The 10 weirdest songs that went No. 1 in the 1970s
Who needs lyrics when you have a quacking duck or Beethoven?
Just about any musician, or any piece of music, can make it to the top of the charts today. All it technically takes is millions of YouTube streams. Which means some unlikely stuff can reach the peak.
But underdogs and oddity sitting atop the Billboard chart is nothing new. In fact, we would argue the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s offered a more unpredictable pop field. After all, can you imagine an instrumental TV theme being the top song in America today? Or a dance version of a Beethoven symphony? How about German acts with only six English words?
All of this happened and hit big in the 1970s, which is part of what made the decade such a colorful time. While the Bee Gees dominated, some strange stuff cracked through. Here are the 10 most unlikely songs that made it to No. 1 in the Seventies.
1. Raiders "Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)"
July 24, 1971
Considering they wore colonial costumes, Paul Revere & The Raiders were unlikely candidates to be singing about the plight of Native Americans in the Indian Removal Act of 1830. However, by 1970, the rock combo had shed its Revolutionary War image and shortened the name. They wanted to be taken more seriously, and this chart-topper proved it worked somewhat.
Image: Columbia Records
2. The Edgar Winter Group "Frankenstein"
May 26, 1973
This hard-rocking instrumental might be the heaviest song to top the charts in the decade — if not ever. It certainly is the only No. 1 we can think of with a ridiculously long drum solo.
Image: Epic Records
3. MFSB and The Three Degrees - "T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia)"
April 20, 1974
The band name stood for "Mother, Father, Sister, Brother." That was a lot of acronyms to hide the fact that this cut was just the theme song from Soul Train.
Image: Epic Records
4. Silver Connection "Fly, Robin, Fly"
November 29, 1975
Straight out of West Germany, this disco trio spent three weeks atop the charts in the holiday season. Perhaps because their outfits looked like tinsel. As for any language barriers, the Munich act no problem. They only used six words total in the lyrics: "fly," "Robin," "up," "to," "the" and "sky."
Image: Jupiter Records
5. C.W. McCall "Convoy"
January 10, 1976
The biggest beneficiary of the trucking craze, C.W. McCall began his career as an ad man in Omaha. He came up with a TV commercial for bread. Later, he became an outlaw country icon thanks to this quirky, almost spoken-word track.
Image: MGM Records
6. Rhythm Heritage "Theme from S.W.A.T."
February 28, 1976
Another instrumental, another TV theme. This time, it was L.A. funk act Rhythm Heritage recorded a disco-fied take on the cop show music.
Image: ABC Records
7. Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band "A Fifth of Beethoven"
October 9, 1976
By this point, the disco phenomenon was firmly in control of the pop charts. Novelty songs easily boogied up Billboard as long as they got booties moving in the clubs. Even modern, instrumental takes in classical music were radio gold.
Image: Private Stock / EMI
8. Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots "Disco Duck"
October 16, 1976
Disc jockey Rick Dees witnessed the sensation of novelty disco tunes firsthand. So, he decided to craft one of his own, mucking about and making one of the most derided songs of the era. A couple years later, it turned up in Saturday Night Fever.
Image: RSO Records
9. Meco "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band"
October 1, 1977
Disco producer Domenico "Meco" Monardo scored a couple smaller hits with other funkified movie themes, but finally went galactic on the back of the Star Wars craze. The novelty song sat atop the charts for two weeks. The lightsaber sounds were a nice touch. Does it count as an instrumental if R2-D2 talks?
10. M "Pop Muzik"
November 3, 1979
Our final cut only sounds German. Actually, it was from a dude in England. Robin Scott fooled many into thinking he was "ein Berliner" with this sort of bubblegum Kraftwerk. We got the 45 right after seeing Disney's The Black Hole and now forever associate the song with the robot V.I.N.CENT.
Image: MCA Records
11. SEE MORE: THE 10 WEIRDEST ONE-HIT-WONDERS OF THE 1980S
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