If you’re anything like us here at FamilyWise, quarantine has made you more retrospective and nostalgic than ever. There is just something about the funk and soul of this decade that has permeated the music and culture of every decade following it. It’s a widely accepted fact that music is one of the best forms of free therapy there is, so if you’re overwhelmed by the state of the world in 2020, you’ve come to the right place.
To quell some of your stress and those pesky “good ole’ days” feels, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best 1970s one-hit-wonders to ever hit the charts. Feel free to put on your dancing shoes, get up off the couch, and shake your groove thing!
20 One-Hit-Wonders of the 1970s
1. “Kung-Fu Fighting” – Carl Douglas (1974)
If you’ve ever seen the movie Kung-Fu Panda, you could probably belt out this song’s chorus by heart while attempting to karate chop through a block of wood. The 1974 classic was produced as a B-side backup plan in under ten minutes, according to producer Biddo–which makes the fact that it topped the UK charts and sold over 10 million copies worldwide that much more impressive.
2. “Play That Funky Music” – Wild Cherry (1976)
There’s a reason it’s impossible to read the words “play that funky music, white boy,” without intuitively singing them in your head. This song is that reason. “Play That Funky Music” was initially recorded as B-side, but when record-label owners heard its groovy bass and sappy vocals, they insisted it be released as A-side. The song was a hit, selling a total of over 2 million copies at the time of its release.
3. “The Boys Are Back in Town” – Thin Lizzy (1976)
There is no greater way to wake yourself up than to this song blasting at full volume. Who needs coffee when you’ve got three dudes with out-of-this-world hairstyles and guitars screaming confidence at you? This song topped charts in both the US and the UK, and it even made The Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest songs of all time.
4. “Hooked on a Feeling” – Blue Swede (1974)
If you’re like most people of today’s generation, you probably first heard this in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and thought to yourself “Wow, I really like this song.” The familiar “ooga-shaka ooga-shaka” tune took the #1 spot in the US charts in 1974, despite being performed by an obscure Swedish band that no one at the time had ever heard of.
5. “My Sharona” – The Knack (1979)
This is one of the most iconic seventies songs ever, mostly because of the story behind it. “My Sharona” was inspired by the actual Sharona Alperin, who The Knack’s lead singer Doug Fieger actually met and fell in love with!
6. “You Light Up My Life” – Debby Boon (1977)
This was the love song to top all love songs. Pretty much every romantic event from a high school prom to a wedding reception featured this song, and anyone who lived through the 70s definitely still knows the lyrics by heart.
7. “Dancing in the Moonlight” – King Harvest (1972)
The French-American rock group, King Harvest, took inspiration for this song from a surprisingly sad event. While traveling in the Caribbean, the band’s pianist and songwriter, Sherman Kelly, was brutally attacked by a group of gang members. While in the hospital, he imagined what a peaceful and harmonious world might look like, and from that experience, gained the inspiration for the lyrics to this Billboard’s top 100 hit.
8. “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” – Looking Glass (1972)
This familiar tune is yet another example of Marvel’s far-reaching cultural influence. Showing up on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 soundtrack back in 2017, this song made a comeback upon release of the film and has been listened to by modern Marvel fans–and their grandparents–with fondness ever since.
9. “I Love the Nightlife (Disco Round)” – Alicia Bridges (1978)
This OG disco jam topped the charts in France and Germany and made #5 on the US Hot 100 Billboard charts. It was released as a single and became popular in nightclubs across the US and Europe, probably because of its liberating message. When you don’t wanna’ deal with your man, just head out to the disco and boogie the night away!
10. “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” – McFadden & Whitehead (1979)
To this day, this catchy tune is one of the most motivational melodies of all time. Upon its release, the song soared to #1 on the R&B charts and has maintained its spot in the 70s top 40 for decades. If you’re in need of some high-quality motivation, this is the song for you.
