The 30 best songs of 1977

26 October 2023, 13:45 | Updated: 18 January 2024, 10:43

The best songs of 1977, ranked
The best songs of 1977, ranked. Picture: Getty/Bee Gees

By Tom Eames

The year 1977 was a remarkable one for music, as it witnessed the emergence of new genres, styles, and stars.

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From disco to punk, from rock to pop, from soul to country, the musical landscape was diverse and vibrant.

Some of the songs that defined this year are still considered classics today, while others have faded into obscurity.

Whether you are a fan of Fleetwood Mac, Donna Summer, ABBA, or Queen, you will find something to enjoy in this nostalgic journey through the best songs of 1977.

  1. The Trammps - 'Disco Inferno'

    The Trammps - Disco Inferno (Original Long Version - Tony Mendes Video Re Edit)

    'Disco Inferno' is a classic disco song that was released in 1976 by the American band the Trammps. The song is famous for its catchy chorus of "burn, baby, burn" and its energetic groove that makes people want to dance.

    The song was inspired by a scene in the movie The Towering Inferno, where a fire breaks out in a skyscraper. The song also reflects the social and cultural changes of the 1970s, when disco music became a symbol of liberation, diversity, and hedonism.

    The song was a hit on the disco charts, but it gained more popularity when it was featured on the soundtrack of the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta. The film was a huge success and helped to popularize disco culture around the world.

  2. Glen Campbell - 'Southern Nights'

    Glen Campbell - Southern Nights (Live)

    'Southern Nights' is a classic country pop song that was originally written and performed by Allen Toussaint in 1975. The song was inspired by Toussaint's childhood memories of visiting relatives in the Louisiana backwoods, where he enjoyed the storytelling and the starry nights.

    In 1977, Glen Campbell recorded a cover version of 'Southern Nights' with slightly modified lyrics that suited his own upbringing in Arkansas. Campbell added a distinctive guitar lick that he learned from his friend Jerry Reed, giving the song a more upbeat and catchy feel.

    Campbell's version was a huge hit, reaching No. 1 on three separate US charts: the Billboard Hot 100, the Hot Country Songs, and the Adult Contemporary. It became one of Campbell's most popular and enduring songs, as well as one of the most recognizable songs of the country-pop genre.

  3. Wings - 'Mull of Kintyre'

    Wings - Mull Of Kintyre

    ‘Mull of Kintyre’ is a song that celebrates the beauty and nostalgia of the Scottish countryside, especially the Kintyre peninsula and its headland, the Mull of Kintyre. The song was written by Paul McCartney and Denny Laine.

    McCartney had owned a farm in the area since 1966 and often visited it with his family and friends. He was inspired by the misty scenery, the peaceful atmosphere, and the local culture of the region. He wanted to express his love and longing for the place in a song that would appeal to a wide audience.

    The song was released as a double A-side single with ‘Girls’ School’ in November 1977. It became a huge hit in the UK, where it sold over two million copies and stayed at number one for nine weeks. It was that year's Christmas number one, and was the UK's best-selling single until Band Aid.

  4. Hot Chocolate - 'So You Win Again'

    HOT CHOCOLATE - So You Win Again (1977)

    This disco ballad was written by Russ Ballard and produced by Mickie Most. It is Hot Chocolate's only UK number one single, and one of their most popular songs worldwide.

    The song is about a broken-hearted lover who admits his mistake and realizes that he has lost his partner to someone else. The song expresses the pain and frustration of being in a one-sided relationship, where the other person always wins and takes advantage of the situation.

    Thanks to Errol Brown’s soulful vocals and Harvey Hinsley’s guitar solo, it became a classic of the disco era, and a signature song for Hot Chocolate.

  5. Billy Ocean - 'Red Light Spells Danger'

    Billy Ocean - Red Light Spells Danger (Official Lyric Video)

    ‘Red Light Spells Danger’ by Billy Ocean is a catchy disco song that sees Billy Ocean sing about being in love with someone who is bad for him. He knows that he is in trouble, but he can’t resist the attraction and the passion.

    The song was released in 1977 as the second single from his second studio album, Billy Ocean. The song was a hit in the UK, where it reached number two, and was considered one of the best disco rock songs of the era.

