The 10 happiest, sunniest one-hit wonders of the 1970s

Ain't no stopping these magic afternoon delights.

Image: The Everett Collection

At the dawn of the Seventies, at the 1970 Grammy Awards ceremony, the 5th Dimension took home the trophy for Record of the Year thanks to its hit "Let the Sunshine In." It set the tone for pop music to follow. Soon, the Brady Bunch was singing "It's a Sunshine Day." Terry Jacks took "Seasons in the Sun" to the top of the charts.

If you're looking for sunshiny music, the 1970s have it. 

The following acts might have only scored one huge hit, but their tunes kept putting smiles on our faces for decades. Feel the groove with the 10 happiest one-hit wonders of the decade.

1. McFadden & Whitehead "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now"

This Philadelphia soul duo closed out the decade with an inspirational groove. "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" topped the R&B charts in 1979 and boogied up to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was subsequently used as a theme song by the Phillies, Eagles and 76ers.

2. King Harvest "Dancing in the Moonlight"

A group of American ex-pats living in Paris, King Harvest covered an obscure song by Boffalongo called "Dancing in the Moonlight" in 1972. It also peaked at No. 13. Songwriter Sherman Kelly explained in his website, "I envisioned an alternate reality, the dream of a peaceful and joyful celebration of life."

3. Starland Vocal Band "Afternoon Delight"

The comedy Anchorman revived the giddy pleasure of singing along to this ray of Seventies sunshine. This D.C. band, signed to John Denver's label, infamously won the Grammy for Best New Artist… and failed to score another big hit. Starland Vocal Band did host its own variety show on CBS in 1977. In the summertime, naturally.

4. The Hillside Singers "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing"

Yes, the song from the Coca-Cola commercial (and, more recently, the series finale of Mad Men). In fact, the "Hillside Singers" were a group of folkies assembled by the advertising agency McCann Erickson. The Singers included the wife and daughter of producer Al Ham. The song went to… No. 13!

5. Hot Butter "Popcorn"

Who needs lyrics to tell you how to feel? This bubbly instrumental puts a pep in your step with its percolating Moog synthesizers. It sounded like the future then — while still somehow bringing to mind amusement park rides from the ragtime era.

6. Apollo 100 "Joy"

Talk about oldies! This British instrumental act looked all the way back to the '20s — the 1720s. This funky version of Johann Sebastian Bach's 1723 composition "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" soared to No. 6 on the Hot 100 in 1972. The Ventures recorded a version of the tune, too, which manages to scratch the bottom of the charts.

7. Pilot "Magic"

According to David Paton, lead singer for Scottish foursome Pilot, the inspiration for "Magic" came from watching the sunrise over a hill in Edinburgh. With it's "Oh, ho, ho!" intro, this dandelion of a ditty became one of the soft-rock standards of the decade. It was most successful in Canada, where it went to No. 1. Canadians are such nice people.

8. Pratt & McClain "Happy Days"

Seventies pop music was so upbeat, even TV theme songs became huge hits. "Happy Days" replaced Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" as the opening to Happy Days following the show's first season. Lyrics like "Goodbye grey sky, hello blue!" captured the warm and fuzzy Fifties nostalgia while keeping things as Seventies as possible.

9. Cyndi Grecco "Making Our Dreams Come True (Theme From Laverne & Shirley)"

"Happy Days" was such a smash, even its spin-off theme song became a Top 40 hit! Grecco later recorded the lesser-known theme to Blansky's Beauties, the lesser-known spin-off of Happy Days. Her TV tunes let to a full album, but her disco cut "Dancing, Dancing" failed to chart. No worries, "Making Our Dreams Come True" always makes us skip down the sidewalk like Laverne and Shirley!

10. Cheryl Lynn "Got to Be Real"

Slap-bass and handclaps — two ingredients that never fail to perk up your spirits. Lynn had previously performed as the Wicked Witch of the West in the touring company of The Wiz, but "Got to Be Real" is a pure yellow brick road. She also once earned a perfect score on The Gong Show for her singing.

