Treble’s Top 200 Songs of the ’70s

130. The Cars
Just What I Needed
(1978; Elektra)
Available on The Cars

Whenever this song plays, I’m constantly reminded of those lousy Circuit City commercials that aired incessantly several years ago. Yet, regardless of any cheap marketing ploy, or the corny romance behind this song, it’s a very clever tune. Bassist Benjamin Orr (not Ric Ocasek), takes the lead with his robust voice backed with perfectly synchronized guitars and a synth line that’s an earworm which will inevitably be stuck in your head for days. If there’s one song that predates the ’80s as far as the ubiquity of synth in pop songs, this is it. – Giovanni Martinez


129. Ramones
I Wanna Be Sedated
(1978; Sire)
Available on Road to Ruin

It belongs to all of us. “I Wanna Be Sedated” is the world’s punk rock birthright. You may not have a lot handed to you in life, but you get this song. It’s classic Ramones, a totally fun, bouncy, revved up “Nuggets” romp, seasoned with teenage pathos. -Stephen Chupaska


128. Donna Summer
Love to Love You Baby
(1975; Atlantic)
Available on Love to Love You Baby

Nick Hornby once made the salient point that songs about sex are ridiculous things to put on when you’re getting it on. “Love to Love You Baby” would my state’s exhibit no. 1. Certainly, Summer’s orgasmic cries over the porno-polyester disco grooves are mood inducing. And Giorgio Moroder’s production is flawless and engrossing (engorging?). But it goes on for 17 minutes. Who has time for that? We’re all pretty busy, right? Maybe tomorrow night. -Stephen Chupaska


127. Pink Floyd
Another Brick in the Wall, p. 2
(Harvest; 1979)
Available on The Wall

One of the monster hits from the brilliant and massively self-indulgent double album The Wall, the greatest in psychedelic and progressive rock found disco. Urged by producer Bob Ezrin to listen to the dance music, the band grudgingly went along with the idea of using the typical disco beat. Ezrin also convinced the group to expand what was written as a short segue into the children’s choir dominated single we know today. This meddling, plus the excellent musicianship of the group (Gilmour’s squealing and soulful solo at the end is a delight) and the tortured vocals of Waters provided the group with their sole number one U.S. hit. We don’t need no education, indeed! – Nick Ulbrickson


126. Public Image Limited
Public Image
(1978; Virgin)
Available on Public Image – First Issue

Debuting months after the inevitable collapse of the Sex Pistols, “Public Image” was the first glimpse into what would become of Johnny Lydon’s career. A predictably sneering commentary on the exploitation of the Pistols, the song is one of few early Public Image Limited songs that retains a punk guitar attack, even if it is more stylistically rooted in what was becoming known as post-punk. The spidery riffs are chilling and provide a welcome glimpse at the wildly experimental music that would follow. Not surprisingly, it was a Top 10 hit in the UK, and deservedly so; it’s one of the best songs Lydon ever wrote. – Chris Karman


125. The Specials
A Message to You, Rudy
(1979; 2 Tone)
Available on The Specials

“A Message to You, Rudy” is one of the most covered songs in pop music this side of Bob Dylan or The Beatles. Initially recorded by Dandy Livingstone in 1967 as “Rudy, A Message to You,” the song is made anew and given new ownership by The Specials with this 1979 reinterpretation, emblematizing the 2 Tone English ska revival in its joyful expressivity. Horns form the musical forefront of the track, bounding across each other in celebratory arcs. And while the song was originally a cautionary commentary against the self-destructive violence of rude boy culture, The Specials make melody the real message. – Jimmy Falcon


124. The Pretenders
Brass In Pocket
(1979; Real)
Available on The Pretenders

Long before Sheryl Crow and the Dixie Chicks began rocking stadiums, Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders offered up a hard-earned badge of girl power with “Brass in Pocket.” If the song sounds a bit straightforward today, that’s only a testament to the scores of contemporary records The Pretenders have influenced over the years. Forget passively waiting for that certain someone to come around, Chrissie has rhythm and legs and a little thing called imagination. All of Hynde’s attributes, from those she details in the song to, more importantly, her musical chops, successfully made this song a hit and earned her the attention she so craved, if on a much larger scale. – Donny Giovannini


123. Chic
Le Freak
(1978; Atlantic)
Available on C’est Chic

I don’t know if there are any songs more wholly defined by a two-second hook as Chic’s funk classic “Le Freak.” That hook? “Awwwwww… Freak Out!” But just because those two seconds have been played ad nauseam doesn’t in any way diminish everything that comes after. On the contrary, the disco/R&B outfit that’s had close to 50 people rotate in and out of the band over the past 40 years lays down a funky groove on “Le Freak,” and the cooly harmonized female vocals must have gotten an unfathomable number of platform shoes kicking back in the day. – Donny Giovannini


122.The Undertones
Teenage Kicks
(1979; Sire)
Available on The Undertones

It’s a perfect demonstration of tension in pop music. There are the snarling, adolescent punk guitars that really that Sex Pistols wouldn’t have minded at all. But it’s counterbalanced by Feargal Sharkey’s quixotic vocal track, full of longing and innocence. “Teenage Kicks” is also forever linked with the late BBC DJ John Peel, who would cry whenever he played it. I would hazard that anyone who likes pop music as much as we — yes, you too — can’t not have an emotional response to “Teenage dreams, so hard to beat.” – Stephen Chupaska


121. Bob Dylan
Hurricane
(1975; CBS)
Available on Desire

A few years ago, as America managed to embroil itself in not one but two wars, and self-righteous musicians from Bright Eyes to the Dixie Chicks lined up to voice their displeasure, a lot of us wished Bob Dylan would show up and teach everyone how it’s done. Even on an explicit protest song like “Hurricane,” the recalcitrant Mr. Zimmerman manages to lay out his case with a cool, prosecutorial confidence that leaves all the blood boiling to the listener, and is the more effective for it. A masterpiece of storytelling and rhyme scheme, “Hurricane” is an epic poem about the arrest and (wrongful) conviction of the boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, not to mention one of the better songs of Dylan’s uneven 1970s. – Liz Malloy

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