Lush postwar pop had already started to pass out of vogue by the time the '70s started, but it lingered on in old-fashioned haunts such as movie soundtracks, TV themes, classical and traditional folk music. At the same time, jazz fusion and mainstream funk were getting lighter and airier, becoming the perfect metaphorical soundtrack for aging boomers who found that rock has just gotten too wild.
The last great spate of pop instrumentals nevertheless produced some amazing hits—it's just that vocalists were being groomed for newer and bigger things. Here are ten of the decade's best pop instrumentals. The song that more or less invented the musical montage, "Gonna Fly Now" also blurred the line, once and for all, between the pop movie soundtrack and the very specific jazz-based brand of "action funk" that had defined the '70s.
Featuring a male-female duo of vocalists on only a few crucial, almost haiku-like lines "Trying hard now! Getting strong now!
It's still more or less Philadelphia's unofficial theme song, thanks to Sly's low-budget cinematic triumph. For many years, anyone hearing the opening strains of this sad Neopolitan-flavored ballad got the impression that someone was about to attempt a Marlon Brando parody, or at least make a sly nod to the Mafia itself.
The vocal version called "Speak Softly Love" was also on the movie soundtrack album and also pulled as a single, performed by Andy Williams in his inimitable style. In fact, his version was a bigger hit at the time, but it's the weepy accordions! Strauss' spacey magnum opus also helped define the first decade of space exploration ever since its inclusion in the movie soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick's landmark film A Space Odyssey and eventual adaption into the equally bizarre and grandiose '70s stage show of one Elvis Presley.
Keyboardist and producer Eumir Deodato, who usually went by his last name, was wise enough to leave the grandiosity in his lite-funk masterpiece among all the extended jazz noodling. If his sound seems somewhat familiar, it's because he helped turn funk fiends Kool and the Gang into smooth pop stars a few years later with hits like "Ladies Night.
Not many popular songs are immediately identified with rape. It did, however, have the additional effect of bringing traditional bluegrass instrumentals to top 40 audiences who'd never heard it before.
And yet composer Arthur Smith, who helped invent rock guitar with 's hit "Guitar Boogie," didn't get credit for his original—not until he sued the producers, anyway. The most inevitable song on this list. And his attempt went over big, in part because he was smart enough to get it rolling within days of the film's premiere, also because of that "Cantina band" breakdown, complete with sped-up Mos Eisley swing.
The simulated R2D2 cameo probably didn't hurt, either. Same goes for those rock guitar harmonies. This piano instrumental, at turns delicate and sprightly, was a real oddball in the disco-saturated world of the late-'70s airwaves, but that may have been part of its charm.
Or it may have been pure chance: Actually recorded by Mills, former pianist for The Bells of " Stay Awhile " fame, four years earlier, it was reissued as a b-side and then accidentally sent to a powerful Ottawa Top 40 station anyway. Good thing the station got confused and flipped it over! Sweet, funny, sassy, sad, and sentimental all at once, the theme to Redford and Newman's classic buddy grift film The Sting owed most of its efficacy to ragtime pianist Scott Joplin, who composed the hit original a full 70 years earlier.
Mixing the classic received Americana of Stephen Foster with the beginnings of black jazz, Joplin's compositions more or less invented American pop; they still had enough of the fundamentals to make Hamlisch himself a star in the next century over, although the song's inclusion in the movie soundtrack created the false impression that ragtime was a product of the Great Depression era it was set in.
It took a few decades, but America's finally come to love the bagpipes, especially when applied to this spiritual standard. But it was the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards—who are indeed that, the pipe-and-drum brigade of the premier Scots regiment of the British army—who were the first to put it on wax and get it out to US radio.
Even so, the decision to beef the sound up with a more standard military brass band caused something of a kerfuffle among traditionalists. Turns out there's a reason the pipes are always heard alone. Seems like hardly one public-access talk show or radio newsbreak got aired in the '80s without flying in on the ultra-tasteful breeze of this adult contemporary standard, as much a progenitor of the burgeoning "smooth jazz" movement as Chuck Mangione's decidedly funkier smash " Feels So Good.
Robert Fontenot. Robert Fontenot Jr. Updated January 25, The Top 50 Instrumentals. Funny you should bring that up I've been working on compiling a list of sources for a planned set of CDs that will include every instrumental to make the Hot during the '60s more than songs, on 23 CDs. I'm finding that there are quite a few particularly lower charting records that aren't available on CD, or what is are not the single versions.
But to answer your question: Since by "All-Time" I assume you mean the usual time period ofthat would preclude using "SuperChart" data specifically, since they go back only to so far. I could put together a list from my annual charts compiled from Billboard and Cash Box data Thanks, Randy! This final chart is copyright Randy Price and Forgotten Hits,and may not be used without express written consent from both parties. Top 50 Instrumentals, Private Stock Heywood RCA Victor Columbia Pictures Orchestra Decca TOPSY pt.
RCA Victor Warren Covington Decca Mathematically speaking using a chart performance points systemit is the most ACCURATE representation possible of how these songs performed on the charts at that time. All rights reserved. Forgotten Hits. Can You Believe It?!?!? Remembering Mark Kotal Scrapbook Memories. Top 40 Instrumentals, - Here's what we got back:.
