“Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles
The Buggles were a quirky British New Wave band that covered the popular hit “Video Killed the Radio Star”, which you probably remember very well, even though it was released in 1979. The single topped the music charts around the world, in sixteen different countries, to be exact. However, it wasn’t just the song that made The Buggles wildly popular, it was its music video.
The very odd, trippy video was actually the first ever music video shown on MTV. What’s ironic is that it got its fair share of criticism from viewers that deemed the video way too violent because it featured a TV blowing up in the end scene. It’s safe to say that people’s definition of violence has dramatically changed over the last 30 years.
“Wildflower” by Skylark
The Vancouver-born Skylark was a known pop/rock band that hit it big with their 1972 single, “Wildflower”. The soft rock, southern boogie sounding tune reached number one in Canada and number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and Skylark sold over a million copies.
Even though the band stopped recording in 1973, “Wildflower” lived on, being sampled by hip hop legends like Tupac and Kanye West decades later.
“Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)” by Deodato
A funky fusion instrumental arranged by Brazilian pianist, Eumir Deodato, “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)” reached number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1973. The first single on Deodato’s ‘Prelude’ album, the hit song was a rendition of the classical piece by Richard Strauss that was featured in the famous film, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.
The jazz-funk rendition was a perfect combination of jazz and disco and made Deodato known around the world. The song also reached number 7 on the UK Singles Chart. On another, completely random note, Eumir Deodato is Stephen Baldwin’s father-in-law.
“Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel
Most people know “Stuck in the Middle With You” from that brilliant, albeit overly violent scene from Tarantino’s classic film, ‘Reservoir Dogs’. The extremely cheery and catchy tune was recorded by Stealers Wheel in 1973, and it became the Scottish band’s ticket to fame. The song topped BBC’s ‘Top of the Pops’ when it was released.
The band’s Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan recorded the song, but they enlisted the help of songwriters Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber. The pair had helped the king of rock ‘n roll himself, Elvis Presley, reach star status back in the day.
“Do You Wanna Make Love” by Peter McCann
This sweetly innocent song about intimacy, written by Peter McCann, was the number 5 song on 1977’s Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Do You Wanna Make Love” was so saccharine that even parents wouldn’t freak out when they heard it playing on the radio.
Unfortunately, nobody ever heard from Peter McCann again. But hey, he’ll always have his hit single.
“Jungle Fever” by The Chakachas
The Chakachas were a group of Latin-soul studio musicians from Belgium, and they were brilliant. In 1972, they produced a hit tune titled “Jungle Fever”, which reached number 8 in the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 29 in the UK. In the US, the single sold over a million copies, and was certified gold.
This groovy funk gem was also famously featured in the 1997 cult classic film, ‘Boogie Nights’. It also appeared in a 2004 videogame, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and three other films, including ‘Next Friday’, ‘Just Like Heaven, and 2019’s ‘Good Boys’. “Jungle Fever” has also been sampled by famous rappers throughout the years. However, The Chakachas never topped a chart in the US again.
“Afternoon Delight” by Starland Vocal Band
“Afternoon Delight” is one of those songs you can’t hear without cracking a smile and singing along. What was brilliant about this song is that, even though it was clearly incredibly suggestive and naughty, it was still whimsical enough to be played on the radio.
Skyrockets definitely took flight with this song, as it topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts when it came out in 1976, and more success and fame followed after Starland Vocal got its own TV show. The song was nominated for four Grammys, of which it won two, among them for Best New Artist. Unfortunately, this was definitely a case of a one-hit wonder, since that was the last hit anyone heard of Starland Vocal.
“My Maria” by B. W. Stevenson
Buckwheat Stevenson, or B.W. Stevenson, was a bearded country singer that hit it big with his 1973 song, “My Maria”. The single reached number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed in the Top 40 for twelve more weeks.
One year later, in 1974, Stevenson went on to perform for the Austin City Limits pilot episode. Regrettably, the recording was apparently not clear enough and the poor quality caused the episode producers to scrap it.
“Tighter, Tighter” by Alive N’ Kickin’
“Tighter, Tighter” was a poppy rock song that reached number 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1970. Originally written by American singer/songwriters Tommy James and Bob King, it was the Brooklyn-based band Alive N’ Kickin’ that made the song into a smashing hit single.
The tune was an interesting mix of psychedelic guitars, bubblegum harmonies and horns that sounded like the opening of a game-show.
“Just When I Needed You Most” by Randy VanWarmer
This 1979 soft rock hit by Randy VanWarmer reached number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100. “Just When I Needed You Most” is the ultimate heartbreak song, telling the story about a man who is destroyed after his love relationship ends.
Obviously, you only need to read the song’s title to figure out that the singer paints a grim picture of the woman who left him “in the rain without closing the door”, but there’s always two versions to a relationship. Whatever happened to this guy, at least he managed to have one hit single in his lifetime.
“Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul
Only the legendary, Grammy Award-winning soul singer Billy Paul could create a tune like “Me and Mrs. Jones”. Yes, the song is about infidelity, but it’s just impossible not to love! The scandalous song topped all the charts back in 1972, and almost 50 years later, it’s still a favorite for many.
The single, which earned Paul a Grammy, not only sold over two million records, but was also certified platinum. The soul master went on to produce many singles after this, but none were ever as successful. And if you’re too young to remember, you’ll definitely remember Turk from the TV show ‘Scrubs’ singing this over and over.
