Best Songs List

100 Best Songs of the 70s: Part I

The 70s have been one hell of a decade to go through. The political tensions and cultural shifts from the 60s continued on. In terms of music, the first half of the decade were kind of a mixed bag, but it started picking up in the second half. Even with easy listening music taking up the majority of the decade, a lot of genres still thrived. R&B was at its best during this decade, embracing the soul and the funk. Rock music gave birth to several subgenres like progressive rock, southern rock, arena rock, and even heavy metal and punk. Country music was also thriving as was pop music. Reggae was starting to grow a significant audience and there’s even the genesis of genres like new wave and hip-hop (though the latter was exclusively a New York thing). Oh, and we can’t forget about disco. Disco ruled the latter half of the decade for better or worse. It wasn’t perfect, but no decade is. Now that we’ve gone through what I personally believe are the worst of the 70s, let’s look at what I believe are the best.

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We start off with two songs from Queen that have become staples for every single sporting event out there. We Will Rock You was just made for stadium crowds. The only backing track is stomping, clapping, and Brian May’s guitar solo. It’s the song that gets the crowd pumped up for the big game. And in the end, there’s We Are The Champions, which is the song that’s played after winning the big game. The soaring instrumentation makes you want to take a victory lap while the crowds roars in excitement. These two songs aren’t Queen’s best material, but man, do they get the job done.


One of the many groups that Eric Clapton was a part of is Derek & The Dominos. They only released one album that spawned one huge hit in Layla. This is a song about a guy falling crazy in love with a beautiful woman named Layla and it was inspired by Clapton falling in love with George Harrison’s then-wife Pattie Boyd. Fun fact: after she divorced from Harrison, Pattie and Clapton got married. Seriously. Real life craziness aside, the song rocks, starting with one hell of a guitar riff that stays in your head for days and it concludes with a fantastic piano coda that kinda goes on for too long, but it’s a great listen. It’s one of those classic rock records that you have to hear.


Most of the best post-Beatles songs came from John Lennon. Before his death in 1980, he spent the entirety of the 70s getting involved in politics and of course, making music. One of his hits is Instant Karma!, which is exactly what the title says it’s about, karma and how it’ll come back to you someday. The song is produced by longtime Beatles collaborator and murderous monster Phil Spector and he gave the track his signature sound that both sounds like it could be for a Beatles track, but unique enough to be Lennon’s own thanks to those keys and guitars. Dude was in a lane of his own compared to his former bandmates.


Time to add a little country flavor to the list with The Charlie Daniels Band with The Devil Went Down In Georgia. The story in the song is focused on the Lord of Darkness going to Georgia and attempting to steal souls to no success. There, he meets Johnny, who’s a talented fiddle player and he challenges him to a fiddling contest where if Johnny wins, he gets a golden fiddle, but if he loses? Well, it’s the Devil, so you can figure it out. So Johnny wins the contest and the Devil admits defeat. Story aside, this is a great song. The bluegrass instrumentation is upbeat and energetic to where it can create a hoedown anywhere it’s played. That fiddle is just too infectious. Check out the song if you haven’t.


Next up is Draggin’ The Line by Tommy James. This song has one cool groove thanks to the instrumentation: the memorable bassline, the subtle guitar licks, the organ, and some brass. This is rock that feels at home in the early 70s in the best ways possible. And the way Tommy James says “draggin’ the line” in the chorus is so dope. Some people interpreted the song as being about cocaine because lines and it was the 70s. But that’s not what the song is about. Tommy himself stated that it was about working, which makes sense looking at the lyrics. It’s a good song, plain and simple.


Well, here’s the first of many R&B hits that you’ll see on this list and this one comes from The O’Jays. It’s called For The Love Of Money, a phrase that comes from a Bible verse that basically states that money is the root of all evil, a statement that’s somewhat true. This is one funky ass song that also has some psychedelic influences thanks to the bassline having a swirling effect alongside an echo. All three men brought it vocally, their chemistry just flows naturally. This is one of those songs that’s been in a lot of TV shows, movies, and commercials and is played anytime money is involved, which ironically misses the point of the song.


Most people know this song because Christina Aguilera, Pink, Mya, and Lil Kim covered it for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. While their cover is fine enough, it doesn’t beat the LaBelle version in my opinion. This is a party staple because of the amount of energy that Patti LaBelle and company put into their performances, singing for the divas out there in the world. Matching the same energy is the instrumentation with its use of organ, piano, and brass, and percussion. And this is a song about a prostitute. Seriously. This line from the chorus…

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir

… is French for “do you want to sleep with me tonight?” And this was a number one hit. Amazing what they got away with in those days.


 This is one of those songs that honestly needs no introduction. Just say “play that funky music, white boy” and people will know what you’re talking about. When you hear the beginning to Play That Funky Music, you know instantly what’s about to go down. Wild Cherry’s only hit is a funktastic jam that features one of the most iconic basslines ever crafted along with some funky instrumentation. This song is guaranteed to have any party jumping. It’s so great, no amount of Vanilla Ice could ruin it. Not bad for a couple of white boys from Ohio, huh?


If you’ve been to a Guitar Center, chances are you’ve probably heard people playing Smoke On The Water. One of Deep Purple’s biggest hits in the US is a hard rock classic. Ritchie Blackmore crafted a guitar riff that guitar players have practiced playing for decades and fits with the organs and drums. The song was actually inspired by a real story of when Deep Purple were recording their album and then Frank Zappa was doing a concert at a nearby casino when someone shot a flare gun and caused a fire to burn the place down. The smoke on the water part came from the smoke spreading over the nearby Lake Geneva. This is one of those hard rock songs that’s worth listening to.