11. “Cruel to Be Kind” – Nick Lowe (1979)
This classic tune peaked at #12 in the US, UK, and New Zealand. Part of the song’s inherent charm is its poetic license. Lowe based the title of the song off of a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “I must be cruel only to be kind / Thus mad begins and worse remains behind.”
12. “What the World Needs Now / Abraham, Martin and John” – Tom Clay (1971)
At the time of its release, this song was an artistic breakthrough, portraying a political message through music and incorporating historical speeches into its lyrics. It quickly rose to #8 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and sold over 1 million copies at the time of its release.
13. “O-o-h Child” – Five Stairsteps (1970)
In 2014, the release of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy launched this song to the #1 spot in the US. Though it technically peaked the charts twice, sitting at #8 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in the year 1970, the song still qualifies as a one-hit-wonder. (P.S. It’s also really fun to dance around to in your kitchen.)
14. “Stuck in the Middle With You” – Stealers Wheel (1973)
This widely popular song was initially written as a parody of Bob Dylan’s paranoia with an added pop arrangement. To songwriter Gerry Rafferty’s surprise, however, it sold more than a million copies. In 1992, it also experienced a resurgence in popularity when it was featured in the Quentin Tarantino film, Reservoir Dogs.
15. “Magic” – Pilot (1974)
Even if you think you haven’t heard this song, you could probably sing the chorus from memory. When it was released, it hit the charts at #5 in the US and #11 in the UK, and has since been covered multiple times by artists like Olivia Newton-John, The Cars, and Selena Gomez.
16. “House of the Rising Sun” – Frijid Pink (1970)
This song is a classic melody that has been sung by artists for generations. Its historical origins vary, but the song was first ever recorded by Texas Alexander in the 1920s and subsequently reperformed by Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, Nina Simone, and countless other artists. Frijid Pink’s version rose to #4 in the UK and #7 on US charts in 1970.
17. “Mr. Big Stuff” – Jean Knight (1971)
Jean Knight reemphasized the essence of soul with this 1971 sass melody that charted #2 in America and maintained its #1 position in the R&B category for sixteen consecutive weeks. The song was also nominated for a Grammy and went double platinum. Its blunt and beautiful message is both empowering and unforgettable.
18. “Cat’s in the Cradle” – Harry Chapin (1974)
This is one of the more heartbreaking titles on our list, but it’s a song that tells an important story of a father and son and the complexities of their roles. If you’re in the mood for some more introspective, nostalgic melodies, this would be a good one to start with. Plus, it topped US charts… and that ain’t too shabby.
19. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – The Charlie Daniels Band (1979)
If you think you’ve heard country music before, prepare yourself for a whole new level of grassroots and gunslinger! This song’s got the classic western/southern feel with a wonky seventies twist. It rose to the top of the charts, sitting at #1 in country, #3 in the US, and even making #14 in the UK.
20. “Turn the Beat Around” – Vicki Sue Robinson (1976)
There’s no question that this is one of the more iconic tunes on our list. Vicki Sue Robinson pursued a successful Broadway career both before and after her dive into the commercial music sphere, which technically makes her the literal definition of a one-hit-wonder. This song topped out at #10 on US charts and even won a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Female Vocal.
1984: Big Brother, Big Economy, Big Happenings
When George Orwell’s groundbreaking science fiction novel hit the market on June 8, 1949, it blew millions of American minds. Not only was it one of the most revolutionary novels of the 20th century, but it also established an expansive school of thought. Though the piece of fiction wasn’t exactly true to reality, it might pose the question, “What actually did happen in 1984?”
The economy was booming, DNA profiling was developed, and the space shuttle Discovery took its maiden flight. 1984 might not have gone down how Orwell predicted, but plenty of interesting stuff happened this year. Below we’ve compiled a list of the 25 biggest events of the year that made it so memorable.
What Happened in 1984?
1. Genetic fingerprinting/DNA profiling was developed.
Between two people, there are approximately three million different base pair DNA combinations. It was in 1984 that these microscopic differences began to be more widely used in forensic investigations to identify criminals. DNA profiling was a breakthrough for both the medical and criminal investigative communities.