“Hitchin’ a Ride” by Vanity Fare
Back in 1966, five school friends formed a pop/rock band called Vanity Fare, and four years later, they would release a hit single that would become famous around the world. In 1970, Vanity Fare’s “Hitchin’ a Ride” came out, and reached number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The song was ranked by Billboard as the number 14 song of 1970, and the record it was released on, ‘Man Child’, sold over a million copies and was certified gold. The song’s catchy flute riff and simple lyrics about a man that’s hitchhiking became the official song of 1970. Even though Vanity Fare is still active today, they never saw success like this again.
“In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry
Inspired by the name of a fictional character in T. S. Eliot’s poetry collection, which inspired the famous ‘Cats’ musical, Mungo Jerry was certainly an odd group of musicians. The British rock band was definitely a one-hit-wonder, but it was an extremely successful hit. Their 1070’s single, “In the Summertime”, remains one of the top singles in music chart history.
Not only that, but the song has also become a staple for films and TV commercials around the world. And why wouldn’t it be? You’d be hard-pressed to find a more happy-go-lucky song. The front-man’s hairdo aside, we love everything about this band!
“Layla” by Derek and the Dominos
OK, so Eric Clapton is definitely not a one-hit-wonder, but his band Derek and the Dominos kind of were. Their 1971 hit single “Layla” was released on an album titled ‘Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs’, which pretty much says it all.
A fun little fact that many people probably don’t know is that “Layla” was a song written by Clapton about his unrequited feelings of love for a woman that was the then-wife of The Beatle’s George Harrison! And Clapton was one of his best friends back then. Even though Clapton went on to have a massively successful career, this single was Derek and the Dominos’ only claim to fame.
“Rock On” by David Essex
David Essex may be a well-known English singer in the UK, but in the US, he only ever scored one major hit – “Rock On”. Recorded and released in 1973, the song reached number 5 on the music charts, and even got a cover by American singer Michael Damian fifteen years later, in 1989.
“Rock On” was a very cool tune, with a particularly minimal sound that almost made it feel like ambient music, all the while sounding as heavy as any good rock song. Unfortunately, this Brit didn’t see another chart topper in the U.S., ever again. But don’t feel bad for him, he’s a legend in the UK!
“Black Betty” by Ram Jam
You may remember the epic “Black Betty” from the soundtrack of ‘Blow’, the famous film by Ted Demme. Ram Jam was a rock band formed around lead guitarist Bill Bartlett. He had over ten years of experience in the music industry since he had been playing with other ’70s bands. One of them was Lemon Pipers, the band that topped charts with 1968’s ‘Green Tambourine’.
Ram Jam was definitely a one-hit-wonder, but they still managed to cause a stir. Their hit “Black Betty” is a true rock ‘n roll song that just makes your bones jump. It may have been a rework of a shorter song by master blues guitarist Lead Belly, but Ram Jam certainly made it special. Even though it became a worldwide hit, it caused a lot of problems. The NAACP wasn’t happy with the bold lyrics and even tried to boycott the band!
“Seasons In The Sun” by Terry Jacks
Ironically, everybody remembers “Seasons in the Sun” for its happy guitar sounds, but it was actually an incredibly sad song. The 1974 chart-topper featured some very gloomy lyrics, but it was still the hit that made Terry Jacks famous. For about 15 minutes, but still.
The song was originally written by a Belgian jazz singer called Jacques Brel, in 1961. Two years later, it was translated and somewhat rewritten by an American singer, and finally sang and made famous by Canadian-born Terry Jacks.
“Which Way You Goin’, Billy?” by The Poppy Family
Another Canadian band that hit it big back in the 70s was The Poppy Family. Released in 1969 in Canada, their hit single, and incredibly sad song, “Which Way You Goin’, Billy?” topped charts in Canada and Ireland. One year later, it reached number 2 on the US Billboard pop chart.
The four-member psychedelic pop group sold millions of records worldwide, proving they were truly talents musicians. Married couple Susan and Terry Jacks were two of the members, and a unique Tabla player and sitar strummer gave The Poppy Family a very special sound. The only member of the band that would produce another hit was Terry Jacks, but that was about it.
“Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass
The Looking Glass certainly hit the nail in the head when it came to writing a song about a sailor’s complete inability to commit to a serious relationship. released in 1972, this wildly famous hit single was thought to have been based in a real-life story, but it was finally revealed that it wasn’t.
The single was so popular that it reached the number one spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and the Cash Box Top 100 chart. Unfortunately, the American pop band was probably as crushed as Brandy was when they realized this would be their only hit single.
“Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton
American singer-songwriter Minnie Riperton was one of a kind, and audiences knew that right away. She had a stunning voice and an unparalleled, five-octave coloratura soprano range that made her sound like an angel. Her biggest hit, the 1975 “Lovin’ You” is an incredibly sweet song where she gave adoring fans a taste of her astounding vocal talent.
Minnie wrote “Lovin’ You” to soothe her daughter when she was a little girl. Her daughter, as it turns out, is ‘Saturday Night Live’s’ brilliant Maya Rudolph. The song, filled with lovely, calming sounds, was a perfect way for Minnie to show off her beautiful voice. Sadly, Minnie passed away from cancer just 4 years after her song became a timeless hit.
