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35 Best Songs From 1974

The year 1974 gave us some of the most iconic soul and disco tracks of the entire decade, but that isn’t all that time had to offer to listeners. In this article, we’ll use Billboard’s year-end rankings to help us determine the 35 best songs released in 1974.

1. The Way We Were – Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand - The Way We Were (Official Audio)

The Way We Were first appeared on Barbra Streisand’s 15th studio album and served as both the title track and lead single of the album. The song describes the relationship between the two main characters of its title film, and it won two Academy Awards for its greatness. The single would go on to reach the top of the Hot 100 and the RPM Charts in Canada, eventually becoming the most successful song of the year according to Billboard. 

2. Seasons in the Sun – Terry Jacks

Terry Jacks - Seasons In The Sun (Official Audio)

Seasons In The Sun originated as a Belgian song in 1961 titled Le Moribond. By 1863, it had been rewritten in English by poet Rod McHuen, but it wasn’t until 1974 that it was picked up by Terry Jacks and turned into an international hit single. His version rose to the top of the UK Singles and Hot 100 charts while also topping the charts in an additional 13 countries. 

3. Love’s Theme – The Love Unlimited Orchestra

Love’s Theme is an instrumental piece written by Barry White and performed by The Love Unlimited Orchestra. In 1973, it was one of the only instrumental pieces to make it onto the Hot 100, and it rose all the way to the top of that chart. It also spent two weeks on top of the US Adult Contemporary chart and reached the top of Canada’s RPM Top 100 list. 

4. Come and Get Your Love – Redbone

Redbone - Come and Get Your Love (Single Edit - Audio)

Redbone’s Come And Get Your Love is an iconic song if I’ve ever heard one. It was released as the first single to come from their fifth album Wovoka in 1973 and became their most successful single. It also made them the first Native American band to reach the top five of the Hot 100 when it reached that spot on the chart. The single would be covered by numerous artists in later years and was a feature of almost all of their compilation and Greatest Hits albums. 

5. Dancing Machine – The Jackson 5

Dancing Machine was originally recorded for The Jackson 5’s 1973 album G.I.T.: Get It Together, but it ended up being the title track of their ninth album instead. This was the song that popularized the robot dance move, and Michael Jackson was the first to perform the dance live while singing this track. It eventually peaked at number two on the Hot 100 and took the top spot on the Hot Soul Singles chart. 

6. The Loco-Motion – Grand Funk Railroad

The Loco-Motion (Remastered 2002)

The Loco-Motion was a pop song that was originally released in 1962 and was meant for Dee Dee Sharp, but she turned down the song. It appeared in the top three of the US charts three separate times, in 1962, 1974, and 1988. Grand Funk Railroad’s 1974 version reached the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 and the Cash Box Top 100 charts. 

7. T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia) – MFSB

MFSB - T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia) (Official Audio) ft. The Three Degrees

T.S.O.P. (The Sound Of Philadelphia) was written as an instrumental piece and is the best example of the Philadelphia soul genre. Many people heard it as the theme song for the television program Soul Train, but MFSB added a few vocals to it and turned it into a 1974 hit single. Part soul, part disco, it’s an easy argument to say it was the first disco song to reach the number-one spot on the US Hot 100. 

8. The Streak – Ray Stevens

Ray Stevens - "The Streak" (Music Video)

The Streak is a novelty country song that served as the lead single to Ray Stevens’ Boogity Boogity album. Streaking was a popular thing to do at the time, and this track capitalized on that fad. It wound up being one of his most lucrative recordings, spending three weeks on top of the Hot 100 and reaching both the top of the UK Singles Chart and number three on the Hot Country Songs chart.

9. Bennie and the Jets – Elton John

Elton John - Bennie And The Jets (Official Music Video)

Bernie And The Jets first appeared on Elton John’s 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Even today, it remains one of his most popular songs and is performed by him at most of his live appearances. In 1974, it rose to the top of the Hot 100 and made it to number 15 on the Hot Soul Singles chart. 

10. One Hell of a Woman – Mac Davis

One Hell Of A Woman

One Hell Of A Woman appeared on Mac Davis’ 1974 album Stop And Smell The Roses and became his second top-20 hit single. It peaked at number 11 on the US pop charts and spent 28 weeks in total on the US charts, which was 10 weeks longer than his number-one hit Baby, Don’t Get Hooked On Me. It oddly never made the weekly top 10, but it was the number-10 song on the year-end charts in spite of that. 

11. Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do) – Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin - Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do) (Official Audio)

Until You Come Back To Me was originally recorded by Stevie Wonder in 1967, but it was never released as a single and didn’t show up on any of his albums until 1977. Aretha Franklin recorded the track in 1973 and earned a top-10 hit with it that sold over one million copies. It rose to the top of the R&B chart and peaked at number three on the Hot 100, making her the first artist in the history of the Hot 100 to have a hit song peak at every chart position between one and 10. 

12. Jungle Boogie – Kool & the Gang

Jungle Boogie appeared on Kool & The Gang’s 1973 album Wild And Peaceful. It was one of the most popular singles of the year in nightclubs, helping it rise to number four on the Hot 100. It would later get a revival of popularity in 1994 after it was featured in the film Pulp Fiction

13. Midnight at the Oasis – Maria Muldaur

Maria Muldaur - Midnight at the Oasis (Live)

Midnight At The Oasis was recorded by Maria Muldaur for her eponymous album in 1973, and her rendition of the song is the biggest hit of her career. It peaked at number six on the Hot 100 and rose to number 21 on the UK Singles chart, earning two Grammy nominations along the way. 

14. You Make Me Feel Brand New – The Stylistics

The Stylistics - You Make Me Feel Brand New (Official Lyric Video)

You Make Me Feel Brand New was an R&B ballad written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed that was first performed by The Stylistics. It first appeared on their 1973 album Rockin’ Roll Baby in a five-minute-long version, but a shorter one would be released as a single after their 1974 album that held the number-two spot on the Hot 100 for two weeks. 

15. Show and Tell – Al Wilson

Show And Tell was first recorded by Johnny Mathis in 1972, and his version made it to the top 40 of the Easy Listening chart. The more successful version of the song would come in 1974 when Al Wilson picked it up, with that version reaching the top of the Hot 100 and number three on the Easy Listening chart. 

16. Spiders & Snakes – Jim Stafford

Spiders & Snakes was the second of four top-40 US hits to come from Jim Stafford’s debut album and the highest-charting single of those four. It made it to number three on the US Hot 100 and reached the top of the Canada RPM Top Singles chart. 

17. Rock On – David Essex

David Essex - Rock On (Audio)

David Essex’s version of Rock On was an international hit in 1974. It peaked at number three on the UK Singles Chart, reached number one in Canada, and peaked at number five in the US on the Hot 100. 

18. Sunshine on My Shoulders – John Denver

John Denver - Sunshine On My Shoulders (Official Audio)

Sunshine On My Shoulders was originally released as an album track on John Denver’s 1971 album Poems, Prayers, And Promises. In 1973, it would be released as a single, and by the beginning of 1974, it had reached the top spot of the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. 

19. Sideshow – Blue Magic

Sideshow was first released on Blue Magic’s eponymous 1974 album and eventually went on to sell over one million copies as a single. Inspired by a trip to an antique museum, the song reached the top of the US R&B chart and peaked at number eight on the US Billboard Hot 100. 

20. Hooked on a Feeling – Blue Swede

Blue Swede - Hooked On A Feeling (Official Vinyl Video)

Blue Swede’s cover of Hooked On A Feeling remains the most popular of the numerous covers of this 1968 pop song. Theirs reached the number one spot on both the US Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100 charts. Many people heard this one in the 1992 film Reservoir Dogs or the 2014 movie Guardians Of The Galaxy

21. Billy, Don’t Be a Hero – Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods

Billy, Don't Be A Hero

Billy, Don’t Be A Hero was likely a late-to-the-party Vietnam War protest song. It’s generally associated with that conflict, though it never explicitly says so in the lyrics. The track itself was incredibly popular and rose to the top of the Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100 in 1974. 

22. Band on the Run – Wings

Band On The Run (2010 Remaster)

Band On The Run served as the title track of Wings’ 1973 album release and quickly became an international chart success. It rose to the top of the Hot 100 and peaked at number three on the UK Singles Chart, eventually becoming one of their most famous songs. 

23. The Most Beautiful Girl – Charlie Rich

Charlie Rich - The Most Beautiful Girl (Audio)

The Most Beautiful Girl was a countrypolitan song by Charlie Rich that was a medley of two tracks recorded by Norro Wilson years earlier. Rich’s version of the single ended up reaching number one on the Hot 100, Hot Country Singles, Easy Listening, and Cash Box Top 100 charts in 1974. 