In 1976, Rocky was released in theaters and it became a huge hit. It was the highest grossing film of that year, it won three Oscars, including Best Picture, it spawned sequels to varying reception, and made Sylvester Stallone a huge star. This tale of the underdog resonated with a lot of people and the theme song, composed by Bill Conti and called Gonna Fly Now, is part of the reason why. The brass section makes this song. Every time you hear it, you just want to work out to be the very best at something. And it’s complimented by percussion, piano, guitar, and strings that adds more flavor to the song. There’s like 30 sung lines in the song, but no one cares about them because they never go that far in the song. Honestly, this song is deeply tied to working out to the point of parody, but no amount of parody could take away its greatness.


Here’s a song that makes you want to drive a motorcycle even if you can’t drive one. Thank you, pop culture. If Born To Be Wild was the motorcycle jam of the 60s, then Slow Ride by Foghat is the motorcycle song of the 70s. The slamming guitar riffs, the complimentary bass, and the drum work make for another staple of the classic rock genre. And the lyrics perfectly captures what it’s like to drive a motorcycle down the highway along with your biker friends. Rev up your gears, head down the highway, and blast this song like it’s no one’s business.


Now to slow things down with some Roberta Flack and the late Donny Hathaway. These two have recorded a lot of really good songs together, including the love ballad The Closer I Get To You. This song originally wasn’t meant to be a duet, but I think making it a duet was the best decision made because you can feel the love coming out of the track and it’s thanks to the chemistry between Flack and Hathaway. There’s also the instrumentation, which feature delicate keys and sweeping synths that creates an out of this world romantic feel. This is a song that has seen many covers through the years, including one from Beyonce and Luther Vandross back in 2004 and I can see why.


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From one soulful song to another. Wilson Pickett makes an appearance on this list with his last number one hit Don’t Knock My Love. It carries that 60s soulful energy all the way to the early 70s with its funky instrumentation. The blaring horns, the groovy bass, and percussion make for one hell of a party mover. Wilson’s rougher voice is perfect for this song and he puts his all into this song. And the writing is pretty good, showing that he’s willing to give his girl some distance if she wants. Three years later, this song would be covered by Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross, which is alright, but Wilson Pickett just does this song better.


Fact: black people love martial arts films. That’s evident by the popularity of these type of films in the 70s and the fact that black cinemas would play these films. Oh, and Kung Fu Fighting, too. One could question if the song is insensitive towards Chinese culture, especially with lines like…

They were funky Chinamen from funky Chinatown

… that. But I doubt this song was made with any malice because Carl Douglas sounds really enthusiastic about the art of kung-fu. Seriously, every time the hook comes around, how could you not sing along while doing kung-fu moves? Add in an upbeat disco track along with East Asian sounds and you got an ass-kicking song that’ll get even the most noble monks moving.


And now for the first of many songs on this list that was part of the soundtrack to the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies. Spirit In The Sky by Norman Greenbaum was released in 1969, but became a hit in 1970. I really dig this instrumentation. It combines the off-kilter sounds of psychedelic rock with elements of gospel. It merges two radically different sounds into a way that’s palpable. And it’s a song about everyone’s favorite liberal hippie zombie, Jesus Christ. Yeah, it’s pretty obvious. Funny enough, Norman Greenbaum is Jewish. Just because I’m an atheist doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy music with religious themes and concepts.


Dire Straits are best known for Money For Nothing and its accompanying video. But before that, their big hit in the US was Sultans Of Swing. The song was inspired by Mark Knopfler going to a pub in London and watching the performance of a jazz band who called themselves the Sultans Of Swing, hence the name. You can hear and feel the Bob Dylan influences in the way Knopfler paints the scenery with his writing and that extends to the instrumentation. The guitar work here is amazing, especially the solo. There is a reason why Knopfler is considered to be a top-tier guitarist because he brings in that work.


Steely Dan is a jazz rock band who saw their best years in the 70s recording music with an eclectic, somewhat sophisticated style. Donald Fagan and the late Walter Becker were the core members of the band along with several studio musicians. And they got the band name from dildos from a novel named Naked Lunch. Huh. Anyways, their second single Reelin’ In The Years. This is a post-break up song where the guy is wondering what went wrong and what he saw in his ex. But what makes this song that makes all of Steely Dan’s best songs is the instrumentation. There is some top-notch musicianship put in from the pianos to the guitars to the drums and even that guitar solo. Steely Dan’s got some jams that you have to check out.


I have been very critical of Lionel Richie on this site, but the dude is legitimately talented and I’ll always point to his work with the Commodores. Brick House is a straight-up classic and if it had made any Year End chart, it would fill up this spot. In its place is another Commodores classic Easy. I normally turn the other way when it comes to Lionel Richie doing a ballad, but this is one of those few times where it works and it’s partly thanks to the writing where instead of being sad that a relationship is over, Richie is more optimistic about the future, stating that he’s “easy like Sunday morning.” I also love the instrumentation. The textured piano along with the use of strings, horns, and a guitar solo are crafted for a great ballad made for those slow days.


