Here are the final three years of the 1970s. Where the mid-70s had a nap-like quality to many songs, the late 1970s felt an upsweep in tempo and attitude. Punk rock never made much of a dent in the late 1970s. For a music so immediate, its potential audience took decades to warm up to it. Or you might argue that in the late 1970s, record companies marketed as heavily towards 30 year olds as it did at teenagers. Or maybe I hung out on the wrong side of the playground because no one I knew at age 11 was a Barry Manilow fan until they learned to be later on, ironically.
23) I'm Your Boogie Man -- KC and The Sunshine Band (1977): Here's a song that has been heard in a variety of movies including the Scary Movie franchise, Roll Bounce, Superbad and Watchmen. The song was later covered by White Zombie, because it's the kind of song that screams to be covered, ironically or not at all.
21) Got To Give It Up (Part 1) -- Marvin Gaye (1977): Just as "Dreams" held the #1 position for one week, so went the fate of this truncated track where Marvin, like so many singers in the disco age, located his falsetto range and set about using it while a backing track of people talking ran behind him. The song's cool funk influenced Michael Jackson to sell a kajillion records, as you can hear throughout "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" that clearly has its roots right here.
19) Undercover Angel -- Alan O'Day (1977): Of course, another one week #1 hit for the week of July 9, 1977. What makes this song even more ephemeral is that the single was issued without an album to back it. So anyone who bought the single was pretty much done with their Alan O'Day collection.
17) Looks Like We Made It -- Barry Manilow (1977): Time to get rid of the teen idol and get with an idol for older people! But don't think for a minute that that's necessarily an improvement.
15) Best Of My Love -- The Emotions (1977): Here's another fine hit that spent several weeks at #1 and then gave it back to Andy Gibb and then took it back. It actually did better on the pop charts than the disco charts. Mariah Carey allegedly sampled the song for a song called "Emotions" that resulted in a lawsuit, though how Mariah would know what's on one of her records stretches all credibility.
13) Too Much, Too Little, Too Late -- Johnny Mathis and Deniece Willams (1978): This is the anomaly for 1978. Previous hits had been by the Bee Gees, Player, Bee Gees, Andy Gibb, Bee Gees, Yvonne Elliman and Wings, so to see this adult-contemporary duet show up for a week in June, well, it is what it is…
11) Shadow Dancing -- Andy Gibb (1978): "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water" only held the top slot for two weeks in March. However, "Shadow Dancing" held for seven weeks from June throughout July. It would be the last top slot for any Gibb family member until the first weeks of 1979 when "Too Much Heaven" started the whole trend over again. (Though it didn't stop Barry from giving one away.)
9) Three Times A Lady -- Commodores (1978): There once was a time when Lionel Richie hid behind this band. Yet anyone who read credits knew it was Richie who had the smooth adult-contemporary touch. It was the Commodores' first #1 hit and certainly planted the seed in Richie's mind that soft, soothing songs could be his ticket to solo star prominence and dominance.
7) Reunited -- Peaches & Herb (1979): This song was resilient and held the top spot for early May through to the Memorial Day Weekend that though it falls technically in spring is still considered the kick-off weekend for the summertime because we are an optimistic people.
5) Hot Stuff -- Donna Summer (1979): 1979 surely was Donna's Summer, eh? Like so many before her and others after her, Summer experienced a brief period in time where she was everywhere at once, where everyone loved her and couldn't get enough only to decide later they'd had enough. Overexposure happens to the lucky ones. Surely, they wish we knew how to ration our love for them to make it last a lifetime.
3) Bad Girls -- Donna Summer (1979): The continuation of Donna's Summer! Both tunes still sound pretty good, but I'm sure glad I don't have to hear them every day of my life. Who thought Top 40 radio was a good idea anyway? Play songs to death until you hate them and can't listen to them for ten years? Now, that's a shame.
1) My Sharona -- The Knack (1979): For a briefer moment than many, the Knack were the hottest ticket in town before fans turned against them. The band's problem wasn't the band, but the label for making the Beatles connection way too pronounced. Let that be a lesson for all guys in a four-piece guitar-playing band! That and don't try to write the same song twice. Everyone knew where you got "Baby Talks Dirty" from, fellas.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Andy Gibb
- Stevie Wonder
- Barry Manilow
- KC and The Sunshine Band