Mastermix Label Manager Richard Lee presents the ultimate guide to programming the music selection for a 70s theme night!
Whenever I’ve performed at a 70s themed event almost everyone in attendance has entered into the spirit of things by dressing up in some sort of fancy dress from the era. Whether it’s a dodgy wig and stick-on moustache or a complete outfit from head to toe, it always amazes me how many people immerse themselves in the decade and all it has to offer.
I myself would often be found sporting a fine pair of flared trousers, frilly shirt, leather jacket & platform shoes with the whole ensemble finished off with glasses, rings, gold chain with medallion, moustache and of course side-burns…and that was before I got changed into my costume…badum-tish!
The 70s offered a wide-range of music styles, including Glam Rock, Disco, Pop, Funk & Soul, Punk & New Wave, Rock & Country and I always feel it’s good DJ practice to try and incorporate as many of them as possible throughout the night either as part of your Warm Up or Main Set.
When it comes to creating & building up a 70s music collection then The 100 Collection: The 70s is an excellent starting point for any DJ. Each collection features 100 individual tracks that have been carefully collated to include a Warm Up, Main Set & End Of Night section and offers a solid selection of 70s hits from which you can add & build your 70s music library with albums including the 70s Number Ones Collection & selected albums from the awesome Classic Cuts range.
So you are set up and your guests begin to arrive…so what do you play? Selecting the right music for each part of a night is hugely important. By taking the time to research and programme your music choices it makes for a more enjoyable listening experience for your audience and makes your life a lot easier too. There’s no need to make things too regimented of course, but by grouping genres and styles it allows you to select from them throughout the night with ease rather than having to search through files or CDs, leaving you more time to entertain your audience and enjoy the night.
I always take time to create a range of digital crates for each part of an event pulling the music content from my main library.
70s Warm Up Set
The Warm Up set is where you can really dig into your music library and give your audiences a diverse taste of the decade and set things up for the main party. You can really go to town with a Warm Up set choosing a selection of tracks that, whilst not likely to be part of your Main Set, will be well received by those in attendance.
70s Warm Up Tracks
- I Don’t Like Mondays – Boomtown Rats
- Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) – Edison Lighthouse
- Help Me Make It Through The Night – John Holt
- Baker Street – George Rafferty
- Hang On In There Baby – Johnny Bristol
- Street Life – Crusaders
- Silver Lady – David Soul
- I Shot The Sheriff – Eric Clapton
- Pop Musik – M
- The Same Old Feeling – Picketywitch
- Substitute – Clout
- Another Brick In The Wall pt.II – Pink Floyd
- My Sweet Lord – George Harrison
- The Man Who Sold The World – Lulu
- Rock Your Baby – George McCrae
- Jeans On – David Dundas
- Double Barrel – Dave & Ansil Collins
- Lola – Kinks
- Dancing In The City – Marshall Hain
- Jolene – Dolly Parton
The above offers a blend of styles from the decade and by carefully building a playlist, and programming the tracks in the right order, you can create a set that has the desired effect for guests during the early part of an event before picking up the pace until you are ready to launch into your main set.
There is an excellent 70s mix on the Warm Up Mixes release that could also be used to complement your Warm Up set plus a selection of mixes from the monthly Mastermix Issue that also work really well:
- Issue 404 – DJ Playlist: Cool 70s
- Pat Sharp presents The Golden Years (features a range of mixes from the 70s)
- Mastermix presents Retro Mixes: 70s
I’ve always advocated that a Warm Up set is as important as any other sets you perform at an event and due care & attention should be afforded to it to ensure it has the desired effect on your audiences. In my early years as a DJ I was guilty of neglecting the Warm Up set and simply sticking any old compilation on and hoping for the best. It was lazy DJ’ing and I’m pleased to say that those days are long behind me.
Creating relevant music sets for all parts of an event make you stand out from other DJs and it’s personally paid off many times. By carefully selecting the right tracks you can create a playlist that builds from the moment guests arrive to your Main Set.
