The 1970’s were a time of disco, 8 tracks, polyester and pop music. From teeny-bopper bands like the plaid-clad Bay City Rollers to solo crooners like Barry Manilow and enduring classics such as the Eagles and Chicago, the hits from the 1970’s bring back easygoing times that live on only in the movies.
The following hits were chosen for this list because they embody everything that the 1970’s stood for. So without further ado, here are the Top Ten Songs of the 1970’s:
1. Seasons in the Sun, Terry Jacks (1974)
A song that quickly rose to number one in March of 1974, Seasons in the Sun, performed by Canadian singer Terry Jacks as a tribute to a friend he recently lost. After being rejected by the Beach Boys, Jacks released the song on his own label. Nearly overnight, it became the best selling song ever in Canada, selling more than 285,000 copies in just weeks.
2. Mandy, Barry Manilow (1974)
Thousands of girls in the US named Mandy can thank Barry Manilow for putting out this song in 1974. Though a popular myth persists that Manilow named this song after his dog, in reality, it was originally released in the UK by another artist as Brandy. The name was changed to avoid confusion with another popular American song by the same name.
3. Billy Don’t Be a Hero, Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods (1974)
Billy Don’t Be a Hero, a song about a boy that goes off to war and is killed while, you guessed it – being a hero, was a tearjerker of a hit in 1974. After this single was released, it climbed quickly to number one on the charts, sold millions of copies, and netted a gold record for Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods.
4. Delta Dawn, Helen Reddy (1973)
Delta Dawn took to the charts in 1973 and held the number one spot for a week. Originally written by rockabilly star Larry Collins, this song was done by other notables such as Bette Midler and Tanya Tucker. This version, sung by Australian vocalist Helen Reddy when Barbara Streisand refused it, sold over one million copies.
5. Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce (1973)
Heralded as the number three posthumous hit ever, Jim Croce’s song “Time in a Bottle” wasn’t released as a single until after Croce was killed in a plane crash on September 30, 1973. As it was featured in an ABC made-for-TV movie on September 12, 1973, the unfortunate timing of Croce’s death caused the song to catapult to popularity a few short weeks later.
6. Saturday Night, The Bay City Rollers (1973)
An original “boy band,” this group from the UK chose their name by sticking a pin in a map and pegging Bay City, Michigan. While Saturday Night was released in 1973, it didn’t end up in the number one spot until the Rollers were featured on “Saturday Night Live” in 1975.
7. Afternoon Delight, The Starland Vocal Band (1976)
The biggest single of 1976, Afternoon Delight, was released by The Starland Vocal Band of Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert. The husband half of this married duo also wrote Country Roads Take Me Home for John Denver. You may also be interested to know that according to Wikipedia, Homer Simpson has a Starland Vocal Band tattoo on his arm.
8. Heartbeat is a Love Beat, The DiFranco Family (1973)
The debut song for The DiFranco Family in 1973, Heartbeat is a Love Beat made it to number three on the charts. Defying the phrase “one-hit wonder,” the DiFranco’s had three hits before they disappeared in 1974.
9. Horse with No Name, America (1972)
Supposedly a song about heroin (which the band denies), this song nevertheless made it to the top in 1972. Whether about drugs or a road trip through the desert, America managed to bump Neil Young’s Heart of Gold from the number one spot.
10. You’re So Vain, Carly Simon (1973)
Carly Simon’s tongue-in-cheek song about a previous lover ranked in at number one on the charts in 1973 and sold millions of copies. You’re So Vain could have been referring to Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, or Cat Stevens among others, but does it really matter who the song was about? She says she’ll never tell.