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Category Archives: 1970s

15 Great Oscar-Winning Songs!: “The Way We Were”


When you’re a music fan who was born in 1970 it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the period of time between the social unrest of the late sixties and the cynicism and despair which were expressed by punk was mostly made up of soft rock platitudes. Obviously that wasn’t completely true…but some people didn’t go out of their ways to disabuse us of the notion. The fact that I was a small child at the time definitely limited my access to any of the edgier popular culture that was out there. Not that these romanticized expressions of love, sadness, and nostalgia I’m talking about were all bad. They clearly weren’t. People like Barbra Streisand and Marvin Hamlisch don’t have to be your favorites. Believe me, I get it. But if you dismiss them and their ilk out of hand you might be in danger of favoring style over substance rather completely.
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LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Eric Carmen vs the Proclaimers


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Welcome to the next matchup in our continuing search for the most satisfyingly cheesy pop songs of all time! A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.” The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese.

Depending on who you talk to, we might be dealing with a couple of Cheesetastic goliaths today. One is from the heart of the cheese era of the mid 1970s while the other didn’t appear until that golden age had mostly run its course in the late 1980s. Both have had lives in the popular consciousness far beyond the time of their initial release. But are they Cheesetastic Classics? Come join the conversation and vote your conscience!
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LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Harry Nilsson vs Elvis Presley


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Welcome to the next matchup in our continuing search for the most satisfyingly cheesy pop songs of all time! A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.” The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese.

Today’s competitors were released just two years apart from one another, but also more than forty years ago so most of us probably don’t remember when they were current. To be honest, I find it a little bit alarming that these “oldies” were less than a decade old when I started hearing them on my little clock radio in the fourth grade. Time sure does speed up as it goes along. Another thing that both of these artists have in common is that they passed away well before their time. Let’s talk about both of these songs so we can decide if they belong on our list of wonderfully corny recordings!
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LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Melissa Manchester vs. Meatloaf


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Welcome to the next matchup in our continuing search for the most satisfyingly cheesy pop songs of all time! A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.” The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese.

Today’s pairing features an over-the-top ballad from the 1970s and a comeback hit by a fellow ’70s artist who specialized in dramatic pop. Come help us decide which of these songs belongs on our list!
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Nope, Not a 1-hit Wonder/LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics: Dan Hill


You might have noticed that the “Nope, Not a 1-hit Wonder” parade has slowed down a little since its introductory burst onto the LeBlog scene a couple of years ago. Between Jeff the Wildman and I, we’ve covered more than twenty artists who common perception might have, through forgetfulness or some other whim of fate, inaccurately labeled as one with just a single claim to fame. While I’m hoping we’ll continue to cover these artists as the fancy strikes us, I also want to start up a new series that might help to soften the landing as Lebeau’s long-running analysis of the Golden Raspberries catches up with the current day in just a couple of weeks.

The schadenfreude associated with watching someone aim high (or very low) and somehow end up the target of derision is both personally shameful and undeniably delicious. What I’m hoping to do is to take that same experience, as is often delivered by Razzie winning movies, and apply it to popular music forms. This will manifest itself as “LeBlog’s Cheestastic Classics,” which will attempt to aim somewhere near that delectable spot that a movie like Mommie Dearest inhabits. A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.”

The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese. This is almost certainly the case with our first case study, an artist who manages to fulfill the requirements to take a place in both the “Nope, Not a 1-hit Wonder” and “LeBlog’s Cheestastic Classics” canons, thereby becoming the ideal introduction to the new series through connection to the prior one. Here comes Dan Hill.
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Rank the Oscar Winning Movies: the 1970s


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Maybe it’s because of when I was born, but to my eyes this looks like the most legendary group of Best Picture winners we’ve presented yet. There are at least three bonafide classics here, and there is very good overall quality. The Oscars gained some much-needed legitimacy in the ’70s, even if they made a couple of mistakes. They weren’t doozies. Even though fashion and television were terrible during the “Me Decade,” film in general was on an absolute hot streak. Last April, LeBlog spent an entire month celebrating all things polyester and punk, so if you enjoy looking back at these Oscar-winning movies, dig into our archives and have a nice day!

But first, rank these movies…
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Worst to First: My Star Wars toys


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As classic as the original trilogy of Star Wars movies was, who are we kidding? The lasting love many of us have for George Lucas’ space opera series has at least as much to do with the associated toys we managed to get our hands on. After all, Star Wars and its immediate sequel The Empire Strike Back, were released at a time when home video had not yet become prevalent. Even when Return of the Jedi hit theaters in 1983, mainstream U.S. consumers were still a year or two away from thinking of watching movies at home as something that could be a common occurrence. Without the ability to constantly revisit the movies, we reinforced the existing stories we’d seen on the big screen and invented more stories of our own through the time-honored tradition of play.

