7 Iconic Music Videos of the 1970s

In the 1970s, music videos were just getting popular. It was a time before the MTV video boom of the following decade, so video accompaniment for songs of the disco and glam rock variety was rare. However, they were no less iconic.

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In fact, the 1970s produced a handful of music videos just as iconic as the songs they abetted. While it wasn’t all state-of-the-art, cutting-edge footage, these videos let the songs shine while providing striking visuals to go along with them. Below are seven of the 1970s most iconic music videos.

1. “Heart of Glass” – Blondie (1978)

Panning across a nighttime cityscape as a pensive synth plays, the music video to Blondie’s 1978 hit, “Heart of Glass,” is simple, but effective. Lead singer Debbie Harry is front-and-center throughout much of the footage, serving her iconic bored-chic stares under the glow of a mirrorball. The camera occasionally searches for the faces of her bandmates, but can’t seem to take the lens off of the bewitching frontwoman.

2. “Silly Love Songs” – Paul McCartney and Wings (1976)

The video for Paul McCartney and Wings’ 1976 classic, “Silly Love Songs,” feels more like behind-the-scenes footage and less like a full-on production. Flashing between clips of the band on and off stage, the music video is delightfully intimate, evoking the feeling of actually being a part of the group.

3. “I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor (1979)

Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” is accompanied by another music video that rarely strays from the artist’s face. The camera only pulls away from her shadowy face to show off a roller-disco dancer grooving along to the classic song. The entire video is very ’70s, iconically so.

4. “Life on Mars?” – David Bowie (1973)

The music video to “Life on Mars?” isn’t iconic because of anything other than David Bowie. The artist – clad in a striking blue suit and matching eyeshadow with a flaming orange mullet to tone down the look – does nothing before the camera. He just stands there, looking stunningly alien and giving off an otherworldly performance of his extraterrestrial classic. It casts an image that is unforgettably Bowie.

5. “Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees (1977)

The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” music video is just as memorable as the song itself. Power walking through deserted streets, the three frontmen – brothers Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb – are stayin’ alive on cardio alone. It’s a corny, but lovable accompaniment to the irresistible disco hit.

6. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen (1975)

Queen’s over-the-top magnum opus, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” deserved an equally theatrical music video, so that’s what it got. Opening on the band’s haunting visages, the mini-film then dissolves into a brilliant on-stage performance and flashes back and forth from operatic flourishes to scenes of rock and roll splendor just as the song does.

7. “Mamma Mia” – ABBA (1974)

The music video to the 1974 ABBA hit, “Mamma Mia,” is very ABBA. Full of their glimmering pop power, the video makes for a lovably kooky display as the visual plays with camera angles and close-ups. Of the quartet’s more flamboyant productions, this one is slightly toned down but still has the ability to pack a punch.

Photo by Gus Stewart/Redferns

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