220px-Queen_Sheer_Heart_Attack#7 – Queen – “Killer Queen” – (1974)

This song by Queen, lyrically, is one of magnificence. Freddie Mercury wrote the lyrics before the music and you can tell that there is definite cohesion among the lyrics and the music was beautifully crafted to fill the gaps. It didn’t make the top 10 in the U.S. (#12) but it stands of one of Queen’s top tracks.

220px-Three_Dog_Night_-_Cyan#8 – Three Dog Night – “Shambala” – (1973)

“Shambala” is one of Three Dog Night’s most fun songs and it came out in 1973 (dammit!). “Shambala” refers to an El Dorado-like mythical place that can be found in Tibetan Buddhism. I guess it’s like Shangri-La. Three Dog Night’s version of this song hit #3 on the Hot 100 (B.W. Stevenson released a version at the exact same time, but it was not as successful).

220px-Light_Of_Worlds1974#9 – Kool & The Gang – “Summer Madness” – (1974)

If you ask me, this is the best Kool & The Gang song. It’s jazzy, funky, and soulful all at the same time – and it sounds like something that could’ve been released in 1983. It’s completely relaxing in a throwback kind of way and that synth is so smooth. This was the highest charting single from this album, peaking at #35.

Rock_Your_Baby#10 – George McRae – “Rock Your Baby” – (1974)

Catchy, catchy disco. This #1 hit was by far the biggest for McRae, even though it was written by K.C. & The Sunshine Band (which you can totally hear it you listen to it). This song was the inspiration for two other giant hits: ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night.” How about that, K.C. & The Sunshine Band influencing John Lennon. 

Give+It+To+The+People+giveittothepeople#11 – The Righteous Brothers – “Rock and Roll Heaven” – (1974)

This song is actually a cover. It was originally done by Climax but the Righteous Brothers took it to #3 in the U.S. The song is about deceased rock stars and how heaven must have “one hell of a band.” They mention Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Jim Croce, Otis Redding, and Bobby Darin. It’s catchy. And interesting. And creepy: “there’s a spotlight waiting no matter who you are…” implying that the grim reaper is sitting in wait so you can sing for him when he gets you.

220px-The_Eagles_-_On_the_Border#12 – Eagles – “Best Of My Love” – (1974)

Here’s a Hot 100 #1 single from the Eagles. It has a very soft country rock sound and is a slow dance classic. It was actually the group’s first #1 single and the biggest hit from On the Border

220px-Barry_White_Cant_Get_Enough#13 – Barry White – “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” – (1974)

Barry White had the most soulful voice in the 1970s. It sort of defines that era of soul and disco. Especially when paired with such a funky beat like this. When you hear this song you can just picture people spinning on roller skates below a disco ball. It was a #1 for White and one of his biggest hits – not to mention it’s pretty much his signature song. The other thing about it is the title, which is very long. A lot of Barry White song titles are this way… sort of a near-sentence. In fact, take any sentence and add “, babe” to the end of it and you’ve just generated a Barry White single!

Holiday_album_cover#14 – America – “Lonely People” – (1974)

Even though the song is called “Lonely People”, which sounds depressing, the song is kind of an upper if you listen to the lyrics. It’s about not giving up. In fact, the song was written as a counter to the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” – which is not a happy song. It peaked at #5 on the Hot 100.

220px-I_Can_Stand_a_Little_Rain#15 – Joe Cocker – “You Are So Beautiful” – (1974)

Co-written by Billy Preston, this song was a big hit for Joe Cocker (even though he didn’t write it). It peaked at #5 on the Hot 100. There’s just something great about a love song sung by someone with such a gruff voice, especially when backed with such a nice, soft piano.

Rags_to_Rufus#16 – Rufus & Chaka Khan – “Tell Me Something Good” – (1974)

This song is funky as hell. It was written by Stevie Wonder and excellently recorded by Chicago-based mixed-race funk band Rufus and released on the somewhat-funnily named Rags to Rufus in 1974. Like Diana Ross and Frankie Valli, Chaka Khan was sometimes credited apart from the band in which she was a member. The single for this song was released as by ‘Rufus and Chaka Khan.’ It reached #3 on the Hot 100.

220px-SweetDesolationBoulevardOriginal#17 – The Sweet – “The Ballroom Blitz” – (1974)

There’s some weirdness around the dates on this song, for sure. First just listen to it and think that this song was popular in 1973 and how much of a punk sound it has – years before punk became huge. The Sweet was from the U.K. and this single was released in late ’73 in Europe and the album came out in ’74. But in the U.S., neither was released until 1975. This was a top five hit in the U.S. and was featured prominently in Wayne’s World and whenever I hear it I do the head bob that Wayne and Garth do during the song.

220px-Wovoka_(album)_cover#18 – Redbone – “Come and Get Your Love” – (1973)

“Come and Get Your Love” was the biggest hit and signature song of Redbone, a band from L.A. whose members were of either Native American or Mexican descent. This song peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 in 1974 (even though the album came out at the end of 1973). My favorite story about this band is that there was a group touring under the name “Redbone” actually booking shows and performing at small venues that wasn’t this band at all. But because no one really knew what they looked like, they were able to get away with it.

220px-The_Tree_Degrees_-_The_Three_Degrees#19 – The Three Degrees – “When Will I See You Again” – (1973)

This song was released as a single in the later second half of 1974 but the album it appeared on came out 1973. The Three Degrees were formed in 1963 in Philadelphia and this was their biggest hit (it hit #1 in ’74). Strangely, they had more success in the U.K. than in the U.S. It’s great, early-70s soul.