2. The U.S. hosted the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California.
Not only was this the first Olympics to incorporate women’s marathon, women’s cycling, and synchronized swimming, but it also proved to be one of the more unique games in history. With Cold War sentiments still running rampant and in response to the US’s boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, the USSR and fourteen additional Eastern Bloc countries neglected to participate in these games. With such a lack of competition, the U.S. made out with a record 83 gold medals.
3. Hong Kong returns to China.
Since the first Opium War of 1842, Hong Kong had operated under British rule as an entity separate from the Chinese communist government. UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang came to the Sino-British Joint Declaration on December 19, 1984, officially designating 1997 as the year Hong Kong would retain its capitalist, democratic systems while becoming a part of the Chinese government.
4. The first MTV Video Music Awards aired.
Back when music videos were just beginning to make their mark, MTV was the channel you wanted to be on. The first-ever Video Music Awards ceremony aired September 14, 1984, and featured iconic performances by Madonna, David Bowie, and Ray Parker, Jr.
5. Indira Gandhi was assassinated.
The Prime Minister of India led a successful campaign during her early years in the position (1966-76). After a few political losses and a shift in her party platform, she won the spot again in 1980 to serve for a fourth term. After a Sikh separatist movement took over the Holy Golden Temple in Amristar in 1984 and hundreds were killed, two of Gandhi’s bodyguards, both Sikh extremists, assassinated her.
6. The Apple Macintosh Super Bowl commercial aired.
Before Super Bowl commercials had become an entire industry in their own right, Apple set the bar when it premiered its Macintosh ad on January 22, 1984. The popular tech corporation, manned by Steve Jobs at the time, spent over $900,000 (the modern equivalent of $2.2 million) on the production of the commercial, making it one of the most expensive advertisements ever produced. Pictured above is the Macintosh computer itself. Was $900,000 worth the hype? Maybe, maybe not… we’ll leave it to you to decide.
7. Miners in the UK went on strike.
This might sound like something pretty old-fashioned, but believe it or not, miners were still going on strike when you or your parents were teenagers. The National Coal Board, an agency of Margaret Thatcher’s administration, was ready to cut around 20,000 jobs and close down 20 different collieries. Over 150,000 members of the National Mineworkers Union went on strike from 1984 to 1985 and brought national, economic, and industrial systems to a near standstill.
8. Band Aid raised awareness about childhood hunger in Ethiopia with a Christmas song.
A month before the Christmas of 1984, musician Bob Geldorf recruited top artists from Britain and Ireland to release a single that would raise awareness for childhood hunger in Ethiopia. The song sold a million copies the week of its release and hit the 3 million mark before the year was over.
9. English pound notes were taken out of circulation.
The English one pound note was removed from circulation in November of ’84 and replaced with a sturdier one pound coin (pictured above) by Chancellor Nigel Lawson. The note had circulated the market for over 180 years and featured Queen Elizabeth II.
10. CIA embassy director William Francis Buckley was abducted.
On March 16, 1984, this story broke headlines all across the nation. While outside his residence in Beirut, Lebanon, William Francis Buckley was kidnapped by jihadi extremists who believed he could be used in a prisoner exchange. He was subsequently held in captivity and allegedly tortured until he succumbed to his injuries and was returned to the U.S. to be buried a year later.
11. York Minster caught fire.
On July 9, York Minster erupted in flames in the early hours of the morning. For hours, York Fire Department fought to contain the flames but eventually had to collapse the south transept in order to save the remaining structure. The fire was caused by a lightning bolt and ended up costing £2.2 million worth of damage.
12. Union Carbide Plant leaked.
In December of 1984, tragedy struck the industrial city of Bhopal, India when the Union Carbide Industrial pesticide plant leaked methyl isocyanate gas (used in the production of insecticide sprays) into the city. Over the course of a day, the gas poisoned over 2,000 people and ultimately impacted over 200,000. With such long-lasting effects, this disaster is still impacting the people of Bhopal today.
