The 1970s was a remarkable era characterized by vibrant experimentation and groundbreaking music. It encompassed a vast, dynamic musical landscape featuring rock legends and disco queens.
Within this realm of musical prodigies, a unique category emerged, consisting of revered and celebrated artists known as the ‘one-hit wonders.’ Let’s explore the 18 most significant one-hit wonders of the 70s.
Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum
In 1970, Norman Greenbaum gave us this religious rock anthem. Surprisingly, Greenbaum, an orthodox Jew, sang about a rendezvous with Jesus. This track dominated the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and earned the gold certification from RIAA.
My Sharona – The Knack
Inspired by a swift romance, Doug Fieger penned “My Sharona” in 1979. This catchy tune clinched the top spot on the Hot 100 for an impressive six weeks.
Cat’s in the Cradle – Harry Chapin
Harry Chapin’s poignant tale of life coming full circle narrates a father’s neglect and eventual longing for his son’s attention. Even today, the resonance of this 1974 hit remains undeniable.
Afternoon Delight – Starland Vocal Band
“Skyrockets in flight, Afternoon Delight.” With these catchy lines, Starland Vocal Band’s 1977 hit became an unforgettable melody, further solidifying its place with two Grammy awards.
Stuck in the Middle with You – Stealers Wheel
Parodying Bob Dylan’s musical style, Stealers Wheel’s 1972 hit gave us a delightful, foot-tapping number, re-popularized in the ’90s by Quentin Tarantino’s film, ‘Reservoir Dogs.’
Hooked on a Feeling – Blue Swede
1974 witnessed the rebirth of an already successful 1968 song. Blue Swede’s rendition of “Hooked on a Feeling” became a part of global pop culture.
Cruel to be Kind – Nick Lowe
The 1979 track stood as a testament to Nick Lowe’s musical prowess, even if it narrowly missed the Top 10 on the U.S. charts.
The Devil Went Down to Georgia – The Charlie Daniels Band
Charlie Daniels’ riveting fiddling contest between the devil and a prodigious human echoed across the globe, gaining immense popularity in 1979.
Turn the Beat Around – Vicki Sue Robinson
A chance encounter led to Vicki Sue Robinson inheriting this rhythmic 1976 track. It later found a new generation of fans with Gloria Estefan’s rendition.
Hot Child in the City – Nick Gilder
Despite his Canadian success, Nick Gilder’s only international hit came in the form of “Hot Child in the City,” a quintessential 70s anthem.
American Pie – Don McLean
Don McLean’s 1971 magnum opus “American Pie” remains essential to American pop culture, often sparking debates about its cryptic lyrics.
Dancing in the Moonlight – King Harvest
King Harvest’s 1972 hit painted a serene picture of nocturnal jubilation. Unfortunately, the band couldn’t replicate the same success in their later ventures.
The Hustle – Van McCoy
Defining the disco era, “The Hustle” emerged as an unforeseen hit in 1975, much to the delight of dance enthusiasts everywhere.
The Boys Are Back in Town – Thin Lizzy
Released in 1976, this upbeat number by the Irish rock band is remembered and revered as one of the finest rock anthems ever.
You Light Up My Life – Debby Boone
Debby Boone’s emotive rendition of this song in 1977 toppled the charts and shattered Elvis Presley’s long-standing record.
Rapper’s Delight – Sugarhill Gang
Bringing hip-hop to the limelight, Sugarhill Gang’s 1979 track “Rapper’s Delight” is heralded as the genre’s first major hit.
Seasons in the Sun – Terry Jack
Canadian singer Terry Jacks’ rendition of this bittersweet track in 1974 is an enduring classic that resonates with many today.
Rivers of Babylon – Boney M
The German-Caribbean soul powerhouse group Boney M offers a hauntingly beautiful take on the psalm in their 1978 song, “Rivers of Babylon.”
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