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50 Best Songs From The 1950s

When you think of the 50s, you think of do-wop, crooners, and elegant nights out in mid-century styled lounges. If you’re in the mood for the classics the list below will surely take you back to the Golden Age.

Fever

Listen:
Artist:
  • Peggy Lee
Album:
  • Things Are Swingin
Description

Fever is a song that captures every emotion you look for in a vocalist. Peggy Lee was known for her gruff yet delicate vocals. Written originally from the American R&B singer and songwriter Edward J. “Eddie” Cooley. Lee’s cover to this American classic gives us all of the feels.

What'd I Say, Pt. 1

Listen:
Artist:
  • Ray Charles
Album:
  • What'd I Say
Description

What’d I Say was light-years ahead of its time. Originally known as a fill-in song at the end of his set during a December 1958 live show, What’d I Say was a hit from the git! Ray Charles is, and will forever be a pioneer of his generation.

Roll Over Beethoven

Listen:
Artist:
  • Chuck Berry
Album:
  • Berry Is On Top
Description

Roll Over Beethoven sets the standard for Rock and Roll and Rhythm and Blues. Chuck Berry aka The Father of Rock and Roll muscles his way into the genre while paying homage to one of the greatest composers in music history. Beethoven would be so proud! Later this song would go on to be covered by some of the most influential musicians of all time, The Beatles, Electric Light Orchestra, and Narvel Felts to name a few.

Charlie Brown

Listen:
Artist:
  • The Coasters
Album:
  • That is Rock and Roll
Description

“Why’s Everybody always pickin’ on me?” Charlie Brown!!!! This Doo-Wop classic Debuted in early 1959 and would land the number 2 spot for both the Billboard Pop and also R&B charts.

I Only Have Eyes For You

Listen:
Artist:
  • The Flamingos
Album:
  • Flamingo Serenade
Description

The Flamingos version of I Only Have Eyes For You sounds like something out of a dream. The reverberation effect used to accompany the beautiful voices of this hit maker quintet landed this track on the number 3 spot of the Billboard R&B charts.

Don't Be Cruel

Listen:
Artist:
  • Elvis Presley
Album:
  • Elvis' Golden Records
Description

Originally released as a B-Side single to the Hound Dog single, Don’t Be Cruel went on to be the first single in U.S. history to have both sides reach the #1 spot.

Little Bitty Pretty One

Listen:
Artist:
  • Thurston Harris And The Sharps
Album:
  • The Aladdin Records Story
Description

Originally this single was released onto vinyl with 3 different label colors: maroon, blue, and purple. Bobby Day’s Hit song Little Bitty Pretty One was popularized mostly by the one and only Thurston Harris. Harris’ hit would go on to receive Gold Disc status.

Rockin' Robbin

Listen:
Artist:
  • Bobby Day
Album:
  • Rockin' Robin
Description

Securing the #1 Spot on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues chart in 1957, this song would later go on to earn higher praise from the 1972 Michael Jackson cover.

I'm A Man

Listen:
Artist:
  • Bo Diddley
Album:
  • Bo Diddley
Description

The riff heard round the world, often imitated but never duplicated. I’m A Man indeed delivers itself as a masculine anthem of sorts. I’m A Man ranked #369 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 greatest songs of all-time list.

Beyond The Sea

Listen:
Artist:
  • Bobby Darin
Album:
  • That's All
Description

Written by Charles Trenet in 1946, Beyond The Sea was most notably recognized as a Bobby Darin cover in 1959. This song would go on to earn high praise, including the #6 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Smile

Listen:
Artist:
  • Nat "King" Cole
Album:
  • The World Of Nat King Cole
Description

Some might recognize this tune as the instrumental theme to the Charlie Chapman Film Modern Times; Smile would go on to be the Theme to the much anticipated Joker Film released in late 2019.

Walkin' After Midnight

Listen:
Artist:
  • Patsy Cline
Album:
  • Patsy Cline
Description

Walkin’ After Midnight is a Country Pop song that put Patsy Cline on the map in 1957. The Song Was her First Big Hit! It would continue to be her only hit until her 1961 release of I Fall To Pieces. Sadly Patsy Cline was killed in an airplane crash in March of 1963. She was only 30 years old.

All I Have To Do Is Dream

Listen:
Artist:
  • The Everly Brothers
Album:
  • The Best Of The Everly Brothers
Description

This smash-hit was recorded live in only two takes. “All I Have To Do Is Dream” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004.

