Best #1 single of the year retrospective: 1972

Our survey brings us now to 1972. 22 songs made it to the top this year, including “Brand New Key” carrying over from the end of 1971. By this point, pop music had mellowed out considerably from the rock-heavy days of the late '60s, but there are, IMO, several nearly perfect songs to choose from in this year’s chart, and there are several songs I wanted to vote for but in the end couldn’t.

You know the drill. What’s your favorite?

Previous polls: 1955-56 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 2012 2013

There are several good songs on this list, but I can’t say that any of them knock me out.

There are also several dreadful ones. I will make many enemies saying this I’m sure, but I loathe Nilsson’s version of “Without You.” Its popularity is proof positive that for many, over-the-top bombast masquerading as true emotion will always sell. There is only ONE version of this song — the original by Badfinger. All others should be banished from the face of the earth.

I’m a huge Neil Young fan, but agree with Neil himself that “Heart of Gold” was his detour into the middle-of-the-road. He corrected his path soon afterwards, and I continued to follow him. Not a terrible song; it’s just that he has scores of better ones.

America had a fair share of decent songs. It’s unfortunate that they led with their worst one ever.

I like the Chi-Lites and Staple Singers numbers. But in the end, I went with Al Green, even though “Let’s Stay Together” is not my favorite song of his. (That would be “Here I Am [Come and Take Me],” which regrettably only got to #10.)

The worst year so far, IMO. Went with “Let’s Stay Together”. I can only hope the execrable “American Pie” doesn’t beat it.

Neil Diamond, Bill Withers, and Johnny Nash all seemed to capture the moment best. I went with Nash’s delightful “I Can See Clearly Now.” (I also like how it has one foot in the reggae scene, which was just starting to come on the big-picture radar).

I went with the Staple Singers on this one. Not a great year.

A lot of good music that year. Hard to choose between “American Pie”, “Let’s Stay Together”, “Heart of Gold”, “A Horse With No Name”,"“Lean On Me”, “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)”, and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” Had to pick American Pie because it’s the most epic.

Honorable mention for My Ding-a-Ling. :rolleyes:

See, I happen to like this year a lot, maybe because 1972 was the first year I was listening to AM radio on a regular basis. Standouts for me include the admittedly schlocky Gilbert O’Sullivan and the rest of the list below; but ultimately Neil Young got my vote.

Neil Young - “Heart of Gold”
America - “A Horse With No Name”
Bill Withers - “Lean On Me”
Gilbert O’Sullivan - “Alone Again (Naturally)”
Billy Paul - “Me and Mrs. Jones”

My favorites of the year:

Gilbert O’Sullivan - “Alone Again (Naturally)” (my vote – one of my Top Ten All-Time)

Don McLean - “American Pie”
America - “A Horse With No Name”
Roberta Flack - “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face”
Looking Glass - “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)”
Billy Paul - “Me and Mrs. Jones”

One of the better years!

I thought “American Pie” was the greatest song ever when I was 13. However, I’m not 13 anymore so I didn’t pick it.

I think I would like “I Can See Clearly Now” better if it hadn’t been overplayed and covered by nearly everyone during the 70s.

“Heart of Gold” is an okay song but a bit obvious and not Neil Young’s best.

My pick: “Let’s Stay Together” closely followed by “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and then “I’ll Take You There”.

BTW, does anyone think the reason Gilbert O’Sullivan got so much airplay in 1972 and 1973 was because he sounded a lot like Paul McCartney?

“American Pie” got my vote. I’m not even from the generation that it’s about, but IMO, it’s one of the great American songs that so perfectly represents the spirit of the times.

A technical side note about it; American Pie is the only #1 in the history of the charts which, to my knowledge, is its own B-side. The 8:32 song was split across both sides of the disc, and only the first part got much airplay on the pop stations of the time, but Billboard’s policy as described previously means that the single as a whole got #1.

But for that split, American Pie would be the longest #1 in the history of the charts; “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” picks up the honor instead.

Neil Young Über Alles!!

Wow. I never liked anything on this list. No vote.

While I continue to like “American Pie” after all these decades, I agree that this is the worst list in at least a decade. I’m surprised nobody’s actually died of boredom while listening to “Alone Again, Naturally,” “Brandy” gets tedious pretty quickly too, and “Song Sung Blue” is where Neil Diamond’s career started going south. I can count maybe five songs on this list that wouldn’t get me to change the station if they came on the radio.

I’m going with “Heart of Gold,” just ahead of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”

“Lean on Me” wins almost by default; there are so many terrible ones here that I won’t even try to decide which one gets the dreaded dead-ass last spot. “Lean on Me” may have the lowest score in the world-famous** Ponch8 Music Rating System** of all the winners so far.

I was sure I’d take Nilsson’s “Without You,” but finally picked “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” still a soul masterpiece.

Not me. Seems to me the standards for “sounding like Paul McCartney” are pretty loose, to hear many tell it. Just because you sing melodically in a higher register doesn’t necessarily mean you “sound like Paul.”

I’ve heard many say this about one of my favorite artists, Emitt Rhodes. Was he influenced by Paul? Certainly. But anyone who listens to them side-by-side and mistakes one for the other just isn’t paying very much attention.

I think the appeal of Gilbert’s song was due to an engaging melody and chord progression, plus its utter guilelessness. It takes a certain amount of guts to sing that openly and to withstand the certain mockery he must have received from some quarters.

I’m loving these threads, Smapti. I’ve been spending a lot of time on youtube because of them. Thanks!

I went with America’s “Horse With No Name” for its association. I was just starting to take riding lessons in the seventies, and was crazy for anything to do with horses, even songs with them in the title.

What about Stevie Wonder’s “Fingertips”?

A year or two ago, I heard a replay of a Casey Kasem broadcast from 1972 when Gilbert O’Sullivan was #1. He introduced “Alone Again” by talking about how Gilbert had been ardently denying that he was suicidal or that the song had anything to do with his personal life.

At the time that “Fingertips Pt. 2” topped the Hot 100, Billboard had not yet adopted the slot-sharing policy that was brought in in 1969; at that time, A-sides and B-sides were tracked separately. I haven’t been able to find out what position Part 1 charted at.