Superfly is one of many blaxploitation films released in the 70s. It has a remake that was released this year, which made me ask “why?” But Hollywood remaking movies is a whole other topic that’s been talked about to death and we’re not focused on that. We’re focused on the soundtrack to the original, which was done by Curtis Mayfield. Freddie’s Dead is the lead single from that soundtrack and it’s about a junkie named Fat Freddie. I haven’t seen Superfly in its entirety, but I’m guessing that it mentions things that happened in the movie. Bruh, Curtis Mayfield finessed this track with his vocals. The instrumentation? Are you kidding me? The wah wah guitars, the bass, and the orchestral strings? Immaculate. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a blaxploitation movie.


I first came across this song while watching X-Men: Days Of Future Past during the Quicksilver scene. I wanted to know what the song was and I found it: Time In A Bottle. It’s beautiful and bittersweet at the same time with gentle guitars and a harpsichord and Jim Croce wishing that he could have more time to live life and do the things he want to do. Why do I say that this is bittersweet? Well, it’s because two months before this song was released, Jim Croce died in a plane crash. Knowing that while listening to this song is very eerie. Still, it’s a great song from a guy who was gone too soon.


Now let’s move on to something more upbeat, another song from Guardians Of The Galaxy. Pop rock band Raspberries with Go All The Way. This is one of the more fun songs on the list and that’s thanks to the instrumentation and vocals. The distorted guitars and upbeat grooves are simple and catchy so that it remains recognizable. It’s the perfect blend of pop and rock. And this is a song about boning. What else would go all the way mean in the context of this song? And it’s done in a tasteful, more palpable way. Great song at the end of the day.


Words alone can’t describe how huge the Bee Gees were in the 70s. They were part of the reason why disco was huge in the first place thanks to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. One of the songs from that soundtrack is the Bee Gees’ own Jive Talkin’ which was released two years prior. It uses funky disco instrumentation with synthesizers to add a different sound than what the Bee Gees are used to. Not much jive talking is going on in, which goes against the title, but hey. Those vocals are still amazing. Won’t be the last time we’ll run into the Bee Gees on this list.


Todd In The Shadows once said that Copacabana was untouchable and I don’t disagree. As someone who doesn’t listen to a lot of Barry Manilow, I can say that this is the best song that he’s ever made. He usually makes a lot of piano ballads, but with Copacabana, he went for something different: a disco beat with a tropical flavor to it alongside some orchestral strings. It’s the kind of song that’s perfect for a summer vacation. It tells the story of a night at the Copacabana hotel and it has the feel of an old musical, which applies to a lot of Barry Manilow’s songs. Still a good song overall.


Let’s add some sass to this list with Rufus & Chaka Khan with their hit Tell Me Something Good, written by Stevie Wonder. There’s definitely a Stevie influence in the instrumentation even though he only wrote the song. The oily clavinet, the guitar licks, the groovy bass, and even a talk box make up this funky and soulful backdrop of the music. Chaka Khan just brings it with a playful and seductive performance and how she manipulates her voice throughout was so dope. You can just feel it. This is one of many hits that Rufus & Chaka Khan would have throughout the 70s.


On October 4, 1970, Janis Joplin passed away after a heroin overdose. A year after, she would posthumously get her first number one single in her cover to Me And Bobby McGee by Roger Miller. While the original is fine enough, I like what Janis did with this song. Her rougher textured voice goes really well with this bluesy, folk-like instrumentation and she sells the emotions of the lyrics, which tell a story about a bunch of hitchhikers. It’s a shame that Janis Joplin was gone so soon and at such a young age. She could’ve blew up if she didn’t.


I first knew of this song because Red Hot Chili Peppers did a cover to it for the Beavis & Butthead movie. Make no mistake: the original version from Ohio Players is friggin’ awesome and will always be. It’s such a fun song. That chorus is extremely catchy. I can’t help but sing along to it every time I hear it. The vocals are amazing and so is the instrumentation, from the guitars to the bass to the drums and the brass. This is one funky ass song. Oh, and there was that whole urban legend where people claimed that the scream that occurs during the instrumental part of the song was someone being murdered, which was bullshit to begin with. People love to make shit up.


And now for one of the earliest new wave hits courtesy of Blondie. Heart Of Glass is the band’s first big hit with instrumentation that mixes the synths and textures of new wave with the rhythms and grooves of disco. In spite of the more upbeat production, the lyrics themselves are on relationships that end badly and how it can be all fun until someone develops a heart of glass. Even with that, it’s a song that sounds like the bridge between the 70s and 80s and it was the perfect pop hit, too perfect to the point where Blondie were accused of selling out. Yeah, don’t listen to those people. They’re idiots.


I’m pretty sure that Barry White is responsible for a lot of babies being born during his peak. His baritone voice could impregnate any woman who hears it and he put it to good use, gracing the music world with best baby-making songs like I’m Just Gonna Love You Just A Little More. This is one of those songs that is just pure seduction. White’s spoken word monologue capture the image of sitting in a dark-lit room with rose petals and scented candles everywhere and only wearing a bathrobe. Not just a great singer, but Barry White is also a great producer, bringing the crisp drums and the lush piano and orchestral strings that set the perfect mood. It’s romantic and seductive. What more can you ask for from Barry White?


Next up is American Woman, a song that ironically comes from Canadian band The Guess Who. This was a song that the band wrote after touring the US and it has different interpretations. While some people thought it was about disdain for American women, others, including lead guitarist Randy Bachman, say it’s a protest song, striking back against the States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. This was 1969 after all. The draft was a thing and people who didn’t want to enlist escaped to Canada. Anyways, this song rocks. From the guitars to the bass to the drums, every member was jamming. This song has seen a number of covers with the most famous one coming from Lenny Kravitz, which helped him win a Grammy.


