The 1970s was an especially vibrant decade for music. Across all genres, dozens of one-hit wonders brought catchy tunes that filled the airwaves. Even though many of these acts faded away quickly, their catchy tunes have become iconic for many ‘70s kids who grew up during this time. From dance-worthy pop songs to rock anthems, there is something for everyone to remember from this era. To honor the musical legacy of the decade, this article is all about one-hit wonders that every ‘70s kid will remember.
The Buggles, a new wave duo featuring Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, released one hit single in 1979 that served as the groundbreaking introduction to music videos as we know it. “Video Killed the Radio Star” was the first music video ever played on MTV when the channel launched in 1981. Its synth-pop sound and unique video featuring static pictures of Trevor and Geoff made it the perfect first video while propelling the two to the top of the charts.
In 1979, the power-pop group The Knack released the hit single “My Sharona.” Blending elements of pop, punk, and new wave, their single quickly made it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was heavily played on the radio and praised as one of the catchiest tunes of the decade. One ‘70s kid definitely remembers being able to sing the lyrics from start to finish by the time the song left the airwaves.
Sugarhill Gang’s breakout hit “Rapper’s Delight” was the first rap song to become a top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979. The song was influential in bridging the gaps between cultures and introducing rap music to the mainstream. ‘70s folk definitely remember the groove of the beat, the two catchy bass lines, and the laughter that became part of the song after a rap battle erupted in the middle.
Edwin Starr’s 1970 song “War” took the music industry by storm and became an anti-war anthem that is still relevant today. The song initially topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart during 1970, followed by a re-release five years later in 1975, pushing the single towards becoming an instant classic. The song tackled important themes and carried a strong message, leaving a lasting impression on ‘70s kids everywhere.
Billy Joel’s song “Just the Way You Are” was a chart-topping hit in 1977 that quickly became a staple in any wedding playlist. The tender and touching lyrics, combined with its soft piano melody, created a timeless classic. Many ‘70s kids remember having their first slow dance to this song as a source of nostalgia.
Wild Cherry released the hit single “Play That Funky Music” in 1976. This track brought a unique funk sound that spawned a dance craze known as the “Funky Chicken.” Holding their arms out like chickens, many ‘70s kids of all ages got up and danced when this song came on the radio.
Foreigner’s 1977 hit single “Feels Like the First Time” still lingers in the minds of many ‘70s kids. This was one of the first songs to feature the emerging sound of arena rock, and it was also Foreigner’s first top 40 hit that propelled them to stardom. With its catchy chorus and electric guitar riffs, this song is still revered as one of the most iconic one-hit wonders of the ‘70s.
Other Honorable Mentions
There were many one-hit wonders that ‘70s kids can remember, so it’s impossible to cover them all. Here are some other honorable mentions of one-hit wonders that were popular in the ‘70s:
• “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory
• “Spill the Wine” by Eric Burdon and War
• “Rock the Boat” by The Hues Corporation
• “Y.M.C.A.” by Village People
• “Space Cowboy” by Steve Miller Band
• “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass
• “So Far Away” by Carole King
• “Why Can’t We Be Friends” by War
• “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin
• “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson
• “Baby Hold On” by Eddie Money
• “Babe” by Styx
The 1970s gave the world a trove of memorable one-hit wonders. This list is by no means exhaustive, as there were several other tracks that enthralled listeners of the era. These one-hit wonders, however, are part of the collective memories of a generation and will be remembered fondly by every ‘70s kid.