusing little blips in the history of disco, and consistently described as one of the worst things that happened in the 70s. [Todd gestures, indicating a descending order] Watergate, gas shortage, "Disco Duck," and then maybe Jonestown.

(Series of interviews)

Darryl McDaniels: That was the wackest song ever

Guest: It's insane to me, what-what people will do. I guess sometimes they're just so far up their ass all they know is [bleep].

Todd: Why?

(Clip of "Disco Duck" performance)

Todd: What has this harmless little joke song done to deserve such ire?

Disco Duck: Oh! Get down, mama!

Todd: If this was just one of the many stupid novelties that gets released every day, that'd be one thing. No one ever complains about, say-

(Clip of...)

Todd: Larry Groce's "Junk Food Junkie" from that same year.

(Clip of "Disco Duck")

Todd: But "Disco Duck" stands out not just for its stunning inanity but also, that it was a number one hit. For one week in October of 1976, it was the best selling song in America. That's nuts. If we lived in a logical world, this would be the cause of the disco backlash. This is the kind of song that signals that a trend has outlived its welcome, not that it's gonna keep rising for the next two or three years! Who's responsible for this? The people this was credited to were

(Image of "Disco Duck" album cover)

Todd: Rick Dees and his cast of idiots, an attempt at self-deprecation that did nothing to endear them to the disco haters.

(Clip of interview with Dees)

Todd: If the name sounds familiar to you for non-disco duck reasons, that's actually not surprising. Rick Dees is one of the few one hit wonders who's probably more famous now than when he scored his number one hit.

(Clip of Dees in a radio studio)

Todd: "Disco Duck" was just one of the many stepping stones on his path to becoming a nationally syndicated radio host, he's hosted

(Image of...)

Todd: "Weekly Top 40" since 1983. Which is just crazy to me.

(Clip of "ONAIR With Ryan Seacrest")

Todd: Like, imagine if Ryan Seacrest had also recorded

(Clip of...)

Todd: "Mambo No.5"

Todd: So keeping in mind that music was always

(Clip of interview with Dees)

Todd: the side-est of side hustles for Rick Dees in his lifelong broadcast career,

(Clip of "Disco Duck" performance)

Todd: Surely we can forget about this sad little novelty and move on? But no, I wanna know, how did this happen? And just the other day I noticed that, after years of unavailability, at sometime in the last couple months,

(Image of...)

Todd: Spotify has finally put up the entire original "Disco Duck" album. Well, I've never been able to resist an easy target, so it is officially duck season. Bring it on.

(Clip of "Disco Duck")

Disco Duck: [quack-laughs]

Todd: [imitates Disco Duck, before placing a hand to his throat] Can't do it.

Disco Duck: Shake your tail feathers! [quack-laughs some more]

Before the hit

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