From one rock classic to another. Foreigner has churned out hits in the 70s and were even bigger in the 80s. Feels Like The First Time is an appropriate title for their debut single as it’s also their first hit. It features rocking instrumentation with bright synths and an organ in the background, making for an easy rock hit. Lou Gramm kills it in the vocal department, capturing the feeling of experiencing a new relationship for the first time. This would be the first of many hits that Foreigner would have as their career progressed.


Here’s a group that I’m sure you already know, ABBA. This Swedish quartet (consisting of two couples) were the biggest pop group in the 70s not named the Bee Gees and were so huge that a musical was made around their music, named after one of their hits. Now let’s talk about Take A Chance On Me. This slice of Europop, like many like its ilk, is very dance-oriented and relies on the sound of disco for its backing music. The vocals are great and they’re complimented by the backing vocals do the “tck-a-ch” thing, which was actually how the song was written, around that, which involved into the phrase “take a chance.” It’s one of many hits that ABBA would have in the decade, but not their best. Still a great song.


Next up is dad rock that wouldn’t sound out of place as a sample for a modern Eminem song. This is Feel Like Makin’ Love by Bad Company. Roberta Flack also has a song with the same title, but they’re not related at all. On to Bad Company. The instrumentation is classic rock mixed with some country. You get that from the acoustic guitars in the verses and the chugging electric guitars in the chorus. And if you couldn’t tell from the title, this is a song about wanting to make love. Nothing else needs to be said. Another great addition to classic rock stations.


You know? One of my favorite songs is Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra. But sadly, it wasn’t a big enough hit to make any YE lists. So I settled with Don’t Bring Me Down to take its place. Unlike some of their other songs, this doesn’t have a string section, which makes the song stand out. Instead, it goes for a straightforward mainstream rock sound. Oh, and the drums are a slowed down tape loop from their other song On The Run. The writing is focused on a woman who has changed in a relationship, but not for the better. This won’t be the last time we’ll see ELO on this list.


Every time I hear this song, I can’t help but smile. Nothing From Nothing is one of Billy Preston’s number one hits and it’s just a ray of sunshine. It has this soulful instrumentation that’s anchored by a ragtime piano (and even an intro that sounds like circus music). The dude is one impressive musician, which gained recognition from legends like Little Richard, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and the Beatles, all whom he worked with. Another thing that makes this song is Preston’s performance. It just generates a feeling of happiness in spite of all of the things that he’s gone through in his life. R.I.P. to Billy Preston.


Kansas is one of many rock bands named after cities and states. Their biggest hit is Dust In The Wind, but I like Carry On Wayward Son even more. We have instrumentation that rocks thanks to the guitar work, but also borrows from progressive rock with the use of organs and piano. The vocals are great, especially in the chorus. This is another song that I can’t help but sing along to. The lyrics are very spiritual by nature, searching for enlightenment when one feels empty within themselves. This is something that people can relate to if they want to find their purpose within the world. What else can I say besides it’s another rock classic?


On April 19, 1971, the Doors would release L.A. Woman, their last album with Jim Morrison before his tragic death three months after. One of the singles from that album is Riders On The Storm, which was also the last song Morrison ever recorded. It was inspired by a really old country song called (Ghost) Riders In The Sky: A Cowboy Legend. Morrison has two modes of singing: punk-like screaming and smooth/controlled. Riders On The Storm is definitely the latter. The instrumentation is really psychedelic, being anchored by Ray Manzarek’s key playing along with sounds of rain and thunder. This was a song made for those rainy days. The Doors were a really dope band with jams.


Time for the second two-for-one special courtesy of Earth, Wind & Fire. I would make an Avatar: The Last Airbender joke, but I had none. So, Sing A Song and Getaway. Both songs are funky and soulful with music that’s bound to get you moving and they both have god-level vocal performances. Both songs deal with getting away from some problem with Sing A Song suggesting that you sing them away. Both are fun, positive-thinking party jams. Earth, Wind & Fire are one of my favorite acts to come out of the 70s because nearly every song they had was untouchable. And we’re going to see more of them as we progress through the list.


John Denver was one of the big stars of folk and country music during this decade and in his short life, he gave us some of the best of both genres including Rocky Mountain High. This is a song that John Denver wrote about the time he moved to Colorado and how much he loved the state. It’s so deeply tied to Colorado that it’s become the state’s official song. I like how this song sounds with the acoustic guitars. It’s made to appeal to both the folk and the country crowd and it succeeds at both. What a talent John Denver was and it’s sad that he’s no longer with us.


There’s no shortage of protest music in the 70s, especially with the public’s resentment against the Vietnam War. And not many protest songs at the time were as bombastic and assertive as Edwin Starr’s War. Technically, this isn’t his song, it’s from the Temptations. Listening to both versions, I prefer the Edwin Starr version as I believe that he pulls this song off better. He just has more energy and passion while the Temptations version sound, well, just like another Temptations song. The chorus sells this song, asking what war is good for and answering that question with “absolutely nothing.” Matching that intensity is the instrumentation, which goes for bombastic and flair. And this struck a chord with people at the time who resented the fact that we were in Vietnam.


