(Pictured: Kiki Dee and Elton John sing “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” 1977.)
The radio station I work for has recently stopped running both the 70s and 80s American Top 40 countdowns. I’d like to know what’s happening to the affiliate numbers across the country. With more and more AC and classic-hits stations dropping 70s music altogether, the 70s repeats can’t have much shelf-life remaining. Except around here. In an earlier installment, we started listening to the show from the week of July 17, 1976.
Jingle: “Now on with the countdown!”
25. “You Should Be Dancing”/Bee Gees
23. “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”/Elton John and Kiki Dee
22. “Let ‘Em In”/Paul McCartney and Wings
These are all debuts on the show, coming in so high that Casey teased their coming arrival at the end of the first hour. “You Should Be Dancing” was up from #51, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” from #46, and “Let ‘Em In” from #43. All were in their third week on the Hot 100. With “Let ‘Em In,” Casey says that Paul McCartney is the second performer to sing on three hits in the same Top 40 since Paul did it with the Beatles in 1964. You could guess all day without identifying the other performer, so I’ll save the answer for the end of this post.
14. “If You Know What I Mean”/Neil Diamond. “From another time / From another place / Do you remember it babe” HELL YEAH MAN SING IT
10. “Rock and Roll Music”/Beach Boys. I don’t mind the Beach Boys’ version of this when it pops up in isolation. On this show, Casey plays it as an edited medley with the versions by Chuck Berry and the Beatles, and it suffers a lot in comparison.
9. “Silly Love Songs”/Paul McCartney and Wings
8. “Got to Get You Into My Life”/Beatles
Casey notes another chart milestone for Paul McCartney: the first time that the same person has sung lead for two different groups in the same Top 40. I suspect this has probably happened on other occasions since 1976, especially given the proliferation of featured artist credits in the last two decades, but I don’t know.
A listener asks which male and female artist have the most double-sided hits. The male answer, Casey says, is obvious: Elvis, with 57. The leader among female artists is Brenda Lee, with 19.
3. “I’ll Be Good to You”/Brothers Johnson. The seventh and last duo in the countdown (along with the Captain and Tennille, Seals and Crofts, Hall and Oates, Elton and Kiki, the Carpenters, and England Dan and John Ford Coley). Casey notes that the Brothers Johnson album Look Out for Number One was certified gold seven weeks after its release, that one of the songs has been chosen as the new theme for NBC’s show Tomorrow, and two others are featured in an upcoming movie. I suspect I had bought my copy by July 1976, or shortly thereafter. “I’ll Be Good to You” was my favorite song of the moment—but the rest of the album didn’t do much for me.
Before we get to the #1 song of the week, here’s the trivia answer: the only artist besides Paul McCartney to sing lead on three hits in the same Top 40 between 1964 and 1976 is Melanie. “Brand New Key,” “Ring the Living Bell,” and “The Nickel Song” were all in the Top 40 during the week of February 26, 1972.
Jingle: “Billboard‘s number one!”
1. “Afternoon Delight”/Starland Vocal Band. I have, in the past, referred to songs from the summer of 1976 as icons in the religious sense—they have objective characteristics we can describe in real-world terms, but their true meaning is in what they represent. Among the objective characteristics of “Afternoon Delight” is that it is a ripe slab of 70s cheese. That is a real thing I cannot help but acknowledge. But what “Afternoon Delight” represents transcends that. Everything the summer of 1976 meant to me, the stuff I can remember and the stuff I can no longer recall, what it really felt like at the time and the feelings I have grafted on in the 44 summers since, it’s all encoded in those three minutes and 12 seconds. And if, in those three minutes and 12 seconds, I can live in my favorite summer again, who’s going to tell me I shouldn’t?