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For music from a year in the 1970s, go to 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79

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Music of the 1970s saw the rise of experimental classical music and minimalist music by classical composers. Funk, disco, Art rock, progressive rock, hard rock, glam rock, and punk music were also popular. Emerging genres included jazz-rock fusion, chamber jazz, reggae, Heavy Metal and hip hop.

Contents

The U.S. and North America

Pop

  • ABBA rises to popularity at this time, and eventually become one of the best selling artists of all time.

Rock

Pink Floyd, 1973

The seventies were a time when a new generation of youthful people were exposed to new media and hence newer ideas in almost every field. TV and motion picture brought to varied audiences images, lifestyles and music from diverse regions and peoples. This led to the emergence of a new vocabulary and experimentation in music. After the war the second generation of German musicians began experimenting with music, these included experimental classical music and the tradition of Krautrock or Kraut music, rooted in the experimental classical music. This later influenced both art rock and progressive rock as well as the punk rock and New Wave genres. The main exponents of progressive rock include Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Rush, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Supertramp, Pink Floyd and Premiata Forneria Marconi. The experimental nature of progressive rock is exemplified in compositions such as "Close to the Edge" by Yes, or "Supper's Ready" by Genesis. Also the start of Hard rock in many forms began with the British bands Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

One of the first events of the '70s was the break up of the Beatles in the spring of 1970. The early seventies also marked the deaths of rock legends Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. Three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd were killed in a tragic plane crash in 1977.

The mid '70s saw the rise of punk music from its protopunk/garage band roots in the 1960s and early 1970s. The Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, the Sex Pistols, and The Clash were some of the earliest acts to make it big in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Groups like the Clash were noted for the experimentation of style, especially that of having strong reggae influences in their music. Punk music has also been heavily associated with a certain punk fashion and absurdist humor which exemplified a genuine suspicion of mainstream culture and values. Blondie quickly lost their punk roots going on to become a pop/ska/reggae band.

Disco

the popularity of the Disco music genre peaked during the middle to late 1970s.

For many people, disco is the genre of music most readily associated with the '70s. First appearing in dance clubs by the middle of the decade, (with such hits as "The Hustle" by Van McCoy), songstresses like Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Dalida and Anita Ward popularized the genre and were described in subsequent decades as the "disco divas." The movie Saturday Night Fever was released in December 1977, starring John Travolta and featuring the music of the Bee Gees and several other artists. It had the effect of setting off disco mania in the United States. The Bee Gees' soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever became the best selling album of all time until 1983 when Michael Jackson's Thriller broke that record.

The Bee Gees — brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb — had been a successful harmonic act as the 1970s dawned; while they continued to have success with ballads such as "How Deep is Your Love," the Gibb brothers' most successful songs were their disco recordings, including "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever" (both from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack). The Gibbs' youngest brother, Andy, had a successful solo career of his own, also with disco songs such as "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" and "Shadow Dancing."

Almost as quickly as disco's popularity came, however, it soon fell out of favor. The genre started to become increasingly commercialized, and the large number of disco songs flooding the radio airwaves in 1978-1979 resulted in a growing backlash against it, as epitomized by the "Disco Demolition Night" stunt by a Chicago disc jockey at a July 1979 baseball game at Comiskey Park. Disco clubs also gained a reputation as decadent places where people engaged in drug use and promiscuous sex. The popularity of the genre waned, and 1980's "Funkytown" by Lipps Inc. was one of the last disco hits. Along with the demise of disco came the end of the orchestrations and musical instruments (such as strings) which had become associated with disco, in part because of the high cost of producing such music. Electronic and synthesized music quickly replaced the lush orchestral sounds of the 1970s and rock music resurged in popularity with new wave bands such as Blondie ("Heart of Glass"), The Knack ("My Sharona") and Devo ("Whip It"), all who formed their bands in the 1970s. Many artists such as The Bee Gees, who came to be associated with disco, found it difficult to sell records or concert tickets in the 1980s.

Soft rock and singer-songwriter

Country crossover, soft rock and country rock songs were also prominently featured on many Top 40 and contemporary hit radio stations throughout the 1970s. Soft rock often used acoustic instruments and placed emphasis on melody and harmonies. Elton John became the decade's biggest pop star [1], releasing diverse styles of music that ranged from ballads to arena rock; some his most popular songs included "Crocodile Rock," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Bennie and the Jets," "Philadelphia Freedom and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (the latter a duet with Kiki Dee). Other major artists included Carole King, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Chicago, America, Fleetwood Mac and Joan Armatrading.[2][3] (See the country music section of this article for more about country music that crossed over onto the pop charts.)

