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The Decade That Produced the Best Music: The 70’s versus the 80’s.

Updated on March 8, 2011

Time to put the boxing gloves on...

I’ve had a couple heated debates over this very controversial and highly contested debate. The 70’s or 80’s: Which decade produced the best music? Now I know this is a matter of opinion for a lot of people, but I think there are some measurable facts that can tip the scale toward one decade over the other.

Each decade has some spill over from the previous decade so let’s just call it even with groups that were actually formed in the previous decade, but sold albums in the 70’s or 80’s. For instance, Led Zeppelin wasn’t birthed in the 70’s, they were formed in the 60’s but the bulk of their sales were in the 70’s. So based on this example, they qualify for being a 70’s group.

Michael Jackson sold albums in the 70’s and 80’s and beyond so that should be a tie, although Michael Jackson has the best selling album of all time (Thriller) which sold 110 million (and still selling). Incidentally the next biggest selling album is…You’ll probably never guess because I sure wouldn’t have guessed.

AC/DC’s album Black in Black has sold over 49 million. That’s less than half of the Thriller sales. Go figure…

If you go by the main measurable statistic which is how many albums were sold in each decade, the 80’s would win hands down with over 100 million more sales. 100 million is that right? According to my research that’s right. It was pretty close although the 80’s had a slight lead, but when you factor in the Thriller album, the 80’s blows the 70’s out of the water.

The main ingredient that would make me lean toward the 70’s is based on what I would call the “Super groups.” The Led Zeppelin’s, The Pink Floyds, The Aerosmith’s, The Allman Brothers Band, The Santana’s, The Boston’s, The Yes’s, The Kiss’s and on and on. The 80’s has nothing that compares to any other the “Supergroups” of the 70’s. In fact it’s not even a contest if “Supergroups” is your measuring stick. The 70’s wins without much of a fight.

But the knockout punch for the 70’s was the R&B music, or as some might call “disco music.” Earth, Wind, and Fire could also be classified a “Supergroup” they had so many hits. Then you had groups like War, Stevie Wonder, The Commodores, Diana Ross, Al Green, Barry White, Donna Summer, LTD, The Whispers, The Emotions, Gladys Night and the Pips, and Chic just to name a few. Other than Michael Jackson and Prince (who also produced albums in the 70’s), there isn’t much in terms of R&B that can match what the 70’s brought to the table other than a bunch of “one hit wonders.”

If this was a heavyweight fight between the two, I wouldn’t say the 70’s knocked out the 80’s in the first round because the 80’s did have some awesome music. The knockout came a little later in the fight though, maybe in the 5th or 6th round. 


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