  6. Santana - 'She's Not There'

    Santana - She's Not There (Audio)

    'She’s Not There' was released in 1977 as part of Santana's album Moonflower. It is a cover version of the original song by the Zombies, written by Rod Argent in 1964. The song is about a man who is betrayed by a woman who lied to him and left him.

    Santana’s version of the song has a distinctive Latin rock sound, featuring Carlos Santana’s electric guitar solos and keyboard riffs. The song also showcases the passionate vocals of Greg Walker.

  7. Status Quo - 'Rockin' All Over the World'

    Status Quo - Rockin All Over The World

    'Rockin’ All Over the World' was released in 1977 as the lead single and title track of Status Quo's 10th studio album. The song was written by John Fogerty, the former lead singer and guitarist of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and originally recorded by him for his second solo album in 1975.

    Status Quo’s version of the song is more upbeat and energetic than Fogerty’s, featuring a prominent boogie rock rhythm and a catchy chorus that became one of Status Quo’s most successful and popular songs.

    The song also gained worldwide recognition when Status Quo opened the Live Aid concert in 1985 with it, making it an unofficial anthem for the event.

  8. Billy Joel - 'Just the Way You Are'

    Billy Joel - Just The Way You Are (from Old Grey Whistle Test)

    ‘Just the Way You Are’ by Billy Joel is a classic love song that expresses the singer’s unconditional admiration for his partner. He tells her that he loves her just the way she is, and that he does not want her to change anything about herself.

    He praises her honesty, intelligence, kindness, and beauty, and assures her that he will always be faithful and loyal to her.

    The song was released in 1977 as the third single from Joel’s fifth studio album, The Stranger. It won two Grammy Awards in 1979 for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. It is one of Joel’s most popular and enduring songs, and has been covered by many artists, such as Barry White, Diana Krall, and Harry Connick Jr.

  9. Stevie Wonder - 'Sir Duke'

    Sir Duke

    'Sir Duke' celebrates the legacy of jazz music and its pioneers. The song was released in 1977 as a single from Stevie Wonder's album Songs in the Key of Life, which was one of the most acclaimed albums of his career.

    The song pays tribute to Duke Ellington, a jazz composer, bandleader, and pianist who had influenced Wonder as a musician. The song also mentions other jazz legends such as Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald.

  10. Sex Pistols - 'God Save the Queen'

    Sex Pistols - God Save The Queen

    ‘God Save the Queen’ is one of the most iconic and controversial songs in the history of punk rock. It was released in 1977, during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, as a protest against the monarchy and the state of the nation.

    The song challenges the traditional national anthem, which praises the Queen and her role as the head of state, by portraying her as a symbol of a ‘fascist regime’ that oppresses and deceives the people. The song also expresses the disillusionment and anger of the youth, who feel that they have ‘no future’ and that their dreams are crushed by the system.

    The song was banned by the BBC and other media outlets, but it still reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart, and some claim that it was actually No. 1 but was rigged to prevent it from reaching the top spot.

    The song also sparked a lot of controversy and backlash from the public, especially from royalists and conservatives, who saw it as an insult and a threat to the Queen and the country. The song has since become a classic and an anthem for rebellious and anti-establishment movements, as well as a source of inspiration and influence for many other artists and genres.

  11. Foreigner - 'Cold as Ice'

    Foreigner - Cold As Ice (Official Music Video)

    ‘Cold as Ice’ was written by Lou Gramm and Mick Jones, the lead singer and guitarist of Foreigner, respectively. The song is about a man who feels betrayed and hurt by a woman who is cold-hearted and selfish.

    The song has a catchy melody and a powerful chorus, with Gramm’s vocals expressing his anger and pain. The song also features a synth-rock sound, with keyboards and synthesizers creating a haunting and chilling effect. The song was released as the second single from Foreigner’s debut album, also titled Foreigner, in 1977.

  12. Talking Heads - 'Psycho Killer'

    Talking Heads - Psycho Killer (Original Version - Tony Mendes Video Re Edit)

    'Psycho Killer' by Talking Heads is a dark and catchy song that explores the mind of a serial killer. The song was written by David Byrne, Chris Frantz, and Tina Weymouth, and released in 1977 as the first single from their debut album Talking Heads: 77.