A large number of country-pop and soft rock songs fit into the singer-songwriter classification — that is, songs written and recorded by the same person. Some of the most successful singer-songwriter artists were Jackson Browne, Jim Croce, John Denver, Steve Goodman, Arlo Guthrie, Joel, Dave Mason, Don McLean, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Taylor and Neil Young. Some artists — including King, Kris Kristofferson and Gordon Lightfoot — had previously been primarily songwriters but began releasing albums and songs of their own. King's album Tapestry (with 10 of its 12 tracks written or co-written by King), became one of the top-selling albums of the decade, and the song "It's Too Late" became one of the 1970s biggest songs. McLean's 1971 song "American Pie," inspired by the death of Buddy Holly, became one of popular music's most-recognized songs of the 20th century, thanks to its abstract and vivid storytelling, which center around "The Day the Music Died" and popular music of the rock era.

The early 1970s marked the ending of The Beatles, the departure of Diana Ross from The Supremes and the breakup of Simon & Garfunkel. McCartney formed a new group, Wings, and continued to enjoy great mainstream success. Also, Ross, Simon, Art Garfunkel, and the three other former Beatles — John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — all continued hugely successful recording careers throughout the decade and beyond. Several of their songs are listed among the biggest hits of the 1970s: Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Simon's solo hit "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," Wings' "Silly Love Songs" and "My Love," Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" and Ross' "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."[4]

Arena rock, heavy metal

Arena rock grew in popularity through progressive bands like Styx ("Come Sail Away"), and hard rock bands like Boston ("More Than a Feeling"). Heavy metal music gained a cult following in the 1970s, led by AC/DC, Aerosmith and Def Leppard, with their styles evolving into glam metal and growing in popularity during the 1980s.

Psychedelic rock declined in popularity after the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morisson, the breakup of The Beatles, and Kenny Rogers' depature from The First Edition and subsequent reinventing his musical style into that of a country-pop balladeer.

Other developments

In the second half of the decade, a 1950s nostalgia movement prompted the Rockabilly Revival fad. The Stray Cats led the revival into the early 1980s. Queen participated through their hit "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." Billy Joel provided "Piano Man" and "Only The Good Die Young." Also symbolizing this trend was the hit movie Grease in 1978, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

Tying in with the nostalga craze, several stars of the late 1950s and early 1960s successfully revived their careers during the early- to mid-1970s after several years of inactivity. The most successful of these were Rick Nelson ("Garden Party," 1972), Paul Anka ("(You're) Having My Baby," 1974), Neil Sedaka ("Laughter in the Rain" and "Bad Blood," both 1975), and Frankie Valli as both a solo artist (1975's "My Eyes Adored You") and with The Four Seasons (1976's "December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)"). In addition, Perry Como — one of the most successful pre-rock era artists — enjoyed continued success, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale (as most of his fans were adults who grew up during the 1940s and early 1950s, and not the rock record-buying youth); his most successful hits of the decade were "It's Impossible" (1970) and "And I Love Her So" (1973).

Two of popular music's most successful artists died within six weeks of each other in 1977: Elvis Presley (on August 16) and Bing Crosby (October 14). Presley — whose top 1970s hit was 1972's "Burning Love" — ranked among the top artists of the rock era, while Crosby was among the most successful pre-rock era artists.

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R&B and urban

Along with disco, funk was one of the most popular genres of music in the '70s. Primarily an African-American genre, it was characterized by the heavy use of bass and "wah-wah" peddles. Rhythm was emphasized over melody. Artists such as James Brown, The Meters, Parliament-Funkadelic and Sly And The Family Stone pionered the genre. It then spawned artists such as Stevie Wonder, The Brothers Johnson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Bootsy's Rubber Band, King Floyd, Tower of Power, Ohio Players, The Commodores, War, Kool & the Gang, Confunkshun, Slave, Cameo, the Bar-Kays, Zapp, and many more.

The Jackson 5 became one of the one of the biggest pop-music phenomena of the 1970s [5], playing from a repertoire of rhythm and blues, soul, pop and later disco. The Jacksons — brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael — the first act in recording history to have their first four major label singles: "I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save", and "I'll Be There") reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The band served as the launching pad for the solo careers of their lead singers Jermaine and Michael, and while Jermaine had some success, it was Michael who would transform his early fame into greater success as an adult artist, with songs such as "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock with You."

