Overrated ’70s ballads we hate to admit that we love


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In the 1970s, the syrupy romantic ballad reigned supreme. Artists from across the musical spectrum lined up to record them, convinced as they were that the formula would bring them chart success, adoring fans, and cultural permanence.

Songs of this type present us with a paradox because most are complete garbage. Yet at the same time, many of us secretly love these objectively awful songs, and only the bravest will reveal this to friends, family, and loved ones.

This is our list of overrated 1970s ballads that we hate to love. They may not be musical filet mignon, but they’re undoubtedly musical potato chips, and we just keep eating them.

‘Feelings’ by Morris Albert (1974)

Morris Albert’s “Feelings” was inexplicably a massive hit upon its release in 1974. Albert sings that he’s trying to forget his feelings of love, only interrupting his lovelorn bleating to sing “whoa whoa whoa.” While it may have been written with the utmost sincerity, listening to it in 2023 is done for pure comic effect and does not disappoint. So enjoy repeat listens and turn it into a drinking game.

‘You Light Up My Life’ by Debby Boone (1977)

The daughter of 1950s crooner Pat Boone, Debby Boone stormed the charts in 1977 with this three-and-a-half-minute exercise in violin-laden hysteria. A Rolling Stone reader’s poll named it the fourth-worst song of the 1970s, but we think they doth protest too much – after all, somebody bought millions of copies of the thing.

‘Sometimes When We Touch’ by Dan Hill (1977)

The 1970s produced many songs that amounted to, “I want to engage in the physical act of love with you, but first I’m going to sing about how it’s actual love, and I’m not just drunk.” Dan Hill’s 1977 ballad “Sometimes When We Touch” is such a song. The lyrics proclaim, “I wanna hold you ’til I die, ’til we both break down and cry, I wanna hold you ’til the fear in me subsides,” which has a mildly stalker-ish vibe in this day and age. However, in 1977, he was just being sensitive.

‘Escape (The Piña Colada Song)’ by Rupert Holmes (1979)

Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” was the last song to top the US charts in the 1970s, hitting that milestone in December 1979. The song depicts singles bar culture and tells the story of a man whose current relationship is in the toilet, so he’s looking elsewhere via a personal ad. Someone answers he meets her, and it’s his girlfriend. It’s a premise worthy of “Three’s Company” and a song that would never be written today.

‘Mandy’ by Barry Manilow (1974)

When a song gets parodied on “The Simpsons,” that means it’s reached cultural primacy. This is precisely what happened to Barry Manilow’s 1974 hit “Mandy,” a maudlin ballad that evolves into a ponderous and heavy-handed one by the end. No one seemed to mind, and today, music teachers worldwide use the song as an example for aspiring songwriters who want a song’s key to go up a whole step for dramatic effect.

‘If You Leave Me Now’ by Chicago (1976)

Chicago started as a semi-experimental rock band that used horns, ventured into jazz territory, and employed the extraordinary talents of guitarist Terry Kath. All well and good, but they also trafficked in abysmal soft rock balladry, of which “If You Leave Me Now” is a prime example. When it comes on the radio, people may protest, but secretly they love hate-listening to it, and they won’t change the station.

‘You Are So Beautiful’ by Joe Cocker (1974)

Joe Cocker became a superstar after his sweaty, soulful performance of “With a Little Help from My Friends” at Woodstock in 1969. A few years later, he must have had some bills to pay because he covered Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful” and slowed it way, way down to tearjerker tempo. It worked, many copies sold, and today no one even knows it’s not his original song.

‘I’d Really Love to See You Tonight’ by England Dan & John Ford Coley (1976)

The casual hookup was immortalized in song numerous times between 1970 and 1979. One such entrant was 1976’s “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” in which the singer informs some lucky young woman that he’s not looking to have a long-term romantic relationship with her; he just wants to get down to business, wink wink. This had the potential to be really gross in the hands of another artist, but as recorded, it’s too goofy to get mad about, and its attitudes towards social mores are so outdated that listening to it is like visiting a museum.

‘Love Will Keep Us Together’ by Captain & Tennille (1975)

Initially penned by Neil Sedaka, “Love Will Keep Us Together” was performed by the husband and wife duo Captain & Tennille, who, for some mysterious reason, were insanely popular during the 1970s, to the extent that they had their own television variety show. Captain & Tennille divorced in 2014, inspiring countless publications to say love had not kept them together.

‘You’ve Got a Friend’ by James Taylor (1971)

James Taylor has been the sensitive acoustic folkie artist most beloved by Baby Boomers since his 1968 self-titled debut album. He hit his stride with fans in 1971 when he recorded Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” which automatically became part of his permanent repertoire. While some believe King’s version is superior, the song is heavily identified with him and remains one of his signature songs.

Editorial Note: This list was created based on the opinions of the author and editorial team. The choices presented are subjective and can vary depending on personal preferences and perspectives.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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