Top Ten Most Underrated Songs Released Before 1980

Underrated may mean obscure, underestimated or forgotten.
It can include songs that most people have never heard in their lives, songs that are known but aren't regarded as great or even good, or songs that once were popular but didn't keep up their fame over the last decades.
It furthermore also works for songs that made it big in only one or a few countries but have the potential to be world hits.

Why did I choose to include songs before the 80s? Mostly because the 80s are arguably the earliest decade to get massive airplay on modern mainstream radio stations and therefore hits of that decade aren't that easily forgotten, while only the most famous songs from earlier can still be heard frequently on the radio.

The Top Ten Most Underrated Songs Released Before 1980

Greenfields - The Brothers Four

"Greenfields" is the second most melancholically nostalgic songs I have ever heard, also easily one of my 50 favorite songs of all time. While it was initially successful in the US and Norway in 1960, peaking at number 2 and 1 respectively, it was completely unnoticed internationally. In the meantime, it's been completely forgotten. Citizens of German speaking countries may know it for being featured in the opening credits of the '70s Israeli coming of age film "Lemon Popsicle", which is very popular over here, but even this prominent inclusion on a soundtrack of a famous movie made it any more popular. - Martin_Canine

Je T'aime Moi Non Plus - Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin

Martin, I am surprised it was/is played in German speaking Europe - I thought this song was known only in France and Quebec (the French influenced province of Canada). - Metal_Treasure

Thanks, Metal_Treasure!

I initially considered adding it myself, since it's very underrated in the US, but in some European countries (including over here), it was a number one hit.
It is the most famous French language song in German speaking Europe, and radio stations still play it every other day.

If you don't know the song, check it out. It perfectly builds up sexual and erotic tension in a very elegant way. - Martin_Canine

Stargazer - Rainbow
Hollywood - Waterloo & Robinson

The original and best version is from 1974, but it's not on the American iTunes store. Waterloo re-recorded the song about a gazillion of times and this unnecessarily modernized 2008 version on the audio sample is the closest to the original. The modern day drum kit, bleeping synth line and cheesy chugs and piano ruin it for me, but the acoustic guitar, the strings, his singing and the overall structure are pretty close to the original. - Martin_Canine

The song, which dramatically bewails the end of Golden Era Hollywood while nostalgically memorizing its greatness (the song was released in times when New Hollywood was dominating the market, when everything became more artsy and less enchanting).

I found no information on chart success, but it must have been at least a minor hit in Austria, as Waterloo re-recorded the song as often as he only did with the duo's Eurovision Song Contest entry. Anyhow, the song didn't become a classic like other Austrian song of that era that still get airplay, and only people who were young when it was released seem to remember it. It's become really obscure, which is sad because it has a good chance to enter my Top 50 songs list (I just recently discoverey it as my mother mentioned it casually, which shows how little known it is). - Martin_Canine

To Whom It May Concern - Rodriguez

It feels a bit odd including an artist that is famous for being underrated on this list. The Oscar winning 2012 documentary "Searching For Sugar Man", which focused around him being a superstar in South Africa but being a nobody elsewhere in the world, including the US, made him quite popular on a worldwide scale. Now, every local CD selling store over here has his two albums available. But nevertheless: his only hit song will be the titular "Sugar Man". I am sure he will be remembered, but for his story and this single song, while all two albums are masterful in their entirety, "To Whom It May Concern" being my favorite of his songs. - Martin_Canine

Pictures of Home - Deep Purple
The Ballroom Blitz - The Sweet
Un Amore Grande - Peppino Gagliardi
Hiroshima - Wishful Thinking

This is a 1971 political song from British progressive rock band Wishful Thinking. The group didn't have any chart position in any country. But then for reasons unknown, it suddenly entered the German top ten in 1978, seven years after its initial release. It unfortunately didn't help the band though. It was their only successful song and was forgotten as quickly as it got attention.

