One of the interesting aspects of this series has been seeing what the years sound like when you only include the top #1 hits between the end of May through the beginning of September. #2 and #3 hits are often more interesting, since some you'd swear made it to #1 while others have something about them that lacks the knockout punch.
Here are the final three years of the 1970s. Where the mid-70s had a nap-like quality to many songs, the late 1970s felt an upsweep in tempo and attitude. Punk rock never made much of a dent in the late 1970s. For a music so immediate, its potential audience took decades to warm up to it. Or you might argue that in the late 1970s, record companies marketed as heavily towards 30 year olds as it did at teenagers. Or maybe I hung out on the wrong side of the playground because no one I knew at age 11 was a Barry Manilow fan until they learned to be later on, ironically.
24) Sir Duke -- Stevie Wonder (1977): Cruising into Memorial Day Weekend comes "Sir Duke" at the top of the charts, which has a hook so catchy and familiar, forgive my younger self for thinking this was from an airline commercial. Yet, that's what the commercialization of pop songs has done to all of us, whether justified or not. We've been burned so many times, we're cynical. The actual song was Stevie's tribute to jazz great Duke Ellington.
23) I'm Your Boogie Man -- KC and The Sunshine Band (1977): Here's a song that has been heard in a variety of movies including the Scary Movie franchise, Roll Bounce, Superbad and Watchmen. The song was later covered by White Zombie, because it's the kind of song that screams to be covered, ironically or not at all.
22) Dreams -- Fleetwood Mac (1977): For some folks 1977 was the year of the Sex Pistols and the punk brigade, but the charts in fully air-conditioned America demanded something smoother, something less angry and the intricate and often subliminal hooks of Fleetwood's most successful album Rumours provided the sedating happiness FM radio listeners were looking for. Ooh, Stevie!
21) Got To Give It Up (Part 1) -- Marvin Gaye (1977): Just as "Dreams" held the #1 position for one week, so went the fate of this truncated track where Marvin, like so many singers in the disco age, located his falsetto range and set about using it while a backing track of people talking ran behind him. The song's cool funk influenced Michael Jackson to sell a kajillion records, as you can hear throughout "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" that clearly has its roots right here.
20) Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky) -- Bill Conti (1977): Movie themes always have a built-in advantage over other songs. Aside from their exposure, they encourage songwriters to write bigger than life and in this case to triumph two underdogs: Rocky Balboa and Philadelphia. Like most #1 Summer hits of 1977, it had a one week stay before being knocked out by...
19) Undercover Angel -- Alan O'Day (1977): Of course, another one week #1 hit for the week of July 9, 1977. What makes this song even more ephemeral is that the single was issued without an album to back it. So anyone who bought the single was pretty much done with their Alan O'Day collection.
18) Da Doo Ron Ron -- Shaun Cassidy (1977): If Shaun Cassidy seems a little silly and his cover of the Crystals hit "Da Doo Ron Ron" feels less exciting than the original and with less purpose, well, figure the industry didn't really have the teen idol thing down to the precise, exclusive science it is today. Ask Tiffany, she knows about this stuff, too.
17) Looks Like We Made It -- Barry Manilow (1977): Time to get rid of the teen idol and get with an idol for older people! But don't think for a minute that that's necessarily an improvement.
16) I Just Want To Be Your Everything -- Andy Gibb (1977): The Bee Gees could do any damn thing they felt like at this point in their careers and if they wanted everyone to pay attention and love their little brother Andy, then that is what everybody would do. After so many songs that hung to the #1 spot for only a week, "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" spent three weeks at the top spot and even came back for a week in late September while it wrestled with this next song.
15) Best Of My Love -- The Emotions (1977): Here's another fine hit that spent several weeks at #1 and then gave it back to Andy Gibb and then took it back. It actually did better on the pop charts than the disco charts. Mariah Carey allegedly sampled the song for a song called "Emotions" that resulted in a lawsuit, though how Mariah would know what's on one of her records stretches all credibility.
14) With A Little Luck -- Wings (1978): Another summer, another Paul McCartney hit. He was a little early, breaking into the #1 spot a week before Memorial Day weekend, but considering the Bee Gees' dominance in 1978, he was lucky to get two weeks to himself.
