During the 70s, there was a lot going on in the world, and music was part of it. There was massive production of great music and icons being born. Artists experimented with sound, look, and the whole persona in many powerful ways.
This list of the best 70s songs will point the way to music and art that helped define the decade and influenced culture in so many impactful ways.
1. “Dance Away” – Roxy Music
Bryan Ferry originally wrote this song for the 1977 solo album In Your Mind and the 1978 follow-up titled The Bride Stripped Bare, although it gained entry in the following Roxy collection. The song is among Roxy’s top hits, and although it never reached number one in the 70s, it was among the top best-selling singles in the United Kingdom. Numerous artists have covered the song including Top of the Pops, Jonny Destry & Destiny, Nose Job, Alan Connor among others.
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2. “Mr. Blue Sky” – ELO
Mr Blue Sky was an epic pop-rock song written and produced by Jeff Lyne. The track forms rank number four and is the last song of the ‘Concerto for a Rainy Day’ collection.
Lynne wrote this popular song by ELO after he locked himself away in a dark and misty Swiss chalet for a fortnight and never created something. After a while, the sun shone on Lynne. He marveled at the beautiful Alps, and that’s when he wrote the song ‘Mr Blue Sky’ plus thirteen other songs the following two weeks.
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3. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen
Bohemian Rhapsody is a six-minute suite that features multiple sections without a chorus. The song is divided into an introduction, a ballad section, an operatic passage, a hard rock part, and a reflective ending and this makes it one of the greatest songs ever produced.
The song has been number one twice in the United Kingdom. In 1975 it was at number one, and after Freddie Mercury died in 1991. Brian May stated that the song took only three weeks to record, and before the recording, the song was all in Freddie’s mind. The hit track enjoyed a new lease of life in America in 1992 after becoming part of the Wayne’s World movie. The hit track represents what all musical pieces should be. It embodies the capacity and determination to push limits and come up with a beautiful piece to bring people together even years later.
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4. “American Woman” – The Guess Who
American Woman is known for its controversial lyrics, which have been a matter of debate for a long time now. The lyrics are often suspected to be an attack on politics in America. However, according to The Guess Who lead singer, the song was just a way of stating his preference for Canadian women.
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5. “Go Your Own Way” – Fleetwood Mac
Lindsey Buckingham wrote this song, reflecting on his crumbling relationship with his bandmate and girlfriend, Stevie Nicks. In this song’s chorus, Lindsey channels his worry and sorrow, and the chorus has remained memorable since then. The song was the group’s first Top 10 in America, propelling the album ‘Rumors’ into the charts. Since then, numerous people have covered the hit track, including Boy George and NOFX.
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6. “London Calling” – The Clash
The Clash’s goal was to impart, and that’s what it did with a popeyed apocalyptic warning. The “nuclear error” at Three Mile Island in America may happen here too and may have been the message that Joe Strummer wanted to pass. He drives the point home with the variable guitars and the vulpine howls. Lastly, he finishes with a radio signal that’s it the World Service in times when terror is rampant.
Next: The top 70s rock songs from the decade (our list of favs)
7. “Heart Of Glass” – Blondie
This song has been a hit since its days when it was used as a showpiece known as ‘Once I Had A Love’ in 1975. However, Blondie gained the courage to release the disco record after being established on the chart scene. This new wave band played with dance which was a first-time attempt. Although the pulse is spot on, it was a challenge recording it. Moreover, Debbie Harry seems to be a natural disco siren on this one.
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8. “Imagine” – John Lennon
Imagine was inspired by Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit book, a poetry collection. It’s an old classic, and although it is quite wonderful sounding, it’s simplicity is what’s made it so impactful. Many people in music culture understood the impact that the song had after its release. After John Lennon died, the hit song became an anthem for his life. Later on, it became a worldwide call for peace that most people still resonate with.
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9. “Hooked On A Feeling” – Blue Swede
B.J. Thomas originally covered this song. However, its rather bizarre cover done by Blue Swede quickly became famous in 1974. The song is widely known for its appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy after playing on Star-Lord’s Walkman. We consider this one of the best one hit wonders from the 70s!
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10. “Crazy Horses” – The Osmonds
The Osmonds were initially known as a schmaltzy boyband. However, they released this fantastic hard single in 1972 and it quickly became a hit. Most of the band’s songs were chosen for them by their record company, but after success, they wanted to break out and make their own music.
At first, the record company was uncomfortable with this decision, but they gave in after it became a hit. This was the band’s breakthrough song, and after it, more pop ballads followed. Donny didn’t sing a single line in this song because his voice was breaking due to puberty.
Next: The best bands of the 1970s (our list)
11. “Paranoid” – Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath was a major player back when heavy metal had a chance on the Top 5 most popular songs. The song cemented itself in the country’s psyche and hit as an anthem during this time. Since then, Ozzy Osbourne has never quite been able to shake the hit off. The song’s rhythm section has a good flow, and to many people, this hit track is one of the best.
