Style vs. Substance in the 1970s

Style Substance in the 1970s

All right everyone, we are up to the 1970s in this blog series on style throughout the decades! Check out are up my last few blogs before you dig into this one if you haven’t already.

The 70s were a time when creativity really started to open up in songwriting and performance. If you listen to any of the Beatles records from the Late 1960s you will hear a notable shift in their style as though they were dancing on the very edge of the “box” of the stylistic conventions of the era. Their boldness at the close of the ‘60s paved the way for the artists and projects of the ‘70s to create outside of the box, and invent a new box altogether.

There are many notable artists from the 1970s- I’ll only examine a few.

First of all, we can’t talk about the 1970s without talking about disco. One of my all-time favorites of this genre was the late great Donna Summer! While the music was fun and exciting, Donna’s tone reached way beyond the dance craze and into the vulnerability of “MacArthur Park,” which demonstrated a broader spectrum of her vocal prowess. Another favorite of mine of the 1970s was the iconic band Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks had a sultry and smoky way about her voice, and her tone, though raspy, always supported a style that seemed to originate with her natural voice. Who can forget the perennial favorite, hit tune, “Landslide”? It has to be one of the most highly covered songs of all time.

Elton John was another amazing artist from the 70s. His clear effortless tenor voice was always a prioritized constant, taking precedent even over the highly exaggerated image that helped create his style. His innovations in songwriting never inhibited having strong hooks in each of his tunes. Pop stars today still try to imitate Elton John’s bombastic costuming and live spectacles. Just look at Lady Gaga- She is clearly inspired by John and other ‘70s phenoms,’ career tactics. Have a listen to “Your Song,” “Benny and the Jets,” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” for some great examples of his masterful tone that also showcase his progressive and groundbreaking pop style. He led us all into a more modern edgy sound. But he had the pipes to back it up!!!

Next up are the 80s, and as a child of this decade I have an affinity for the music of this era, so get pumped. Unfortunately, this was also the decade that began the decline of substance, so the next blog will be a bittersweet one…but more on that next time!

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