But it has an astounding power. Not only its topic, but also musically - it has a sensational shift from soft ballad to an energetic guitar solo, and in between it also interpolates Asian music themes. - Martin_Canine

Come Back to Me - Uriah Heep

The Contenders

Death of Samantha - Yoko Ono

The main problen of Yoko Ono's singing may be her Japanese accent. Like German, Japanese has a very clear, hard snd strict pronunciation that isn't present in English, which comes off as more casual, but instead of pronouncing English as strict as our language, we tend to "overenglishify" it. That's why Yoko Ono sounds that weird at first, even on her non-avantgarde albums ("Approximately Infinite Universe" for example is a great rock double album), even though she hits the notes and has a nice vibrato.

"Death of Samantha" is a take on shallowness and how popularity can't heal inner wounds. Its musical composition can compete with her more popular competitors, and Ono's way of wording, which is opposed to Western norms (and more like H-rock lyrics, if translated), makes it outstanding. - Martin_Canine

La déclaration d'amour - France Gall

First things first: I did not know she died two weekd ago when I added her song to the list. I just double checked if the song indeed is from before 1980, and read her date of death. So... a belated R.I P.

But it also shows how unrightfully obscure she is outside of her home country France where she had chart topping success. So obscure that even her death isn't worth media coverage. Sad. In Germany, she even had two hits, "Poupée de cire, poupée de son" and "Ella elle l'a", the latter even topped the charts. But it didn't earn her fame, and so she disappeared as quickly as she appeared (even though she even sang in German for some time).

"La déclaration d'amour" is a love song with a powerful composition in minor that sounds just so dramatic and strong. It's just great, and was it in English, it would have been a hit. - Martin_Canine

Look at Yourself - Uriah Heep
Silent Voices - Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick is one of the great divas of soul, and "I Say a Little Prayer", "Heartbreaker" and "Walk on By" were worldwide hits. So, Warwick is definitely not an underrated artist. But "Silent Voices" is completely unknown to people. It's just one of many songs from one of her many albums. But it's also her second best after "Prayer". - Martin_Canine

Stargazer - Shelagh Mcdonald

Shelagh McDonald is a Scottish singer who, after having released two albums, vanished completely from the surface of the world, only to reappear in the 21st century.
She wasn't successful anywhere in the world but her music sounds pure and heartfelt. - Martin_Canine

The Sails of Charon - Scorpions
Stone Cold Crazy - Queen
What a Bastard the World Is - Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono is a 100% visceral artist, and on the "Approximately Infinite Universe" album, she reached her creative peak. "What a Bastard the World Is" has the same lyrical energy Björk will have on her "Debut" and "Post" albums in the future. The way Ono simply describes the situation, unfiltered and realistic, the acts being entirely believable, makes it all the more intense. Also: those final lyrics. - Martin_Canine

Those Were the Days - Mary Hopkin

Of course, this song was a worldwide chart topper, and unlike other songs on the list, it also hasn't been entirely forgotten.
But really: this is one the 30, maybe 20 best songs I have ever heard. And I heard quite a few more than 30. The Russian melody, the bittersweet lyrics about naivité and romantizism, Hopkin's angel like singing voice. And yet, this song never pops up on any best lists, despite its success and the involvement of Paul McCartney. It's one of these songs people might or not know, but they don't seem to care about it. In fact, I myself am the only one I know that has an opinion on the song.
"Those Were the Days" is regarded as decent, but it deserves to be praised as masterful.

PS: Even though it is definitely my favorite song off my original remix, I only put it in tenth place due to it only being underrated in terms of quality, not popularity or success. - Martin_Canine

The Lemon Song - Led Zeppelin
Les Sucettes - France Gall

Another song written by Serge Gainsbourg that's a prime example of how to perfectly execute a sexual song. Back in the 60s, the double entendre of the lyrics (it's superficially about lollipops) was very innovative, and the overall sound and Gall's voice perfectly support it.
Now, the latter is purely coincidental, as Gall did not understand what the lyrics were about when she sung them. When she found out, she was so furious that she never worked with Gainsbourg again.

The song is virtually unknown in much of the world and did not chart in most countries, and even in France it only hit number 55. - Martin_Canine

Over the Hills and Far Away - Gary Moore
Nobody Home - Pink Floyd
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