Popular music in the 1970s was dominated by the glitz of disco, while genres like rock and Motown continued to sell records by the bucket load. Female artists were as prolific as men in this decade, with many women scoring Billboard chart hits as well as having successes across the world, with tracks they'd written themselves or had written for them.
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As in the decades since, female artists were a force to be reckoned with in pop circles. Olivia Newton-John combined her experience in country-pop and soft rock to create a mainstream career. Her hits in the early '70s included "Have You Never Been Mellow" and "I Honestly Love you," while she later starred in the hit musical "Grease" in 1978. A true stalwart of the pop charts, Cher scored solo hits in the 1970s with "Dark Lady" and "Half-Breed" as well as duet toppers with husband Sonny, including "All I Ever Need Is You."
Disco was a predominant part of 1970s music. Artists included ABBA, the famous Swedish four-piece, made up of two women and two guys. The group's first smash was "Waterloo," borne off the back of the 1974 European Song Contest, and it reached the sixth spot on the U.S. charts. ABBA's hits ran the gamut from classic disco anthem "Dancing Queen" to the more rock-oriented "S.O.S." Combining a disco beat with a guitar sound, "Love to Love You Baby" was a classic of the disco age and propelled its singer, Donna Summer, to worldwide renown. Other tracks released by Summer included "Could It Be Magic" and "Spring Affair."
Rock and Punk
Edgier female artists had a presence in the hit parades of the decade too. With "Heart of Glass" in 1978, Blondie, a band from the United Kingdom fronted by the formidable Debbie Harry, made the jump from punk to a disco-rock sound. The bold move paid off, as the track went to number one in the States. "One Way or Another," a guitar-driven track, also did well for the band in the same year. Despite not quite achieving the same success in the United States as in the United Kingdom, Suzi Quatro also flew the flag for female-fronted rock in the 1970s. Quatro toured America with oddball rocker Alice Cooper, but her biggest hit was actually in Britain, where she landed the top spot on the British charts with "Devil Gate Drive."
Motown and Soul
After splitting from Motown supergroup the Supremes in 1969, Diana Ross made regular appearances on the charts in the 1970s. Some of Ross's most popular tracks included "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," which earned her a gold record award, and "Do You Know Where You're Going To (Theme from Mahogany)" and "Last Time I Saw Him," which were released in the middle of the decade. Hailing from a church background, Thelma Houston broke into the charts in a big way following her signing to Motown Records. Her hits included "Don't Leave Me This Way," which won her a Grammy Award, and "The Bingo Long Song."
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