The Commodores were another group that played from a diverse repertoire, including R&B, funk and pop. Lionel Richie, who went on to even greater success as a solo artist in the 1980s, fronted the group's biggest 1970s hits, including "Easy," "Three Times a Lady" and "Still."

Country

Willie Nelson became one of the most popular country music artists during the 1970s.

A number of styles defined country music during the 1970s decade. At the beginning of the decade, the countrypolitan — an offshoot of the earlier "Nashville Sound" of the late 1950s and early 1960s — and the honky-tonk fused Bakersfield Sound were some of the more popular styles.

The countrypolitan sound — a polished, streamlined sound featuring string sections, background vocals and crooning lead vocalists — was popularized by artists including Lynn Anderson, Glen Campbell, Ann Murray, Dottie West, Tammy Wynette and others, achieving their successes through such songs as "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden," "Snowbird" and others. The Bakersfield sound, first popularized in the early 1960s, continued its peak in popularity through artists such as Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.

But other styles began to emerge during the 1970s. One of the more successful styles was "outlaw country," a type of music blending the traditional and honky tonk sounds of country music with rock and blues music, and mixed with the anger of an alienated subculture of the nation during the period. The leaders of the movement were Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, although others associated with the movement were David Allan Coe, Jessi Colter, Tompall Glaser, Gary Stewart and Billy Joe Shaver. The efforts of Jennings, Nelson, Colter and Glaser were encapsulated in the 1976 album Wanted! The Outlaws.

The country pop sound was a successor to the countrypolitan sound of the early 1970s. In addition to artists such as Murray and Campbell, several artists who were not initially marketed as country were enjoying crossover success with country audiences through radio airplay and sales. The most successful of these artists included The Bellamy Brothers, Charlie Rich, John Denver, Olivia Newton-John, Marie Osmond, B. J. Thomas and Kenny Rogers. Newton-John, an Australian pop singer, was named Female Vocalist of the Year by the Country Music Association, sparking a debate that continues to this day — what is country music? A group of traditional-minded artists, troubled by this trend, formed the short-lived Association of Country Entertainers, in an attempt to bring back traditional honky-tonk sounds to the forefront. The debate continued into 1975, a year where six songs reached No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Billboard Hot 100 charts. Things came to a head when, at that year's CMA Awards, Rich — the reigning Entertainer of the Year, and himself a crossover artist — presented the award to his successor, "my good friend, Mr. John Denver." His statement, taken as sarcasm, and his setting fire to the envelope (containing Denver's name) with a cigarette lighter were taken as a protest against the increasing pop style in country music.

By the latter half of the 1970s, Dolly Parton, a highly successful traditional-minded country artist since the late 1960s, mounted a high profile campaign to crossover to pop music, culminating in her 1977 hit "Here You Come Again," which peaked at No. 1 country and No. 3 pop. Rogers, the former lead singer of The First Edition, followed up a successful career in pop, rock and folk music by switching to country music. Like Parton, he enjoyed a long series of successful songs that charted on both the Hot Country Singles and Billboard Hot 100 charts; the first of the lot was "Lucille," a No. 1 country and No. 5 pop hit. Crystal Gayle, Ronnie Milsap, Eddie Rabbitt and Linda Ronstadt were some of the other artists who also found success on both the country and pop charts with their records as well.

The other style of country music that grew during the decade was country rock, formed from the fusion of rock with country. This style reached its popularity pinnacle during the 1970s, beginning with non-country artists such as Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons and The Byrds. By the mid-1970s, Ronstadt, along with other newer artists such as Emmylou Harris and The Eagles, were enjoying mainstream success and popularity that continues to this day. During the 1970s, a similar style of country rock called southern rock (fusing rock, country and blues music, and focusing on electric guitars and vocals) was enjoying popularity with country audiences, thanks to such non-country acts as Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers Band and The Marshall Tucker Band.

The 1970s continued a trend toward a proliferation of No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. In 1970, there were 23 songs that reached the top spot on the chart, but by the mid 1970s, more than 40 titles rotated in and out of the top spot for the first time in history. The trend temporarily reversed itself by the late 1970s, when about 30 to 35 songs reached the pinnacle position of the chart annually.

Jamaica and reggae

Towards the end of the decade, Jamaican reggae music, already popular in the Caribbean and Africa since the early 1970s, became very popular in the U.S. and in Europe, mostly because of reggae superstar and legend Bob Marley as well as his band, The Wailers, his former bandmate Peter Tosh and other artists like Burning Spear and Jimmy Cliff; though the 1972 film The Harder They Come saw the introduction of the form to the West.

