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The 70s Greatest Hits

Updated on January 26, 2013

Greatest Hits Research

Do you remember the 70s? Lot’s of things were happening. Our nation celebrating its 200th birthday and the end of the Vietnam War. In policics, the resignation of Richard Nixon who won the 1972 election in a landslide over Watergate was big news. The election of Jimmy Carter made news in 1976. In 1979, 52 Americans were held hostage in Tehran. The new fitness craze was started in this decade was coming on strong. While all his was going on, the radio was playing music for us to listen to. With over a 1,000 records being released in the decade, a thought came to my mind, what were best songs of the 70s according to popularity. So, I began my research.

If you want to view the other lists, click on the link below:

Top 100 Country Hits 1944-1988

Top 100 Hits 1955-1970

Top 100 Hits 1940-1954

If you like to view interesting music charts check out the top 100 songs from 1890-2010 by going there now!

Researching The 70s

We needed a source to establish the rankings of all the songs that were popular on the radio during this period. Billboard Magazine publishes a weekly Hot 100 Pop Chart for the most popular songs. So, I used this as a resource to rank the most popular songs in the decade of the 70s.

Next, we needed to follow some criteria to determine how to rank the most popular songs of this period. The criteria used for each song is below:

  • Peak position
  • Number of weeks at the peak position
  • Number of weeks charted in the Top 10
  • Number of weeks charted in the Top 40
  • Total weeks charted

Criteria For Rainking The Songs

With this background, we needed to know how many songs reached the coveted #1 position. After doing some research, I found that there were 253 songs that reached #1. Which means our list of the top 100 songs must be compiled from these records. Using the criteria above, that’s just what we will do.

I believe this is a fair way to rank the songs. So let’s get started. The songs will be listed in order from 1 to 100 by title, artist, year released and number of weeks at #1 ().

The 70s Top 100

Here are the rankings of the 70s most popular songs.

1. You Light Up My Life / Debbie Boone 1977 (10)

2. Night Fever / Bee Gees 1978 (8)

3. Tonight's The Night / Rod Stewart 1976 (8)

4. Shadow Dancing / Andy Gibb 1978 (7)

5. Le Freak / Chic 1978 (6)

6. My Sharona / The Knack 1979 (6)

7. The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face / Roberta Flack 1972 (6)

8. Alone Again (Naturally) / Gilbert O'Sullivan 1972 (6)

9. Joy To The World / Three Dog Night 1971 (6)

10. Bridge Over Troubled Water / Simon & Garfunkel 1960 (6)

11. Best Of My Love / Emotions 1977 (5)

12. I'll Be There / The Jackson 5 1970 (5)

13. Silly Love Songs / Wings 1976 (5)

14. Maggie Way / Rod Steward 1971 (5)

15. Bad Girls / Donna Summer 1979 (5)

16. It's Too Late / Carole King 1971 (5)

17. Killing Me Softly With His Song / Roberta Flack 1973 (5)

18. One Bad Apple / The Osmonds 1971 (5)

19. I Just Wanted To Be Your Everything / Andy Gibb 1977 (4)

20. Stayin' Alive / Bee Gees 1978 (4)

21. Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head / B.J. Thomas 1970 (4)

22. Da Ya Think I'm Sexy? / Rod Stewart 1979 (4)

23. Kiss You All Over /Exile 1978 (4)

24. Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree / Tony Orlando & Dawn 1973 (4)

25. American Pie - Parts I & II / Don McLean 1972 (4)

26. Close To You / Carpenters 1970 (4)

27. Reunited / Peaches & Herb 1979 (4)

28. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart / The Bee Gees 1971 (4)