24. Time in a Bottle – Jim Croce

Jim Croce - Time In A Bottle

Jim Croce wrote Time In A Bottle shortly after his girlfriend at the time told him she was pregnant in 1970. It eventually appeared on his 1972 debut album but didn’t become popularized until after his death in 1973. That momentum carried the song to number one on the Hot 100, Easy Listening, and Cash Box Top 100 Singles chart in the US. 

25. Annie’s Song – John Denver

John Denver - Annie's Song (Official Audio)

Annie’s Song was released as the lead single to John Denver’s eighth studio album Back Home Again. It became only his second number-one single in the US by occupying the top spot of the Hot 100 for two weeks and reaching number one in the UK as well. 

26. Let Me Be There – Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John - Let Me Be There

Olivia Newton-John’s Let Me Be There was released as the second single and title track of her 1973 album. It would become her first top-10 hit in the US, peaking at number six on the Hot 100 and reaching number three on the Easy Listening chart. It then went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocalist at the Grammy Award Ceremony the following year.

Recommended: Death of Olivia Newton-John

27. Sundown – Gordon Lightfoot

Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown (Official Audio)

Sundown was the title track of Gordon Lightfoot’s 1974 album and covered a troubled romantic relationship that frankly seems a little toxic to me. It was one of his biggest hits, rising to the top of the Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts while peaking at number 13 on the Hot Country Singles Chart. It would end up being his only single to reach the pinnacle of the Hot 100. 

28. [You’re] Having My Baby – Paul Anka

[You're] Having My Baby

Despite the… let’s go with the very forward title of this song, Paul Anka scored a major hit with [You’re] Having My Baby. While a quick glance at the title may seem forceful, the track was not nearly as bad as it seems despite having several critical controversies. It became his third number-one single in the US by topping the Hot 100 and additionally peaked at number five on the Adult Contemporary chart. 

29. Rock Me Gently – Andy Kim

Rock Me Gently was the first top-100 single Andy Kim had produced since 1971. It spent 14 weeks on the Hot 100 and peaked at the number two spot. It also rose to the same position on the UK Singles Chart and made it to number 10 in Ireland, making it his only charting single in either of those countries. 

30. Boogie Down – Eddie Kendricks

Eddie Kendricks’ Boogie Down was his first major hit as a solo artist after leaving The Temptations. It was a fast-paced disco single that was played frequently in dance clubs, helping it climb on the national charts. The song eventually held the top spot on the R&B charts for three weeks and peaked at number two on the Hot 100. 

31. You’re Sixteen You’re Beautiful – Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr - You're Sixteen You're Beautiful (And You're Mine)

You’re Sixteen You’re Beautiful was first performed by rockabilly artist Johnny Burnette, and his version reached number eight on the Hot 100 in 1960. Ringo Starr covered the song in 1973, and his version made it to number one on the Hot 100. 

32. If You Love Me, Let Me Know – Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John - If You Love Me, Let Me Know

If You Love Me (Let Me Know) was the second single release from Oliva Newton-John that broke into the top 10 of the US charts. It peaked at number five on the Hot 100, number two on the Easy Listening, and number two on the Country charts. It went on to earn a nomination for the 1974 Country Music Association Award for Single of the Year, but it did not win the honor. 

33. Dark Lady – Cher

Dark Lady was the title track of Cher’s 11th studio album, and it was the first single to be released from the album in 1974. It went on to become her third overall hit as a solo artist, reaching number one on the Hot 100 and peaking at number three on the Adult Contemporary chart. 

34. Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me – Gladys Knight & the Pips

Gladys Knight & The Pips - Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me (Audio)

Ray Price was the first to record Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me in 1973 as a country song. It ended up reaching the top of the Hot Country Singles chart that year and was a huge success for Price. Glady Knight & The Pips recorded a pop/R&B version of the song that was released in 1974 and saw more mainstream success. That one reached number three on the Hot 100 and held the top spot on the Soul Singles chart for two weeks. 

35. Feel Like Makin’ Love – Roberta Flack

Feel Like Makin' Love

Feel Like Makin’ Love is probably a soul song you’ve heard before, with numerous big-name artists covering it over the years since it was first released. Roberta Flack was the first artist to record the track, and her 1974 version of it was a massive hit. It became her third number-one single and spent five weeks at the number-one spot of the Hot Soul Singles chart.

Recommended Next:

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The best 1970s songs overall

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