After how intense the last song was, let’s move to something more relaxing and homey. And who better to do this than Al Green with Let’s Stay Together? This is one of the greatest love songs ever made and it’s all in its simplicity. Let’s stay together, through good times and bad times. This might seem like love song cliches, but Al Green just sells that sentiment well and you can feel the love. And of course, there’s the instrumentation. So much soul: the horns, the guitars, the drums, the organ, the lowkey gospel feel. It just hits you right in the soul, which is what good music should do.


Let’s head right back into the world of disco with K.C. & The Sunshine Band. Get Down Tonight is their first big hit and it’s one of the songs that kickstarted the disco craze. Everything we come to expect from the genre is here. You got an uptempo beat with crazy drums, guitars, horns, bass, percussion, etc. Harry Wayne Casey, a.k.a K.C., is the perfect frontman for this type of music as he injects a ton of energy to this party jam. Most of the lyrics repeat themselves and are just dance instructions, but that’s perfectly fine for this type of song. Years later, this song would be in a ton of movies and TV shows appropriate or not, proving that the disco spirit will never die.


Here’s another song originally written for the Temptations, but someone else did it better. And it was also written by the same people behind War (the song). This time, it’s the Undisputed Truth with Smiling Faces Sometimes. This song is a warning to be careful of certain people who’ll take advantage of you. Sometimes, those smiling faces hide devilish intent, whether to exploit or to harm, and they’re usually from your friends. The backing music is designed to create a creepy, claustrophobic feel with its string section and also with the way the bass and guitars sound. I first came across this song because of Grand Theft Auto V and I’m glad I found it because it’s great.


If I ever made a list of the greatest ballads ever made, chances are that the Delfonics’ Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) would be mentioned. And honestly, how could I not? It’s a beautiful song through and through. The music is lush and soulful. It’s that Philadelphia sound with its string and brass arrangement. The vocals are just excellent, all three men brought their A-game. I love this song too much. New Kids On The Block actually did a cover to this song on their debut album. I didn’t listen to it, but I’m guessing it’s not as good as the original, which isn’t shocking.


And now for another song from John Denver. This time, it’s Sunshine On My Shoulders. Denver wrote this song during a dreary winter/early spring as he can’t wait for those sunny days to show up. It can also work as a metaphor for wanting to see better days as it generates the feeling of hope and optimism. Then there’s the instrumentation, which is acoustic guitar-driven along with strings. It’s very moody, but in a good way. Since this was released near the end of the Vietnam War, it pretty much had perfect timing. It’s another classic from John Denver and it’s not the last one to be on this list.


For the longest time, I knew of this song’s existence, but I didn’t know what it was called. Well, thanks to the internet and Shazam, I now know. Here’s Knock On Wood. This was originally an old soul song from Eddie Floyd back in 1966 and since its release, it has seen many covers from David Bowie to Amii Stewart, whose version makes this list. She turned Knock On Wood into an upbeat disco track with Hi-NRG synths and she brought in one hell of a vocal performance. Another fun addition to the disco playlists of the time.


Making their second appearance on this list is Electric Light Orchestra or ELO. This time, it’s for one of my favorite songs from them that isn’t Mr. Blue Sky. It’s Evil Woman, which is about women who take advantage of men who are well off and what happens if they can’t find another opportunity. It’s basically the 70s rock version of Gold Digger. But the best part of the song is the instrumentation, where ELO uses their signature sound of orchestral strings along with a memorable piano riff and rocking guitars and drumming. Whoever this song is aimed at might be evil, but man, do they have the perfect villain song made for them.


No, this has nothing to do with the Bruno Mars song. Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are is one of many hits that ol’ Billy has gained throughout his career and his version is clearly superior to Bruno Mars’. This is a love song that he wrote for his first wife and while it does use the cliche of “you’re perfect just the way you are,” it’s still well-done and Billy Joel sells the sentiment. There’s also the instrumentation, which is lead by an electric piano and contains acoustic guitars and a saxophone. It’s a great love song and one of many Billy Joel classics.


I’ve mentioned several times that GTA: San Andreas helped mold my music tastes. One of the many songs that I listened to while playing that game was Barracuda by Heart, led by Ann and Nancy Wilson. This song is just pure unadulterated aggression with help from the heavier rock instrumentation, which features chugging guitars and stomping drums to match the intensity. And there’s also Ann Wilson, who is just pissed and honestly, she has the right to. At the time, the record label Heart used to be signed to attempted to start this idiotic publicity stunt hinting that Ann and Nancy were lovers. Mind you that they’re sisters. So this song is a big “fuck you” to that record label and comparing them to a predatory fish, a barracuda if you will. This was one of many hard rock songs that Heart would make in the 70s before softening their sound in the 80s where they got bigger. It wasn’t bad like Chicago, but it doesn’t compare to their 70s output.


When it comes to writing a song about something like infidelity, you have to get it right. For example, look at Billy Paul’s only hit single Me And Mrs. Jones. Let me get this out the way first: the music is great and Billy Paul kills it vocally, especially when he belts “Me And Mrs. Jones” in the chorus. Now let’s get into the meat of the song. In Me And Mrs. Jones, Billy Paul is having an affair with a woman named Mrs. Jones. In this situation, they both know what they’re doing is wrong and they genuinely feel awful about it. There’s actual consequences if they keep the affair going and Billy Paul just sells the pain. It’s not glorifying cheating, it’s exposing the ugly side of it that artists rarely talk about these days.


