The 1970s created a perfect musical bridge from the rebelliousness of the 1960s and the happy songs that are characteristic of the 1980s. Following the counterculture of the 60s, the and the 70s created a trend of relaxing music as well as dance music. People may have grown tired of the fighting that happened the previous decade and many of them sought a refuge in dance clubs and other places to enjoy a good time. Out of this idea emerged the Disco movement. Of course, there were still the bands and artists that continued to speak of the ills of society, typically characterized by the punk music in the latter part of the decade. Although the rebellious idea had died down shortly following Woodstock in 1969, there were still many people that disagreed with the establishment and the way the country was being run. Most people, though, were just looking for another way to vent their frustrations, which helped to give rise to the fun that disco music provided. The 1970's was not a unique decade in terms of creating innovations in musical styles and genres, but it was unique in that it was a musical bridge connecting the hippie lifestyle of the 1960s with the characteristic yuppie lifestyle that was about to occur in the 1980s.
The Bee Gees,
K.C. and the Sunshine Band,
The Village People,
The Jacksons, Diana Ross--
Progressive Rock Musicians
Electric Light Orchestra,
Emerson, Lake & Palmer,
Grand Funk Railroad--
Punk Rock/New Wave Musicians
New York Dolls, Patti Smith,
Funk & Soul Musicians
Sly and the Family Stone,
Kool & the Gang,
The Isley Brothers,
The Jackson 5,
The Ohio Players,
Earth, Wind & Fire,
If ever a musical style defined a decade, Disco was the definition of the 1970s. Although its popularity was relatively short-lived, the genre hosted a great deal of songs and artists that people are still dancing to today and had a large influence on the fashions of the decade, too. Van McCoy's "The Hustle" has often been referred to as the definitive disco track and many people say it was the first disco song created. Gloria Gaynor also enjoyed disco popularity with her anthem "I Will Survive." The Bee Gees also helped to define the disco genre with their hit "Jive Talkin'" and their blockbuster "Stayin' Alive" is often synonymous with the disco musical era. The Village People’s "YMCA" and "Macho Man" also helped to add to the popularity of this style of music. This style of music became so popular that well respected artists like Rod Stewart and Diana Ross jumped on the bandwagon by adding Disco elements to their new music or creating their own disco albums. Unfortunately, it did not take long for the public to see disco's silliness and commercialization - something that they had just rebelled against a few years earlier. Its lack of attention to musical significance helped add to its downfall after only a short time of popularity. When disco fell from grace, it fell fast, and many radio stations held public events dedicated to ridding the world of disco music with symbolic album burnings. Youths rebelled against the genre as well and it was not uncommon to see a few music fans sporting "Disco Sucks" T-shirts.
Progressive rock was another popular genre during the 1970s. This type of music was typically characterized by rock music combined with another genre, such as classical or opera, to create a hybrid genre. Songs from this genre were often longer and bands tended to be more spontaneous and experimental while they were playing live. Many progressive rock albums were also concept albums, meaning that they followed a theme throughout the entire album or series of albums. The band Pink Floyd were known for their concept albums and were considered some of the best in the genre. Their concept album – The Wall – was a psychedelic album that explored the loneliness that one feels due to the metaphorical walls that they build up around them. This 1979 album used philosophical lyrics and a variety of musical styles throughout the songs to exhibit the message that they were trying to get across to the listeners. Jethro Tull was another British rock band that also created concept albums for their audience. They had a unique vocal style combined with the dreamlike sound of a flute to help the listener immerse themselves into the songs that are being played. Their "Thick as a Brick" album was composed of essentially one track on two side of the album. This track consisted of repeating themes and movements that helped to mesmerize the listener. They also used a variety of genres to create their one-of-a-kind sound, including blues, jazz, rock, and classical music. Other bands that became popular in the progressive rock genre included Rush, Queen, Grand Funk Railroad, Kansas, and Electric Light Orchestra.
