If you were like me in the 1970’s you listened to top 40 radio most of the time. You heard a lot of great songs and instant classics. But among them were many unforgettable songs that were just weird or strange. I’ve tried from memory to remember the ones that stand out in my mind.
For weird reasons they became hits. They either made no sense or having any musical merit. Just a bizarre era of story songs.
Of course, this stuff is all pretty subjective but I did have a few criteria for what should be here. I decided to include a song if it:
- made me sick without even listening to it again
- made me want to break my radio
- made my stomach turn
- brought out violent thoughts of hatred, revenge, etc.
- reminded me how lame the radio and record companies are
- could make me want to break my stereo
- would make me leave a bar or club if they started playing it
- would make me boo a band who started playing it
- suspended my belief in a divine force that governs the universe
I’m not saying that there weren’t ANY good songs during the 70s but there was just a truck-load of waste back then. If anybody’s stupid enough to think that ALL disco sucks, remember that it’s just a bastard son of rhythm & blues just like rock’n’roll is- so they’re related, see? Also, the 1970’s definitely didn’t have a monopoly on shitty music- there was tons of crap unleashed on us in the decade before and after and now also (there’s a future article there somewhere). Clothes-pin anyone?
The 70’s was an interesting time for music. There was a lot of experimentation and creativity from that decade, but there was also plenty of crap as well. Here is my list of the worst and most irritating songs of the 70’s.
Torn Between Two Lovers – Mary Macgregor – 1977
This is a song written by Peter Yarrow (of the folk music trio Peter, Paul & Mary) and Phillip Jarrell. The song describes a love triangle and laments that “loving both of you is breaking all the rules”. Mary MacGregor recorded it at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1976. The song became the title track of her first album.
“Torn Between Two Lovers” reached No. 1 on both the U.S. pop chart in February 1977 as well as the Easy Listening chart in the final week of 1976 and the first week of 1977. It also reached No. 1 on the Canadian charts. The song also peaked at No. 3 on the country charts of both nations. In March 1977, the song peaked at No. 4 in the United Kingdom.
I think the use of the word, “torn” is what always bothered me about this song. I’m not alone here. I had a girlfriend in the 80’s who felt the same way. That title conjured up some sort of DP coupling between the singer and two dudes. However, I like the idea of someone being in love with two different people for different reasons. I’ve been there several times myself, but it’s just an odd song.
If you really listen to this song and read the lyrics, this chick is obviously married, and she’s already cheated on her husband. She decides to tell him, and it feels a bit too graphic. This other guy knows he can’t own her, but he can fill a place that’s been empty for a while and only he can fill it. So the sex and romance have definitely dropped off in her current relationship. She doesn’t love her husband any less but this other dude is delivering the D on the reg, and she’s digging it. She should have just left well alone and rode it out, but what do I know? It’s a sweet song about cheating and adultery. Nice.
A sad song that’s a little gross.
Sing a Song – The Carpenters – 1973
is a 1971 song written by Joe Raposo for the children’s television show Sesame Street as its signature song. In 1973, it gained popularity when performed by the Carpenters, who made it a #3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
Raposo was one of the staff songwriters on Sesame Street, and the song became one of the most popular on the program, sung in English, Spanish, and sign language. In its initial appearance, it was sung by adult human cast members of the show (the most frequent lead singer was Bob McGrath) and Muppets, including Big Bird.
I will say this. I love the sound of Karen Carpenter’s voice. That low, contralto is like honey to me.
But this song is pure drivel. Then again, this seemed to be the decade for such saccharine-laden happy-happy songs—see the previous selections plus “Candy Man” by Sammy Davis Jr., and “Playground in My Mind” by Clint Holmes (“My name is Michael/I got a nickel…”)
When I hear this song, I want to drive knitting needles into my ears. It doesn’t make me want to throw up because we all know what can happen if you do that all of the time.
You’re Sixteen – Ringo Starr – 1974
Is that a kazoo I hear in this song? Really, dude? You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful, and the 33-year-old guy singing this to you is a pervert. Nuff said.
Couldn’t you have picked any other song in the world, Ringo? I can imagine back in the 60s when you’d approach the other Beatles with a song you had composed. They’d congratulate you and then stick it to the refrigerator to show how proud of you they were. Then they’d get back to cranking out the greatest songs ever written.
I Just Want To Stop – Gino Vanelli – 1978
This is a song by Canadian singer/songwriter Gino Vannelli. Released as a single in August 1978, the song is his biggest hit single to date, reaching number one in his native Canada and number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It appears on his sixth album, Brother to Brother. The song was produced by the three brothers Gino, Joe, and Ross Vannelli, and written by Ross.