13. The longest MLB game in history happened.
On May 8, 1984, the Chicago White Sox went up against the Milwaukee Brewers, running head to head over 25 innings, eight total hours, and two straight days. The only thing that could break the two teams up was a home run by Chicago’s Harold Baines, which secured the win for the White Sox 7-6.
14. A woman ran for vice-president for the first time.
Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro was not the first female politician, but she certainly broke specific barriers that had been in place since America’s founding and continues to serve as an empowering figurehead to this day. In the 1984 election, she became the first female vice-presidential nominee to represent the Democratic party–or any major party, for that matter.
15. The National Cancer Institute successfully identified HIV.
Since the early 80s, health officials, medical researchers, and specialists everywhere had worked tirelessly in the fight against AIDS, but it wasn’t until 1984 that a true breakthrough was made. Dr. Robert Gallo of the National Cancer Institute and his colleagues identified the retrovirus HTLV-III, or human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS. It is a disease that has caused the deaths of approximately 700,000 people to date.
16. Michael Jackson’s hair caught on fire.
In 1984, Jackson’s ill-fated Pepsi-backed live concert went horribly haywire when a major polytechnics malfunction caused a stray spark to catch in his styled hair while he was performing, lighting him on fire. The pop star sustained second and third-degree burns on his face and scalp and retained scars for the rest of his life.
17. Eddie Murphy became a superstar.
The lovable comedian and actor shot straight to stardom after his work in the Hollywood Blockbuster flick, Beverly Hills Cop (1984). In addition to the fact that Axel Foley was Murphy’s first solo role, the movie ended up grossing over $315 million at the box office! It became the top-grossing film of the year and was deemed a pop-culture phenomenon, loved by generations of Eddie Murphy enthusiasts to this day.
18. Someone rode a hot-air balloon across the Atlantic for the first time.
In September of 1984, Joseph Kittinger, a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, set out to make the first-ever transatlantic flight in a hot-air balloon. He departed from Caribou, Maine, and touched ground in Montenotte, Italy 86 hours later. In total, he and Rosie O’Grady’s Balloon of Peace traveled nearly 3,600 miles–pretty impressive!
19. Footloose became a cultural phenomenon!
We all know Kevin Bacon by name, and ever since he danced his way across the silver screen back in 1984, we haven’t been able to keep the obsession at bay. These days, he’s usually found playing a more somber character, but to us, he will always be remembered as the dancing, smirking city boy Ren McCormack.
20. Prince released Purple Rain–the song and the movie.
The summer of 1984 was the summer to be listening to Prince. The rock musical drama film was nothing compared to the release of the song, which hit #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in the US for two consecutive weeks and #1 in Belgium and the Netherlands.
21. The space shuttle Discovery made its maiden voyage.
The morning of August 30, 1984 had every American looking to the skies for a glimpse of the space shuttle Discovery, which made its first-ever launch out of Kennedy Space Center at 8:42 am EDT. Discovery‘s dauntless crew consisted of five men and one woman, who successfully deployed the SBS-4 satellite, the Syncom satellite, and the Telstar satellite into orbit.
22. Bruce McCandless and Robert L. Stewart made the first-ever untethered spacewalk.
Keeping with the space theme, this is one not-so-small walk for man, and one ginormous spacewalk for mankind! On February 3, 1984, two brave astronauts took the first leap into the great big (and very literal) unknown–no strings attached. Sure, they had jetpacks, but that’s hardly comforting considering the vastness.
23. Reagan won the presidential re-election by a landslide.
President Ronald Reagan was re-elected for his second four-year term in office on November 6, 1984, winning 49 of the 50 states. And, as if that wasn’t impressive enough, the president obtained a majority 97.6% of the electoral vote–the largest margin of any candidate in American history and a truly stunning feat.
24. The Soviet Union ditched the L.A. Summer Olympics.
So the Cold War was a lot more than psychological warfare, but this move was pretty much just that: psychological. After the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics, the Soviets saw it only fitting to return the favor, and subsequently opted out of the 1984 games. Blame it on the 102° L.A. traffic.