    The song was inspired by the character Norman Bates from the movie Psycho, and by Alice Cooper's style of shock rock. The song features a distinctive bassline, a funky guitar solo, and a chorus that mixes English and French lyrics.

  13. Bob Marley - 'Jamming'

    Bob Marley & The Wailers - Jamming (Official Music Video)

    ‘Jamming’ is a song by the legendary reggae band Bob Marley and the Wailers, released in 1977 as part of their album Exodus.

    The song celebrates the joy of making music together, as well as the spiritual and political message of Rastafari. The word ‘jamming’ refers to a gathering or celebration in Jamaican patois, and also to the improvisational style of playing music.

    The song has a catchy and upbeat melody, and the lyrics express the hope for peace and unity among people, as well as the resistance to oppression and violence.

  14. Peter Gabriel - 'Solsbury Hill'

    Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill

    ‘Solsbury Hill’ is a song that expresses the personal and artistic transformation of Peter Gabriel, who left the progressive rock band Genesis in 1975 to pursue a solo career.

    The song is based on a real experience that Gabriel had on Solsbury Hill, a hill near Bath, England, where he felt a spiritual awakening and a sense of freedom.

    The lyrics of the song are poetic and metaphorical, using imagery of nature, light, and flight to convey Gabriel’s emotions and insights. The song is widely regarded as one of Gabriel’s best and most influential works, as well as a classic example of pop rock and folk pop genres.

  15. Ram Jam - 'Black Betty'

    Ram Jam - Black Betty

    'Black Betty' is a rock version of a traditional African-American work song that dates back to the 19th century. The song was first recorded by the folk singer Lead Belly in 19391, who claimed to have learned it from his uncle.

    The song is about a woman named Black Betty, who has various interpretations as a bottle of whiskey, a whip, or a prison wagon.

    Ram Jam, a short-lived band from New York, released their version of the song in 1977, which became their only hit. The song features a catchy guitar riff, a driving drum beat, and a chorus of “Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-Lam)”.

  16. David Bowie - 'Sound and Vision'

    Sound and Vision (2017 Remaster)

    ‘Sound and Vision’ is a song that combines elements of rock, pop, and electronic music. It was released in 1977 as the first single from David Bowie's album Low, which was part of his Berlin Trilogy, a series of albums that he recorded in West Berlin with producer Tony Visconti and musician Brian Eno.

    The song was inspired by Bowie’s desire to escape from the pressures of fame and drugs, and to reinvent himself as an artist. The song features a minimalist arrangement, with a simple chord progression, synthesizers, saxophone, and guitar.

    The song also has an unusual structure, starting as an instrumental and introducing Bowie’s vocals after a minute and a half. The lyrics are sparse and ambiguous, reflecting Bowie’s isolation and detachment from reality.

  17. Iggy Pop - 'Lust for Life'

    Iggy Pop - Lust For Life

    'Lust for Life' by Iggy Pop is a rock anthem that celebrates the thrill of living on the edge. The song was co-written by Iggy Pop and David Bowie in 1977, inspired by the Armed Forces Network call signal and the novel The Ticket That Exploded by William S Burroughs.

    The song features a catchy drumbeat, a piano riff, and a guitar solo, as well as Iggy Pop's energetic vocals. The lyrics describe the adventures of Johnny Yen, a character who represents the lust for life in all its forms, including drugs, sex, and violence.

    The song was a hit in the Netherlands, where Pop performed it on a TV show and caused some controversy by destroying the stage set. The song was also used in the 1996 film Trainspotting, which boosted its popularity and led to a reissue as a single.

  18. Fleetwood Mac - 'The Chain'

    Fleetwood Mac - The Chain (Official Audio)

    'The Chain' reflects the turbulent and complex relationships within Fleetwood Mac, as well as their determination to stay together despite the personal and professional challenges they faced.

    The song is the only one on the album Rumours that credits all five members as songwriters, and it was created from a combination of several rejected materials and solo projects.

    The song has two distinct parts: the main verse and chorus, which feature a folk-rock style and lyrics that express the pain and resentment of a broken love, and the outro, which showcases a hard-rock bass riff and a powerful vocal harmony that declares the band’s unbreakable bond.