29. My Sweet Lord / George Harrison 1970 (4)

30. My Love / Paul McCartney & Wings 1973 (4)

31. Without You / Nilsson 1972 (4)

32. Don't Go Breaking My Heart / Elton John & Kike Dee 1976 (4)

33. I Can See Clearly Now / Johnny Nash 1972 (4)

34. Disco Lady / Johnny Taylor 1976 (4)

35. Love Will Keep Us Together / The Captain & Tennille 1975(4)

36. How Deep Is Your Love / The Bee Gees 1977 (3)

37. Hot Stuff / Donna Summer 1979 (3)

38. Evergreen / Barbra Streisand 1977 (3)

39. I Will Survive / Gloria Gaynor 1979 (3)

40. Googie Oogie Oogie / A Taste Of Honey 1978 (3)

41. I Think I Love You / The Partridge Family 1970 (3)

42. Knock Three Times / Dawn 1971 (3)

43. You're So Vain / Carly Simon 1973 (3)

44. Play That Funky Music / Wild Cherry 1976 (3)

45. Babe Come Back / Player 1978 (3)

46. Escape (The Pina Colada Song) / Rupert Holmes 1979 (3)

47. Brand New Key / Melanie 1971 (3)

48. A Horse With No Name / America 1972 (3)

49. The Way We Were / Barbra Streisand 1974 (3)

50. MacArthur Park / Donna Summer 1978 (3)

51. Crocodile Rock / Elton John 1973 (3)

52. Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me / Mac Davis 1973 (3)

53. Go Away Little Girl / Donny Osmond 1971 (3)

54. Family Affair / Sly & The Family Stone 1971 (3)

55. Ain't No Mountain High Enough / Diana Ross 1970 (3)

56. Seasons In The Sun / Terry Jacks 1974 (3)

57. Me And Mrs. Jones / Billy Paul 1972 (3)

58. American Woman / The Guess Who 1970 (3)

59. Sir Duke / Stevie Wonder 1977 (3)

60. War / Edwin Starr 1970 (3)

61. The Streak / Ray Stevens 1971 (3)

62. The Candy Man / Sammy Davis, Jr. 1972 (3)

63. Lean On Me / Bill Withers 1972 (3)

64. Fly Robin, Fly / Silver Convention 1975 (3)

65. Island Girl / Elton John 1975 (3)

66. December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) The 4 Seasons 1976 (3)

67. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover / Paul Simon 1976 (3)

68. (You're) Have My Baby / Paul Anka 1974 (3)

69. He Don't Love You (Like I Love You) / Tony Orlando & Dawn 1975 (3)

70. Bad Blood / Neil Sedaka 1975 (3)

71. Let's Get It On / Marvin Gaye 1973 (2)

72. (Love Is) Thicker Than Water / Andy Gibb 1978 (2)

73. Three Times A Lady / Commodores 1978 (2)

74. Ring My Bell / Anita Ward 1979 (2)

75. Babe / Styx 1979 (2)

76. Let It Be / The Beatles 1970 (2)

77. Torn Between Two Lovers / Mary MacGregor 1977 (2)

78. Keep On Truckin' (Part I) / Eddie Kendricks 1973 (2)

79. You Don't Bring Me Flowers / Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond 1978 (2)

80. The Tears Of A Clown / Smokey Robinson & The Miracles 1970 (2)

81. Rhinestone Cowboy / Glen Campbell 1975 (2)

82. Kiss And Say Goodbye / Manhattans 1976 (2)

83. Philadelphia Freedom / The Elton John Band 1975 (2)

84. If You Leave Me Now / Chicago 1976 (2)

85. Too Much Heaven / Bee Gees 1979 (2)

86. Midnight Train To Georgia / Gladys Knight & The Pips 1973 (2)

87. Rise / Herb Alpert 1979 (2)

88. Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves / Cher 1971 (2)

89. Tragedy / Bee Gees 1979 (2)

90. Love Hangover / Diana Ross 1976 (2)

91. That's The Way (I Like It) / KC & The Sunshine Band 1975 (2)

92. Just My Imagination / The Temptations 1971 (2)

93. Mama Told Me (Not To Come) / Three Dog Night 1970 (2)

94. No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) / Barbra Streisand/Donna Summer 1979 (2)

95. ABC / The Jackson 5 1970 (2)

96. The Love You Save / The Jackson 5 1970 (2)

97. Theme From Shaft / Isaac Hayes 1971 (2)

98. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown / Jim Croce 1973 (2)

99. Top Of The World / Carpenters 1973 (2)

100. Grease / Frankie Valli 1973 (2)

Reaction To The List

I was very surprised at this list of songs. How about you? Wouldn't be nice to own some of these songs for your collection? I think so. I would like to direct you to a website where you can purchase these songs in any format including MP3. Go there by clicking here now!

I have provided below some interesting information and facts about each of the top 10 songs and you can hear each one as well.

Check out some of my newest top 100 song charts from 1910-1979 by going here now!

