The 1970s is a prolific decade for popular music.
It has produced a variety of songs that have achieved tremendous success in a short amount of time.
This article focuses on the top 20 best songs from 1972.
The songs chosen for this list are based on their commercial success, as well as their lasting impact on popular music.
This article will explore the cultural significance of these songs and discuss their influence on music in the 1970s and beyond.
1. “American Pie” by Don McLean
Don McLean‘s classic song “American Pie” from 1972 is widely considered to be a timeless anthem of the era.
As one of the most popular songs from the year, it tells a story of change and loss, with an ambitious, poetic lyrical structure.
The song’s lasting appeal and influence can be seen in its many covers, some of which have gone on to be chart-toppers in their own right.
Its lyrical depth and musicality have made it an enduring classic.
2. “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers
Released in 1972, Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” is a timeless classic that has become a staple of contemporary popular music.
The song’s simple yet powerful message of unity and friendship resonates with listeners of all ages.
Its pastoral melody and memorable lyrics are backed by Withers’ soulful vocals, creating a lasting impression.
The song’s message of comfort and support during difficult times has been embraced by people from all walks of life.
This song remains a popular choice from the 1972 musical landscape.
3. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by Robert John
“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by Robert John is an iconic song that has been covered by numerous artists over the years.
The song, which features a catchy melody and a memorable chorus, is a great example of a classic pop song that has endured the test of time.
The lyrics are simple and repetitive, but the song’s enduring hook has made it a timeless classic.
The song’s popularity has continued to grow over the years, with many contemporary artists creating their own interpretations of the song.
This proves that “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is a timeless song that continues to captivate audiences in the 21st century.
4. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack
Roberta Flack‘s 1972 rendition of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” is a timeless classic that has been interpreted by various artists over the years.
With its emotive, stripped-down arrangement, the song is a prime example of Flack’s emotive yet restrained vocal style.
The song’s lyrics are simple yet poetic, evoking a sense of nostalgia and longing for a lost love.
Through its arrangement and delivery, the song speaks to the power of love and the emotions it can evoke.
Its lasting popularity is a testament to the enduring power of the song.
5. “I Gotcha” by Joe Tex
Joe Tex’s 1972 single “I Gotcha” is an upbeat soul song that has become a classic in its genre.
This track is known for its catchy chorus and its trademark snare drum pattern.
The song is heavily influenced by gospel music, featuring a four-part call-and-response vocal pattern.
Its lyrics speak to the power of love, emphasizing the importance of commitment in relationships.
Musically, the song is characterized by its funky guitar riffs and electric piano solos.
The combination of its lyrics and its musical style makes “I Gotcha” an enduring classic in soul music.
6. “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan
Gilbert O’Sullivan’s 1972 single “Alone Again (Naturally)” is a melancholic ballad that has become an iconic piece of popular music.
The song was a chart-topper in the UK and the USA, and it has been covered by numerous artists over the years.
Lyrically, the song contemplates loneliness and the emotions associated with it.
Musically, the track features a piano-driven melody with lush strings and a steady beat.
O’Sullivan’s soulful vocal performance is stirring, and the simple yet effective production ensures that the song’s emotive qualities are not diluted.
All in all, “Alone Again (Naturally)” is a timeless classic that resonates with listeners to this day.
7. “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green
Al Green’s 1972 funk ballad “Let’s Stay Together” is a timeless classic that has become one of the most beloved soul songs of all time.
The lyrics, delivered in Green’s trademark soulful voice, convey an uplifting message of loyalty and devotion.
The instrumentation, featuring a combination of piano, bass, drums and guitar, creates a lush, soulful soundscape that accentuates the powerful emotion of the song.
The combination of the memorable chorus and Green’s passionate delivery make “Let’s Stay Together” a classic that continues to resonate with audiences of all ages.
8. “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” by Mac Davis
Mac Davis’ 1972 hit single “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” is a soulful ballad of romantic caution, emphasizing the importance of independence and the dangers of becoming overly attached.
Its mid-tempo musical accompaniment of strings, horns, and backing vocals creates an atmosphere of vulnerability and tenderness.
Davis’ delivery is powerful and emotive, conveying the complexities of the relationship between two lovers.
The song’s heartbreaking lyrics offer a cautionary tale of one-sided love and its potential to be damaging.
With its classic soul sound and thoughtful message, “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” is a timeless classic.
9. “Oh Girl” by The Chi-Lites
Moving on from “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me”, another popular song from 1972 was “Oh Girl” by The Chi-Lites.
It was a major success, peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and becoming a certified million-seller.
The song features a slow, melancholic melody and lyrics which reflect the emotions of a broken-hearted man searching for a way to mend his relationship with a woman.
Despite its melancholic tone, the song was a commercial success and is still considered one of the greatest soul songs of all time.
10. “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young
Released in 1972, Neil Young’s single “Heart of Gold” is a folk rock classic that reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Featuring a simple but memorable melody, it is considered one of the defining songs of the singer-songwriter era.
The lyrics feature Young’s characteristic meditative musings about life and love.
Its success was partly due to the song’s relatable message, as well as its wide appeal across different genres.