Summertime Blues

Listen:
Artist:
  • Eddie Cochran
Album:
  • 12 Of His Biggest Hits
Description

Alan Jackson, The Who, and Brian, Setzer all honor the great Eddie Cochran with their cover of Summertime Blues. This song also appears on “The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll” list at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Runaround Sue

Listen:
Artist:
  • Dion
Album:
  • Runaround Sue
Description

Following his split from The Belmonts, Dion won over the nation with his #1 hit song Runaround Sue. This song tells the story of an unfaithful girlfriend.

Everyday

Listen:
Artist:
  • Buddy Holly
Album:
  • Buddy Holly
Description

Recorded with his band The Crickets, Buddy Holly was the only member mentioned on the original pressing of the 1957 single. This song can also be heard in the box office classics Stand By Me and Gummo.

Great Balls Of Fire

Listen:
Artist:
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
Album:
  • Jerry Lee's Greatest!
Description

Also known as The Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis earns high praise for his rip-roaring single Great Balls of Fire. He would later go on to be known as a true pioneer of the rockabilly genre. Great Balls of Fire went on to land the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.

(What A) Wonderful World

Listen:
Artist:
  • Sam Cooke
Album:
  • The Man Who Invented Soul
Description

Sam Cooke’s (What A) Wonderful world deep dives into our minds to remind us all that Love is the answer. Thank You for setting such a great example, Sam. We appreciate you.

Put Your Head On My Shoulder

Listen:
Artist:
  • Paul Anka
Album:
  • Paul Anka Sings His Favorites
Description

Next Up, Canadian Pop artist Paul Anka. His hit song Put Your Head On My Shoulder was 2nd to none other than Bobby Darin’s Mack The Knife.

Rock Around The Clock Tonight

Listen:
Artist:
  • Bill Haley & His Comets
Album:
  • From The Original Master Tapes
Description

This classic held the #1 Spot in both the U.S. and the U.K. in the summer of 1954. David Gilmour of Pink Floyd credits this song for being his musical inspiration, and that Rock Around The Clock Tonight convinced him that he needed to play guitar.

Be My Baby

Listen:
Artist:
  • The Ronettes
Album:
  • Be My Baby: The Very Best of The Ronettes
Description

This song made its way into the Rolling Stone Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Martin Scorsese also used this tune as the opening song for his film Mean Streets.

That's Amore

Listen:
Artist:
  • Dean Martin
Album:
  • Dean Martin Sings
Description

Does this song have you craving a Big Pizza Pie? We sure are!!! Amore is Italian for LOVE. That is why we have labeled That’s Amore as our date night song of choice.

Papa Loves Mambo

Listen:
Artist:
  • Perry Como
Album:
  • Pure Gold
Description

This song can be heard in countless American films such as Back to the Future II, Ocean’s Eleven, and Bad Santa. Papa Loves Mambo also reached the top spot on Belgium’s Ultratop 50 chart.

Mr. Sandman

Listen:
Artist:
  • The Chordettes
Album:
  • "They're Riding High" Says Archie
Description

Folklorish in nature, Mr. Sandman brings us into a foggy dreamland, and we can’t get enough. You may also remember this tune in the closing credits of the widely popular John Carpenter production Halloween II.

I Walk The Line

Listen:
Artist:
  • Johnny Cash
Album:
  • With His Hot And Blue Guitar
Description

Selling over 2 million copies, I Walk The Line secured its place onto the Billboard charts for 43 weeks! It is also known by many as being the Greatest Country song of all time!

Tequila

Listen:
Artist:
  • The Champs
Album:
  • Go Champs Go
Description

Best Karaoke song to troll your friends with? We think so! That famous line we all know “Tequila” is from the voice of Singer/Songwriter Daniel Flores. Tequila can be heard now in movies such as Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and The Sandlot.

Autumn Leaves

Listen:
Artist:
  • Roger Williams
Album:
  • Roger Williams Greatest Hits
Description

Autumn Leaves is known for being the only piano composition to have ever landed a number one position on the Billboard Top 100 chart.

You Make Me Fell So Young

Listen:
Artist:
  • Frank Sinatra
Album:
  • Songs For Swingin' Lovers
Description

You Make Me Feel So Young was known as being one of Frank Sinatra’s most popular live performance songs. It also helped catapult the now popular Song’s For Swingin’ Lovers album into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

La Bamba

Listen:
Artist:
  • Ritchie Valens
Album:
  • La Bamba
Description

This song is well known for the popular film La Bamba starring Lou Diamond Phillips. La Bamba sets the example for the son jarocho style in music. You will now find La Bamba ranked at #345 on the Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time per Rolling Stone.

