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20 Biggest Songs of the Summer: The 1970s

Disco, new wave, soul and soft rock soundtrack the sweltering summers of “The Me Decade”

The Knack, The Carpenters, Donna Summer


The possibilities of the LP format that were explored in the 1960s flowered more fully in the Seventies, with rock, R&B and countless emerging new styles reaching experimental new extremes. Nevertheless, the art of the hook still ruled the singles charts, with AM Gold balladeers and insurgent disco divas heating up the Hot 100 every summer. These are the decade’s biggest pop hits from the summer solstice to the autumn equinox, minus some of the ballands and wimpier fare from guys like Gilbert O’Sullivan and Donny Osmond. By Al Shipley

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4. Carole King, “I Feel the Earth Move”

Carole King’s solo debut, Tapestry, topped the album charts for literally the entire summer of 1971, holding down Number One from mid-June to October. For five of those weeks, the double A side single “It’s Too Late”/”I Feel the Earth Move” topped the singles charts, with the uptempo latter song becoming the classic LP’s summer jam of choice.

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3. Donna Summer, “Bad Girls”

True to her name, Donna Summer was the warm-weather queen of 1979, with “Bad Girls” topping the charts for five weeks in July and August. Of course, she owned the rest of the year as well, with “Hot Stuff” hitting Number One in the spring and the Barbra Streisand duet “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” topping the Hot 100 in the fall.

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2. The Emotions, “Best of My Love”

Formed in the late Sixties, the Emotions released three albums on Stax/Volt produced by Isaac Hayes and David Porter but didn’t peak until moving to Columbia Records, where Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire co-wrote and co-produced the exuberant chart-topper “Best of My Love.”

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1. The Knack, “My Sharona”

The Knack frontman Doug Feiger’s muse and girlfriend, Sharona Alperin, both inspired and posed for the cover of the fastest selling Capitol Records single since “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” In the era of disco and AM Gold, the media was ecstatic when its guitar pop topped the charts, but New Wave at Number One proved to be a rare occurrence in the ensuing years.

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