Order Your Songs Now

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1. You Light Up My Life / Debbie Boone 1977 - This song spent 10 weeks at #1

"You Light Up My Life" is both a Grammy Award and an Academy Award winning ballad written by Joe Brooks and originally recorded by the late Kasey Cisyk for the soundtrack to the film of the same name. The song was performed in the film by its lead, Didi Conn, who lip synched Cisyk's version. Pat Boone's daughter, Debby Boone, was recruited to record the single, which became a massive success, topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart for a record-setting ten consecutive weeks. It easily became the most successful single of the 1970s in the United States and set a new Hot 100 record for longest reign at No.1. (Elvis Presley's double-sided "Don't Be Cruel/Hound Dog," then recognized as the longest-running No.1 of the Rock Era, spent 11 weeks atop the Billboard Best Sellers chart in 1956, before the debut of the Hot 100.) The record was matched in 1982 by Olivia Newton-John's Physical, but never surpassed until a 1991 change in chart methodology allowed songs to achieve longer reigns at No.1 ("End of the Road" by Boyz II Men set the new record, 13 weeks). The single, which was certified platinum by the RIAA, also hit #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and even reached #4 on the Country chart. Although written by Brooks as a love song, the devout Boone interpreted the song as inspirational and proclaimed that it was instead God who "lit up her life."

Cisyk's soundtrack recording was released as a single to bolster sales of the soundtrack after Boone included her version on her first solo album also entitled You Light Up My Life. (Although the soundtrack was certified gold, peaking at No. 17 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, it never included Boone's version of the song.) Cisyk's single was credited to "Original Cast", not to Cisyk herself, and only reached No. 80 on the Billboard Hot 100. Brooks also released an instrumental version of the song from the soundtrack as a single, but his version failed to chart. Boone's success resulted in Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance Female and Record of the Year and won her the 1977 Grammy for Best New Artist and the 1977 American Music Award for Favorite Pop Single. The song earned Brooks the 1977 Song of the Year Grammy (tied with "Love Theme from "A Star Is Born" (Evergreen)") as well as the Best Original Song awards at the 1977 Golden Globe and Academy Awards.

2. Night Fever / The Bee Gees / 1978 - This song spent 8 weeks at #1

"Night Fever", is a disco song, written and performed by The Bee Gees. It first appeared on the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. Producer Robert Stigwood wanted to call the film Saturday Night, but singer Robin Gibb expressed hesitation at the title. Stigwood liked the title Night Fever but was wary of marketing a movie with that name. He combined the two suggestions and the idea for Saturday Night Fever as a motion picture was born.

Alternate single cover"Night Fever" remained the number one Billboard Hot 100 single for over two months in 1978. It also replaced Andy Gibb's "Love Is Thicker Than Water" at number one, and was in turn replaced by Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You" - all of which were written and produced by the Gibb brothers

After the success of "Night Fever," the Governor of Florida, Reubin O'Donovan Askew, made the three men "honorary citizens" of the state, due to the amount of time they spent each year recording singles in Miami.

In addition to Saturday Night Fever, the song has also appeared in the movie and on the soundtrack for Mystery Men. A rare music video was made for the song, however it wasn't shown to the public until 2004 despite the fact the video didn't contain any uncensored content. An interesting note, in the video Barry Gibb was shown without his trademark beard.

The song lists at #33 on Billboard's All Time Top 100.

3. Tonight's The Night / Rod Stewart 1976 - This song spent 8 weeks at #1

"Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" is a song written and recorded by Rod Stewart at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama for his 1976 album A Night on the Town. The song became his second US chart topper and charted well in other parts of the world as well. The song features whispers from Britt Ekland who was Stewart's girlfriend at the time.

The song ranks at #14 on Billboard's All Time Top 100. The song was the 61st video to be played on the debut of MTV on August 1, 1981.

This was never released as a single in England because it was banned on British radio stations due to suggestive lyrics. The offending lyric is: "Spread your wings and let me come inside." The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section played on this. They were a famous group of session musicians who made a living playing on hits for prominent singers like Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Bob Seger.

4. Shadow Dancing / Andy Gibb 1978 - This song spent 7 weeks at #1

"Shadow Dancing" is a song by Andy Gibb that reached number one for seven weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978. According to Billboard's Book Of Number One Hits, Gibb became the first solo artist in the history of the U.S. pop charts to have his first three singles hit the number-one spot. Additionally, "Shadow Dancing" was listed by Billboard as being the number one single of 1978. In addition the song peaked at number eleven on the soul chart.