Europe

Agnetha Fältskog at the opening concert of ABBAs Europe & Australia Tour in Oslo, January 28th, 1977.

One of the most successful European groups of the decade was the quartet ABBA. The Swedish group, who are still the most successful group from their country, first found fame when they won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. They became one of the most widely known European groups ever, and were the decade's biggest sellers. "Take a Chance on Me" and "Dancing Queen" are two of ABBA's most popular songs.

United Kingdom

Queen, 1978

Queen was another band which enjoyed success in the UK and international success.

Latin America

Rock and Nueva canción

Victor Jara is one of the most emblematic Nueva canción musicians. He was murdered following the 1973 Chilean coup d'etat and his music outlawed
Sui Generis bandmates Charly Garcia and Nito Mestre, 1975.

During the 1970s in Latin America the '60s music influence remained strong and two styles developed from it one that followed the European and North American trends and Nueva Canción that focused on the renewal of folklore including Andean music and Cueca. Some bands such as Los Jaivas mixed both streams and created a syncretism between folklore and progressive rock. The Nueva Canción movement got an even more marked protest association after all countries in the Southern Cone became (or were already) military dictatures in the '70s

In the '70s Rock en Español began to emerge (specially in Argentina), and as imitation bands became fewer rock music started to develop more independtly from the outside, althought many rock bands still preferred to sing in English. The Argentine defeat in the Falklands War in 1982 followed by the fall of the military junta that year disminished need of Nueva Canción as protest music there in favour of other styles. In Chile the Nueva Canción styles developed through the '70s would remain popular until the return to democracy in 1990.

Cumbia

It was during the '70s the cumbia became widely popular outside Colombia. Several bands bought Cumbia to Mexico, Peru and Argentine, places that later became major scenes for further developments of cumbia music. While Nueva Canción was the music of the New Left and the rock developments of Argentina reflected the European oriented youth, cumbia became widely popular among the large poor sectors of Latin American countries, to such degree that it came to be associated with shantytowns and low-prestige Amerindian populations.

Salsa and merengue

The salsa music developed in the 1960s and '70s by Puerto Rican and Cuban immigrants to the New York City area but did not enter into mainstream popularity in Latin America until the late '80s. The Merengue music experienced during the late '70s a golden age of productivity characterized by the rise of a new generation of musicians.

Australia/New Zealand

Top music acts in Australia/New Zealand included Sherbet, Skyhooks, Dragon, Hush and the Ted Mulry Gang.

Other Trends

The first half of the 1970s saw many jazz musicians from the Miles Davis school achieve cross-over success through jazz-rock fusion. The exponential groups of the genre were Mahavishnu Orchestra, Soft Machine, Return to Forever, created by Chick Corea, and Weather Report, built upon the keyboards and saxophone of Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, respectively. In Germany, Manfred Eicher started the ECM label, which quickly made a name for 'chamber jazz' through the likes of Jan Garbarek, Keith Jarrett and Terje Rypdal. These two movements attracted many fans of progressive rock after its overlap by punk in 1976–77.

Another experimentation in European classical music was brought about by composers such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Michael Nyman, with what was to be called Minimalist music. This was a break from the intellectual serial music of the tradition of Schoenberg which lasted from the early 1900s to 1960s. Minimalist music sought to appreciate simple music with systematic patterns repeated in complex variations.

These experimentations were also used in several movies made in the early 1970s. In world music the musical collaboration of violinists Yehudi Menuhin and L. Subramaniam was appreciated by a large audience.

The commercial cinemas around the world tended to imitate nuances of disco beats in their movies to present their movies as western and upbeat. These included the increasingly popular Kung-fu movies in far East Asia and Bollywood movies from India.

References

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel, "Top Pop Singles: 1955-2006," 2007.
  2. ^ J. M. Curtis, Rock eras: interpretations of music and society, 1954-1984 (Popular Press, 1987), p. 236.
  3. ^ P. Buckley, The Rough Guide to Rock (Rough Guides, 3rd edn., 2003), p. 378.
  4. ^ "Top Fifty Hits of the 1970s," American Top 40, Watermark Inc. Aired January 5, 1980. Cue sheet retrieved 1-31-2010.
  5. ^ Huey, Steve. "The Jackson 5". Macrovision Corp.. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:88q7g4jttv3z~T00. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 

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