George Lucas famously held onto licensing rights when his contract was written up for the making of the first movie, and we all helped to make him a very rich man. In a sense, we are guilty of creating the circumstances under which the reviled prequels happened. But nobody was actually prepared for how popular Star Wars would become. The movie opened as a ‘B’ feature and got kicked out of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood after just two weeks because of a pre-existing contract. Kenner secured the licensing for creating toys, but couldn’t produce them fast enough, leading to kids going to Sears and coming home with a piece of cardboard promising them a set of action figures once the darn things got made. My parents wouldn’t buy us a piece of cardboard, but as soon as the figures were actually in the store they happily let us choose one. I don’t think they quite understood at the time that wouldn’t be close to the end of it.

For several years these were some of my favorite and most coveted toys. I didn’t come close to collecting it all, but I sure feel like I got my share. Join me as I rank my favorites!
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Rocky Boxing Smackdown Bracket Explosion!


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Bracket games have been a staple of Le Blog in the past, so when we were brainstorming something we could do based on the release of the new Rocky-inspired flick Creed, a boxing tournament starring all of your favorite pugilists from the universe of the “Italian Stallion” seemed like a natural. Now personally, I’m not that big a fan of Stallone’s signature series, but considering that a movie called Creed could have been about a truly lousy band, I figure I got off easy.

I think we all know how this will shake out in the long run, but let’s see how much fun we can have getting there.
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Disney Songs Poll Results! #20 – “Oo-de-Lally”


Robin Hood (1973) was the first Disney animated film I saw on its initial release. I was just 3 years old at the time, so mostly I just remember it being big and loud. What I remember a lot better is listening to the movie’s soundtrack album repeatedly. The song that seemed to stick in my brain the quickest was the little slice of Robin Hood and Little John’s lives that made up the first sung passage of the film and soundtrack, “Oo de Lally.” Well-known country singer-songwriter Roger Miller was selected not only to voice the movie’s narrator character, a rooster named Alan-a-Dale, but to write songs for it. Although his popular tunes “King of the Road” and “Dang Me” would become familiar to me later on, there’s still part of me that suspects he was really a big talking rooster.
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Songs from the Final Season of Mad Men: The Carpenters – Close to You


Well, the most memorable song from tonight’s series finale episode of Mad Men was the famous “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” from the associated Coca-Cola television ad. Are we meant to believe that Don’s time meditating in California inspired him to create that iconic commercial? Or is it just a timely expression of the inner peace he is finding for himself after running around trying to give it to everyone else? It was a great ad, but are Matthew Weiner and company holding it up a little too high? It was a surreal ending to a great television series that certainly had its fair share of the fantastic and imagined for a show mostly rooted in detailed realism.

Instead of chasing my tail over that one, I decided to share another iconic soft rock concoction of the ’70s, The Carpenters’ lovely dollop of ear candy “Close to You.” Richard and Karen Carpenter were not the first act to record what would become one of their biggest hits. The Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition was initially put on vinyl by longtime television actor Richard Chamberlain in 1963. Bacharach’s favorite songbird Dionne Warwick also included the song on her 1964 album “Make Way for Dionne Warwick” and Bacharach even recorded it himself. When it was suggested to the brother and sister team, Richard was not a big fan, but it wound up being the duo’s first of twelve top 10 hits in the space of five years. I figured this would be an appropriate song to feature based on the patently romantic and sudden union of longtime co-workers Stan and Peggy. Fans have been ‘shipping these two for a few years now, and for once Weiner unapologetically gave the people what they want, handing us a scene that seems like it’s out of a Meg Ryan movie. I don’t necessarily think of that as a bad thing. Firstly, the scene worked. I was actively cheering this turn of events. And secondly, well, Mad Men has earned the right to just a little bit of schmaltz. Peggy sure deserves a happy ending.