Top 50 Instrumentals, Based on a progressive point system applied to the. But what are YOUR personal favorites? Which instrumental hits have stood the test of time? Green Onions - Booker T. Last Night - The Mar-Keys Stranger On The Shore - Mr.
Acker Bilk Honky Tonk - Bill Doggett Classical Gas - Mason Williams Wipe Out - The Surfaris Telstar - The Tornadoes Hawaii Five-O - The Ventures Time Is Tight - Booker T. The Stripper - David Rose Soul Finger - The Bar Kays Most Popular channels. Which is your favorite decade for music?
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My Channels. Sign Up Already signed up? Decade: '80s. Featured Channel. The greatest hit music of all time, with a '70s and '80s focus. Derived from hundreds of critics' lists of the best music of the decade. Spirited tunes from the '80s and '90s to get you motivated and moving.
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All Instrumental Top 20 Songs
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Blend in No thanks. Blend in a new channel? You can blend together multiple channels on AccuRadio.Wikimedia Commons. As with the "real" songs of the decade, the best '70s instrumental rock hits reflected these changes perfectly.
Here are the groundbreaking instrumental rock hits of the Seventies, songs which defined Philly soul, funk, jazz, rock, and more! Call it the drum solo that wasn't.
Rock drum spotlights, like rock itself, had expanded to ridiculous lengths by the early '70s -- the longest of them, like Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick" and Cream's "Toad," could run up to a half an hour long on stage. But guitar legend Edgar Winter, like the Allman Brothers, was fortunate enough to have two drum kits, and so he envisioned a tune called "The Double Drum Solo," built as usual around a ferocious intro riff.
Problem was, by the time the group finished writing and recording new pieces to add to the song, that solo was almost an afterthought, just one piece of tape surrounded by dozens of others hanging from the ceiling -- the group had decided to record each bit separately and then splice them together. The result looked to one member like a mad scientist's lab; hence, "Frankenstein. This scorching little number, on the other hand, was designed as a showcase for Coffey's skills on the axe -- his group was named the Detroit Guitar Band -- but its legend was soon overtaken by the perfect percussion breakdown, studied and sampled for years by those looking for the key to the perfect groove.
You've probably heard that famous breakdown in a number of places, most notably Young MC's '80s hit "Bust a Move. Not to mention the wah-wah chicken scratch of doom on the Temptations' "Cloud Nine" and "Ball of Confusion. Another hit instrumental making stars out of anonymous session musicians, "TSOP" arguably marked Philly Soul's final mutation into disco, aided and abetted by Sigma Sound Studios' house band and backing vocals from the Philadelphia International label's resident female trio, The Three Degrees of "When Will I See You Again" fame, entering at the most dramatic possible moment with the song's deadly serious mission statement: "Let's get it on.
It's time to get down. Perhaps no soundtrack song has ever been as closely associated with its parent film as this one, the staccato opening piano fugue of which can, to this day, instantly conjure up images of a demonically possessed little girl returning her pea soup onto a hapless priest. But take away the impressively large legacy of The Exorcistif you can, and you're actually left with a two-part album-length magnum opus that's more reflective than anything, a progfest graced with some deft mood shifts and laced with a little dry British wit.
The year-old Oldfield put Richard Branson's new Virgin label on the map when he decided to take a chance on it; chances are you know someone who can play the opening theme at parties Far from average, these Scots were unlikely funk naturals, delivering, with this number one smash, the perfect interplay between a snaky blues guitar lick and some punchy Tower of Power-type horns, anchored by those signature ninth chords that are a staple of the genre.
Add in the tasty sax solo, a clockwork-tight backbeat, and enough wood block on the breakdown to make Chris Walken reject the cowbell, and you see why it was headed straight to the top -- and is still regarded so highly among non-average black groups that it gets sampled by many hip-hop artists. Even James Brown's old backing group, the JBs, saw fit to grace it with an homage. But it was a song without his trademark throaty growl that made the most commercial impact -- a welcome throwback to the days of big-band ballads that was also perfect for funky ballroom dancing.
In other words, disco before John Travolta got to it. Although it's since been attempted in various vocal versions, something about the enigmatic nature of the original keeps it immune to interpretation.
Preston, of course, had already made his name as a session musician, working as the Fifth Beatle on the project and also proving that he could hold his own as a headliner with hits like "Nothing From Nothing" and "Will It Go 'Round in Circles. So successful was this song in its day that Billy became an ARP spokesman, featured in ads for the unit in question. Perhaps no other track better epitomizes the full flowering of the '70s "action funk" than this one, the theme song to a long forgotten ABC series that itself broke ground in its depiction of urban warfare.
The lessons of Isaac Hayes' epic semi-instrumental "Shaft" are fully absorbed here -- the chicken scratch wah-wahs, the sweeping strings, the staccato horns-and-flute combo sounding the alarm over the propulsive engine of the hi-hat.
