10 gloriously gooey one-hit-wonder love songs of the 1970s

"Love Is in the Air," indeed.

Image: YouTube / Thinkstock

Love was in the air in the 1970s. Or maybe that was just all the musk people were wearing. It's no wonder that the decade that gave us unbuttoned polyester shirts, mood rings, shag carpeting and leisure suits would also be the golden era of the love ballad. 

The radio was filled with sunset-hued ballads, syrupy strings, fireside acoustic guitars and earnest pleas to "make love." 

Of course, it was also the disco era, and love was certainly in the air. In fact, there was a disco song called "Love Is in the Air." We've included it below in our list of romantic one-hit wonders.

It's time for a couples skate at the roller rink!

1. Minnie Ripperton - "Lovin' You"

 

Riperton could hit notes that few could hit (until Mariah Carey came along). The chorus of "Loving You" soars so high, it's technically in the "whistle register" of the human voice. The single similarly soared to No. 1. It would be her only hit.


Image: Epic / Discogs

2. Morris Albert - "Feelings"

 

In 1976, The Gong Show ran a gag in which every contestant on the show sang this goopy ballad. The song has been covered dozens of times since its release in 1974, and not just by game show contestants.


Image: Discogs

3. Starland Vocal Band - "Afternoon Delight"

 

"The thought of lovin' you is getting so exciting." For lyrics like that, the D.C.–born band won the 1977 Grammy for Best New Artist, beating out Boston, the Brothers Johnson and Wild Cherry. Starland also briefly landed their own variety show, too.


Image: Windsong Records / Discogs

4. David Soul - "Don't Give Up on Us"

 

Eat your heart out, Starsky. Soul, who portrayed "Hutch" on the hit action series Starsky & Hutch, scored a massive hit with this widely known love song. The B-side (bean side?) was "Black Bean Soup," which hardly sounds romantic.


Image: Private Stock / Discogs

5. Peter McCann - "Do You Wanna Make Love"

 

There might be nothing more 1970s than Peter McCann with his big mustache, tinted aviator shades and fly collar asking, "Do you wanna make love," over a gentle bed of twangy guitars.


Image: 20th Century / Discogs

6. Samantha Sang - "Emotion"

 

Most might remember this as a Bee Gees song, and it essentially is. Robin and Barry Gibb wrote the track, and the latter slathered his distinct falsetto all over the choruses. Everything the Bee Gees touched in the '70s turned to gold, including this obscure Australian singer.


Image: Private Stock / Discogs

7. Toby Beau - "My Angel Baby"

 

A poor man's Pablo Cruise, this Texas act, which can also be confused with a man's name, rode the warm glow of its love song all the way to No. 13. It was undoubtedly heard during couples' skate at your local roller rink.


Image: RCA / Discogs

8. John Paul Young - "Love Is in the Air"

 

Every time you press play on this song, a disco ball lights up, somewhere. Probably in Australian. The Aussie was huge down under, though this was his only hit in the States. Believe it or not, it was co-written by George Young (no relation), the elder brother to Angus and Malcolm Young of AC/DC. Yes, this song has the same producers as Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.


Image: Eurodisc / Discogs

9. Bobby Caldwell - "What You Won't Do for Love"

 

It seems like Bobby Caldwell had far more top hits than this funky number, probably because half of the hip-hop acts of the 1990s sampled this gem.


Image: Discogs

10. France Joli - "Come to Me"

 

The Canadian scored a disco hit just before the '80s came sweeping in, and the song managed to blend the folky balladry of the past ten years with the futuristic dance to come.


Image: Prelude Records / Discogs

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

29 Comments

Kramden62 3 months ago
I still have the vinyl singles of #s 3 and 5 (which, coincidentally were on the same label, Larry Uttal's Private Stock Records), and #8 on CD in the final volume of Rhino's "Have a Nice Day" series.

I wondered why Kenny Nolan's 1977 hit "I Like Dreamin'" wasn't on this list, but then I remembered he had another hit, "Love's Grown Deep." "I Like Dreamin'" makes me think of a girl back in high school I liked, but I was too shy in trying to get to know her. Shame!
WordsmithWorks 3 months ago
"('Angel Baby') was undoubtedly heard during couples' skate at your local roller rink." That just whisked me back to junior high and my roller rink girlfriend who could backwards skate when we "danced" during couples' skate. Crazy how one phrase can elicit such a memory.
KawiVulc 3 months ago
Don't recall 3 or 4 of them but I do remember that version of #6 was horrendous.
IndianaRockz 3 months ago
The pervy quoted lyrics in story #3 above of "The thought of rubbing you is getting so exciting" is WRONG. My gosh, that isn't said at all in the song!
It is "The thought of LOVING you is getting so exciting." Geez.

"Rubbin' sticks and stones together makes the sparks ignite" is the lyric that mentions that word. Geez again.
KJExpress IndianaRockz 3 months ago
When I read that I couldn't believe I had misheard it so badly. Glad to know I had it right all along. Geez! 😳
MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
I’m sure I’ve heard all these songs but I don’t recognize a lot of the titles or singers.🤔
justjeff 3 months ago
Some comments (in order of the songs listed)...