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12. “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” – The Spinners
The Spinners truly found their voice after signing with Atlantic Records. There, they found Thom Bell, who guided them and helped them embody the sound of ’70s Philadelphia soul: opulent, corporeal, and unbelievably generous, every string and bell along with classical magnificence.
Some lesser productions by Bell didn’t go so well under their weight’s arrangement, although the Spinners could pull it off. Bobbie Smith always goes soft whenever he gets the chance to go loud and lets Bell’s musical accompaniments continue the singing for them. This song is one of the best blissful hits about falling in love.
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13. “International Feel” – Todd Rundgren
It’s quite impossible to challenge Todd Rundgren as one of the top architects of 1970’s rock. Todd produced and shaped defining albums for various artists, including Funk Railroad, Hall & Oates, and Meat Loaf. In his solo career, Todd stayed a few steps ahead of the trends while solidifying with numerous artists, veering various categories. This track is definitely worth many listens!
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14. “Mind Your Own Business” – Delta 5
Julz Sale and Ros Allen worked together to create Delta 5 in 1979. They also doubled up on the low end since neither played guitar, and they thought it would make their songs more exciting. But, of course, they knew what they were doing all along. The song is a genius idea, and it’s incredible how well it played out.
15. “Caravan” – Van Morrison
Caravan is an excellent hit about gathering with your friends and dancing to a tune on the radio. Caravan has some type of rhomboid structure, and the track’s energies constantly build up towards an acute angle. In this hit, Morrison seems to be seamlessly absorbed in the music.
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16. “Hanging On The Telephone” – Blondie
This song is a great album opener. Jack Lee wrote this great track in 1973 and it surfaced on the bands The Nerves debut EP three years later. Blondie’s version, beseeching and persuasive, lasts the test of time and we simply cannot ignore the siren call by Debbie Harry.
17. Fleetwood Mac – “Dreams”
Dreams is a simple and pretty track aimed at the guilty conscience of Lindsey Buckingham. Stevie Nicks wrote this song during the AOR phenomenon ‘Rumors’ recording. The track doesn’t do a huge deal but is mesmeric while needling away and it persuades its target audience to think well about what they lost.
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18. “Tiny Dancer” – Elton John
This amazing lyrics from Bernie Taupin describes navigating love on the road with his future wife Maxine Feibelman. The track creates a soft rock gem that resonates with the generations that followed. the song met John Lennon at the peak of his songwriting career and has been a hit for many years.
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19. “I’ll Be There” – The Jacksons
After the Jacksons released their 1969 debut “I Want You Back,” their enthusiasm appeared limitless. The brothers’ first track became the label’s top seller and retained that title for over a decade. There has never been a preteen singing as plausibly regarding eternal devotion like Michael Jackson, and his performance started with a mellow, childlike sweetness that he breaks boldly with a grown-up rasp. He glances back at the past, suggesting greatness to come in the performance.
In this track, a man tells a former lover that he shall always be there for her; even when she finds someone to love, she is always free to return to him. This message makes the song very touching and romantic, especially during that era, and that’s why it’s one of the best 70s songs ever.
Next: The top love songs of all time (our list of romantic hits)
20. “Uncle John’s Band” – Grateful Dead
In the ’70s, there was a drift in popularity from AM to FM radio which eroded the mass listeners on which pop hits relied. Most hippies and travelers mainly were glued to free-form stations listening to impressive tracks like Workingman’s Dead, a decorated pronouncement of the Grateful Dead’s afresh skilled vocal toning. The song revealed the wheedling and persuading of generational unity forces, and when they dropped this single, it conformed to all subterranean conspiracy concepts.
Uncle John’s Band is eminently danceable, and during the ’70s, during its performance, it brought the different crowds to fresh heights of happiness every time. It’s one of the most singable songs, and it’s great that the crows give the story of life and death. The writer approaches the song from different angles, but the real message is that without love in the dream, it shall never come true.
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21. “Up The Junction” – Squeeze
A television play by Ken Loach inspired this beautiful track. The lyrics by Chris Difford were intense street poetry. A kitchen sink performance that went along with soap operas like speedy through nasty vulgarisms. The impressive keyboard line was just as significant as making the track an original wave classic.
The hit song delivers a psychodrama in only 3 minutes. It has seven verses and involves an advisory tale of hopeless romance, anguish, and pregnancy in South London. The track is highly unusual in theme and structure and owes more from the direct tale tradition it emerged. Quite unpopular in pop, the track has no chorus.
There you have it, the best 1970s songs. When you hear a fantastic song, you can try to remember where you first heard it, the sound or even the smells. The memory takes a moment and holds for many years to come. A wonderful song transcends time and has every critical element, including a melody, emotion, a strong message, and great production.
Assembling this list of the best 1970s songs has been a delight because we know that you will love many of them. You don’t have to look for ages for these old classics, just kick back and enjoy the music!
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Liam Flynn( Head Editor & Writer )
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.
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