If you’re an anime fan like me, chances are you’ve either seen or heard about JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. At the end of the first two seasons, Roundabout by prog rock band Yes would play, spawning a series of memes later on. It’s the ultimate road trip song which fits way too well with JoJo as it creates a sense of adventure and wonder. And the instrumentation fits the song with its use of acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, synths, and a piano played backwards. And just like a road trip, it goes to different directions. The song is 8 minutes long, but every second is worth hearing. Hope your adventures stay bizarre.

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2 thoughts on “100 Best Songs of the 70s: Part I

  1. Reading all your 70s lists and listening more to the popular 70s music has given me a better understanding of the decade and understand that the decade isn’t as golden as I thought it was. But despite all the bad songs you pointed out throughout your lists, I still have a great love and appreciation for 70s music. This is mostly because I have fond memories of my parents and family playing a lot of these songs when I was a kid and I still love listening to these songs. I also love 70s music because of how every genre got a chance to shine along with bands and artists being able to record with more creative freedom. And there’s just so many different facets of 70s music that it’s hard to cover all of them. And I’ve always been interested with the 70s because this was the decade my parents came of age in and I always enjoy hearing their stories of what they used to do back in the day. My dad is a big rock fan and he tells me stories of seeing all these acts in the 70s like Led Zeppelin, Rush, Chicago, Ramones, The Police, Aerosmith, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and so many more. The rest of my family were big on music growing up and I’ve used your 70s series as a way of discussing more about how they remember a lot of the songs you mentioned about on your lists. It’s led to some really interesting discussions. My aunt is actually not a big fan of all those bands like Journey, Boston, and even ELO for being a little too pop for her at that time. While I am a big 70s music fan, I mostly knew about the rock music of the decade with faint knowledge of disco, funk, and R&B. Reading your lists made me listen more to the songs you posted on your best lists and it has given me a greater appreciation for all those genres and wanting to learn these songs on guitar and bass. To save myself time since I’ve been busy lately, I’m only going to comment on the songs I’m really familiar with.

    Queen are one of the best bands ever. I can’t name a bad song from them and Freddie Mercury is easily one of the best rock singers and entertainers ever. We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions shows why Queen’s music will forever be remembered for how anthemic they are. I hear these songs at almost every sporting event I go to. Both songs are just fun sport anthems that you just can’t help but get caught up in the celebration.

    Layla is one of my favorite Eric Clapton songs of both his bands and solo career. That guitar riff is a riff all guitar players like myself must learn. Agree that the piano coda kinda goes on for too long but I don’t mind it. Even though it’s the same chords, it doesn’t drag on too long for me. To me, I love listening to that coda for how beautiful it sounds. I can imagine it being used at the end of a happily ever after movie.

    Even though he wasn’t a great person in his personal life, John Lennon is still one of the most talented musicians to have ever lived and one of my favorite artists ever. His solo songs were easily the best out of all the Beatles solo work as he was able to take in a lot of inspiration from politics and his family and used it to spread his message of love and peace. His songs like Imagine and Instant Karma are still so relevant today even almost 40 years after his murder. I like Instant Karma for how it’s a warning for people of karma coming around to them while mixing it with his peace message by singing how we’ll all shine on regardless. And yeah Phil Spector is a murderer but he still was a great visionary in production even if he was troubled.

    For the Love of Money is a classic that many people have heard at least once even if they don’t know the song right from that intro. This sounds like something that would fit perfectly in a business or action movie or sequence. Unfortunately, Trump used it as the theme for The Apprentice but even he can’t ruin this song.

    I also prefer the Labelle version of Lady Marmalade. The Moulin Rouge version was a good update but you can’t beat the energy Patti Labelle brings to the original along with the great soul instrumentation. My sister told me she would sing this song back when the Moulin Rouge version was big as an 11 year old and our parents would get mad because of the prostitution subject matter. It’s amazing how we look past the lyrics and not realize the true meaning of the songs we allow to get big.

    Play That Funky Music is a great song to jam out to from start to finish. Once you hear the song, you know right away you’re in for a good time. Who doesn’t love to sing along with that chorus? It’s the perfect blend of rock and funk and one of the greatest songs ever about selling out. They were playing it recently on the Sirius 70s and 7 station when I was in the car with my mom and she immediately started groovin along with it. That’s how recognizable this song is. Vanilla Ice basically murdered that song when he sampled it. Thankfully the original still holds up.

    Smoke on the Water is another rock classic with a riff every guitar player should know. What more can I say.

    I’ve seen some of the first Rocky movie and the second one which are all great. The theme song is a perfect pump up, work out anthem.

    Slow Ride is just another slamming rock classic that makes me imagine driving out on a highway in the summer. Makes you feel free.

    Yeah, Kung Fu Fighting is silly but I still like it because Karl Douglas just makes the song fun even if you’re like me and not a kung-fu fan.

    Sultans of Swing is another great rock classic.

    Steely Dan are severely under appreciated and aren’t credited enough in music. My parents used to play them a lot as a kid. I like how sophisticated their music and lyrics are and how they were dedicated perfectionists in the studio. Reelin in the Years is no exception. Love the instrumentation and musicianship and the contrast between the soft, reflective verses and the hard rocking chorus and solos.

    As much as I don’t like a lot of Lionel Richie’s music, I can’t deny that he’s really talented. Easy is easily one of my favorite songs from him both solo and with the Commodores. One of the reasons I like this more than his other ballads is that Easy doesn’t make me want to fall asleep or bored. It’s a ballad that has an actual groove with a piano riff that everyone including myself has tried to master. One of my family friends likes to play Easy on the piano every time we visit.

