The music scene changed dramatically towards the end of the ‘60s. The “hippy-trippy” sound favored in popular music at the time gave way to many new genres.
Many ‘70s bands used these ’60s recording tricks to create new ballads that blended psychedelic electronic soundscapes with more dance-able grooves.
Pop lyrics also changed during this decade as songwriters sought to appeal to global audiences. Thanks to the musical experimentation in the ‘60s, the ’70s saw an onslaught of complex and nontraditional song structures.
The list below showcases a diverse number of great ’70s love ballads that will get you in the mood for romance. If you’re a fan of ’70s music, you’ll definitely have something to say. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.
Top 10 Best Love Songs of the ‘70s
“When I Need You”—Leo Sayer
“When I Need You” is a popular song written by Albert Hammond and Carole Bayer Sager. Its first appearance was as the title track of Hammond’s 1976 album When I Need You. Leo Sayer’s version, produced by Richard Perry, was a massive hit worldwide, reaching number 1 on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in February 1977 after three of his earlier singles had stalled at number 2.
It also reached number 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 for a single week in May 1977; and the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks. Billboard ranked it as the No. 24 song of 1977. Sayer performed it on the second show of the third season of The Muppet Show.
2. “How Deep Is Your Love”—Bee Gees
The Bee Gees were a music group formed in 1958, featuring brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibbs. The trio were especially successful as a popular music act in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and later as prominent
“How Deep Is Your Love” is a pop ballad written and recorded by the Bee Gees in 1977 and released as a single in September of that year. It was ultimately used as part of the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever. It was a number-three hit in the United Kingdom and Australia.
In the United States, it topped the Billboard Hot 100 on 25 December 1977 (becoming the first of six consecutive US number-one hits), ended the 10-week reign of Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” and stayed in the Top 10 for 17 weeks, being the first song to spend 17+ weeks in the top ten since Chubby Checker’s The Twist.
It was also the longest song to be in the top ten in one run. It would hold the record until “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men. The single spent 19 weeks in the top ten after the introduction of Nielsen Soundscan in 1991 allowed singles to achieve longer runs on the charts.
It spent six weeks atop the US adult contemporary chart. It is listed at No. 22 on Billboard‘s All Time Top 100.Alongside “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever”, it is one of the group’s three tracks on the list. The song was covered by Take That for their 1996 Greatest Hits album, reaching No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks.
“If” is a song written by American singer-songwriter David Gates in 1971. Originally popularized by his group Bread, the song charted at number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 when released as a single in 1971 and number six in Canada. The song also spent three weeks at number one on the U.S. Easy Listening chart,and one week at the top of the Canadian AC chart.
In the U.S., Bread’s version was the shortest song title to become a top ten hit until 1993, when Prince hit No. 7 with “7”, only later matched by Britney Spears’ No. 1 hit “3” in 2009.
“If” has been a perennial favorite at weddings (for example, as a first-dance song) ever since it was released.
4. “Love Hurts”—Nazareth
“Love Hurts” is a song written and composed by the American songwriter Boudleaux Bryant. First recorded by the Everly Brothers in July 1960, the song is also well known from a 1975 international hit version by the Scottish hard rock band Nazareth and in the UK a top five hit in 1975 by the English singer Jim Capaldi.
The song was introduced in December 1960 as an album track on A Date with The Everly Brothers, but was never released as a single (A-side or B-side) by the Everlys. The first hit version of the song was by Roy Orbison, who earned Australian radio play, hitting the Top Five of that country’s singles charts in 1961. A recording by Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons was included on Parsons’ posthumously released Grievous Angel album. After Parsons’ 1973 death, Harris made the song a staple of her repertoire, and has included it in her concert set lists from the 1970s to the present. Harris has since re-recorded the song twice. Jennifer Warnes released a version on her self-titled album in 1976.