So dramatic and so instantly dated that the Beastie Boys used it to open their infamous Licensed to Ill tour, it's also been sampled by several other DJs longing for a little afroed attitude. Songwriter Barry DeVorzon infected the national consciousness again soon after with "Nadia's Theme," which you might know better as the theme from "The Young and the Restless. The Moog synthesizer, on the other hand, had been intriguing album buyers since the late Sixties, when Wendy Carlos' Switched-on Bach albums struck a retrofuturistic note in the heart of modern suburban dens.
Gershon Kingsley, who'd been experimenting with programmable exotica since the middle of the decade, had a minor hit with this novelty number, recreated by one of his band members in with a more rocked-up arrangement and some actual drums. More of a rocking coffeepot thang than anything resembling modern EDM, it took the sound of the burgeoning hooked-on movement and made it pop.
Along with other, similar adult-contemporary classics like George Benson's "Breezin'" and Herb Alpert's "Rise," this was a pioneering smash in the burgeoning lite-jazz movement, earning its featured player a Grammy nomination.
Mangione, actually a flugelhorn player who'd already honed his chops with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, originally intended a ten-minute opus with several sections, but the heavily-edited single version wisely focused on the lite-funk passages, and the result was an inescapable hit that forged an alliance between jazz and adult contemporary which still exists today. Robert Fontenot.Most Popular channels. Which is your favorite decade for music? April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Explore more top channels.
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Derived from hundreds of critics' lists of the best music of the decade. Pop, rock, and soul hits from the mid-'60s through early-'70s. Legendary rock, landmark soul, pop and even country, all of which made a magical musical year. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Walkman with the best music of One Hit Wonders.
Christmas Songs. The top most popular instrumentals since based on the weekly pop chart archive, linked to all the weekly charts. The number one instrumental is also the overall top song of the entire decade of the sixties. Percy Faith And His Orchestra. Wonderland By Night.Top 50 Instrumental Love Songs Collection: Saxophone, Piano, Guitar, Violin Love Songs Instrumental
Bert Kaempfert And His Orchestra. Love Unlimited Orchestra. Hugo Montenegro. Grazing In The Grass. Hugh Masekela. Booker T. The In Crowd. Ramsey Lewis Trio. Rhythm Heritage. Kenny Ball And His Jazzmen. The Entertainer. Marvin Hamlisch. Chuck Mangione.
Billy Preston. Soulful Strut. Last Night. Axel F. Harold Faltermeyer. Vince Guaraldi Trio. Theme From Mission: Impossible. The String-A-Longs. Don't Be Cruel. Bill Black's Combo. Hocus Pocus. Cannonball Adderley. Axel F The Frog Song. White Silver Sands. The Charles Randolph Grean Sounde. Never On Sunday. Bent Fabric And His Piano.T he decade of the 80s proved that instrumental songs could still top the charts.
Whether it was Herbie Hancock and M. Instrumental themes have been appearing on the Billboard Top chart for many decades. But if you stand back and look at the big picture, the 80s gave us the highest chart-impacting instrumental themes. Mike Post produced many famous 80s TV themes.
Two of his instrumental themes climbed the charts in the early 80s. Inthe Hill Street Blues theme proved to be an intricate part of the success of the show by making it to 10 on the US charts. The next year inPost would write a theme for a friend he had known since grade school, Tom Selleck. The theme for Magnum, P.
As mentioned in the intro, the artist Meco turned the Star Wars theme into a 1 disco hit in The single reached 35 on the US charts. Anyone up for releasing a compilation of TV themes with a techno beat? Ina relatively unknown soundtrack composer would get his big break with his work on the highly anticipated film Beverly Hills Cop. With the overwhelming box office success of the film, Harold Faltermeyer would become a household name across the globe.
It would also launch his career which would include producing, writing, and composing for dozens of soundtracks and music artists. Parody…or maybe in this case, parody weirdness.
The animation sensation Crazy Frog released a remixed version of Axel F in and outsold the likes of Coldplay all the way to 1 in the UK and ten other countries! They would also go on to make some Grammy noise in by collaborating with legendary guitarist Duane Eddy.
The use of the theme in earlier films like The Blues Brothers and the arcade game Spy Hunter most definitely helped the success of this single. He would compose the score for the film St. His tribute concert in featured Kenny G playing the saxophone parts. Czech Republic native Jan Hammer orchestrated one the most successful instrumental themes of all time in the fall of Miami Vice exploded onto television sets everywhere with its visual and audio style.
The Miami Vice theme became a 1 hit and earned Hammer two Grammy awards. The musical success of the show would carry on for two more soundtracksbut the original soundtrack remains an 80s classic, having sold over 4 million copies.
The oft-parodied Chariots of Fire theme was a 1 hit in If I knew how to write in slow-motion, the last sentence would have taken you three minutes to read.
Two of my personal favorites are by artists already mentioned in this column. It won a Grammy, but never charted. It remains a favorite of mine on Guitar Herobut I only play it now if I can find a large black wig and enough tin foil to wrap around my entire body.
I like to get the full Steve Stevens experience. Jason Gross is a child of the 80s and loves to subject his two sons to cartoons, TV, movies, and music from the decade.
Currently promoting a M.