The song was written by Andy and his brothers (Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb) in Los Angeles, while the trio of brothers were working on the film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. "And one night," Andy would recall, "while we were relaxing, we sat down and we had to start getting tracks together for the album" (also titled Shadow Dancing, which would eventually hit #7 on the U.S. album charts). "So we literally sat down and in ten minutes, we had a group going, (singing) the chorus part. As it says underneath the song, we all wrote it, the four of us."

While Andy Gibb would have three more Top 10 hits in the U.S., this would be his final chart-topping hit in America. The song lists at #40 on Billboard's All Time Top 100.

5. Le Freak / Chic 1978 - This song spent 6 weeks at #1

"Le Freak" is a 1978 hit disco song by Chic. It was the band's third single and first Billboard Hot 100 and soul number-one song, A New York Times critic describes the song as a "haunting, minimalist pop-funk built around the guitar and bass". Along with the tracks, "I Want Your Love" and "Chic Cheer", "Le Freak" stayed at number one on the disco charts for seven weeks. The single bears the distinction of being the highest selling record ever on Atlantic Records, and the highest-selling single ever on WEA until it was displaced in 1990 (by Madonna's "Vogue"). The single achieved sales of over four million and also reached number seven in the UK singles chart.


The song was ranked at number 19 on Billboard Magazine's top 100 songs of the first 50 years of the Hot 100 chart.


"Le Freak" was the first song to be knocked out of (and return to) the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 three times. It first hit number one on the week ending December 9, 1978. After one week, it fell to number two, knocked out by the Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond duet "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" (itself being a song "Le Freak" knocked out of the number one spot the previous week), and returned to the top position on December 23, 1978. After two additional weeks at number one, it again fell to number two, this time replaced by "Too Much Heaven" by the Bee Gees, and then reclaimed number one on January 20, 1979, where it remained for three additional weeks.


6. My Sharona / The Knack 1979 - This song spent 6 weeks at #1

"My Sharona" is the debut single by The Knack, released in 1979 from their album Get the Knack. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart where it remained for six weeks and was #1 on Billboard's Top Pop Singles of 1979 year-end chart. It was certified gold (one million units sold) by the Recording Industry Association of America.

According to lead singer/guitarist Doug Fieger, he met Sharona Alperin (who was 16 at the time) and she inspired a two-month-long run of songwriting. "It was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat; I fell in love with her instantly. And when that happened, it sparked something and I started writing a lot of songs feverishly in a short amount of time." Whenever he thought about her, he would think of Averre's riff. The two worked out the structure and melody from there. Sharona appears on the picture sleeve for the single, and became a major booster of the band bringing many girls to their early shows. Sharona Alperin is now a real estate agent in Los Angeles, California. The easily recognizable riff of "My Sharona" was written by the band's guitarist, Berton Averre, long before he ever joined The Knack.

The song's bright, driving bassline, played mainly in G octaves, appears in the playlist of many aspiring bass players, often cited as a superb technical example of its genre. In 1994, "My Sharona" re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart (peaking at #91) when it was released as a single from the Reality Bites soundtrack album. The original song gained some attention in 2005 when it appeared on the playlist of U.S. President George W. Bush's iPod The song was ranked at #75 on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs in 2008.

7. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face / Roberta Flack 1972 - This song spent 6 weeks at #1

"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" is a 1957 folk song written by Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger, who was later to become his wife. MacColl wrote the song for Seeger, a folk singer, after she asked him to pen a song for a play she was in. MacColl wrote the song and taught it to Seeger over the phone. The alternative version of the creation of this song is that MacColl, a political singer/songwriter was challenged by a friend to write a love song. This song was the result. The song, as performed by Seeger, featured a faster tempo than the Flack version and clocked in at two and a half minutes long.

The song was popularized by Roberta Flack and became a breakout hit for the singer after it appeared in the film Play Misty for Me. Though the song first appeared on Flack's 1969 album First Take, Flack's recording of the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 and won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year three years later.

Flack's slower, more sensual version was used by Clint Eastwood in his 1971 directorial debut Play Misty for Me during a lovemaking scene. With the new exposure, Atlantic Records cut the song down to four minutes and released it to radio. It became an extremely successful single in the United States, hitting number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the spring of 1972 and remaining there for six weeks; the song also spent six weeks at the top of Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks. It reached number fourteen on the UK Singles Chart. The success of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" essentially launched Flack's career as a popular singer, and the single became one of her signature songs.

