1975 was a massive year for music of many genres. The classic rock sound of the sixties was starting to give way to much harder songs with plenty of electric guitars. Country music was experiencing a rise in popularity. Disco was king, and many other genres released songs for play in dance clubs. Here are some of the best songs from 1975.
1. “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain and Tennille
This song was recorded in 1973 by Neil Sedaka. However, most music lovers remember this as the lead single from Captain and Tennille's debut album. They had hoped their song “I Write the Songs” would be their first hit, but this one took off and ended up being the best-selling single in 1975.
Though Sedaka did not record the famous version, he did win a Grammy nomination for his role. The song also performed well in other countries, with a Spanish version released and also reaching the Billboard top 100 charts.
2. “Some Kind of Wonderful” by Grand Funk Railroad
Soul Brothers Six recorded this song in 1967, reaching 91 on the Billboard top 100. However, the American rock band Grand Funk Railroad recorded the song on their “All the Girls in the World Beware” album the same year. That is the more famous version, reaching number 3 on the same chart.
“Some Kind of Wonderful” was remade and covered several times in the years since. Christian rock musician Mark Farner created a version that played on religious radio stations, and it is heard in the video game “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas”.
3. “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell
Glen Campbell was a performer who bridged the gap between country and pop. Many of his songs were popular in both markets. That is especially true for “Rhinestone Cowboy”, which appeared on his album of the same name.
The song reached the top of the Billboard charts quickly. Since then, it has experienced continued success through its use in films and was covered by artists like Thom Yorke, Soul Asylum, and Loretta Lynn.
4. “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas
By the mid-seventies, the martial arts film craze was all over the world, including in the US. Carl Douglas took advantage of it when he created this disco song, using the Oriental riff oven invoked in media to signify Chinese culture. VH1 called it one of the 100 greatest one-hit wonders and continues to be used in films and TV shows today.
5. “The Ballroom Blitz” by The Sweet
This British glam rock single was recorded for The Sweet’s “Desolation Boulevard” album. It has a fun beat with a hard rock chorus that many musicians like to sing to exhibit their abilities. Many parts of the song only use drums and have a portion of spoken word, leading into hard rock.
“Ballroom Blitz” is one of the most covered songs ever, performed by the Damned, the Surf Pinks, and Tia Carrere for the “Wayne’s World” soundtrack. Upon its original release, it was a hit in the US, Europe, and Australia and has since streamed on YouTube tens of millions of times.
6. “Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton
This song has been heard many times by people who can never remember where it came from. It was recorded for Minnie Riperton’s “Perfect Angel” and peaked at the top of the Billboard charts. The song is slow and simple, and Riperton’s high register in the bridge has made it memorable.
7. “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” by War
From War’s album of the same name, this song's structure is simple and has made it one of the most memorable songs ever recorded. The message also speaks to its longevity, since the few lyrics between the chorus are about how people have many differences but share the same experiences. It reached number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and got a resurgence in the late nineties when Smash Mouth recorded it as a single on their album “Fush Yu Mang”.
8. “Misty” by Ray Stevens
When an artist steps out of their comfort zone and makes something unique, it should be noticed. “Misty” was recorded in 1959 by Johnny Mathis. However, comedy singer Ray Stevens released this version on his album by the same name. He was experimenting with an up-tempo country version of the song and ended up using the second take, which won him a Grammy and the number 14 spot on that year’s Billboard Hot 100 chart.
9. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” by Elton John
Elton John is a legendary performer from England who has had many hit singles in his career. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” was released on his album titled “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy”. At nearly seven minutes, it was thought to be too long for a single. However, it performed well and made it to number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Elton John continues to perform the song live to much acclaim. However, artists like Mariah Carey, Axl Rose, and the folk-rock band Mumford & Sons have covered it many times.
10. “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO) is a rock band from Canada who recorded this song for their 1975 album “Fragile”. It is an up-tempo rock song about a man who meets a devil woman who shows him a good time. It is a classic song that still receives a lot of radio play to this day. It originally topped the Hot 100 and has since been used in many commercials, TV shows, and film trailers.
11. “Feel Like Makin’ Love” by Bad Company
English rock band Bad Company released this power ballad on their “Straight Shooter” album. It was a crossover song that featured sounds of country music and hard-hitting rock. It enjoyed massive success at the time, reaching number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, and has since become a classic hit with regular play on radio and streaming services.
12. “Mandy” by Barry Manilow
“Mandy” was released as “Brandy” by Scott English. Barry Manilow recorded a version but changed the name so people would know the difference. He released it on his self-titled album, and it became his first gold single. It has become the definitive version, with any covers made after that using the new title.
13. “Fame” by David Bowie
“Fame” was released on David Bowie’s “Young Americans” album. It is a rock song with a funky beat that does not paint his feelings of being a celebrity in a good light. It is about Bowie’s dissatisfaction with his stardom. Despite the theme, it earned the number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
14. “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” by John Denver
John Denver was a singer whose music could span genres. He usually recorded country music and was very successful with those songs. This title was released on his “Back Home Again” album and had aspects of folk and bluegrass. It hit the top of the country music charts and was covered by Dolly Parton and Billy Dean. It is also played during the seventh-inning stretch at all home games for the Baltimore Orioles.
15. “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers
“Black Water” was born when Patrick Simmons created a guitar lick he liked during a recording session. The song was built around that sound through inspiration on a trip to New Orleans as well as memories of reading Huckleberry Finn. Eventually, it was released on their album titled “What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits”.
16. “One of These Nights” by the Eagles
Eagles have always been regarded as a country-rock band throughout their career. Their songs play well on rock stations but have a country sound that has helped make them timeless. “One of These Nights” was created to subvert those expectations and create a rock song. It was released on their album of the same name.
17. “Boogie On Reggae Woman” by Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder already had a long career in 1975 when he released his seventeenth album. He created this funky song for that album titled “Fulfillingness’ First Finale”. Despite having reggae in the title, this song is R&B, though it has Wonder’s distinct sound along with his famous harmonica.
18. “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin
This rock song from Harry Chapin’s album titled “Verities & Balderdash” has brought a tear to the eyes of many grown men. Chapin taps into that feeling parents have when they are so busy trying to make a good living for their children that they forget to watch them grow up. The lyrics spanned genres as this version was decidedly folk-inspired, but Ugly Kid Joe recorded a hard rock version in 1993 that also performed very well.
19. “When Will I Be Loved” by Linda Ronstadt
Though this song was already a hit recorded by The Everly Brothers in 1960, Linda Ronstadt released the go-to version on her album titled “Heart Like a Wheel”. Hitting the number 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975, this soft rock song is the definitive version of the title.
20. “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” by Barry White
Barry White bridged the gap between R&B and disco to make this song a success. He released it on his “Can’t Get Enough” album and watched it rocket to number 2 on the charts. It was written as a country song by Peter Redcliffe but was never recorded. White changed the structure to disco and took it to success during that seventies dance craze.
21. “Get Down Tonight” by KC and the Sunshine Band
Disco was in full swing in 1975, and there were plenty of songs to cater to it. KC and the Sunshine Band was one of the most successful disco groups. They released “Get Down Tonight” as part of their self-titled album. It reached the top of the charts in the US, Canada, and Australia.
Top Songs From 1975, Final Thoughts
1975 saw the evolution of almost every genre of music from what it had been in the sixties to what it would be in the years to come. There are hundreds of great songs that originated in 1975 for music lovers to comb through. Let our list be a starting point as you jump in and hear more of what that year had to offer. Make your definitive list of the best songs of 1975!