The last year of the 70s decade introduced us to the Nickelodeon cable television network, the Compact Disc, the McDonalds Happy Meal, the Sony Walkman and the Ayatollah Khomeini. 1978 gave us a second Rocky movie, a Muppet Movie, and reunited the original cast of Star Trek for their first motion picture, while in sports, the City of Pittsburgh won both a Super Bowl and a World Series.
In music, American Bandstand featured the debut of the “Y.M.C.A. Dance”, Godfather of Soul James Brown performed at the Grand Ole Opry, and the biggest hit single of the year 1979 was “Heart of Glass” by Blondie.
The love songs of 1979 were eclectic, and admittedly this was the hardest list to compile of all the years of that decade. Surprisingly, this interesting mix of eight great love songs is musically more of an echo of the 1970s than a glimpse into the 1980s, but all are great love songs just the same. Scroll down, press play, and love the love of 1979.
“Stumblin’ In” by Suzi Quatro (and Chris Norman)
The only Top 40 hit for rockin’ Bass player and songstress Suzi Quatro, this one-hit-wonder of a duet reached #4 on the U.S. Billboard chart, and its cutesy back and forth lyrics poke fun at the recklessness of love. Suzi was likely best known in the U.S. as the character Leather Tuscadero from the hit show Happy Days.
“Reunited” by Peaches and Herb
This ballad is almost not a “good love” song, in that it sings of a breakup. Yet, the lyrics of this duet reveal they stayed true (“I can’t go cheating, I can’t play – I found it very hard to stay away””) with both partners rejoicing at being “Reunited” This was a mega-hit in 1979, holding the #1 spot on both the Pop and R&B charts for four weeks, going Platinum as well.
“You Take My Breath Away” by Rex Smith
In the 1970s, Rex Smith was a teen idol with dashing good looks and a cult following, yet “You Take My Breath Away” was his highest chart hit reaching #10 in 1979, with his only other Top 40 appearance in 1981 with a remake of “Everlasting Love”. Regardless, this great love song is a beautiful and sincere love ballad.
“You Can’t Change That” by Raydio
Written by Raydio singer Ray Parker Jr. (Ray-dio), “You Can’t Chance That” is a declaration of love, which suggests that no matter what she changes, they can’t change how strong his feelings of love are. This love song broke the Top 10 in 1979, clocking in at #9 on the Pop chart, and #3 on the R&B.
“I Was Made For Lovin’ You” by KISS
The first single to be released from the otherwise-known-as-a-rock-band KISS was either as rocking as a Disco song could be, or the other way around. Reaching a peak position of #11 on the Billboard charts, the chorus of this tune sings of reciprocal love, with verses repeating “I can’t get enough”. The laser sound effects over the latter part of this love song were probably added to enhance the band’s stage pyrotechnics.
“Heaven Must Have Sent You” by Bonnie Pointer
And the beat goes on… Yet another Disco love song, this 1979 Bonnie Pointer hit was originally recorded by another Motown act – The Elgins – in 1966, missing the Pop Top 40. This Pointer sister’s version reached #11, and the title pretty much sums up the sentiment.
“Bad Case Of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)” by Robert Palmer
Quasi-Disco, this rocker from semi-newcomer Robert Palmer would be his last Top 40 hit until his short-lived comeback in the late 1980s, but in 1979, this tune reached #14 on the Billboard charts, making the comparison of love as an illness, albeit the good kind if there ever were such a thing.
“You Decorated My Life” by Kenny Rogers
A great love song, but a bit of a snoozer, “You Decorated My Life” reached the #1 spot on both the U.S. and Canadian Country charts, but stalled at #7 on the Billboard Pop Top 40. The familiar theme of “I was lost and nowhere until you came along” is always a favorite, and in 1979 – amidst a Disco boom – Kenny Rogers was in all his glory.
Only one of the love songs on this list reached #1, and it’s the song barely made it. It isn’t so much that love was fading, but instead that the 1970s ended with a bit of a musical thud. It wasn’t until I concluded my lists for each year that I realized the last of the decade was the least remarkable, although there are a few gems on the list that give it a bit of redemption.
Each song on this list has been vetted for proper nouns (girls/guys names), or any hint of bad love like breakups, infidelity and/or done-me-wrong themes (with the slight exception of “Reunited”).
Be sure to check out our other love song lists of the 1970s.
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.