Best 1970s Songs Ranked

Popular music of the United States in the 1970s saw various forms of pop music dominating the charts. Often characterized as being shallow, 1970s pop took many forms and could be seen as a reaction against the high-energy and activist pop of the previous decade. It began with singer-songwriters like Carole King and Carly Simon topping the charts, while New York City saw a period of great innovation; hip hop, punk rock and salsa were invented in 1970s New York, which was also a center for electronic music, techno. By the middle of the decade, various trends were vying for popular success. Sly & the Family Stone’s pop-funk had spawned singers like Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, alongside George Clinton’s spacy P Funk extravaganzas, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band led a wave of country rock bands. Pop progressive-hard rock bands like Boston, Kansas, Journey, and Styx had long-running popularity. Bruce Springsteen garnered critical acclaim during much of the decade, finally breaking through in a big way very late in the 1970s. Disco, especially The Bee Gees and Donna Summer, were dominating the charts the last few years of the decade, while punk rock and other genres were developing underground. Here are the best 1970s songs ranked.

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15. Crazy On You – Heart

“Roger and Nancy at their Guitar best. A blend of electric and acoustic that stands the test of time. These two were as explosive as the cosmic Big Bang.. Somehow the sum is much greater than the sum of the parts. Like chocolate and peanut butter, Roger and Nancy create something incredible delicious to the ear and other senses. It’s shame that they weren’t able to remain the partners in music they once were. Maybe someday they both will realize what an impact they “together” had on music.”

14. Paranoid – Black Sabbath

“Back when heavy metal could make the Top 5 in the UK, Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ cemented itself in the national psyche and became an anthem Ozzy Osbourne’s never quite been able to shake off. With good reason: Ozzy’s on fine – albeit incomprehensible – form, Tony Iommi sets the riff to ‘bludgeon’ and Geezer Butler and Bill Ward keep that rhythm section galloping. Heads down, everyone.”

13. Highway To Hell – AC/DC

“AC/DC’s cut-glass rocking terrahawk caused some consternation on release, what with that title and butter-wouldn’t-melt schoolboy Angus Young’s devil horns and tail on the album cover, but really it was a coded moan about touring. Still, the riff is Keefy dynamite and singer Bon Scott – who would die just a few months later – has just the right Satanic squeal.”

12. More Than a Feeling – Boston

“I think most Boston songs are completely underrated. Boston had their own unique sound that is impossible to recreate. This song is a perfect example of pure genius. It’s a rock song, it’s a love song, its just amazing. Better than anything I’ve ever heard.”

11. London Calling – The Clash

“‘London Calling”s catchy, wheezing closer was hardly meant to be there. In fact, it was destined for an NME flexidisc but never arrived – instead it was tacked onto The Clash’s meisterwerk after the sleeve had gone to the printer, making it an unintentional hidden track. Your CD cover lists it now, as do the credits for Garbage’s 1996 hit ‘Stupid Girl’.”

10. Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees

“It’s unlikely you can listen to this without seeing the brothers Gibb swinging fearlessly around a building site or John Travolta strutting down the urban catwalk, but at a few decades’ remove ‘Stayin’ Alive’ is an astonishing record even without the iconography. A peerless piece of disco drama that almost sent a career into parody – but hey, they sure got rich.”

9. Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd

“Most impressive and greatest song my lynyrd skynyrd I know. Very great and has a very meaningful story to it and Song has a very great story and really picks up the pace at the end. This is one of my favorite songs and it really got me into 70s music.”

8. Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd

“From ‘The Wall’ album and movie soundtrack, ‘Comfortably Numb’ is a Roger Waters and David Gilmour co-composition supposedly inspired by Waters’ crazy sensations after being injected with tranquilisers before a Philadelphia show. It’s as dizzy and displaced as it should be, drifting through guitar solos and a pretty chorus before winding up in the Scissor Sisters’ back pocket.”

7. 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.

6. Tiny Dancer – Elton John

“A beautiful lyric from Bernie Taupin about navigating love on the road with future wife Maxine Feibelman was met by an instrumental that caught John at his singer/songwriter peak, creating a soft rock gem that would resonate with generations to come.”

5. Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple

“A story as legendary as the song’s four-note riff, ‘Smoke On The Water’ was inspired by the, er, smoke floating over Lake Geneva while Deep Purple were recording in their mobile studio. It came from a Frank Zappa gig at the Montreux Casino that caught fire when some chump fired a flare gun, the blaze now forever commemorated by inept guitarists trying to ape Ritchie Blackmore’s axework.”

4. Hotel California – Eagles

“One of the most powerful and intense songs of this lifetime or any other! It makes me cry and sends incredible energy to my brain! This masterpiece will never be duplicated! Don Felder was the guitar genius in this song… the ending solo with Don Felder and Joe Walsh is one of the best moments of 70’s rock that’s gone timeless!”

3. Dancing Queen – ABBA

“This song is truly remarkable, at least for 1970s song. Not only that, this is also one of ABBA’s most remarkable song and its ABBA trademark song. I never get bored with this song, and I just love to listen it over and over again. Plus, all the members looked pretty good on their costumes.”

2. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin

“If a classic rock radio station ever polls its listeners, this bananas blend of bustling hedgerows and head-caving guitar tends to tussle it out with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ near the top. We all love a grand folly and if you can get through Robert Plant’s hey-nonnying about pipers and May Queens, Jimmy Page has reserved a screaming balls-out axefest just for you.”

1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

“A true masterpiece. I don’t think it’s just the best song of the 70s, I honestly think it is the best song ever made in all of human existence. It was something different that people thought when they first heard it was what the hell was that and then they loved it because it was something different and combining the trending genres of music at the time. It inspired the way people made music with no limits, no boundaries and taking the risks that no one was willing to take.”