“Third Rate Romance” by Amazing Rhythm Aces
The Amazing Rhythm Aces had a pretty cool name, and in 1975, they released a pretty cool country rock song titled “Third Rate Romance”. As you probably guessed by the title, the song was about a cheap one-night stand that happens after a man and a woman meet at a restaurant and go straight to business.
This no-frills song reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, and Amazing Rhythm Aces had a brief taste of fame with their one hit single that reminded everyone what true country music was about – straight talk, no bells and whistles.
“Funky Nassau” by The Beginning of the End
There has never been a one-hit wonder with a more relevant and appropriate name than The Beginning of the End. This band from the Bahamas consisted of three brothers, a bassist and a guitarist, and their 1971 hit single, “Funky Nassau”, topped charts across the country.
The song reached number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, and had people sweating on the dance floor in clubs across the world. The Caribbean groove was impossible not to dance to, and it certainly saw its share of fame, even if it was for a very short time.
“Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang
Sugarhill Gang might have been the band that created “Rapper’s Delight”, but the mastermind that made it happen and go big was their talented producer Sylvia Robinson. “Rapper’s Delight” is more than just an extremely good piece of music, it was rap music’s debut into the mainstream, all the way from the hard 1970’s streets of New York’s Bronx borough.
One night in 1978, the famous disco band Chic was performing with The Clash and Blondie in a New York venue, when, all of a sudden and complete spontaneously, rapper Fab Five Freddy and his friends got on stage with Chic and started free-styling. And so, the hit tune came along, and stayed for good.
“Feelings” by Morris Albert
Some song titles have hidden meanings, secret stories, inside jokes. But this hit by Morris Albert is as straightforward as they come. “Feelings” is exactly about that – feelings. Sad feelings, to be more exact. Brazilian-born Albert took creative liberty and improvised on an already existing song written by Loulou Gasté, a known French composer. And despite the fact that Albert faced a lot of copyright lawsuits, his version of the song was a huge hit in 1975.
The very sad lyrics and soft tune turned “Feelings” into one of the most emotional ballads of the 1970s, and has been covered by countless artists through the years. From the great Nina Simone, to the legendary Ella Fitzgerald and even Julio Iglesias, the song has definitely had its time in the spotlight.
“I Love You for All Seasons” by The Fuzz
“I Love You for All Seasons” was a soulful ballad written by Sheila Young and performed by D.C. soul trio, The Fuzz. Released on December 1970, the song reached number 10 on the US R&B chart and number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971.
The heartfelt tune reached deep into your soul thanks to the beautiful voice of the trio of ladies that made up The Fuzz. And even though they didn’t produce any more hits, they sure made this one count.
“Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry
It is fair to say that there’s not one person in this world that hasn’t danced to this tune. But the funk legend Wild Cherry wasn’t always at the top of the charts. Before they came out with the awesome “Play That Funky Music”, in 1976, they couldn’t even book a single gig!
Funnily enough, the legendary song came about when the band was playing at a club to an audience that was somewhat disappointed and unresponsive. Someone suddenly shouted, “play that funky music white boy!”. The frontman, Rob Parissi, got the line stuck in his head, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“American Pie” by Don McLean
Don McLean may have had other singles that had their fair share of success, but none ever came close to the epic “American Pie”. This song has been covered by countless artists, including Madonna, and it is simply one of those beautiful, timeless songs that will stay a favorite forever. Everybody knows “American Pie”, and everybody gets a strong nostalgic feeling every time they hear it.
Released in 1971, this epic tune became a symbol of the counterculture hippie movement of the ’60s and ’70s. It didn’t matter that it was over eight minutes long, people still managed to learn every single word by heart. And they still remember.
“Born To Be Alive” by Patrick Hernandez
Patrick Hernandez was the French disco king of the ’70s. He had it all – the puffy hair, slick shoes, sharp suits, and even a dancing cane. Hernandez was definitely born to be on stage, and apparently, he was also born to top the charts with his number one hit, “Born to be Alive”.
However, the disco king’s song was definitely a one-time hit, since Hernandez retired from his music career shortly after, in 1979. But hey, we’re still dancing to the groove.
“Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty
Gerry Rafferty may have been most known for being a member of the famous band Stealers Wheel, but he certainly made his mark as a solo artist.
In his hauntingly beautiful hit song “Baker Street”, Rafferty pulls on everybody’s hearts strings with his legendary guitar solo, making it a top-five hit across countries in the summer of 1978. Did we mention it has one of the most epic saxophone solos in music history?
“My Baby Loves Lovin” by White Plains
This sweet, cheery tune had British pop group White Plains singing about “my baby loves lovin”. Performed by session pop singer and recording artist, Tony Burrows, and co-lead singer Ricky Wolff, “My Baby Loves Lovin” reached number 9 on the UK Singles Chart and number 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Released in 1970, this White Plains tune had all the romantics playing this tune for their sweethearts. Unfortunately, the British band didn’t top any US charts again, and finally disbanded in 1976.
“Reflections of My Life” by The Marmalade
Not only does this Scottish band have a great name, they produced a beautiful, bittersweet nostalgia song that became an instant classic. The Marmalade released “Reflections of My Life” in late 1969, and it reached number 3 in the UK and then number 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1970.
The Marmalade was known for their psychedelic rock tunes, which went on to top charts in the UK, but as far as the US was concerned, “Reflections of My Life” would be their only hit.
