"Stayin' Alive" incorporates a lot of essential disco elements. Disco was, first and foremost, dance music, so it shouldn't be surprising that the most distinctive part of this song is its beat. "Stayin' Alive" rests on "four on the floor" beat. Unlike other genres, such as R&B, which commonly accents the backbeat, disco's "four on the floor" accents all four beats. The bass drum hits on every beat creating a steady dancing (and in John Travolta's case) walking beat.
The song also draws upon distinctive Bee Gees traits. It features Barry Gibb's distinctive falsetto, which, when he discovered it, change the Bee Gees' image definitively. Barry and his brother Robin first experimented with their falsettos on their 1975 disco hit "Nights on Broadway."
The drum track is also classic Bee Gees. In fact, if you feel like you've heard it somewhere else, before you may be right. Before "Stayin' Alive" was recorded, the mother of the band's go-to drummer, Dennis Byron, died, so Byron was out. Unable to find a replacement, the Bee Gees decided to use a track that Byron had already laid down for "Night Fever." Not all of it worked—so they were stuck with just a couple bars that are repeated over and over (and over and over) again.