5. “Just When I Needed You Most”—Randy VanWarmer
“Just When I Needed You Most” is the title of a 1979 hit single by the American singer-songwriter Randy VanWarmer
VanWarmer was inspired to write “Just When I Needed You Most” by two events: his old car, that he loved and used for years, broke down on his way to work in Denver, Colorado, and he experienced a “devastating” breakup with a girlfriend. He wrote the song six months after that breakup, co-writing it with Tony Wilson of the group Hot Chocolate two years before it became a hit.
After recording “Just When I Needed You Most” for an album recorded for the UK division of Bearsville Records, VanWarmer then flew to the US to pressure Bearsville’s head office to promote the album which was duly remixed and released with “Just When I Needed You Most” as lead single although VanWarmer would recall that Bearsville evinced little enthusiasm for the track: “Nobody thought my version was an especially good version of the song [which] a few other people were thinking of cutting…
Everybody just assumed mine was a demo for people to listen to who’d [then] cut the definitive version”. It has also been asserted that “Your Light” the flip was the original intended A-side of VanWarmer’s single.
6.“Love Will Keep Us Together”—Captain & Tennille
“Love Will Keep Us Together” is a song written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. It was first recorded by Sedaka in 1973. American pop duo Captain & Tennille covered the song in 1975, with instrumental backing almost entirely by “Captain” Daryl Dragon, with the exception of drums played by Hal Blaine; their version became a worldwide hit
7. “I Need You”—America
I Need You,” released in 1972, is the second single by the band America from their eponymous debut album America. The song was written by Gerry Beckley.
It appears on the live albums Live (1977), In Concert (1985), In Concert (King Biscuit), Horse With No Name – Live! (1995), and The Grand Cayman Concert (2002). The studio version is included on the compilation albums Highway (2000) and The Complete Greatest Hits (2001).
George Martin remixed the studio recording for inclusion on History: America’s Greatest Hits (1975) with the pitch brought down a quarter tone and the bass guitar brought up further in volume from the original release. An alternate mix from 1971 (otherwise based on the George Martin mix) appears on the 2015 release Archives,
8.“The Things That We Do for Love”—10cc
“The Things We Do for Love” is a song by British band 10cc, released as a single in 1976. It later featured on the album Deceptive Bends released in 1977 and was the group’s first release after the departure of band members Godley and Creme.
The song was a hit in various countries worldwide, reaching No. 1 in Canada, as well as peaking at No. 6 in the UK, No. 5 in Australia, No. 13 in the Netherlands, No. 2 in Ireland and No. 5 in the US, where it reached gold status and became the band’s best-selling single.
9. “Best of My Love”—The Emotions
“Best of My Love” is a song by American band The Emotions from their fourth studio album Rejoice (1977). It was composed by Maurice White and Al McKay of Earth, Wind & Fire, and produced by White and Clarence McDonald.
Released as the album’s lead single on June 9, 1977, the song topped both the US Billboard Hot 100 and US Billboard R&B charts. It also reached the Top 5 in the UK and Canada, the Top 10 in New Zealand, and the Top 20 in Australia.
“Best of My Love” won a Grammy at the 20th Annual Grammy Awards (1977) for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals; it also won an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Single.
10.“Killing Me Softly With His Song”—Roberta Flack
“Killing Me Softly with His Song” is a song composed by Charles Fox with lyrics by Norman Gimbel. The lyrics were written in collaboration with Lori Lieberman after she was inspired by a Don McLean performance in late 1971. Lieberman released her version of the song in 1972, but it did not chart.
In 1973 it became a number-one hit in the United States and Canada for Roberta Flack, also reaching number six in the UK Singles Chart. The song has been covered by many artists; the version by Flack won the 1974.
Grammy for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and the version by Fugees won the 1997 Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
After decades of confirming Lieberman’s contribution, Fox and Gimbel changed their story about the song’s origins to downplay her role.
Gimbel threatened McLean with a lawsuit in 2008, demanding he remove from his website an assertion that McLean was the inspiration for “Killing Me Softly,” but McLean responded by showing Gimbel his own words confirming the inspiration, published in 1973.