Forty short years ago we were deep in disco. The era was defined not only by the music, but by the unbeatable outfits (hello skin-tight body suits with sequins!), Afros galore, and tons of platform shoes. While songs from the ’70s seem like forever ago, you probably remember them as if they were released yesterday. Below are ten pretty great songs that hit the airwaves in 1978, and we still can’t get enough.
10. Three Times a Lady – The Commodores
There’s not much better than Lionel Richie playing the piano in a sparkly outfit, singing this love song. Songs as simple and lovely as this are not produced anymore, so for that reason alone we have to take our hats off to the Commodores.
9. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
Gaynor’s catchy hit has been an anthem across the country for wronged women for 40 years now. Even if you haven’t been heartbroken and never had to sing this song into an ex’s voicemail (I swear that I have never done this), chances are you still know all the lyrics and feel happy for the singer who now has all her love to give to someone new.
8. Night Fever – Bee Gees
It is difficult to hear this song without imagining John Travolta strutting his stuff in Saturday Night Fever. But the truth is that this Bee Gees song is so well done that you can’t not do your own little disco dance whenever you hear it.
7. Grease – Frankie Valli
Of course, Frankie Valli was responsible for countless hits over the years. (There’s a reason the show Jersey Boys exists…) But in 1978 he recorded this epic single that was obviously the title song for the classic movie Grease. Apparently, we just can’t stay away from John Travolta movies on this list.
6. Copacabana – Barry Manilow
Back in the late ’70s Barry Manilow was just so damned cool. Young people today would think that is insane (and Lola probably wouldn’t be a well-known showgirl these days). The best part of the song is arguably the dramatic “they fell in love” section that slows everything down for just a beat before picking back up. Music and passion for sure.
5. Hot Child in the City – Nick Gilder
This song didn’t just hit number 1 in the United States, but it did so in Canada as well. (Both in October of ’78.) The song is fun and catchy, but in reality, the story being told is one about child prostitutes (ones that Gilder witnessed working on Hollywood Boulevard). Maybe it’s not so fun after all.
4. Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees
1978 was a really good year for the Bee Gees, and we couldn’t leave this mega-hit off the list, despite Night Fever also being mentioned above. Saturday Night Fever was such a HUGE success that its songs (and dance moves, and even hairstyles) completely permeated the era. So no apologies for including yet another song from that soundtrack here.
3. Last Dance – Donna Summer
Most people probably just know the lyrics and melody to this song but aren’t aware of what an enormous smash it was for Donna Summer the year it came out. Last Dance actually won several awards, including an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for the film Thank God It’s Friday starring Jeff Goldblum and Debra Winger. The song also won a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
2. We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions – Queen
How can you go to a football game and not stomp your feet and clap your hands like at the beginning of this song? The ultimate fight song then blends beautifully into We Are the Champions, and we get lost in Freddie Mercury’s unmistakable voice. Queen had hit after hit and their songs will forever be some of the best around.
1. Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel
This song is not only a beautiful love song and an ode to his lady, but it was extremely successful when it was released. It was the third track on Joel’s legendary album The Stranger. It earned him his first gold single in the U.S., as well as two Grammy Awards (for Record of the Year and for Song of the Year). It has since been covered by everyone from Harry Connick Jr. to Diana Krall to Barry White.