13) Too Much, Too Little, Too Late -- Johnny Mathis and Deniece Willams (1978): This is the anomaly for 1978. Previous hits had been by the Bee Gees, Player, Bee Gees, Andy Gibb, Bee Gees, Yvonne Elliman and Wings, so to see this adult-contemporary duet show up for a week in June, well, it is what it is…
12) You're The One That I Want -- John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John (1978): The now-iconic, then-kinda-crappy Grease movie yielded a soundtrack that everyone of a certain age ended up owning, much like, say, Whipped Cream and Other Delights by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Tapestry by Carole King, Thriller by Michael Jackson and Cracked Rear View by Hootie and the Blowfish. As a ten-year old, I remember liking the 'fast-singing' bit. Amazingly, it only lasted one week at #1. But then when you see why, you'll realize who owned the year.
11) Shadow Dancing -- Andy Gibb (1978): "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water" only held the top slot for two weeks in March. However, "Shadow Dancing" held for seven weeks from June throughout July. It would be the last top slot for any Gibb family member until the first weeks of 1979 when "Too Much Heaven" started the whole trend over again. (Though it didn't stop Barry from giving one away.)
10) Miss You -- The Rolling Stones (1978): Only Rock 'n' Roll fans use the phrase "Sell Out!" as a derogatory term, as if a music that's always been an irreverent hybrid of so many other things could then be limited by definition to certain fuzzy details that one knows when one hears them. It gave them one week at the top and a disco 12" single that remains one of their greater post-Exile moments.
9) Three Times A Lady -- Commodores (1978): There once was a time when Lionel Richie hid behind this band. Yet anyone who read credits knew it was Richie who had the smooth adult-contemporary touch. It was the Commodores' first #1 hit and certainly planted the seed in Richie's mind that soft, soothing songs could be his ticket to solo star prominence and dominance.
8) Grease -- Frankie Valli (1978): At this point in time, it was a good thing that Barry Gibb had somebody else to give this song to. Otherwise, the Bee Gees would've had yet another hit.
7) Reunited -- Peaches & Herb (1979): This song was resilient and held the top spot for early May through to the Memorial Day Weekend that though it falls technically in spring is still considered the kick-off weekend for the summertime because we are an optimistic people.
6) Love You Inside Out -- Bee Gees (1979): The Bee Gees continued their hot streak in 1979. But this would be their final #1 hit and their last US top 10 single until "One" in 1989 went to #7 a decade later. It was, however, ay #1 for one lonely week. What led to this fall from grace? I don't know. The same people who loved them so, suddenly didn't. Don't involve me in this.
5) Hot Stuff -- Donna Summer (1979): 1979 surely was Donna's Summer, eh? Like so many before her and others after her, Summer experienced a brief period in time where she was everywhere at once, where everyone loved her and couldn't get enough only to decide later they'd had enough. Overexposure happens to the lucky ones. Surely, they wish we knew how to ration our love for them to make it last a lifetime.
4) Ring My Bell -- Anita Ward (1979): The song to break up the Donna Summer Streak? A song that wasn't meant for Anita Ward at all, but for 11-year old Stacy Lattisaw, when the song was still about kids talking on the phone and not about Avon ladies.
3) Bad Girls -- Donna Summer (1979): The continuation of Donna's Summer! Both tunes still sound pretty good, but I'm sure glad I don't have to hear them every day of my life. Who thought Top 40 radio was a good idea anyway? Play songs to death until you hate them and can't listen to them for ten years? Now, that's a shame.
2) Good Times -- Chic (1979): I don't think they intended it at the time, but you can't have a wedding without "Good Times" or else people will swear you're doing something wrong.
1) My Sharona -- The Knack (1979): For a briefer moment than many, the Knack were the hottest ticket in town before fans turned against them. The band's problem wasn't the band, but the label for making the Beatles connection way too pronounced. Let that be a lesson for all guys in a four-piece guitar-playing band! That and don't try to write the same song twice. Everyone knew where you got "Baby Talks Dirty" from, fellas.