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Dredging the '70s for Bottom-10 Faves

POP EYE

August 21, 1988|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

What do you remember about the '70s?

Gerald Ford taking a tumble as he left Air Force One? Wide ties and polyester suits? Patty Hearst joining the SLA? The Big Red Machine? The lobster scene in "Annie Hall?" Carrot cake? Tom Snyder and Werner Erhard? Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swan? Midi-skirts and macrame? Streaking the Oscars? High Times magazine? Billy Beer? John Travolta dancing in a white suit?

Had enough?

OK. But last month we asked our readers to share their memories of the decade's special musical moments. And here are the results--Pop Eye's Worst Songs of the '70s.

Apparently we hit a nerve--ballots arrived from London and Lake Arrowhead, from Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. After plowing through nearly 150 Bottom-10 nominees, we began to feel as if we were a modern-day Rip Van Winkle who'd dozed off in a noisy New Jersy disco during the final chorus of the Village People's "Macho Man" and awakened in the middle of George Bush's Republican Convention acceptance speech.

Judging from the comments accompanying most of our ballots, the '70s are still ripe for ridicule. Many respondents say they still suffer from vivid memories of pain and anguish. One reader, who shall mercifully remain nameless, wrote of Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life": "I had the extreme misfortune of having to hear this performed live at my wedding!"

Some songs provoked acid rejoinders. Richar Byard and Vivi Mata of Los Angeles voted for Barry Manilow's "Copacabana," calling it "Col. Pinochet's favorite torture tool."

James Fuhrman of Los Angeles voted for the Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight," cruelly reminding us: "Does anyone remember that they got the Grammy for 'Most Promising New Artist?' "

R.W. Riley of Lake Arrowhead chose Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy," noting with satisfaction: "Retribution is sweet--he's on 'Hee Haw' now."

Robert Lambert of Los Angeles offered a scholarly history, offering his discovery that many key bad songs had "spawned wretched categories and genres later in pop music. An example would be the pathetic 'Falling in Love' by Hamilton, Joe, Frank and Reynolds laying the precedent (and no doubt inspiring) David Soul's 'Don't Give Up On Us Baby' or 'Key Largo' by Bertie Higgins."

Sean O'Neill of Santa Monica took a conspiratorial view. After rattling off his '70s enemies list, he speculated: "I think they're all waiting in a giant bomb shelter somewhere in Wyoming, polishing their dance steps, listening to Mac Davis and praying for nuclear holocaust, so they can be the superstars of the New World."

In the final voting, there were few surprises--unless you'd call it a surprise that Barry Manilow had two songs in the Bottom 10. Other notable votes:

Artist With Most Songs Receiving at Least Two Votes Each: Helen Reddy.

Family With Most Songs Nominated: The Osmonds.

Artist With Most Duets Nominated: Barbra Streisand.

Year With Most Bottom-10 Winners: 1974.

Local Deejay With Most Songs Nominated: Rick Dees ("Disco Duck")

Movie Theme With Most Votes: "There Has to Be a Morning After (Theme From 'The Poseidon Adventure')."

Now here's the list of the Worst Songs of the '70s as voted by Pop Eye's readers (with our thanks to Barbara Miller for helping compile the results):

1) "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band (1976)

2) "You Light Up My Life" by Debbie Boone (1977)

3) "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods (1974)

4) "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas (1974)

5) "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks (1974)

6) "Feelings" by Morris Albert (1975)

7) "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando & Dawn (1973)

8) "Having My Baby" by Paul Anka (1974)

9) "Candy Man" by Sammy Davis Jr. (1972)

10) (tie) "Half Breed" by Cher (1973)

"Copacabana" by Barry Manilow (1978)

"I Am Woman" by Helen Reddy (1972)

"I Write the Songs" by Barry Manilow (1975)

The Bottom-10 Runners-up: "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes; "Sometimes When We Touch" by Dan Hill; "Muskrat Love" by the Captain and Tennille; "Staying Alive" by the Bee Gees; "Heartbeat, It's a Love Beat" by the DeFranco Family; "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace; "Mandy" by Barry Manilow and "Torn Between Two Lovers" by Mary MacGregor.

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