8. Alone Again (Naturally) / Gilbert O' Sullivan 1972 - This song spent 6 weeks at #1

"Alone Again (Naturally)" is a song by Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan. It was released in 1972, and in total spent six weeks, non-consecutively, at #1 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. In Casey Kasem's American 'Top 40 of the 1970s', "Alone Again (Naturally)" was #5 (Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" was #1). The track reached #3 in the UK Singles Chart.

It is an introspective ballad, starting with the singer telling of his plans to commit suicide after being left at the altar, and then telling about the death of his parents. O'Sullivan has said that the song is not autobiographical, as he did not know his father (who died when O'Sullivan was 11) very well, and that his father had mistreated his mother. "Alone Again (Naturally)" is included on O'Sullivan's The Berry Vest of Gilbert O'Sullivan album (2004) on the EMI record label. Big Jim Sullivan plays the guitar break in the original recorded version of the song.

The landmark 1991 copyright case Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records, Inc. centered on the unauthorized use of a sample from "Alone Again (Naturally)" by rapper Biz Markie.

The song has been featured in a handful of movies and TV shows, including Summer Time Machine Blues, Stuart Little 2, The Virgin Suicides and Stuck on You. It was also the opening theme song of episode 24 of the Japanese anime Maison Ikkoku (Sullivan's later hit "Get Down" was the closing theme of that same episode, but the producers were unable to use the songs for more than one episode due to copyright problems).

9. Joy To The World / Three Dog Night 1971 - This song spent 6 weeks at #1

"Alone Again (Naturally)" is a song by Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan. It was released in 1972, and in total spent six weeks, non-consecutively, at #1 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. In Casey Kasem's American 'Top 40 of the 1970s', "Alone Again (Naturally)" was #5 (Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" was #1). The track reached #3 in the UK Singles Chart.


It is an introspective ballad, starting with the singer telling of his plans to commit suicide after being left at the altar, and then telling about the death of his parents. O'Sullivan has said that the song is not autobiographical, as he did not know his father (who died when O'Sullivan was 11) very well, and that his father had mistreated his mother. "Alone Again (Naturally)" is included on O'Sullivan's The Berry Vest of Gilbert O'Sullivan album (2004) on the EMI record label. Big Jim Sullivan plays the guitar break in the original recorded version of the song.


The landmark 1991 copyright case Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records, Inc. centered on the unauthorized use of a sample from "Alone Again (Naturally)" by rapper Biz Markie.


The song has been featured in a handful of movies and TV shows, including Summer Time Machine Blues, Stuart Little 2, The Virgin Suicides and Stuck on You. It was also the opening theme song of episode 24 of the Japanese anime Maison Ikkoku (Sullivan's later hit "Get Down" was the closing theme of that same episode, but the producers were unable to use the songs for more than one episode due to copyright problems).

10. Bridge Over Troubled Water / Simon & Garfunkel - This song spent 6 weeks at #1

Paul Simon wrote this about providing comfort to a person in need. It started as a modest Gospel hymn but became more dramatic as he put it together. Art Garfunkel sang this alone, although he thought Simon should have sung it. Says Simon, "Many times I'm sorry I didn't do it." The production was based on Phil Spector's "Old Man River" by The Righteous Brothers. Spector is famous for his "Wall Of Sound" production technique.

This is one of the most covered songs ever. In the '70s, so many people sang a version of this that it became a joke. This was one of the few songs to top the US and UK charts at the same time. It was #1 in the US for 6 weeks, #1 in the UK for 3. In 1971, this won 5 Grammys: Song Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Best Contemporary Song, Best Engineered record, and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists. The album also won Album Of The Year.

Bridge Over Troubled Water was the last album Simon & Garfunkel released before they split up. It is the biggest selling ever for Columbia Records.

The big "explosion" sound is a baby grand piano being slammed shut. Larry Knechtel from the soft-rock group Bread played piano. The line "Sail on, silver girl" is often reputed to refer to a needle (meaning the song is about heroin) but it actually refers to Simon's girlfriend (and later wife) Peggy Harper who found a few gray hairs and was upset. The lyric was meant as a joke - Simon calling her "Silver Girl" because of her hair. In 2008 it was reported that Paul Simon sued a musical clock company for using this song without permission. His lawyers claimed that Rhythm Watch Co Ltd and its subsidiary had used its tune on 40,000 clocks, making a profit of around $3.7 million.

The sound of the drum that enters in the middle of the song was obtained when engineer Roy Halee put a snare drum at the bottom of an elevator shaft and placed a microphone at the top of the shaft. Within the music industry, this was a much discussed and much admired sound.

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