    In a way, you can make a connection between Go All The Way and the power pop styles of Cheap Trick and The Cars later in the decade. Love how this song bridges pop and rock music with those loud distorted guitar riffs and sweet melodic sounding vocals and instrumentation.

    It’s amazing to think now about how The Bee Gees were able to reinvent themselves from a psychedelic pop band from the 60s to the biggest disco group of the 70s to the point where people forget that the brothers had a big career before they went over to disco. Jive Talkin is another great song of their discography even if it’s not as memorable as Stayin Alive or You Should Be Dancing. I don’t care much about the lyrics but it’s really the funky instrumentation and the smooth vocals that truly make this song work for me.

    Copacabana is to Barry Manilow what Summer of 69 is to Bryan Adams. A song from an unpopular artist where even people who don’t like him can agree is great. I love how it’s a fun dance song that tells a story since you don’t really see these songs often.

    Tell Me Something Good is a great piece of sexy 70s funk. Once you hear it, you know right away it’s from the 70s with those wah guitars and clavinets.

    When you think about it, if it wasn’t for Janis Joplin, we wouldn’t have P!nk, Stevie Nicks, and Florence and the Machine they way they are. Janis really showed that female singers didn’t have to look and sound pretty and could rock just as much as the guys. Me and Bobby McGee is a great blues-folk song where Janis really brings it vocally. You can feel the emotion she’s selling about the hitchhikers. It’s sad that she died at 27 from a heroin overdose. Who knows what more she had in store for us had she lived?

    Love that guitar riff on Love Rollercoaster. It’s just so catchy and immediately gets you into the song. Just another funk classic.

    Like my aunt said, Heart of Glass was easily the best of the rock/disco crossovers. I get why they were accused of selling out considering all the rock people were angry at disco at the time but as a rock guy myself I like this song and I’m glad it still holds up.

    American Woman is another great rock classic from that iconic guitar riff to that guitar solo to the singing. I like how they mask the political protest of the lyrics fooling listeners who thought it was about disliking women. The Lenny Kravitz version was alright but like many covers it can’t beat the original. Fun fact: when The Guess Who were invited to play at The White House for the Nixons, First Lady Pat Nixon asked them not to play American Woman because of the perceived anti-American lyrics.

    Feels Like The First Time- another great rock song

    Feel Like Makin Love- another rock banger

    Don’t Bring Me Down and Evil Woman- Just like Steely Dan, ELO are another under-appreciated band. A rock band with an orchestra, how much better can you get! Like Queen, I can’t think of a bad song from them and they have so many classics. Evil Woman and Don’t Bring Me Down are great songs that showcases ELO’s greatness though I like Evil Woman more.

    Until now, I only knew Billy Preston for his work with The Beatles and didn’t know he had a successful career of his own and I like what I heard. Nothing for Nothing is just a fun song to put a smile on your face. Love the old style piano and horns they use and the circus intro while weird fits in with the fun atmosphere.

    I also like Carry On Wayward Son more than Dust in the Wind for the rocking instrumentation, nice piano playing, and reflective lyrics. Another rock classic.

    The Doors are another great band and Jim Morrison is another great rock frontman who died way too soon. Riders on the Storm shows why they were so great with the jazzy psychedelic instrumentation, rain and lightning effects that really goes well with the lyrics, and Morrison using his poetic singing voice.

    Sing a Song and Getaway are great funk classics though I prefer Sing a Song more cause of how happy it is. Earth Wind and Fire sure knew how to get people moving on the dance floor.

    War is a great protest song cause you really feel caught up in what Edwin Starr is signing about. Great song to rally people around and still holds a lot of relevance today.

    Agree that Let’s Stay Together is one of the greatest love songs ever for how warm and inviting it feels in Al Green’s vocals and the great soul instrumentation. I love listening to this song for its calmness and message of staying together no matter what, a message we could all use in this politically divided time where families aren’t talking to each other. Last summer I was on vacation in Memphis and I went to various music museums including at the former Stax Records and learned a lot about the Memphis soul sound that Al Green popularized. He still lives in Memphis as a preacher now and my dad was hoping to see him at his church since he liked a lot of his songs and remembers how big Al Green was growing up in the 70s.

    Get Down Tonight like all other K.C. and the Sunshine Band songs are great party jams that while don’t have a lot of lyrics still make it fun nonetheless. Shows that not all songs have to be lyrical masterpieces to be good.

    Billy Joel is another legend who’s made so many great songs. I hear his music a lot since I live on Long Island and he’s a part of our cultural identity. My mom once saw him in the Hamptons on Long Island when we had a family summer home there. And he performs every month Agree that Just the Way You Are is better than the Bruno Mars song of the same name as Billy just sells the emotion of always loving this woman just they way she is. Unfortunately, he doesn’t perform it that much anymore especially after he divorced his first wife so he doesn’t want to be reminded of writing this song for her and he also finds it cheesy.

    Barracuda is one of the best female performances in rock and Ann Wilson is one of the best female singers ever with this song being a good example why. Ann Wilson just sings the hell out of this song and it goes really well the hard hitting rock instrumentation which includes one of the greatest guitar riffs ever. That whole publicity stunt hinting the Wilson sisters as lovers was so stupid and they had every right to sound the way they do in this song. Heart with Ann and Nancy Wilson showed that women could rock just as hard as men could. Agree that Heart’s 70s music is better than the 80s just like with Chicago.

    Me and Mrs. Jones is another R&B classic and one of those rare songs about infidelity that’s good as Billy Paul really sells the emotion of the affair.