70s TV Themes
I love adding TV themes to my Warm Up sets, and on occasion to my Main Set. I don’t play too many but if you get the balance right they can enhance your set and help build the atmosphere, evoking memories to all ages. The Mastermix TV Sets Ultimate Collection offers DJs the chance to add classic TV themes to their music library and some 70s themes that I have found work really well on theme nights include:
- Charlie’s Angels
- Rockford Files
- Six Million Dollar Man
- Starskey & Hutch
These type of themes can be dropped in to a Warm Up set and, because they are often only very short in duration, allow you to use them as utility tracks rather than a full song. Other themes that work really well include Van Der Valk which was a UK number one in 1970 for the Simon Park Orchestra (Eye Level) and a selection of TV themes that crossed decades but are still synonymous with the 70s:
- Happy Days
- Muppet Show
- Jamie & the Magic Torch
I personally don’t over-play the TV themes but a few carefully selected gems always hit the spot. Check out TV Themes for the full listing of available themes. You can even go one step further and use a classic TV theme to kick off your Main Set…something like Top Of The Pops – 70s version would work.
70s Main Set
Kicking off your Main Set with an absolute banger is a must…isn’t it? Some DJs like to throw everything they have into the first part of their Main Set, others prefer a gentle approach as they tease & build their audience…it’s really down to you as the DJ to decide what works best for your audience. As with most other decades, there are plenty of songs to go at.
100 – 115 bpm
- Dancing Queen – Abba
- December ’63 (Oh What A Night) – Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons
- Night Fever – Bee Gees
- Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees
- Rivers Of Babylon – Boney M
- Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder
- Rapper’s Delight – Sugarhill Gang
- Da Ya Think I’m Sexy – Rod Stewart
- Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – McFadden & Whitehead
- We Are Family – Sister Sledge
116 – 135 bpm
- Car Wash – Rose Royce
- Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton
- Hot Love – T-Rex
- Let’s Stick Together – Bryan Ferry
- Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – Elton John & Kiki Dee
- Wig Wam Bam – Sweet
- Shang-A-Lang – Bay City Rollers
- Contact – Edwin Starr
- Love Is The Drug -Roxy Music
- Make Me Smile (Come Up & See Me) – Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
I’d like to explore Disco in more detail in a separate post but here are few tracks that I always use as part of a 70s themed set:
- Off The Wall – Michael Jackson
- Le Freak – Chic
- I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
- Blame It On The Boogie – Jacksons
- I Feel Love – Donna Summer
- Boogie Wonderland – Earth, Wind & Fire
- Heart Of Glass – Blondie
- Born To Be Alive – Patrick Hernandez
- Disco Inferno – Trammps
- You Should Be Dancing – Bee Gees
Mastermix has created a range of 70s Disco mixes that are always useful to have in your library:
- Issue 403 – DJ Playlist: 70s Disco Floorfillers
- Issue 399 – DJ Set: 70s Glam Party
- Grandmaster 70s
- Grandmaster 70s Party
For individual tracks look no further than the amazing Classic Cuts range:
- Classic Cuts 8 – Disco
- Classic Cuts 13 – Disco
- Classic Cuts 22 – Disco
- Classic Cuts 39 – Disco
There is an excellent album that features a selection of specialist 70s Disco tracks:
- Classic Cuts 154 – Studio 54 / Disco
If you want to add some Funk into your set then the following offer an excellent selection of tracks:
- Classic Cuts 49 – Disco / Funk
- Classic Cuts 58 – Disco / Funk
The 70s had an eclectic mix of music styles and a theme night allows you the chance to really mix up the tunes for your audience:
- Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
- Since You’ve Been Gone – Rainbow
- All Right Now – Free
- Rockin’ All Over The World – Status Quo
- Brown Sugar – Rolling Stones
Soul / Motown
- Red Light Spells Danger – Billy Ocean
- Superstition – Stevie Wonder
- You’re The First, The Last, My Everything – Barry White
- Love Really Hurts Without You – Billy Ocean
- The Love I Lost – Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes
- Crocodile Rock – Elton John
- You’re The One That I Want – John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John
- Proud Mary – Ike & Tina Turner
- Mr Blue Sky – ELO
- Y.M.C.A. – Village People
- Tiger Feet – Mud
- Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
- Under The Moon Of Love – Showaddywaddy
- Cum On Feel The Noize – Slade
- Ballroom Blitz – Sweet
For the more adventurous DJ you could always through in some Punk / New Wave or maybe a bit of Ska:
- Classic Cuts 27 – Ska
- Classic Cuts 45 – Punk / New Wave
- Classic Cuts 66 – Punk / New Wave
There are several artists who could feature a number of times during your set thanks to their back catalogue of hits. Mastermix have created a range of mixes that can help, such as:
- Abba Mastermix
Combining individual tracks with Mixes, DJ Beats, DJ Edits, TV Themes allows you more control than ever before to create unique & innovative sets for your audiences…use those tools wisely and the rewards will follow!