  19. Bee Gees - 'How Deep is Your Love'

    Bee Gees - How Deep Is Your Love (Official Video)

    ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ is a soft rock ballad that expresses the devotion and loyalty of a lover who wants to know how deep the other person’s love is. The song was written by Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, and was released in 1977 as the lead single from the soundtrack of the film Saturday Night Fever.

    The song was a huge success, reaching number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and staying there for three weeks. The song was praised by critics for its smooth melody and harmonies, and was nominated for several awards, including the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

    The song has been covered by many artists, such as Take That, who had a number one hit with their version in 1996.

  20. Commodores - 'Easy'

    Commodores - Easy (Live)

    ‘Easy’ is a classic soul ballad that expresses the feelings of a man who has decided to end a relationship that was making him unhappy. He is not sad or bitter, but rather relieved and relaxed, as he compares his state of mind to being “easy like Sunday morning”.

    The song was written by Lionel Richie, the lead singer of the band, who wanted to create a crossover hit that would appeal to both the soul and pop audiences.

    The song was released in 1977 as the lead single from their fifth studio album, Commodores, and became one of their most successful songs, reaching number four on the Billboard Hot 100.

  21. Queen - 'We Are the Champions'

    Queen - We Are The Champions (Live)

    ‘We Are the Champions’ is a rock anthem written by Freddie Mercury. The song is famous for its triumphant and uplifting chorus, which expresses the pride and joy of being victorious.

    The song was inspired by the band’s experience of performing live and interacting with their fans, who often sang along with them. Mercury said that the ‘we’ in the song’s title refers to everyone who is singing it.

    It is a song that celebrates the power and spirit of rock music, and the bond between the band and their fans.

  22. Fleetwood Mac - 'Don't Stop'

    Fleetwood Mac - Don't Stop (Official Music Video) [4K Remaster]

    ‘Don’t Stop’ is a classic rock song that expresses optimism and hope for the future. It was written by Christine McVie, the keyboardist and vocalist of Fleetwood Mac.

    The song was inspired by McVie’s separation from her husband and bandmate, John McVie, and her new relationship with another musician, Dennis Wilson. McVie wanted to convey a message of moving on from the past and looking forward to better days.

    The song was released as the third single from the band’s 1977 album, Rumours. It features the vocals of Lindsey Buckingham and McVie, as well as the distinctive guitar riff and piano chords that make the song catchy and upbeat.

  23. ABBA - 'Knowing Me Knowing You'

    ABBA - Knowing Me, Knowing You (Official Music Video)

    This pop anthem was released in 1977 as the third single from ABBA's fourth album Arrival. The song was written by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Stig Anderson, and sung by Anni-Frid Lyngstad, with backup vocals from Agnetha Fältskog.

    The song deals with the theme of breaking up a relationship, and the pain and regret that comes with it. The song was a huge success for ABBA, reaching number one in several countries, including the UK.

    It was accompanied by a music video, which was innovative for its time, as it used a split-screen technique to show the contrast between the happy memories and the sad present of the characters.

  24. Donna Summer - 'I Feel Love'

    Donna Summer - I Feel Love (Live)

    'I Feel Love' is a song that revolutionized the disco genre and influenced the development of electronic dance music. It was released in 1977 as part of the album I Remember Yesterday, which had each track evoke a different musical decade.

    For 'I Feel Love', the producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte wanted to create a futuristic sound, using a Moog synthesizer to create a pulsating bass line and a hypnotic melody. Donna Summer’s vocals were layered and processed with effects, creating a contrast between the robotic and the human elements.

    The song was a huge hit, reaching number one in several countries and becoming a disco anthem. It also inspired many artists, such as David Bowie, Brian Eno, Kylie Minogue, and the Human League, to experiment with synthesizers and electronic music.

  25. Queen - 'We Will Rock You'

    Queen - We Will Rock You (Official Video)

    ‘We Will Rock You’ is a rock anthem written by Brian May. It was released in 1977 as part of Queen's album News of the World, and as a double A-side single with ‘We Are the Champions’.