“Kiss an Angel Good Mornin” by Charley Pride
This 1971 single reached number one on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs, and made American country music artist, Charley Pride, known around the world. “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin” was written by Ben Peters, a country music songwriter that wrote many wonderful songs, and Charley Pride recorded 68 of them.
However, none was ever as popular as “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin”, and understandably so. Who wouldn’t like a love song about “kissing your angel good mornin and letting her know you think about her when you’re gone?”. Now, that’s romance!
“(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson
Not only did Lynn Anderson’s “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden” reach number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, it won a Grammy in 1970 and became a hit around the world. Written by Joe South, it was country music singer Lynn Anderson that recorded and made the song famous.
A sweet-voiced Anderson sings about someone who reminds their sweetheart that love is a combination of ‘sunshine and rain’.
“The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” by Vicki Lawrence
You might know TV legend Vicki Lawrence from her character in the extremely successful show, ‘The Carol Burnett Show’, and its spin-off ‘Mama’s Family. But many don’t know that Vicki also made her debut in the music world with her 1973 hit song, “The Nights the Lights Went out in Georgia”.
Even though Lawrence was definitely a one-hit-wonder when it comes to music, it was a huge win. Her song was a thrilling story of murder and mystery in the South, and the unique chorus made it a country music staple.
“The Hustle” by Van McCoy
One of the biggest and most famous dance songs of the 70s, “The Hustle” took the world by storm in 1975. This massive hit by Van McCoy, who unfortunately passed away at a young 39 years of age, reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and the Hot Soul Singles chart.
McCoy’s song will live on forever, as the official song that your drunken uncle dances to at a wedding, the after-hours nightclub that just doesn’t want to close for the night, and basically every other situation when you just cannot stop dancing.
“Dancing In The Moonlight” by King Harvest
King Harvest is a band with an interesting story. They were a group of American musicians that lived in Paris, and they went through several members, even having former members of the Beach Boys at some point. But “Dancing in the Moonlight” was their moment in the spotlight.
The hit single that topped charts in 1973 would prove to be the band’s only shot at the top, and it’s not difficult to see why. The songs gentle and soothing sounds can’t help but make you want to move.
“My Sharona” by The Knack
“My Sharona” is one of those songs that everybody knows the chorus to – even today. It is simply one of the most catchy tunes ever! The riff, the drums, the bass, it all works in perfect harmony to create a song that stays stuck in your head for days. It’s no surprise that this song by The Knack topped all charts back in 1979, and they were set to top them again with another single, “Good Girls Don’t”. But it never happened.
The Knack was very hated by some people who claimed the popular song was about underaged girls, and there was even a famous California-based artist named Hugh Brown that started a ‘Knuke the Knack’ campaign against them. Other people said they were mediocre Beatles imitators.
“Dynomite” by Bazuka
If you were born in the 60’s, you might remember the famous 1974 American sitcom, ‘Good Times’. And if you do, you’ll know exactly where Jimmie Walker’s famous catchphrase “Dynomite!” came from. Perhaps this also helped the 70’s R&B group, Bazuka, to reach number 10 on the US Billboard chart with their song “Dynomite”.
The group, formed by record producer Tony Camillo, released their self-titled album in 1975, and its hit single was the famous “Dynomite”. Even though Bazuka didn’t top the charts again, this one-hit wonder is definitely worth a mention for its funky grooves and unique dance rhythms.
“How Do You Do?” by Mouth & MacNeal
Imagine a Dutch version of ABBA; that’s simply the best way to describe the Netherlands-born duo, Mouth & MacNeal. The puffy-haired duo released a hit single in 1971 titled “How Do You Do?”, and it completely skyrocketed. The song was number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 for nineteen weeks, and number one in Netherlands, Denmark, New Zealand, Switzerland and Belgium.
Even though the song was written by Hans van Hemert and Harry van Hoof, two famous Dutch composers, it was the cheery duo that performed it so well. The sing-along tune took the Motuh & MacNeal to the 1974 Eurovision contest, as the Netherlands representatives. Unfortunately, in December of 1974, the duo split up.
“Hooked On A Feeling” by Blue Swede
ABBA wasn’t the only Swedish ’70s band to have hit songs. Blue Swede topped the charts with their 1974 single “Hooked on a Feeling”, and to be honest, it is one of the happiest, funnest songs to listen, sing and dance to. The rock group made their hit tune by mixing two different cover songs – one Swedish and the other American.
Funnily enough, the famous “ooga-chaka” opening line in the song was to become insanely famous many years later because of an entirely different reason. Remember the dancing baby from ‘Ally McBeal’? Yeah, that was the song that he was dancing to in one of the world’s first viral videos, that came out in the 90s.
“Turn the Beat Around” by Vicki Sue Robinson
You might know this popular song from Latin queen Gloria Estefan, but the original was actually sung by a New York diva called Vicki Sue Robinson. Back in 1976, Robinson topped the disco charts around the world with “Turn the Beat Around” and went on a national tour to perform on stages big and small. And audiences loved her.
Robinson may not have had any more hit singles after this, but she didn’t exactly fade away either. She went on to score a gig as a backup singer in the wildly popular song “Fame”, by Irene Cara. What’s more, she spent most of the ’80s working with musicians like Michael Bolton and Cher.
“All Right Now” by Free
The legendary rock band Free may have been a one-hit wonder in the U.S., with their epic song “All Right Now”, but that was certainly not the case in Britain. Free was one of the most famous rock bands in Britain, and even though the band broke up shortly after their record-breaking hit song, they still managed to sell over 20 million albums worldwide. All in all, not too shabby.
