The Get Down is about the early years of hip hop. But like all genres of music, hip hop doesn't exist on its own. Hip hop was formed by remixing and reusing records from other genres to create a "get down". Like the genre it's based on, The Get Down also pulls in music from other genres that were popular in the late '70s, from disco to contemporary pop. Though she had a major hit in that era, viewers may be wondering who Debby Boone is and why her name is brought up when Mylene is taking the next step in her budding music career.
As Mylene's star is rising, those in charge of her future as a performer have differing opinions. The men argue over whether they should stick to her religious roots or capitalize on her possible sex appeal by having her perform less church-friendly material. Mylene's uncle begins singing "You Light Up My Life" to prove a point. He believes that Mylene doesn't have to use her sexual appeal to get a number one hit. Though it was the era of disco, the biggest hit of the '70s wasn't a fast-paced dance track. It was a moving love ballad that happened to spend 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard charts.
Mylene's career has clashed against her religious background on The Get Down, and the crossover between religious content and real popular music is slight. However, Debby Boone managed to use her wholesome image to her advantage, turning "You Light Up My Life" into a massive hit that helped her win a Grammy for Best New Artist.
However, Mylene explicitly states that she doesn't want to be Debby Boone. Mylene is willing to perform whatever she feels she can lend herself to, but in all of the talk of albums and singles, it seems that Mylene never gets the chance to be herself. After "You Light Up My Life," Boone shifted to country music and eventually contemporary Christian — a career path that likely doesn't appeal to Mylene. While her father seeks to hold a firm grasp on her career and her devotion to the church, even the ambiguous lyrics of the "You Light Up My Life"-style song that Mylene and her uncle play for him aren't enough. However, the ambiguity of "You Light Up My Life" is exactly what helped keep the song accessible while also representing Boone's religious background.
Debby Boone is an example of one way that Mylene's career could go. She could try to do something that would appeal to everyone while keeping true to her father's faith. But Boone's first hit was also her biggest, and she never managed to return to the top of the Billboard charts. Mylene's career may not be able to take off if she's stuck under her father's thumb, and it seems that the best thing for Mylene's career would be for her to listen to her own instincts.