    The song is famous for its simple and catchy rhythm, which consists of stomping and clapping, followed by a powerful chorus. The song was inspired by an event that happened during Queen’s A Day at the Races Tour, when the audience sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to the band after their encore. May wanted to write a song that would encourage the fans to participate and create a sense of unity.

    ‘We Will Rock You’ has become one of the most popular and recognizable songs in the history of rock music. It has also become a staple stadium anthem at sports events, especially football matches, where it is often played to motivate and energize the crowd.

  26. Fleetwood Mac - 'Go Your Own Way'

    Fleetwood Mac - Go Your Own Way (Official Music Video) [HD Remaster]

    ‘Go Your Own Way’ is one of the most famous songs by Fleetwood Mac, released in 1977 as the first single from Rumours. The song was written and sung by Lindsey Buckingham, as a message to his former lover and bandmate, Stevie Nicks.

    The song expresses his frustration and resentment towards her, accusing her of cheating on him and wanting to end their relationship. He tells her that he is better off without her and that she can go her own way as far as he is concerned.

    The song is a classic example of the soft rock genre, featuring a catchy chorus, a guitar solo, and a driving rhythm.

  27. Bee Gees - 'Stayin' Alive'

    Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive (Official Music Video)

    ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees is one of the most iconic songs of the disco era. It was released in 1977 as part of the soundtrack for the movie Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta as a young man who escapes his troubles by dancing at a nightclub.

    The song has a catchy rhythm, a funky bass line, and a distinctive falsetto vocal by Barry Gibb. The lyrics reflect the struggles and aspirations of the urban youth in the late 1970s, who faced unemployment, violence, and drugs.

    The song also has a medical significance, as it has been used to teach CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) because its tempo matches the ideal rate of chest compressions.

    The song was a huge commercial success, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for four weeks in 1978.

  28. Fleetwood Mac - 'Dreams'

    Fleetwood Mac - Dreams (Official Music Video) [4K Remaster]

    'Dreams' - also from Rumours - was written by Stevie Nicks, and reflects her feelings about the end of her relationship with Lindsey Buckingham.

    The song is a soft rock ballad with a simple melody and lyrics that express the contrast between the dreams and reality of love. The song was a huge success, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and becoming the band’s only chart-topper in that country.

    'Dreams' is considered one of the greatest songs of all time and a classic example of Fleetwood Mac’s distinctive sound and style.

  29. David Bowie - 'Heroes'

    David Bowie - Heroes (Official Video)

    ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie is a powerful and poignant anthem of love and defiance in the face of oppression and division.

    The song was inspired by Bowie’s experience of living in West Berlin during the Cold War, and witnessing a kiss between his producer Tony Visconti and singer Antonia Maass next to the Berlin Wall.

    The song tells the story of two lovers, one from East and one from West Berlin, who dream of being free and escaping their bleak reality. They imagine themselves as heroes, even if only for one day, and find solace in each other’s arms.

    The song’s title is in quotation marks to express irony and ambiguity, as the protagonists are not really heroes, but ordinary people trying to survive and love in a hostile environment.

    The song also features innovative musical techniques, such as the use of synthesizers by Brian Eno and the guitar feedback by Robert Fripp, creating a rich and atmospheric sound that matches the emotional intensity of the lyrics.

  30. Eagles - 'Hotel California'

    Eagles - Hotel California (Live 1977) (Official Video) [HD]

    ‘Hotel California’ is a rock masterpiece that has captivated millions of listeners with its mysterious and intriguing lyrics and guitar solos.

    The song was released in 1977 as the title track of the Eagles' fifth studio album, Hotel California. The song was written by Don Felder, Don Henley, and Glenn Frey, who wanted to create a song that reflected the dark side of the American dream and the excesses of the music industry in Los Angeles.

    The song tells the story of a weary traveller who checks into a luxurious hotel, only to find out that he can never leave. The hotel is a metaphor for the hedonistic lifestyle that traps many people in a cycle of addiction and despair. The song also features references to Satanism, drug use, and violence, which have sparked many theories and interpretations over the years.

    The song is widely regarded as one of the greatest songs of all time, and has been covered by many artists. The song also showcases the musical talents of the band, especially the iconic guitar solo by Felder and Joe Walsh, which was voted the best guitar solo of all time by leaders of Guitarist magazine.