The young British boys wrote the song at the student union building in Durham University in England. And when we say young, we really mean it. The bass player, Andy Fraser, was only 17 years old when he and his bandmates became rockstars around the world with “All Right Now”. Fun trivia: remember Jessa from the famous HBO series ‘Girls’? She’s the drummer Simon Kirke’s daughter!
“Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor
Another 1970’s gem is the hit song “Indiana Wants Me”, written and recorded by one-hit wonder, R. Dean Taylor. A Canada native, Taylor wrote the song, which tells the story of a man who murdered someone for insulting their wife and is hiding from the Indiana police, after watching the famous film ‘Bonnie and Clyde’. Taylor even added some actual sounds of police officers to the song.
“Indiana Wants Me’ rose to number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970 and number 2 on the UK Singles Chart in 1971. A perfect mix of a folk-rock musician singing about Indiana, on an album produced by Motown Records was just a fusion of styles that could only work back in the 70s. This was Taylor’s only smash hit.
“Beach Baby” by The First Class
British pop group The First Class topped the charts in 1974 with their hit single “Beach Baby”. And it must be said, if for no other reason than irony, that their lead songwriter’s last name was Shakespeare. Oddly enough, the band’s lead singer had a very American-sounding accent.
As the name suggests, the song is about a girl on the beaches of California, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they were merely trying to imitate the Beach Boys. Still, they added their own classic musical style and a lot of brass.
“Got To Be Real” by Cheryl Lynn
This 1979 disco hit’s success transcends far beyond its time, as it is still making an appearance in countless TV shows, films, and commercials to this day. Cheryl Lynn topped the charts with “Got to be Real”, but many don’t know that she had seen quite the success before that.
Lynn’s music started to gain a major following many years before her hit song came out. Why? Because she had played a part in the stage version of ‘The Wiz’. Interestingly, when “Got to be Real” started to top charts years later, the film version of ‘the Wiz’ with Diana Ross and Michael Jackson had just come out.
“Ça plane pour moi” by Plastic Bertrand
Plastic Bertrand is a bizarre quirky man from Belgium that wanted to do a parody of a new genre called punk, and the result was fantastic. Imagine a naughty version of the Beach Boys. And you may think you’ve never heard it before, but “Ça plane pour moi” has appeared on many big Hollywood films, like ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and ‘Eurotrip’. Just google it, you’ll be shocked.
Don’t worry, even if you understand French, you won’t understand a word this odd little man says. The delightfully weird Bertrand topped charts across Europe, and, surprisingly, the U.S.
“Chevy Van” by Sammy Johns
Even if you didn’t live through the 70’s, you probably still know that vans were huge back then. The family-sized vehicles that may seem outdated today were an absolute hit back in the day, and Chevy was one of the most popular van makers. So, American country singer/songwriter, Sammy Johns, decided to write a song about them, which he simply titled, “Chevy Van”.
Although released in 1973, “Chevy Van” rose to number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1975, and sold millions. In fact, the song became so popular that it inspired the 1977 niche film, ‘The Van’. Not surprisingly, Johns recorded the whole soundtrack. But that was about it for the singer’s short-lived fame.
“Cat Scratch Fever” by Ted Nugent
Ted Nugent may be known for his super conservative political views and rants, but way before he was an intolerant activist, Nugent was singing his lungs out in 1977. This heavy metal tune called “Cat Scratch Fever” talked about venereal diseases, which is not surprising when you know it’s Ted Nugent singing.
For those who don’t know, “Cat Scratch Fever” is what people used to call STDs. Classy, right? Anyway, Nugent’s 1977 hit single rose to number 30 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The worse part was that the man in the song claims to have had his first STD at 10 years old! No wonder Nugent’s success was a one-time hit.
“Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward
Even though Anita Ward didn’t write the song, she brought it to life and made it the hit it still is today. Famous R&B singer Frederick Knight actually wrote the song, drawing inspiration on the teenagers of the time that were constantly talking on the phone. Knight wanted the song to be sung by Stacy Lattisaw, a known singer of the time. But, as it turns out, she signed with another label at the last minute. And then Anita Ward came along.
This couldn’t have been a better turn of events, since Ward’s 1979 version of “Ring My Bell” made it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 list and the Soul Singles chart. Ironically, many people thought the lyrics of the song had a double meaning -implying its suggestiveness. Anita didn’t like this one bit, as she was a devout catholic. Regardless, the song made it to the top and became a timeless hit.
“The House of the Rising Sun” by Frijid Pink
Everybody knows the legendary song, “The House of the Rising Song”. A traditional folk song about a life gone wrong in New Orleans, it was covered by many bands around the world, the most successful being the famous 1964 version of The Animals. However, Detroit-based band Frijid Pink also released a version in 1970 that went straight to the top of the charts.
A worldwide success, Frijid Pink’s version of the song was a psychedelic blues and heavy metal rendition that was still catchy enough to be loved by any type of listener. The distorted guitar and frantic drumming were an interesting take on the folksy song. Friid Pink’s version was certified gold in the US, and then they kind of faded in the years that followed.
“Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas
Carl Douglas’s 1974 hit single is recognizable from the very first second. That unmistakable ‘oriental riff’ immediately makes whoever is listening want to dance uncontrollably.