1. Minnie Riperton originally sang with the group Rotary Connection. Her daughter is Maya Rudolph - formerly of SNL.
2. "Feelings" (for me) is one of those songs that triggers a gag reflex, as does "You Light up My Life"...
3. Didn't we all want - or look forward to - a little Afternoon Delight"?
4. Nice song...
5. "Do You Wanna Make Love"... I'm sure many guys sang this line to a woman, only to get a frosty "No!" in return...
6. The Bee Gees seemed to own the Disco Era, including "Emotions"...
7. "My Angel Baby" - I remember the song title, but can't recall the song itself. That should tell you something...
8. "Love is In the Air" - Great beat, great melody, fun and pleasant...
9. "What You Won't Do for Love" - a great pop/jazz fusion - originally distributed on the Clouds label from TK Records in Miami.
Many 45s were issued as heart-shaped discs. One of my old employers (former singer/producer/TV host Steve Alaimo) owns part of the publishing. The song has had well over TWO MILLION radio station plays!
10. "Come to Me" - not a bad song, but no powerhouse single...
cperrynaples justjeff 3 months ago
Well, you answered my first question! Sad story: Minnie died of breast cancer, which is ever sadder when you hear the line "Stay with me while we grow old"! I actually saw the Gong Show mentioned in 2! And would you believe 3 is actually about a hamburger...LOL! We all know that 4 died last month! I always thought 5 looked like a porn star...LOL again! I do remember 7 and yes, it's bad!
Bapa1 justjeff 3 months ago
Know what other song induces me to gag, "Sometimes When We Touch".
cperrynaples Bapa1 3 months ago
Yep, and Paramount+ did a documentary about '70's soft rock with that title! I don't think i'll watch it...LOL!
cperrynaples 3 months ago
2 bonus questions: [1] What actress is 1's daughter? [2] What comedian got his first break on a summer show starring 3?
cperrynaples cperrynaples 3 months ago
Both questions have been answered!
Peter_Falk_Fan 3 months ago
What, no 'Disco Duck'? I helped it reach #1 by buying the 45 (I believe it's actually 'Disco Duck: Part 1'). I don't remember #10, and I had to look up #7 in order to remember it. But I did know the rest.

A side note on Bobby Caldwell. That was his one hit from the 1970s. but he co-wrote two top ten hits in the 80s: Peter Cetera and Amy Grant's #1 hit 'The Next Time I Fall' and Chicago's  'What Kind of Man Would I Be' that topped at #5.
Bapa1 3 months ago
Some terrible songs here. Never heard of Toby Beau.
RedSamRackham 39 months ago
* THough not a 1-hit wonder IMHO worst was Muskrat Love! ♣
justjeff RedSamRackham 3 months ago
Although that was a hit for Captain and Tennile, it was previously recorded by the group America... and according to Wikipedia:
"It was first recorded in 1972 by Willis Alan Ramsey for his sole album release 'Willis Alan Ramsey'. The song was originally titled "Muskrat Candlelight" referencing the song's opening lyric."
cperrynaples justjeff 3 months ago
Yep, but did you know many AM stations banned the Captain's syth solo? Too suggestive they said!
justjeff cperrynaples 3 months ago
Do you mean when he trilled they keys on the synthesiser?... Lawd, people really are a piece of work! 🙄
cperrynaples justjeff 3 months ago
Well, the song's title WAS "Muskrat Love"! And i believe it charted when they had a show on ABC!
justjeff cperrynaples 3 months ago
Yeah, but "love" and "L-O-V-E"... it's a subjective interpretation y'know?
Amalthea 39 months ago
Actually, "Black Bean Soup" was a sweet little ditty. I had the 45 AND the album. ♫ "All I want is Black Bean Soup, and you to cook it with me. Be my love while love will stay, and wear your ribbons for me" ♫
caleb53 42 months ago
WOW! I got all worked up with that France Joli video. As my dear old Grandmother, rest her soul, would say..... "MERCY"!
TCKirkham 56 months ago
Oh and one other thing - although he may have only had one top 40 hit, Bobby Caldwell has been a top selling jazz vocalist for nearly 40 years, and Paul Hardcastle the same in the instrumental field - their stuff is well worth checking out as well!
TCKirkham 56 months ago
Say what you want about Starland Vocal Band - although "Afternoon Delight" was their only top 40 hit, they had four incredible albums between 1976-1980, all of them immensely listenable. And they did make it back to the AC chart in 1980 - briefly - with "Loving You With My Eyes" from their fourth album. Bill and Taffy Danoff, Jon Carroll, and Margot Chapman are far too often dismissed, as they always had crisp production and some of the best harmonies anywhere - track down the other albums "Rear View Mirror" (1977), "Late Night Radio" (1978) and "4 x 4" (1980), and you won't be disappointed.
Bapa1 TCKirkham 3 months ago
.......and they briefly had their own network variety show.
cperrynaples Bapa1 3 months ago
Yes, and it featured a young David Letterman!
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?