Bachman-Turner_Overdrive_-_Not_Fragile#20 – Bachman-Turner Overdrive – “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” – (1974)

Here’s a #1 hit from Canada’s Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Randy Bachman, who wrote the song, said he wrote it for his brother as a joke because his brother had a stutter – and stuttering is a big part of the lyrics here. They recorded the song with only one take of the lyrics and used it to warm up in the studio, never intending to release it. The song got tacked on to Not Fragile and became a huge hit.

download#21 – Carl Douglas – “Kung Fu Fighting” – (1974)

This is classic. One hit wonder Carl Douglas is actually from Jamaica and his song about Kung Fu has appeared in about every movie, commercial, and TV show ever made. It was a #1 hit in the U.S. and all over the world and is a great blend of funk and disco… and Chinese traditional music? Just kidding, but it does have that one little bit of music associated with Chinese music. You know what I’m talking about. My favorite thing about this song is that is from an album ridiculously titled Kung Fu Fighting and Other Love Songs.

Habibi-I_-Need-Your-Love-Shaggy-Mohombi-Faydee-CostiShaggy, Mohombi, Faydee & Costi – “Habibi (I Need Your Love)” – (2014)

What’s this? A U.S. radio hit on our summer countdown? Yes. And by the recently re-appeared Shaggy at that. Of course, to cater to the U.S. market the song is retitled “I Need Your Love” in English-speaking markets as apparently we can’t handle a song titled in Arabic. The song is sung in English, Spanish and Arabic. It has a great international feel and while we’re used to Latin-tinged songs being great for summer, the Middle Eastern flair is a nice touch. The other annoying part about the U.S. version is that it is Shaggy featuring the other artists whereas on the original single (which came out the last week of 2014) they are all credited equally. Anyway, this wraps it up. Hope you’re having a great summer.

51xiYmPqi4L._SS280Serge Devant & Danny Inzerillo feat. Polina – “When You Came Along” – (2012)

Really reaching back for this one – to 2012. It’s weird how quickly electronic music can feel dated. It’s a constantly evolving genre and while this might not sound like something that came out this year, it’s close. And it’s not too terrible either. But it does sound like something that would’ve been playing in every club in Europe in the summer of 2012.

shiftShift K3Y – “Touch” – (2014)

The plan was to move back to the ’70s this week, but the weather is so nice as I write this that I decided to do one more week of summer songs. This electronic tune hit #3 in the U.K. and went unheard in the U.S. Shift K3Y sounds like the name of a musical group, but it’s actually one person (Lewis Jankel) of London.

CommunionYears&YearsYears & Years – “Desire” – (2015)

Okay, so this came out as a single in 2014. But the album was only released a week ago. Years & Years is an electronica trio based in London and their followup hit to this was actually much bigger (check this Songs of Summer list next summer). But this only peaked at #22 in the U.K. (it was unfortunately ignored in the U.S. except for the dance chart). It’s good stuff. 

Shy_FX_Cloud_9Ms. Dynamite & Shy Fx – “Cloud 9” – (2013)

Drums and bass. Meet reggae. What a genre mix. Ms. Dynamite is an English hip-hop artist and Shy Fx is an English DJ specializing in drums and bass. When they come together, you get this uniquely modern take on classic reggae. It’s at the same time extremely relaxing and upbeat. It’s wonderful.

Wicked-Wonderland-by-Martin-TungevaagMartin Tungevaag – “Wicked Wonderland” – (2014)

It might have a slightly-Christmas-y title, but “Wicked Wonderland” is an awesome song with a pulsating beat and rocking sax. The infectious chorus (which sounds like “wicke-wicke-wonderland” without the “D” in wicked pronounced) has caused anti-EDM friends to really latch on to this song. It’s catchy and it was a #1 hit in Austria and a top five hit in a few other European countries.

artworks-000042452901-rgf05w-originalRuss Chimes – “Turn Me Out” – (2013)

Russ Chimes is a London-based DJ and this song was a top 40 hit in the U.K. It’s actually a remix/cover of the 1994 song “Turn Me Out” by Praxis featuring Kathy Brown. It has been remixed and covered successfully into hits by at least two other artists prior to Chimes’ version here. This song has been out for two years and it still pleases today.

cover326x326Sir Sly – “Gold (Betablock3r Remix)” – (2013)

Sir Sly is actually an indie band from L.A. and the original version of this song is much more of a rock song. But the remix replaces the darkish music with a nice, beachy beat. I can’t really compare the original versus this because they’re really two different songs. Apples and oranges. But this one makes me happier.

9163239EDX – “Cool You Off” – (2014)

It’s July and it’s hot (check local listings). What better way to cool down than with “Cool You Off,” a nice deep house track. EDX is the stage name of Maurizio Colella of Zurich. Enjoy.

41MSeWLlCsL._SS280Klingande – “Punga” – (2013)

In keeping with the theme of the week of “Instagram-y cover art,” we have “Punga”  by Klingande (one of the few artists that was on our list last year that returned this year). It’s a longer, deep house track and the saxophone is definitely present. Klingande is the stage name of Cédric Steinmyller, of France. He has made some awesome stuff over the past few years. This was actually a top 25 hit in Belgium.


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