The punk rock genre also emerged in the 1970s. This was a style that continued on the legacy of the 1960s but with a more upbeat and harder style. Heavy guitar riffs and more decibels helped to motivate those who were still upset about the status quo in the country. The Ramones are often referred to as the original punk band. This band consisted of a group of family members that based their image on The Beatles but their music was much harder. On the lists that rate the greatest rock bands of all-time, The Ramones are often listed as #2, behind only The Beatles at #1. Their song "I Wanna Be Sedated" became a generational anthem depicting the feeling that society is so screwed up that the only way to get through life with your sanity is to be sedated for the entire experience. The Sex Pistols also enjoyed a short-lived success as a punk rock band of the 1970s. Band members heavily used drugs and alcohol which eventually led to their dissolution shortly after forming, but not before releasing two hit albums, "God Save the Queen" and "Never Mind the Bullocks", that created a wave of rebellion throughout the United States and the UK. New Wave, similar to punk music but more radio friendly and with an electronic flair, also emerged in the late seventies and went on to become a predominant genre in the next decade. Bands like The Cars and Blondie straddled the line between punk rock and new wave music and started producing hits in the late 1970s. Some popular punk and new wave bands from the seventies included the New York Dolls, The Clash, Generation X, Talking Heads, David Bowie, and Patti Smith.
Funk music came out of the R&B, Jazz and Soul music of the late 1960s after artists added more beats and psychedelic tones to their songs. This genre saw the height of its popularity encompass the 1970s with artists like James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic, Sly and the Family Stone and Kool and the Gang dominating the music charts. Funk was known for its danceable beats, strange costumes, outrageous personalities and often socially conscious lyrics. James Brown, "the hardest working man in show business", is often thought of as the creator of funk music and his 1967 album Cold Sweat is thought to feature some of the first main stream funk songs. Brown developed the funk sound into the 1970s and paved the way for many of the other popular funk groups like Sly and the Family Stone to make it big in the decade. Funk music was known to have no boundaries with psychedelic sounds coming from the likes of George Clinton and his ragtag gang of freaky musicians in Parliament to a more soulful and smooth yet funky sound coming from Rufus and Chaka Khan. In the middle of the seventies many artists, including James Brown and the group Earth, Wind and Fire, added some elements of the popular disco genre to their funk albums and saw even greater mass appeal.
**It is important to note that these were not the only popular genres during the decade. For example, Singers and Songwriters were quite popular in the 1970s as well, with artists like Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Elton John, Carole King and Billy Joel, sharing time in the spotlight too. Their music reflected deep themes with simpler musical arrangements and many of these artists had been prominant in the songwriting scene but relatively unknown as they were not often the face of their own music. The seventies more than any other decade gave them a chance to go solo and gain recognition.**
Popular songs from the Seventies Decade, arranged by year but in no particular order. Do you remember listening to these songs on the radio?
1970 - Close to You - The Carpenters, (-) American Woman - The Guess Who, (-) I’ll Be There - The Jackson 5, (-) War - Edwin Starr, (-) Let It Be - The Beatles,
1971 - Joy to the World - Three Dog Night, (-) Maggie May - Rod Stewart, (-) My Sweet Lord - George Harrison, (-) It’s Too Late - Carole King, (-) Imagine - John Lennon,
1972 - Lean On Me - Bill Withers, (-) School’s Out - Alice Cooper, (-) Heart of Gold - Neil Young, (-) Let’s Stay Together - Al Green, (-) American Pie - Don McLean,
1973 - Bad, Bad Leroy Brown - Jim Croce, (-) You’re So Vain - Carly Simon, (-) Let’s Get It On - Marvin Gaye, (-) Crocodile Rock - Elton John, (-) Superstition - Stevie Wonder,
1974 - The Way We Were - Barbra Streisand, (-) Jungle Boogie - Kool and the Gang, (-) The Loco-Motion - Grand Funk Railroad, (-) Band On the Run - Wings, (-) Come and Get Your Love - Redbone,
1975 - Shining Star - Earth, Wind and Fire, (-) Rhinestone Cowboy - Glen Campbell, (-) Fame - David Bowie, (-) Lady Marmalade - Patti LaBelle, (-) Black Water - Doobie Brothers,
1976 - Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen, (-) Dancing Queen - ABBA, (-) Love to Love You Baby - Donna Summer, (-) You Should Be Dancing - Bee Gees, (-) More Than a Feeling - Boston,
1977 - Hotel California - Eagles, (-) Best of My Love - The Emotions, (-) Car Wash - Rose Royce, (-) Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac, (-) You Light Up My Life - Debbie Boone,
1978 - Stayin’ Alive - Bee Gees, (-) YMCA - The Village People, (-) Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty, (-) Three Times a Lady - The Commodores, (-) Just the Way You Are - Billy Joel,
1979 - Le Freak - Chic, (-) Hot Stuff - Donna Summer, (-) Heart of Glass - Blondie, (-) My Sharona - The Knack, (-) I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor