By Lily Doolin
While my childhood was mostly founded on the rock of the ’80s and ’90s, I was introduced to quite a lot of ’70s music in my early days. On the dancefloor of weddings, baby showers, and birthday parties, I was taught how to dance the “sunshine, moonlight, good times, and boogie” moves of the Jackson 5.
Before there was the big hair and shoulder pads of the ’80s there was the boogie fever and platform shoes of the ’70s. This era ushered in some of music’s greatest, most influential artists, and redefined culture as we know it today. From the monumental beginnings of England’s greatest rock band Queen, to the rise of the American disco scene: The ’70s has more to offer than just a few great hits.
This playlist is a comprehensive list of some of the decade’s most iconic songs, all of which you can roll down the windows and sing along to at the top of your lungs. So polish up those dancing shoes, and let’s groove!
Listener feedback inspired this playlist as well. You guys directly chose some of the songs! Take a look at the playlist below to jam out to your ’70s favorites, along with some of my own beloved tunes. Here are just a few of my “MVPs” from this playlist:
“Fat Bottomed Girls” by Queen
My friends and I somehow think that we’re actually professional singers and that we absolutely can harmonize to the chorus of this song. Whether we’re cleaning our bedrooms, or just jamming out in the car, we let our inner Mercury loose and tell all those proverbial “fat bottomed girls” that they are respected and admired. This song is one of Queen’s most stripped-down hits, and yet it’s one of their best in my opinion. There’s the steady electric guitar by Brian May, the thumping bass line from John Deacon, and the pounding drums by Roger Taylor. It’s clean-cut, dramatic, and fun all the same.
“Carry on Wayward Son” by Kansas
’70s American rock band Kansas brought to us one of the best, scream-out-loud choruses that changed both the rock and karaoke scenes for years to come. It’s the unofficial theme song of the popular fantasy TV show Supernatural, and it’s the official theme song for any of my road trips. Seriously, this song has a little bit of everything. Sections of piano, a killer harmony in the chorus, and some good ol’ fashion rock n’ roll beats. There’s also a little bit of acapella at the beginning, showcasing the amazing vocals of this band. It’s a song about spiritual searching and keeping on when the chips are down. Above all, it’s a killer song to sing along to.
“Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees
There’s something so iconic about the Bee Gees' high vocals and beats that just make you want to dance. They’re probably one of the most unique artists in the entire world. No one has and no one ever will be able to replicate the magic that these brothers created together.
They pioneered the combination of disco with R&B rhythms, and had the great honor of helping to formulate one of the best movie soundtracks in history—Saturday Night Fever. Stayin’ Alive is the first song that watchers of the movie here, and it really sets the tone for how “groovy” the rest of the movie will be. It’s an inspirational song about survival in situations that are pretty grim. “Stayin’ Alive” never fails to cheer me up when it’s on.
“American Pie” by Don McLean
I actually laughed out loud putting this song as one of my favorites, and I’ll tell you why. A long, long time ago, my Dad used to listen to this song when I was in the car with him. And every time, I thought “this will be the day that I die,” because wow, this song is sooooo long. Though I thought it was torturous back then, now I love it to death. This song not only reminds me of drives with my Dad, but it also reminds me that the good things too, must die.
American folk-rock singer Don McLean wrote this song as a farewell to the ’60s, a time in which he felt the world was going to pieces. For him, and for many others, this song represents not just the death of the good in the world, but also the promise of new life out of the ashes of the past. The repeated “This will be the day that I die” is also rumored to reference the plane crash that killed rock n’ roll artists Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens in 1959.
“Dark Lady” by Cher
As a kid, I was always entranced by the incredible storytelling Cher does in just a few minutes with this song. Even though I’d heard it a million times, I was always imagining Dark Lady and her crazy schemes in my head. It wasn’t until I was much older that I actually realized that Cher kills both Dark Lady and her lover for cheating on her. I guess I always just thought Cher had a gun in her hand and that scared the two of them to death. Who knew she actually shot them both? I suppose everyone but seven-year-old me. While this dark tale wasn’t actually inspired by something that happened in real life, it’s potent nevertheless. But story aside, Cher uses her deep but silky-smooth vocals to suck you into this song. It’s full of dark humor, and has a chorus that will get you up and dancing…and maybe doing some mystical things as well.