25. Ghostbusters broke the box office.
This spooktastic classic comedy came out the summer of 1984, shattering Columbia Pictures’ opening weekend record with a baffling $35 million in the box office, making it the highest-grossing comedy of all time (up to 1984, of course). The film was nominated for 2 Oscars and 3 Golden Globes, and its soundtrack–which featured Ray Parker Jr.’s original song “Ghostbusters”–was even in the running for a Grammy.
20 Slang Terms from the 80’s
So maybe Reaganomics and the Just Say No campaign didn’t particularly spike your interest back in the day, but there was much more to the 80s than politics, the Cold War, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was a time of big hair, big dreams, and Bon Jovi. If you can look past all of the cringe-worthy neon trends and legwarmers, you’ll find that this decade was also a shining time of phat catchphrases, choice sayings, and totally gnarly slang. If you lived through these years, you know exactly what we’re talking about.
Below we’ve compiled a list of the top 20 most iconic sayings of the decade, from quippy one-liners to full-on nonsense. So if you’re looking to incorporate some totally radical throwback terms into your vocabulary, look no further.
80s Slang that Will Have You Slidin’ Down Your Shades
This was just another way of saying yes or yeah, but with a scoff and an especially sarcastic tone.
Though to you it may seem like an exclusive surfer term, the word tubular was synonymous with the word cool to everyone back in the 80s.
3. “Gag me with a spoon!”
This phrase was used to express disgust. It makes the word gross seem pretty dull in comparison.
If something in the 80s was bad, you knew it was cool or trendy. Good was still good, of course, but bad was also good–makes sense, right?
If you know this movie, you probably already know what this word means. Back in the 80s, if you found yourself stuck in or even witnessing a crappy situation, you would describe it as bogus.
6. “Don’t have a cow.”
This is a funnier way of telling someone to chill out. Kinda weird, right? Apparently, you only really deserved someone saying this to you if you were truly overreacting.
7. “No duh!”
Seeing as how this is still a commonly used phrase, we already know that you already know what it means–no duh!
8. “Not even!”
If your answer to something was no, but you wanted to emphasize it, this is what you would say. It’s the 80s equivalent of the 90s saying, “As if!”
Back in the 80s, there was no more creative and emphatic way to express disgust than this word. Grody was an expression of extreme perturbation.
10. “Like totally!”
This was a way to answer in the affirmative without really saying yes. For example, would we bring back staple 80s lingo if we could? Like, totally!
It’s highly unlikely that you don’t know what this means, but just in case you don’t, we’ve got you covered. A dude or dudette is a particularly chill individual with a knack for chillin’ out and being cool.
12. “What’s your damage?”
Back in the 80s, it was too much of an imposition to ask what someone’s problem was. You just had to dig a little deeper and accuse them of being emotionally damaged in some way.
This would be used to describe someone or something particularly awesome or amazing. For example, you might say to someone, “That is a choice pair of shoes,” or “Choice ride, dude!”
If something was described as gnarly, it was a skill you wanted to gain, a product you wanted to have, or a person you wanted to be best friends with. This word described only the coolest of the cool and the awesomest of the awesome.
Rad is still a widely used term to this day, and boy are we thankful it is! How else would we describe the most awesome parts of life?
16. “Wiggin’/ Wiggin’ out”
If someone is wiggin’ or wiggin’ out, this gif probably resembles their mental state. Duran Duran is an 80s icon, so his facial expression is a perfect fit for the meaning of the word.
17. “Eat my shorts!”
If someone were to say this to you, it meant they wanted nothing to do with you. It was a saying popularized by Bart Simpson–yet another example of how big of a deal The Simpsons was back in the 80s.
This word was used to describe something that was probably extremely new and hip. If something was fresh, it was the cool new thing.
19. “Bag your face!”