Now somebody get those crazy kids an ice cold Coca-Cola…

Songs from the Final Season of Mad Men: Neil Diamond – Cracklin’ Rosie


Matthew Weiner’s musical choices this final half season of Mad Men appear to admit that his characters are out of place in the 1970s. How else do you explain the fact that so many of the featured tunes were not actually released in that decade? Even the seeming leap into the beautiful mysterious future represented at last week’s close by David Bowie’s epic ballad “Space Oddity” is undercut a little when you know that the song was released in July of ’69. This week’s episode opens with Merle Haggard’s playful take on the culture wars of the time “Okie From Muskogee,” which certainly was appropriate considering the location of Don’s part of the story this week, but like many others featured on Mad Men this season, it was released in 1969. That’s nothing compared to the episode’s closing song, the gentle Buddy Holly oldie “Everyday,” which predates even the beginning of the series, perhaps symbolizing a life re-set to Don. All of this is perfectly good for the purposes of Weiner and company, but contrasts with the fact that two of their primary actors grew very ’70s mustaches in the few months that separated the first and second halves of the show’s last season.

This penultimate episode took place in October of 1970, so I went to my trusty book of Billboard top40 hits and found that Neil Diamond’s bright western-tinged boogie “Cracklin’ Rosie” was big that month, hitting #1 the week of the 10th. Now there’s a song of the ’70s! A cursory listen to the lyrics has made many think it  is about a man’s affection for a prostitute, calling her “a store-bought woman,” but the truth is just a little less seedy. As it turns out, “Cracklin’ Rosie” is Diamond’s second most famous song about wine, with the idea for the song coming to him in a story about a Canadian tribe with more men than women, resulting in the leftover men singing to their wine. Another line from the song, “hitchin’ on a midnight train,” sure might appeal to Don in his current situation as he plays out his own version of On The Road. After all, when he was a boy on a farm hoboes did visit his family, modeling the possibility of an unencumbered life to him (and leaving behind a sign to others that his Father was not to be trusted). His own dream about finally being caught in his big lie by the police, and the demonstration that the supposed freedom of his car could turn into dependence leads Don to ditch the Caddy and grab a seat waiting for a bus. This is a character who hasn’t really had a home for most of his life. Is his self-imposed hobo lifestyle the romantic notion he maybe takes it for or will it mark one too many attempts to run from himself?

Songs From the Final Season of Mad Men: The Jackson 5 – A B C


Okay, so Matt Weiner and company topped off tonight’s episode with some Dean Martin song, but I’m going with something much more quintessentially 1970s. After all, our celebration of the decade is winding to a close (but I’ll continue these posts until Mad Men delivers it swan song), and Dino’s last top40 hit was way back in 1967. In contrast, Michael Jackson and company were just hitting their stride in 1970. “ABC” was just the second of what would be 20 hit singles for the brothers act over the course of the decade, a run of success that included three other #1 hits and six more that were top 10. And I’m not even mentioning the five top 10 hits Michael had on his own before the 80s landed. Despite all of that success, you’ll find an awful lot of people naming “ABC” as their favorite of his whole career (I’d go with “I Want You Back,” which sat at #1 on New Year’s Eve). These early recordings feature the infectiously powerful and joyful sound that made the Jacksons appealing as the stars of their very own Saturday morning cartoon show on ABC, debuting in September of 1971.

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The show consistently featured the boys following through on marketing ploys dreamed up by a cartoon version of the real life Motown legend Berry Gordy. None of the Jacksons provided their own speaking voice, and neither did Gordy, who was voiced by the great Paul Frees, known as the Ghost Host from Disney’s Haunted Mansion and as Boris Badenov from the Bullwinkle cartoons. The animated version of the Jacksons lasted until 1976, when a live action show moved them to Wednesday evenings.

That Moment In Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)


The success of Star Wars ushered in a wave of science fiction that included The Black Hole, Battlestar Galactica and the return of Star Trek. Star Trek had originally been intended to return as a new TV show. But after Star Wars showed how much money could be made with a science fiction movie, it got promoted to the big screen.

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had high ambitions for the first Star Trek movie. He envisioned something akin to 2001: A Space Odyssey. What he ended up with was lots of scenes of the crew watching now-dated special effects on the ship’s monitor. A friend of mine jokingly refers to it as Star Trek: The Motionless Picture which I think is an apt description.

Over at That Moment In, they take a look at one of the better scenes in the movie in which characters actually get to interact instead of just staring forward at a big TV screen looking at swirling space.

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review1In the far reaches of space, a trio of Klingon warships fire upon a strange blue-ish geometric cloud, though their proton torpedoes have no effect. The squad leader calls for evasive action, suspecting a retaliatory volley. He’s not disappointed. Nearby, Epsilon IX, a Starfleet monitoring station picks up the exchange and witnesses the destruction of the Klingon vessels, one-by-one, each by powerful bolts of blue plasma energy emanating from deep within the anomaly. Worse, the crew of the station make a terrifying calculation: the massive cloud appears to be on a fixed heading straight for Earth! Cue the music.

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