In a time when kung fu movies were wildly popular around the world, Douglas seemed to strike gold with the hit song. Especially since martial arts king, Bruce Lee, had passed away some months before. Ironically, Carl Douglas was actually born in Jamaica.
“Playground In My Mind” by Clint Holmes
Clint Holmes is a famous singer that topped charts around the world with his cheerful song, “Playground in my Mind”. By 1972, when the song was released, Holmes had already been in the military for many years, singing for three years in the U.S. Army Chorus during the Vietnam War.
So, it came as no surprise that people went crazy for such a hopeful and happy song, which was made even sweeter by children’s vocals heard in the background. Holmes never wrote another hit song again, but he went on to be wildly successful in other venues, like the Joan Rivers Show, and several performances in Las Vegas.
“She’s Not Just Another Woman” by 8th Day
Holland–Dozier–Holland was a songwriting and production team that was behind many of the hit Motown songs of the 60s and 70s. In fact, many people credit them for defining the Motown sound of the time. They were the creative geniuses behind the hit 1971 song “She’s Not Just Another Woman”, performed by R&B group, 8th Day.
The hit tune reached number 3 on the US R&B chart and number 11 on the US Pop chart. The single was released on a self-titled album by 8th Day, and sold over a million copies and was certified gold.
“How Long” by Ace
Most chances are you wouldn’t know the band Ace, but you’d certainly recognize their hit song “How Long”. The bass riff at the song’s opening is unmistakable and is still revered by many to this day. But ironically, and perhaps what makes the song so unique, is that despite its an epic opening riff, the song is actually a soft rock ballad.
The story behind the song is slightly less nice. As it turns out, Ace’s lead singer found out that their bassist had been playing with another band. But, despite it’s not-so-happy origins, Ace hit a goldmine with this 1974 hit, which went on to be covered by A-list musicians like Bobby Womack and Rod Stewart.
“Spirit In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
“Spirit in the Sky” is one of those songs that will live forever. Written by American singer-songwriter Norman Greenbaum, the song is an extremely cool rock tribute to Jesus (aka ‘the spirit in the sky’). Ironically, Greenbaum was an inveterate hippie raised in an Orthodox Jewish family!
The song, which he apparently wrote in 15 minutes, was an insane hit back in 1969. So much so, that it has actually topped music charts in three separate occasions, by three different musicians. Greenbaum claims to have been inspired by famous American singer Porter Waggoner, whom he saw one night singing gospel on TV.
“Venus” by Shocking Blue
If you never heard the original 1970’s version of “Venus”, you’ve probably still heard it about a thousand times from the famous Venus women’s shaving razor commercials. But thanks to the tune basically becoming a TV anthem, many don’t remember, or even know, that the original was sung by the band Shocking Blue.
The four-member band from the Netherlands wrote the timeless psychedelic song as a nostalgic goodbye tribute to the music of the ’60s. We guess naming a song after a Roman goddess paid off, since the song topped the charts in nine countries shortly after its release.
“Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image
Blues Image was a cool Tampa-based band of rockers that released an incredible groove on April of 1970. “Ride Captain Ride” became the band’s massive hit single, reaching number 4 in US and Canadian charts.
The song told the story about ’73 men that sailed up from the San Francisco Bay’. And why 73? Because that was the number of keys on band singer Mike Pinera’s piano. Even though this was the only Blues Image smash hit, the song was later covered by famous band Blood, Sweat and Tears, and it had a second chance of fame thanks to being featured in the movie ‘Anchorman’.
“O-o-h Child” by Five Stairsteps
In a time when the Vietnam war was at its worst and people were struggling to keep their hopes up, Five Stairsteps positive, heartwarming song, “O-o-h Child” was like a breath of fresh air. The 1970’s hit-filled the radio waves with much-needed hope, and listeners loved it.
The band was certainly unique, as they were all siblings that came from the soul music scene in Chicago. But one of them, singer Alohe, took the spirit of the ’70s a little too literally; he left the band a few years after their hit came out to find enlightenment.
“Love Hurts” by Nazareth
Released in 1974, Nazareth’s lead singer Dan McCafferty certainly sang his heart out with the legendary tune “Love Hurts”. The song, which instantly became a worldwide anthem for breakups and heartaches, was one of the most memorable and successful of its kind.
Nazareth’s band members were all Scottish, but their hit still topped charts in the U.S., Norway and the Netherlands when it was released. Even though the song was a cover, McCafferty’s unmistakable yell over the otherwise soft ballad is what gives it the special something that made “Love Hurts” into one of the most epic heartbreak songs in history.
“Love Jones” by Brighter Side of Darkness
Formed in 1971, in Chicago, Illinois, the R&B and soul group Brighter Side of Darkness definitely had its fifteen minutes of fame. And this is already impressive considering their lead singer, Darryl Lamont, was only 12 years old! Their 1972 hit single “Love Jones”, topped the charts and was certified gold by the RIAA.
The hit soul song became so popular that it was even parodied by Cheech and Chong, who called their version “Basketball Jones”. Funnily enough, the spoof managed to reach one spot higher on the charts. Sadly, Brighter Side of Darkness disbanded in 1974.
“Angel in Your Arms” by Hot
Even though you may only be familiar with Barbara Mandrell’s 1985 version of “Angel in Your Arms”, it was originally written and recorded by Hot, in 1977. This country music hit topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 6, and went on to top R&B and other charts across the country.