This was a particularly cruel insult that high school kids of the 80s came up with when someone’s facial appearance left something to be desired
This word is still widely used today, meant to describe something dull or unoriginal. For example, a boring party would be described as lame.
Groovy 70’s Slang
If you’re anything like us here at FamilyWise, you have tons of fond memories of the 70s. With all those disco balls and funky bellbottoms, it’s no surprise that this decade is one of the most iconic in terms of music, art, and quirky sayings. If you’re looking for ways to spice up your vocabulary or even just in the mood for some soulful nostalgia, you’ve come to the right place.
Below we’ve compiled a list of some fabulous and most groovy 70s slang terms and phrases. Take it from us, you don’t want to miss out on these excellent sayings, sensational words, and hilariously nifty expressions.
70s Slang to Remind You of Trippier Times
You would say this to an overambitious individual, someone who’s made a statement outside the realm of what you might consider realistic. In other words, if you’ve got to get someone’s head out of the clouds, this is what you would say to them. Short and not so sweet, but it gets the point across.
This is another way of letting someone know you’ve tricked them or psyched them out.
This word would have been used to describe an unbelievable idea, something so unrealistic that it was mildly offensive. In modern terms, it’s the response equivalent of “Not cool, man,” or “That’s bogus.”
This is simply a cooler way of referring to someone’s home or apartment.
“Lay a Gasser”
We try to keep our content pretty clean here at FamilyWise, so we’ll leave you to guess what this one might mean. (Hint: Think stink!)
“Can You Dig It?”
So maybe your algebra teacher never phrased the question this way when teaching you variables, but if they had back in the seventies, any student would have understood exactly what they meant. This saying was simply another way of asking, “Do you understand?” or “Do you get it?”
“I gotta skitty!”
If you’ve ever used the word skedaddle, then you already know the proper usage of this word. The phrase all together means, “I have to hurry,” or “I’ve gotta’ rush.”
“Keep on stepping”
If you wanted someone to “get outta’ here” or “keep it moving,” you would say this to them.
This was just another way of saying goodbye or farewell.
“Let’s blow this taco stand!”
You’re at a party with your friends. The music has gotten repetitive and the chips are stale. What’s the most creative way you can think of to say “Let’s get out of here.” That’s exactly what this phrase is for.
“Let’s blow up the cheese!”
People of the 70s must have just not enjoyed saying “Let’s leave,” or “Let’s get outta’ here,” so they had to come up with a bunch of different ways to say it.
“Peace, love, and granola”
The hippies of the day really lived up to their name with this one. Rather than say goodbye, they’d just say “Peace, love, and granola,” before parting.
“Peace out, home fry”
Apparently, referring to your friends as fast-food wouldn’t have earned you a bunch of weird looks back in the 1970s. This was just another way to say goodbye or “See you later.”
“Catch you on the flip-side”
This was just another way of saying “I’ll see you later,” but, like, in a cool way. We don’t know exactly what is on the flip-side, but it must be a pretty cool place for everyone wanting to catch each other there.
“Do me a Solid”
This saying is another way to ask someone for a favor. Our guess is that it sounds less like an imposition when you say it in a hip, offhand way like this. The saying is still used today, so you’ve probably heard it once or twice.
“What a Fry”
And we’re back to the fast-food references. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with calling someone a french fry–I mean, they are pretty delicious–but back in the 70s, if this particular phrase was said to you, it meant that you were acting weird or strange.
This is just another way to refer to a quick rundown of events, so the next time someone says to you, “Give me the skinny,” what they’re actually asking for is a quick overview of the situation.
Though we’re pretty sure this is still a widely-used saying, we’ll let you know what it means, anyway. If something is “far out,” it’s probably pretty cool.
If you were a cute girl in the 70s, you would’ve been considered a “bunny.” Don’t ask us why; we don’t exactly know.
1984: Big Brother, Big Economy, Big Happenings
Awesome 1980s Commercials that Helped Define a Generation
20 Slang Terms from the 80’s
Groovy 70’s Slang
Totally Tubular 1980s Interior Design Trends
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