Best #1 single of the year retrospective: 1974

“Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974. It’s a scientific fact!” -Homer Simpson

Our survey brings us now to another year some of you have been looking forward to with excitement (and some of you with dread): 1974. This was, for reasons I’m not quite sure of, the single most tumultuous year by far in the history of the chart. 35 singles made it to #1 this year, with very few of them lasting longer than one week in the top spot, and the single longest run of the year being a mere three weeks.

You know the drill. Which of these songs is the best / your favorite / whatever synonym you prefer for the song you like the most?

Previous polls: 1955-56 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 2012 2013

MISSED THE EDIT WINDOW: There were 36 songs this year, not 35.

Barry White for me, but overall this is a piss-poor year.

Angie Baby may be the best creepy song ever. Cat’s In the Cradle is the song with the best guarantee of getting tears in my eyes. There are some other nice ones including the beautiful Annie’s Song. I’m voting for You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.

“Nothing from nothing.”
“Then came you.”
“Okay, fine. You haven’t done nothing.”
“Oh yeah? Well you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Good year for Canadians. Helen reddy, BTO, Gordon Lightfoot…did I miss any?

Oh yeah, baby!

Such a bountiful harvest of amazingly silly songs!

I decided a few years into this process that I would go with something stoopid for '74, simply to highlight what 1974 represented in music.

But which to pick???

  • Seasons in the Sun
  • The Night Chicago Died
  • Billy Don’t be a Hero
  • Hooked on a Feeling
  • Dark Lady
  • You’re Having my Baby
  • The Streak (first single I bought with my own money!!)
  • Kung Fu Fighting
  • The Joker (honorary mention for The Pompatus of Love!!)

The list goes on - but my god, what a cavalcade of stupid.

Then you have the sappy sentimentality of:

  • I Honestly Love You
  • I Can Help
  • Sunshine on my Shoulders
  • and, dare I say it, Cat’s in the Cradle - the ultimate Make a Dad Feel Like Shit song

Man oh man, what to pick???

If I was picking for quality, I would probably go with something like BTO’s You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet - meat and potatoes rock. I like Elton’s Bennie, Barry White, Lennon, even Paul’s long and silly Band on the Run isn’t bad.

Wow - so hard to pick.

Ultimately, I think I might go with Hooked on a Feeling - incredibly, profoundly stupid, but catchy and, with its comeback in Guardians of the Galaxy, has demonstrable staying power.

But, oh wow - what an epically dumb year.

I reached deep into the glurg and voted for Gordon Lightfoot.

Ah, but now that we are here, can you see what I have been talking about? Isn’t it the most amazing year ever? I mean, you have to step back and really wonder: what the fuck was going on??

Reddy is Australian.

FWIW, I went with Bennie and the Jets. A lot of fun songs here, nothing really substantial, but quite a few I can enjoy in any mood.

Ye gods, what a wretched selection. I was living in the UK through my teen years, and the UK’s 1974 hits weren’t much better.

Grand Funk Railroad, perhaps. Or Clapton, because, Clapton.

I stand corrected, thanks.
I went with Gordon Lightfoot, one of the very few on this list to pass the “if this song came on the radio, would I change the station?” test (for me).

I’m reading through this list, thinking I can’t even vote because it’s so awful, and then: Barry White. I guess it’s probably not a great song, but Barry could sing me the yellow pages and I’d … well, never mind.

Trivia question: Which of these songs was the subject of a Straight Dope column?

Yes, Andy Kim, Paul Anka and Terry Jacks but we don’t like to be reminded of that. Thanks a lot!

Tough one.

As much as I love Lightfoot and Clapton, Jim Croce nails it with the unique guitar picking and haunting lyrics and melody.

I’m not voting for any of this crap because I’ll be damned if I’m going to encourage this sort of behaviour.

Yet again I join the chorus - the 70s sucked like a starving whore.

Since None of the Fucking Above was not an option, I picked Harry Chapin because he’s dead and pretentious. Not John Denver, because of those stupid glasses. John Lennon married Yoko and had an excuse for his music, and Jim Croce looked too much like a porn star. So Cat’s in the Cradle it is.

Although I think Kung Fu Fighting better summed up the Zeitgeist of the early 70s for being catchy and completely stupid.

That was the year I graduated from high school. Look out, world - disco and Shodan are coming.


We have reached a new nadir in suckiness. I was tempted to give Guardians of the Galaxy a shout-out, but in the end Barry White prevailed.

That’s why I love the seventies. It was a magically bizarre time, anything could have happened! Of course, I was four years old in 1974 and life in general was magically bizarre, but I think my point stands. :slight_smile:

“Band On the Run” is probably the actual best song off this list.
“Angie Baby” is the one I’d like to hear most right this moment.
But I choose the one I loved most in 1974: “Dark Lady”. I had the vague idea it was about a witch and even then I dug the spooky shit.