Top 10 Decade Defining Musical Acts: 1970s
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Jordan Ruimy. While funk, jazz and soul and rock were ever present, this decade was also defined by the rise of disco, punk rock and electronic music. For our series on the Top 10 Musical Acts Per Decade, we've based our choices on a mix of an act's success, popularity and overall musical legacy. This is part of a series of videos spanning the decades of music from the1950s to the 2000s. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the top 10 decade defining musical acts of the 1970s. Special thanks to our users Jack Morris, jimster95, SuperMonkeyGyrados, jman1980s, billyfresh23, Nathaniel Jordon and Se7enNationArmy101for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
Script written by Jordan Ruimy.
While funk, jazz, soul and rock were ever present, this decade was also defined by the rise of disco, punk rock and electronic music. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 musical acts of the 1970s.
For our series on the Top 10 Musical Acts Per Decade, we’ve based our choices on a mix of an act’s success, popularity and overall musical legacy. This is part of a series of videos spanning the decades of music from the1950s to the 2000s.
#10: The Ramones
Punk music wouldn’t have existed as we now know it without this New York-based band. Led by lead singer Joey Ramone, The Ramones paved the way for furious, anger-themed, 3-chord based rock music. Despite little major chart and commercial success, the punk rockers established a straightforward, loud and speedy style, as demonstrated in signature songs like “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” and “I Wanna Be Sedated.” Meanwhile, their incessant touring built them a rep as an energetic and must-see live act.
This Swedish pop group can boast the sale of more than 380 million records and dozens of number one hit singles, starting from the mid-1970s and reaching beyond. By incorporating disco into their sound and writing catchy, relatable tunes, ABBA brought us such classics as “Waterloo,” “Fernando,” and of course, “Dancing Queen.” Their eventual breakup in 1982 didn’t slow down their commercial success, nor did it diminish their fan base – in fact, ABBA has experienced a rejuvenation of late with the highly popular musical based on their music, “Mamma Mia.”
#8: Black Sabbath
If you wanted to go back to the origins of heavy metal, this band would be a good place to start. Singer Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward built a world of music like no other – one that was influenced by their Birmingham, England upbringing and filled with demons and dark undertones and. Songs like “War Pigs,” “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” defined their sound. They also opened the eyes and ears of a whole generation of soon-to-be metal-heads to music that can give you nightmares – and we mean that as a compliment.
#7: Fleetwood Mac
These British-American musicians have had many members enter and leave the band over the years, but its the incarnation from the mid-70s that lands them here. After transitioning from a more blues-oriented act to a more pop-focused one, Fleetwood Mac’s blockbuster album Rumours went on to become their biggest seller, as well as a critically acclaimed, Grammy-winning chart-topper. It also helped set the path for the group to later become one of the best-selling bands ever.
This Grammy-winning and chart-topping band sold more than 150 million records worldwide. After several top 40 hits, the Eagles had their biggest hit in 1975 with the number one album One of These Nights. They continued to rule the charts with Their Greatest Hits compilation and Hotel California. The latter’s title track soon became a landmark song that sealed the band’s reputation as one of the ‘70s and America’s biggest bands. The L.A. group didn’t only change the game, but proved their staying power when their 1994 reunion put them back on the top of the charts.
#5: Bee Gees
The role of disco in the 1970s cannot be ignored. In one word, it was HUGE. Paving the way for a new dance revolution, the genre saw this trio lead the charge following their adoption of the sound in the decade’s latter half. Composed of the three Gibb brothers, the Bee Gees infiltrated the airwaves and our dance floors with their close harmonies, as well as their funky and soul-driven tunes. Their most memorable contributions are found on the “Saturday Night Fever” movie soundtrack, which is widely considered to be one of disco’s greatest moments, spawning several number one singles.
#4: Elton John
This English legend has more than 25 top ten singles in a career spanning over 50 years. And it was during the ‘70s that his success really began. That decade saw Elton John and his song-writing partner Bernie Taupin create a unique style combining lyrical depth and piano-playing that allowed the artist to shine on songs like “Rocket Man,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, “Tiny Dancer” and more. Add his showmanship and vocal talent, and you’ve got an artist who today is one of the best-selling musical acts ever.
Lead singer Freddie Mercury was arguably the greatest stage persona to come out of rock and roll since Mick Jagger first strutted his stuff back in the 1960s. And his band wasn’t too shabby either. Coming to the scene as almost counter-programming to the studio-built machinery of disco, Queen built on rock and roll by incorporating elements of heavy metal and hard rock to their sound. They weren’t afraid to experiment, and Mercury’s powerful voice truly helped them stand out. Let’s not forget they produced legendary songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You,” which seem destined to be played live.
#2: Pink Floyd
It’s safe to say that this band enjoyed incredible commercial and critical success throughout its run, but it was during the ‘70s that it really hit its peak. Concept albums like The Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall were psychedelic and progressive rock statements that changed the game and earned them international recognition. Thanks to their deep themes, musical experimentation and concert performances, Pink Floyd sold over 250 million albums. They also built a rep for sticking to their artistic intentions and have been credited with making the “concept” album more common in rock.
Before we unveil our pick for Top Musical Act of the 1970s, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Stevie Wonder
- Deep Purple
- The Jackson 5
- Earth, Wind & Fire
#1: Led Zeppelin
The 1970s certainly wouldn’t have been the same without this English rock band. Formed in 1968, this 4-piece unit was composed of the late John Bonham on drums, John Paul Jones on bass and keyboard, Jimmy Page on guitar and Robert Plant on vocals. Together, these musicians had chemistry to burn and produced some of the most important music of the decade. Blending blues and folk with their hard rock and heavy metal sound, Led Zeppelin was revolutionary for the time and earned immense popularity for their musical output. They’re one of the best-selling acts of all time and their influence continues to reach war and wide.
Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite musical act of the 1970s? For more music top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.