The sassy song became a popular hit, maybe because it told the story of a woman that wants her lover to know he’s not the only one cheating around town. Good for her, and good for Hot, who managed to have at least one hit song through their career.
“Put Your Hand in the Hand” by Ocean
Although “Put Your Hand in the Hand” might sound like an odd title for a song, that didn’t stop it from becoming number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Now, once you know that the song was a gospel pop song, the title starts to make more sense.
For those who din’t live through the 70s, Christian pop became mainstream music back in 1971, with the help of musicals like ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, and Ocean, a Canadian gospel rock band, decided to capitalize on it. It was a very soft and Christian hit single, and Ocean’s only one.
“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” by Edison Lighthouse
Edison Lighthouse was another British pop band from the 70s that sand saccharine tunes about love. Featuring British pop prince Tony Burrows, the band’s “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” reached number one on the UK Singles Chart in 1970, and stayed there for five whole weeks.
It went on to reach number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and even though the band broke up in 1977, they will always have their one big hit single.
“The Boys Are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy
Even if you’re not a 70’s child, you must have heard the rocking Thin Lizzy song, “The Boys Are Back in Town”. Thin Lizzy was a rock band that formed in Ireland and they had a wildly successful hit with this 1976 classic. It was named one of the 500 greatest songs of all time by Rolling Stones magazine and reached number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Ironically, Thin Lizzy didn’t want to release the song at first, saying that they weren’t planning on putting it on that particular album. However, after their manager heard it, they saw a golden opportunity, and boy, were they right. However, this was the last US hit these rockers produced.
“Timothy” by The Buoys
The Buoys were an American pop/rock band from the 60s and 70s, and they hit it big in 1970 when they recorded the famous song “Timothy”. Written by Rupert Holmes, who was also the man who wrote “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”, “Timothy” was a very catchy, albeit dark rock song about cannibalism. The thing was, it took radios and listeners a while to realize it.
The song reached number 17 on the US Billboard charts, and stayed there for eight whole weeks before radios across the country started to ban it once they caught on to the lyrics. Apparently, the popular song was about men who got trapped in a mine and start eating poor old Timothy! The Buoys tried to convince everyone that Timothy was a mule, but nobody believed it.
“The Devil Went Down To Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band
If you’re in the mood for some good old American country music, this is one of the best you’ll find. The Charlie Daniels Band pull out all the stops in this Bluegrass country song filled with crazy fiddles, violins and banjos. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” topped U.S. charts back in 1979, and for good reason.
The song tells the story of a boy that’s dared to a fiddling match with the Devil himself, and the Devil is stunned by the boy’s abilities. Like we said, good old American country.
“Dueling Banjos” by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell
Maybe you won’t remember this instrumental 70’s hit, but you’re bound to remember the infamous 1972 film that made it so popular – the American thriller, ‘Deliverance’. Now, this film is wildly disturbing, and one of its most shocking scenes is accompanied by the folk song hit, “Dueling Banjos”.
Even though the original composition was written by Arthur Smith, the film version of the song, which was the one to reach number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, was arranged and recorded by Steve Mandell and Eric Weissberg. The catchy bluegrass hit also reached number five on the Hot Country Singles chart.
“Signs” by Five Man Electrical Band
The Five Man Electrical Band were a Canadian rock group from the 70s, and their hit single “Signs” made this somewhat unknown band quite popular in the US. Their song, released in 1971, reached number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 4 in Canada.
The record the single was released in was certified gold, propelling this Canadian quintet straight to the top. Even if only for a very short time. “Signs” was written by the band’s lead singer and guitarist, Les Emmerson, while road-tripping in California. The famous anti-establishment tune had a second wave of fame when rock band Tesla covered it nearly twenty years later. The song made it to the top ten, again.
“What the World Needs Now Is Love/ Abraham, Martin and John” by Tom Clay
Tom Clay was a DJ working at a radio station in L.A. back in 1971, when he decided to create a unique remix of the popular 1965 song “What the World Needs Now Is Love”. It was first recorded and made into a world-famous hit by Jackie DeShannon, and became an anthem of love against bigotry, segregation and war.
Tom Clay’s remix has a young boy’s voice describing the words ‘hatred’, ‘bigotry’, ‘segregation’, and ‘prejudice’ as what call it “when somebody’s sick”. Clay added Vietnam war soundbites, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Teddy Kennedy’s eulogy for his brother Bobby, and newscasts about JFK and Bobby Kennedy’s assassinations. Clay’s version reached number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
“Cat’s In The Cradle” by Harry Chapin
This 1974 treasure is definitely one for the ages. ‘Cat’s in the Cradle was written by folk-rock singer Harry Chapin, who in turn got the inspiration from a poem his wife Sandy wrote. As the story goes, Sandy Chapin said that the poem was about her first husband’s complex relationship with his father, who was a prominent politician.
However, Harry Chapin quickly realized that it was very much about himself and his relationship with his son. Its beautifully haunting lyrics stay with us long after the song is over. Go on, give your dad a call. He’ll be happy.
“Rock the Boat” by The Hues Corporation
“Rock the Boat” was one of the first ever disco songs to become a massive hit. Released in 1974 by The Hues Corporation, an American trio that was insanely talented, this song reached the number one spot on the US Billboard 100 chart and on the Canada Top Singles chart.
