For those of us looking at the rock/pop universe of that time from the present moment, it's obvious that disco was in its last gasp, and that new forms of music were shaping and combining. The marriage of punk and pop, the parents of power pop, was still in its honeymoon, and would bear fruit in the fullness of time.
But that's not how it looked on the ground.
Here's a triumphalist version (warning: disco history site!):
1978 is arguably the peak year for Disco in terms of influence on popular culture as a whole and in terms of financial success. A number of firsts for Disco took place in 1978. A movie featuring the underground world of Disco itself would be one of the top moneymaking films of 1978 and one of the top 10 of the entire decade. The soundtrack to that film, a double album filled with Disco, would become the biggest selling album of all time. A Disco song featured in another 1978 movie would win the Academy Award for Best Song in a Motion Picture. A Disco group that debuted in 1978 would be the first Disco artists to win the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Mainstream recording artists as varied as the Rolling Stones and Barry Manilow scored big with Disco records. Disco had become dominant.
So, I see Heaven Tonight, they see Thank God It's Friday. And both those visions are true.
1978 was just a weird year generally, though. It was the year of three popes (which, in retrospect, should have been a red flag about the rising power of conservativism that would deliver to us, in short order, Thatcher and Reagan). It was the year of the Guyana mass suicide andf the rise of gasahol. It was the year of Grease and Superman. It was the year the Bad News Bears went to Japan. It was the year WKRP premiered. And so a mixed bag. Anyone looking back ot the year from its end (as Shaw did for his January editorial) could be excused for being a bit..... confused. And not seeing that the clouds were going to part soon.
By 1979, things were changing fast. And Shaw's abrupt about face in the cited editorials shows that. By the end of that year, power pop was everywhere. The Knack dominated, of course, but every major label had at least one power pop act, many more than that. Much as it galls me to admit it, it wasn't all good (I'll probably never really *like* Off Broadway, I confess), but it was a movement, which is what Shaw had predicted all along.