The track’s layered production gave it a timeless quality that made it a hit with audiences of all ages.
11. “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right” by Luther Ingram
In 1972, Luther Ingram released the soulful R&B ballad “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want to Be Right)”, which quickly became a hit and is now considered a classic.
The song’s success was due in part to its catchy melody and meaningful lyrics, both of which combined to create a powerful emotional impact.
Ingram’s passionate delivery of the song further emphasized its heartfelt message of longing and regret.
This song is now recognized as an important example of soul music, with its influence still felt in the genre today.
12. “Ben” by Michael Jackson
Luther Ingram’s “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right” was an R&B hit in 1972.
The success of “Ben” demonstrated Jackson’s ability to connect with audiences through his music and lyrics.
The song’s popularity also revealed the public’s interest in animal stories and the potential for songs about animals to be commercially successful.
13. “The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis Jr.
The 1972 single “The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis Jr. was a commercial success, thanks in part to the catchy melody and lighthearted lyrics.
An upbeat, swing-style arrangement with a jazzy horn section provides a perfect backdrop to Davis Jr.’s smooth vocal delivery.
The song’s simple yet effective lyrical structure has been praised as an example of classic pop songwriting.
Its popularity has endured, with multiple cover versions recorded by other artists.
Despite its light tone, its underlying message of hope remains relevant.
14. “How Do You Do” by Mouth and MacNeal
Released in 1972, the single “How Do You Do” by Mouth and MacNeal is a classic example of Dutch pop, combining a catchy melody with thoughtful lyrics.
The song’s success was bolstered by its performance on Dutch radio and television, becoming a top-five hit in the Netherlands.
Musically, the track features a mix of upbeat, danceable rhythms and melancholic, dreamy melodies, creating a unique and memorable listening experience.
15. “Slippin’ Into Darkness” by War
“Slippin’ Into Darkness” by War is a funk-rock song that has become an enduring classic.
Released in 1972, the song is known for its unique blend of funk and rock, creating a sound that was both groovy and powerful.
It is characterized by its driving rhythm, soulful vocals, and tight horns.
The lyrics reflect the social conditions of the time.
The song has been covered by many artists and is still enjoyed by listeners of all ages.
16. “Outa-Space” by Billy Preston
“Outa-Space” by Billy Preston is an instrumental funk-rock song released in 1972, which has become a beloved classic.
The song features Preston’s signature soulful organ playing, accompanied by a funky rhythm section and a tight horn section that produces a unique sound.
It was a commercial success, reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and topping the charts in Canada.
The song’s unique production and arrangement have made it a favourite among funk and rock fans alike, and it has been sampled and covered by many artists.
17. “A Horse With No Name” by America
Moving on from Billy Preston’s “Outa-Space”, America’s “A Horse With No Name” stands as one of the top popular songs from 1972.
Released in early 1972, the song is a folk-rock power ballad that has become iconic.
Lead singer Gerry Beckley’s distinctive high-pitched vocals add to the song’s melodic quality.
The song’s powerful lyrics are centred around a desert-based theme, making it a perfect reflection of the era’s changing musical landscape.
“A Horse With No Name” remains a timeless favourite for many music fans.
18. “Nights In White Satin” by The Moody Blues
The Moody Blues’ “Nights In White Satin” is a powerful symphonic rock ballad that evokes a tranquil atmosphere.
Dreamy, lilting instrumentation and poetic lyrics combine to create a reflective and emotive song.
It has been praised for its innovative use of orchestration and structure, with a unique blend of rhythms, harmonies, and dynamics.
The result is a timeless work of art that will continue to be appreciated for generations to come.
19. “Rockin’ Robin” by Michael Jackson
The transition from Moody Blues’ classic rock ballad to Michael Jackson’s pop-rock hit was a radical shift in sound and style.
“Rockin’ Robin” was released in 1972 and quickly became a chart-topping success, soaring to the top of both the US and UK music charts.
The song stands out for its catchy chorus and instrumentation, which combines a driving rhythm guitar and a light organ solo.
Jackson’s vocal performance is energetic and filled with youthful exuberance, helping to cement the song as a timeless classic.
20. “Beautiful Sunday” by Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone’s “Beautiful Sunday” is an uplifting ode to optimism and good vibes.
The song is a cheerful and catchy rock and roll number, featuring an upbeat tempo and simple lyrics.
It became an instant hit in 1972, and its timeless message of hope and positivity still resonates with listeners today.
The sing-along chorus and catchy guitar riffs combine to create a memorable musical experience.
“Beautiful Sunday” is an iconic hit from the 1970s that continues to bring joy to listeners around the world.
Best Songs From 1972 – Final Thoughts
The 1970s were an era of great musical creativity and output, as evidenced by the selection of twenty of the most popular songs from 1972.
From Don McLean’s iconic “American Pie” to Daniel Boone’s “Beautiful Sunday”, the variety of musical styles and influences demonstrates the great diversity and artistry of the decade.
The success of these songs has stood the test of time, as they remain widely popular and beloved to this day.
It is clear that the music of the 1970s has had a lasting impact on the music industry, and these twenty songs are an excellent example of the range of quality and creativity that the decade produced.
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