A fusion of disco, soul and R&B, “Rock the Boat” was one of those songs that you could either seriously dance to or simply play in the background while you were cuddling with a loved one. Unfortunately, this amazing music trio didn’t produce any more hit singles, but we’ll always have ‘the boat’.
“You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone
Even though the song is originally from a 1977 film, it was Debby Boone who made the tune world-famous after her cover. Of course, being the daughter of legendary Pat Boone didn’t hurt her chances of making it big in the music world. However, Debby still carried her own weight and worked hard to propel her career.
Not only did the song spend a record-breaking time on the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, Debby won a Grammy and an American Music Award for her unique version of “You Light Up My Life”.
“Hot Child In The City” by Nick Gilder
Nick Gilder’s “Hot Child in the City” was one of those wildly misunderstood songs. Its rhythm is upbeat and carefree, but if you ever took a second to read the lyrics, you’d realize the song is about young girls working in the streets. Gilder wrote the song after an eye-opening experience he had on Hollywood Boulevard, in Los Angeles.
Gilder was a London-born Canadian musician that topped the charts with this 1978 hit. Even though he was wildly successful with his rock band, Sweeney Todd, and as a songwriter for A-list artists, this was as high as he got in terms of his solo career.
“Pop Muzik” by M
If you ever want a perfect example of what new wave music sounds like, listen to “Pop Muzik”, by M. It may be incredibly bizarre and catchy at the same time, but this 1979 hit by English group M was certainly a success.
The band was a collaborative project that centered around Robin Scott, a known English musician of the time. “Pop Muzik” had synthesizers that made it a perfect mix of disco and electronic pop, a style that would define the ’80s. The famous ’90s band U2 has remixed and performed the song many times.
“Magic” by Pilot
Back in the ’70s, Pilot was one of Scotland’s most famous rock band, and their hit “Magic” won a gold record just a few short months after its release in 1974. Not only is it an extremely catchy tune, it actually makes you think like you’re in a magic show. Whether you agree or not, the song definitely had a certain kind of magic to it, since it sold nearly a million copies worldwide.
“Magic” made it to number 5 in the U.S. music charts, but their following hit, “January”, only made it big in the UK. Funnily enough, “Magic” made a big comeback more than 30 years later, in 2007, as the theme song for a Pillsbury commercial.
“Chick-A-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes’ Love It)” by Daddy Dewdrop
“Chick-A-Boom” is a song that everyone has heard at least once in their life. And if you haven’t, you surely remember the lyrics: “Last night I had a crazy dream about a chick in a black bikini”…”she must be a magic genie”. The hit song that reached number 9 on the US Billboard Pop chart in 1971, was performed by Dick Monda, better known by his fantastic moniker, Daddy Dewdrop. In the photo below, you can see Daddy Dewdrop in all his glory – with a huge mustache and a train conductor’s hat.
As it turns out, Monda was a music producer for an animated TV series called the ‘Groovy Goolies’. The famous “Chick-A-Boom” was originally written and recorded for the show, and producers had no idea it would become a chart-topping hit.
“The Rapper” by The Jaggerz
Many people still believe that this band’s name was a play on Mick Jagger’s name, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The rock band from Pennsylvania released their hit song “The Rapper” right in the middle of Rolling Stones mania, in 1970, so it’s not surprising people got confused at first.
However, the band explained that they chose the name after Pittsburgh slang word for a type of thorny bush. The hit song was a fun boogie with groovy electric guitar riffs that was only surpassed in popularity by “bridge Over Troubled Water”, by Simon & Garfunkel. The Jaggerz wrote many other singles that made the Billboard Hot 100 charts, but they never topped them like “The Rapper”.
“I Love The Nightlife” by Alicia Bridges
Even though Alicia Bridges might look like a punk chic, she’s definitely a disco princess. Her hit song “I Love the Nightlife”, released in 1978, was Bridges’s personal love letter to nightlife. Needless to say, she loved parties and dancing, and she wanted listeners to love it as much as her.
Her voice had a cheekiness to it that made it one of a kind, but Alicia was clear from the start – this would be her only venture into disco music. Apparently, she simply said she wasn’t interested in making a full album in the disco genre, even though producers made her a very generous offer.
“Cruel to Be Kind” by Nick Lowe
If you’re a 90’s child, you might remember “Cruel to Be Kind” as a song performed by alt rock band Letters to Cleo in the cult classic film, ’10 Things I Hate About You’. But this sing was actually released in 1979, by English singer/songwriter, Nick Lowe.
Reaching number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100 made Lowe into a one-hit wonder. “Cruel to Be Kind” told the story about a man that’s confused about his lover’s harsh treatment, but when he asks why, she simply says that “You’ve gotta be cruel to be kind”. And we do agree that sometimes it is a necessary evil to be unkind in order to achieve overall happiness.
“Driver’s Seat” by Sniff ‘n’ the Tears
You won’t find anything more seventies than Sniff ‘n’ the Tears and their hit “Driver’s Seat”. Complete with huge hairdos, a frantic drum beat, synthesizer falsettos and very heavy guitar riffs, this song has it all and more. The British-born band saw huge success with their 1979 chart-topping hit.
But it seems worldwide success wasn’t enough to keep the band together, as shortly after “Driver’s Seat” broke chart records, many of the band’s members left, and the next singles weren’t nearly as good. One thing’s for sure though, the song will also forever be remembered as part of the legendary soundtrack of the epic film, ‘Boogie Nights’.