The 1976th year of the Common Era was the Bicentennial of the creation of the United States of America as an independent republic, marking 200 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the same city in 1976, the Philadelphia Flyers ice hockey team defeated the Soviet “Red Army” team in a famous exhibition game 4-1.
That same year, a man by the name of Steve Jobs formed the Apple Computer Company, gambling was legalized in Atlantic City, New Jersey and the space shuttle Enterprise was first rolled out of its hangar for the world to see.
In music, The Beatles declined an offer of $30 million to reunite for one concert, while groups like The Band, Deep Purple, Three Dog Night and Ike & Tina Turner would disband. In the same year, newly formed music groups of 1976 like The B-52’s, U2, The Clash, Ratt, Foreigner and The Cure would ready themselves to take the stage as the decade marched inevitably toward the 80s.
The following ten tunes are some of the purest love songs to populate the Top 40 charts in 1976, with eleven of them achieving Top 10 status. Scroll down, press play, and fill your ears with the love of 1976.
“You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate
Initially, the British Group Hot Chocolate didn’t believe this tune was hit material and released it as a B-side. Later in 1975 it was re-released and rocketed to #3 on the Pop charts. This fun and distinctively sounding 70s love song with its blend of Pop and funk has been used in dozens of movies, television shows and advertisements and although the title may me somewhat misleading, the lyrics reveal an undeniably loving sentiment.
“Love Machine (Part 1)” by The Miracles
Released in late 1975, “Love Machine” rocketed to #1 in early 1976, and although it only remained there for one week, it became the Miracles biggest selling single of all time remarkably after Smokey Robinson had left the group. Using a machine metaphor, it’s fun lyrics and Disco beat make playful comparisons like “when I think of you I blow a fuse” and “to turn me on just set my dial” with the repeating chorus proclaiming “my body won’t work for nobody but you”.
“Love To Love You Baby” by Donna Summer
If there were ever Disco royalty, the Queen would certainly be the talented and beautiful Donna Summer. “Love To Love You Baby” is part Disco and part sexy-time with Donna’s sultry moans and breathy seductive lyrics throughout the song. It’s a baby-making love song for sure, and an impressive Top 40 debut for Donna Summer, released in late 1975 and peaking in 1976 at #2 on the Pop charts and #3 on the R&B
“Let Your Love Flow” by The Bellamy Brothers
The Pop Top 40 charts of the 1970s certainly had their share of Country music flavor, and this 1976 love song by the Country duo The Bellamy Brothers is no exception. “Let Your Love Flow” is a catchy foot-stomping tune, and its chorus encourages us to embrace all that is amazing about love. It’s no surprise that this upbeat Country/Rock love song climbed its way to the top of the charts reaching #1 on the Billboard Pop charts.
“Silly Love Songs” by Paul McCartney & Wings
Somewhere between being a Beatle and becoming a Knight, Paul McCartney wrote this silly love song. Legend has it that this is actually a response song to former Beatles band mate John Lennon, who teased McCartney publicly for writing lightweight songs. This #1 Billboard hit is much more than a love song, but a song about love songs, repeating the verse “I love you” (by both Paul and Linda McCartney) over and over interspersed with pure love praises. What’s wrong with that? No Paul, we’ve not had enough of silly love songs at all.
“Love Hangover” by Diana Ross
Former Supreme Diana Ross was keeping up with the times releasing this steamy Disco hit in 1976, which speaks of love as a malade that she just doesn’t want a cure for. “Love Hangover” begins slowly and sultry, but after a minute breaks into an up-tempo Disco beat. “Love Hangover” achieved the #1 spot on both the Pop and R&B charts in 1976.
“Love Is Alive” by Gary Wright
Gary Wright is likely better remembered by his #2 hit “Dream Weaver”, released in 1975 and reached #2 in 1976 on the album of the same name, but “Love Is Alive” – which also charted at #2 – is the true love song, albeit musically it’s a bit edgy. “Love Is Alive” may have been a hit in 1976, but was unquestionably a glimpse into an 80s sound just around the corner.
“Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton
Peter Frampton’s double live album Frampton Comes Alive! was the best selling album of 1976, with “Baby I Love Your Way” being the lowest charting of all the singles released from that album, coming is at #12 on the Billboard charts. Frampton’s first hit off that album, “Show Me The Way” which charted at #6 almost made this list, but a few verses seemed suspect so in the end it was cut from the final draft. “Baby I Love Your Way” was clearly the love song of the three.
“Still The One” by Orleans
This tune is all 70s, and unsurprisingly was a #5 Billboard hit in 1976. It’s one of the hardest rocking Soft Rock tunes of the era, and its entire theme is pretty much summed up in the line “I want you to know after all these years, you’re still the one I want whispering in my ear”. It speaks of mature, tried and true love and less to new love, but good love all the same. In 1977 and 1978 it was used as the ABC television jingle… It was just that 70s.
“You Are The Woman” by Firefall
Seventies Soft Rock with flute… hard to get cheesier than that, yet it was 1976 cheesy was in vogue and this love song rose to the #9 spot on Billboard’s Pop Top charts. As cheese ball as it may have been, the lyrics are actually quite endearing, making this tune a shoe-in for the list. “You Are The Woman” was Firefall’s Top 40 debut, and they would return again in 1977 with yet another lyrically endearing yet musically cheesy love song, full of 1970s je ne sais quoi.
So there you have it; ten great love songs of 1976 in the order of their appearance on the Top 40 charts of that year. Each song has been vetted and listened to (again and again) with the lyrics read and scrutinized to weed out any troubled love like breakups, infidelity, done-me-wrong or lost love lyrics, leaving only happy fuzzy snugly 1976 love songs.
Love the love…
Sources: The Billboard Book of Top 40 [Pop] Hits and The Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B Hits by Joel Whitburn and Billboard’s Hottest Hot 100 Hits by Fred Bronson.