    Roundabout is a progressive rock masterpiece with all the elements that makes the genre great along with one of the most iconic bass lines ever. It’s amazing how Roundabout charted at all considering how out of the ordinary it sounded from the other charting songs of the time. I like Owner of a Lonely Heart but nothing in Yes’s discography can beat Roundabout.

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  2. While I do think the 70’s was a good decade for music, I don’t think it’s as great as it’s reputation would suggest, especially with all that easy listening shlock dominating the airwaves that whole decade. Still, there were a lot of classics, not to mention landmark songs from really great genres. Both Queen stadium songs are great, but I prefer We Are The Champions a whole lot more. Layla and Instant Karma are solid tracks. Devil Went Down To Georgia is just great, with all those fiddles and all around fun. I first heard For The Love Of Money on New Jack City and I hear it on some commercials, so yeah, it’s definitely one of the O’Jays most recognizable songs. I personally am not that big of a fan of the 2000’s remake and I find it kind of overrated, the original version is far better than that cover. Play That Funky Music is a funk song done by a white group done right. Screw the Vanilla Ice version. Smoke On The Water is a great song. The Rocky theme is pretty dope, but I’m kind of sick of hearing it a lot. I think the movie is the only place I’m willing to hear it. By the way, the first Rocky movie is a classic, while the rest of them are mostly good with some bad ones (and I’m one of those that defends the fourth one). I hear Slow Ride a lot, it’s pretty cool. Pretty much every Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway collaboration I listened to was great, this one was no different. Wilson Pickett was a really great artist that released some really good R&B tunes in the 60’s and early 70’s, Don’t Knock My Love was another one of those infectuous uptempo R&B tunes he released in his peak (although for me his signature hit is his version on Land Of A Thousand Dances). I like Kung Fu Fighting, but I’m so tired of the overplay. It’s one of those songs I can only respect when I’m not constantly hearing it. Spirit In The Sky is definitely a religious song and a solid one at that. Steely Dan was a great band, this is one of their classics. The Commodores are cool and all, but not one of the better groups of the 70’s. Easy is not a bad song, but it’s a song I hear way too often and I personally never thought was all that great. Brickhouse though is a classic. Curtis Mayfield was a legend and a great storyteller, not to mention had one of the coolest voices in music history. Though I prefer the title track from the movie, I do really like Freddie’s Dead as well. I have no idea why they made a Superfly remake, there was never a demand for a new one. Oh, well. Time In A Bottle is pretty good and sadly fitting for Jim Croce. It’s always a shame when good artists die young. Go All The Way is really good and the Guardians Of The Galaxy soundtrack had some really good songs. I like Jive Talkin’, but it’s not really my favorite disco Bee Gees song. Copacabana is by far Barry Manilow’s best song and I agree, it’s untouchable. His ballads are alright, but Copacabana is fun and very catchy. Chaka Khan is a legend in the R&B world and I can see why. This is my favorite song from her with Rufus (I was not too big on her solo stuff, although the song she made that Kanye sample for Through The Wire was awesome). Janis Joplin is considered a legend by many, however I haven’t really heard any of her other music. If this song is any indication, then I can definitely see why people would say that. Love Rollercoaster is one of my favorite songs from the 70’s. It’s really infectuous and it’s their best song in my opinion. Heart Of Glass was the song that put Blondie on the map and onto the mainstream. They should have no regrets about “selling out” because it was a good move. This song is very good. Barry White was the king of love-making music, and I respect him a whole lot because for him to be a big guy and have that voice and be responsible for half the babies that were born throughout the course of that decade is something I really appreciate. Really enjoy American Woman. I’m gonna be honest, I respect Abba, but I don’t love them all that much. I do like some of their songs, though. This one is among them. Feel Like Makin’ Love, Don’t Bring Me Down are all great songs. Billy Preston was known as the “fifth Beatle” because he was a great musician, and yeah he certainly was. Out of all his hits, Nothing From Nothing was by far his best one. Carry On, Wayward Son is a classic and a much better song from Kansas than Dust In The Wind (which is solid, but doesn’t blow me away). The Doors were a great band and Riders On The Storm was a great sendoff song by Jim Morrison, another artist gone too soon. Earth, Wind & Fire are one of the greatest groups of all time. Getaway and Sing a Song are really great and one of their many classics that I go back to listening to. John Denver is an artist I have a lot of respect for. He made a lot of really good songs, was a really good storyteller and really represented those cities for which he made anthems for. Pretty fitting that a place in Colorado was adopted as a theme for his song considering his last name was Denver, which is a city in Colorado. Even though War is another one of those songs that I’m tired of hearing a lot, it’s still great and well performed, not to mention relevant. Al Green is one of the greatest soul singers of all-time. Let’s Stay Together shows why. I really enjoy that song. Get Down Tonight is a disco classic. Smiling Faces Sometimes and Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind) This Time are great R&B/soul tracks. Sunshine On My Shoulder is another great John Denver song. Knock On Wood is pretty catchy. Evil Woman is great, I like it way more than Don’t Bring Me Down. Billy Joel was awesome in the 70’s. I really like Just The Way You Are and is WAY better than Bruno’s song of the same name, it’s not even close. Barracuda is definitely the band’s best song. The stuff they did in the 80’s was fine, but they were better when they were a legit rock band. Me and Mrs. Jones is the best infidelity song of all-time. Roundabout is pretty good, but nothing will top Owner Of A Lonely Night for me as far as Yes songs go.

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