With products like DJ Beats & DJ Edits you can create unique & innovative sets for your audiences and you might also want to check out DJ Beats: 70s Collection for even more inspiration.
Also take the time to search the Classic Cuts range for those hidden gems:
- Classic Cuts 118 – Sensational Seventies
- Classic Cuts 112 – 70s 12”
A good DJ will play good music…a great DJ will take their audience on a journey and deliver something special. Take the time to research the decade and the music it had to offer…your audiences will appreciate it and you’ll enjoy the event a lot more.
Eventually you’ll arrive at the end…well not quite the end…for me the last 20 minutes of an event are hugely important. You’ve started the night with a bang, you’ve taken your audience on a musical journey through the decade and the last thing you want to do is round things off with a whimper. You may want to end the night with a sing-a-long:
- American Pie – Don McLean
- Summer Nights – John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John
- Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
- The Wonder Of You – Elvis Presley
- Let It Be – Beatles
or you may wish to play a few classic love songs:
- Your Song – Elton John
- Easy – Commodores
- The Air That I Breathe – Hollies
- Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad – Meat Loaf
- Me & Mrs Jones – Billy Paul
or a combination of both…or something completely different…that’s up to you and your skills as a DJ to decide what is going to work best for your audience, but whatever you choose to do make sure it leaves your audience on a high, leaves them wanting more…leaves them knowing that you did an amazing job.
The one thing that I learned from doing many theme nights is that a large number of guests are there purely for the fun element, a chance to wear a silly wig and dance to the big songs…but there are also a lot of guests who are there to remind themselves how good that decade was, how great the music was and want to be back there again…if only for a few hours.
Playing the big hits is a must of course but by taking a little time to research and programme the music of that decade you can give EVERYONE a night to remember!
The biggest hits of a chosen genre in one DJ friendly package. Each collection features a Warm Up, Main Party & End Of Night section that includes the right balance of songs for the perfect night with additional Top Up set options to further increase your music library. The collection is un-mixed and compiled for DJs by DJs!
The biggest hits of the 70s with added intro & outro beats allowing you to create innovate sets for your audiences. The collection has been compiled in alphabetical order (artist) and feature the greatest DJ floorfillers of all time. This set is only available as a high-quality MP3 download. Un-mixed.
Where possible I’ve linked to the DJ Beats versions of tracks in this post, which are the radio edits (or specified remixes) with added intro and outro beats to make live mixing creative, seamless and fun! Occasionally I’ve also linked to DJ Edits which are edited versions of the tracks allowing you to move your setlist on quickly if you think it’s appropriate to do so!
More ideas and inspiration for themed events:
- The Ultimate Guide to a 90s Theme Night
- The Ultimate Guide to an 80s Theme Night
- The Ultimate Guide to a Soul & Motown Theme Night