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MeliAlexander 47 months ago
My first 45 was “Dancing in the Moonlight”!
daDoctah 47 months ago
Terry Jacks "Seasons in the Sun" certainly got to #1, but it was hardly a "sunshiney" song. Listen to the lyrics and you'll find it's all about a guy on his deathbed saying goodbye to his loved ones. (Jacks wasn't a one-hit wonder either; he had earlier made the charts as lead singer of The Poppy Family with their song "Which Way You Goin', Billy?")
mdit21 daDoctah 47 months ago
I have to agree. That tune just about depresses me every time I hear it (and the Oldies radio station I sometimes listen to in my area plays it quite regularly). It practically sounds like a dirge to me.
RB daDoctah 47 months ago
I like how Dave Barry worded it. "Seasons In the Sun is a song about somebody who is dying, but not fast enough."
DoubleNaughtSpy 47 months ago
Candidates for "Bubbling Under MeTV's 10 Happiest, Sunniest One-Hit Wonders of the 1970s":

Brandy - Looking Glass
So Nice to be With You - Gallery
Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes - Edison Lighthouse
The Night Chicago Died - Paper Lace
Oh, and "Beautiful Sunday" by Daniel Boone, too.
Sooner 47 months ago
An interesting and unexpected fact to me about the "Dancing in the Moonlight," song by King Harvest, is that the guy (Kelly) wrote it after he and his girlfriend were raped and beat-up on a beach by a bunch of thugs. He almost died and was hospitalized for a long time. After he got out of the hospital, he decided he wanted to write a song about the way he wished things really were.
daywayne 47 months ago
All songs I listened to and loved.
Where are they now?
RobCertSDSCascap daywayne 47 months ago
Somewhere in my 80,000 track library?
James 47 months ago
Cheryl Lynn was not a one hit wonder from the 70's. She had hit songs spanning to the 80's as well. Besides the aforementioned, Georgy porgy with Toto, star love, shake it up tonight, encore, if this world was mine with luther vandross and others.
Wiseguy 47 months ago
#8: '"Happy Days" replaced Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" as the opening to Happy Days following the show's first season.'

It was after the second season.

#9: "Her TV tunes let to a full album,..."


Wiseguy 47 months ago
This comment has been removed.
TCKirkham 47 months ago
"Dancing In the Moonlight" has been a hit three times over the years, though not always in the US - The King Harvest version above, the 1979 disco remake by The Keane Brothers, which was a hit in Japan (and on my personal charts, heh heh) and the awesome 2001 remake by toploader (yes, it's supposed to be a lower case "t"), and I've been a HUGE fan of that group ever since - if you've only heard their cover of the song, check out their other stuff - awesome!
stagebandman 47 months ago
Cheryl Lynn was on another top ten song: She sang the chorus on Toto's "Georgy Porgy"
TCKirkham stagebandman 47 months ago
No offense my friend, and I hate to be a nitpicker here, it's the chart nerd in me, heh heh - it's a great song, but not a top ten hit - in fact, it didn't even make the top 40 - "Georgy Porgy" peaked at #48 on Billboard's Hot 100....
stagebandman 47 months ago
Pilot was the base of the Alan Parsons Project, and David Paton sang many leads on those albums.
Baldman 47 months ago
I'm gonna play the Happy Days Song on my stereo as loud as I can when this virus crap is over.
moax429 Baldman 47 months ago
So will I (I *still* have the original 1976 vinyl 45)!
Throttle8 47 months ago
Yep! 1972 was probably the best year in my life! Great songs such as "Dancn' in the moon light" "last night I couldn't get no sleep" by the 5th dimension and many more just brings back so many memories of my life at the age of 10 now 57 all I can say is thankyou Metv for bringing the memories of the "real down to earth music" that meant something and had a real meaning to them!!!! M. Carlson.
Lillyrose 47 months ago
I love the Happy Days theme and the Laverne and Shirley theme!
Dab330 47 months ago
Dancing in the Moonlight was huge in 1973! Topped the charts. Along with Could it be I'm falling in Love!
RobCertSDSCascap 47 months ago
#6 also turned up on Boogie Nights #2 / Music From The Original Motion Picture.
Boogie Nights was one of the best movies of the 1990s.
Utzaake 47 months ago
1, 2, 5, 6 and 7 are masterpieces!
MrsPhilHarris 47 months ago
The only song I like of the bunch is Dancing In The Moonlight.
I can never get enough electric piano.
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