“I Just Want to Stop” by Gino Vanelli. It probably doesn’t deserve to be on this list (he barely eeked out masterpieces by Peaches and Herb, and Sean Cassidy), but I have a visceral reaction to this song: every time it comes on, I want to crash my car through the guardrail and plunge 3,000 feet to my death.
Precious and Few – Climax – 1972
This is a song recorded by the American group Climax which became a major North American hit in early 1972. Written by the band’s guitarist, Walter D. Nims, it spent three weeks at number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and hit number one on the Cash Box Top 100. It also reached number six on Canada’s RPM 100.
Lead vocals were provided by Sonny Geraci, who also sang lead on “Time Won’t Let Me” by his previous band, The Outsiders. Nims had also been a member of The Outsiders.
“Precious and Few” was released on Carousel Records in 1971. The song featured The Ron Hicklin Singers as backing vocalists, a piano, drums, strings, and a horn section.
Climax was mostly Sonny Geraci with some backing musicians to create this sappy, syrupy ballad. I also get tired of trying to explain that this song has nothing to do with the Climax Blues Band (aka Climax Chicago).
Kill me now.
Let ‘ Em In – Wings – 1976
This one is bad. From its annoying opening to its simply awful baseline (one can practically feel the musicians falling asleep) to its trombone solo (trombone solo!) to its stupid flute riff to its inane lyrics, this song absolutely takes the cake. Side note: Why does everyone love McCartney? More than half of his hits are silly little love songs. (What’s wrong with that? Everything.) Hard to believe this turd fell from the mind of a Beatle.
Go ahead, have a listen. See if you disagree.
Dancing Queen – Abba – 1976
Musically, “Dancing Queen” is a Europop version of American disco music. As disco music dominated the US charts, the group decided to follow the trend, replicating Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound arrangements. The song alternates between “languid yet seductive verses” and a “dramatic chorus that ascends to heart-tugging high notes.” It features keyboard lines by Andersson, which accentuate the melody’s sophistication and classical complexity, while Ulvaeus and Andersson interlace many instrumental hooks in and out of the mix. Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog’s layered vocals have been noted for their dynamism, “[negotiating] the Abba’s many turns flawlessly.”Lyrically, the song concerns a visit to the discotheque but approaches the subject from the joy of dancing itself. The music video on YouTube has over 456 million views as of November 2020 and has become ABBA’s most recognizable and popular song.
I hate this song and everything this singing group ever created. Not because my dad brought this music into our house one day. Because I just hate the way this music sounds. My dad first heard the song at a party where some woman who was employed at the bank where he worked was dancing to it. He liked what he heard and saw, and bought the record. He later carried on an affair with her, which was his usual MO during the 70s and early 80s. He told my sister that he liked the song because it made him think of her when she was dancing. Which was a bald-faced lie. I also hated that he liked the song, “I Am The Tiger from the album Arrival. I know for a fact he thought he was the living persona of that shitty song too, so more hate for Abba.
When I heard this horribly cold, processed music coming from his apartment I wanted to jump out a window and plummet to my death on the concrete below. This music is terrible, but the world loves them. At one point I remember reading that this band generated more revenue than Volvo.
I hate this music and I think my dad was a prick for lying to my sister and for all of his lascivious affairs while he was married to my mom.
So there you have it. Enjoy!
Wildwood Weed – Jim Stafford – 1974
After my rage fest in regard to Abba, let’s close with this little ditty.
This is a 1974 hit song written by Don Bowman and recorded by Jim Stafford. It was the fourth of four U.S. Top 40 singles from his eponymous debut album. Musically, the song takes its inspiration from The Carter Family’s instrumental recording “Wildwood Flower”. The lyrics in the verses are spoken, rather than sung.
The song is a story about farmers who take a sudden interest in a common wildflower on their farm and soon discover and enjoy its hallucinogenic and mind-altering properties after one of them begins to chew on one. They begin to cultivate the plant in earnest; however, federal agents raid their property and destroy their crops. Nevertheless, the men are undeterred by the destruction of their plants, as they have saved a supply of seeds, overlooked by the agents.
“Wildwood Weed” reached number seven on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, number five on Cash Box, and number three on the Canadian pop singles chart. It was a crossover hit onto the Adult Contemporary charts of both nations (reaching number two in Canada),] as well as the U.S. Country chart.
However, some AM radio stations banned the song because of its reference to marijuana. Funny and cute by today’s standards!
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