In The Still Of The Nite

Listen:
Artist:
  • The Five Satins
Album:
  • In The Still Of The Nite
Description

I think we can all agree that making it on the Billboard Hot 100 list is no easy task. The Five Satins are the only group in U.S. history to accomplish this on 3 separate occasions.

I'll Be Seeing You

Listen:
Artist:
  • Billie Holiday
Album:
  • Billie Holiday
Description

Recorded by some of music’s greatest artists like Frank Sinatra and Tommy Dorsey, I’ll Be Seeing You is known best for Billie Holiday’s beautiful rendition.

Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)

Listen:
Artist:
  • Harry Belafonte
Album:
  • Very Best of Harry Belafonte
Description

This Jamaican Folk song is now known best for the ever so popular dinner scene in the movie Beetlejuice from the dark and artistic director Tim Burton.

Ain't That A Shame

Listen:
Artist:
  • Fats Domino
Album:
  • Rock And Rollin' With Fats Domino
Description

The typo heard round the world! Ain’t That a Shame was first printed inaccurately as “Ain’t It a Shame” on the Imperial Records release in the year 1955. All mistakes aside, this song peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 charts at #35.

Hey, Good Lookin' (feat. The Drifting Cowboys)

Listen:
Artist:
  • Hank Williams
Album:
  • 20 of Hank Williams' Greatest Hits
Description

Earning the top spot of the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles, Hey, Good Lookin was an instant classic. Hank Williams’ live performance of this popular country song was recorded on the Kate Smith Evening Hour show.

Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)

Listen:
Artist:
  • The Penguins
Album:
  • The Best of The Penguins: The Mercury Years
Description

The Penguins’ Doo-wop hit Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine) is one of the most-played jukebox songs of 1954. You may also remember this tune from the Robert Zemeckis film Back to the Future.

Dream A Little Dream of Me

Listen:
Artist:
  • Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Album:
  • Ella & Louis for Lovers
Description

Anything Ella Fitzgerald touches is pure gold! You may remember this song as a 60’s cover song from The Mamas & the Papas. Dream A Little Dream of Me is one of the most coveted songs of the century.

So What

Listen:
Artist:
  • Miles Davis
Album:
  • Kind Of Blue
Description

This song is a trailblazer for the Modal style of Jazz. Not relying on any specific tonal, So What keeps us guessing from start to finish.

The Man That Got Away

Listen:
Artist:
  • Judy Garland
Album:
  • A Star Is Born – Original Film Soundtrack
Description

From the original box-office smash hit film, A Star is Born, The Man That Got Away would become one of Judy Garland’s most beloved classics.

Sam's Song

Listen:
Artist:
  • Bing Crosby and Gary Crosby
Album:
  • Bing-His Legendary Years 1931-1957
Description

Better known as the Happy Tune; Sam’s Song is a feel-good song recorded by a father and son duo. This song made it to the Billboard Best Sellers chart for a total of 19 consecutive weeks.

Bewitched

Listen:
Artist:
  • Bill Snyder
Album:
  • Bewitching Hour
Description

Pushing its way into the top 30 best singles of 1950, Bewitched is a beautiful composition with a subtlety creepy ending. We just had to add it to our list!

I Apologize

Listen:
Artist:
  • Billy Eckstine
Album:
  • Complete Greatest Big Hits
Description

First published and recorded by Bing Crosby and Nat Skilkret. “I Apologize” is best remembered from Billy Eckstine’s release. In 1999 this song was presented with an award from the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Third Man Theme

Listen:
Artist:
  • Anton Karas
Album:
  • The Third Man Theme and Other Viennese Favorites
Description

The Third Man Theme was living on the edge of the ’50s. This hit song was released to the U.K. in late 1949. However, Its official release to the U.S. wasn’t until early 1950.

Only You (And You Alone)

Listen:
Artist:
  • The Platters
Album:
  • The Platters
Description

So the story goes, The Platters were riding in their car and the car driver did a quick brake check. The result, a high pitched “O-oHHHHHH-nly you” from lead singer Tony Williams. The rest is history. Only You (And You Alone) would go on to hold a commanding lead on the Billboard R&B charts for 7 straight weeks, and later go on to peak at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Harbor Lights

Listen:
Artist:
  • Sammy Kaye (Swing & Sway)
Album:
  • Best of Big Bands: Sammy Kaye
Description

This monster ballad peaked at #1 and would hold a position on the Billboard charts for 25 weeks! Other big names would later cover this track but never reach the same success as Sammy Kaye.

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

Listen:
Artist:
  • The Four Aces (feat. Al Alberts)
Album:
  • Greatest Hits
Description

With the help of the film “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing”, this pop tune would go on to win an Acadamy Award for Best Original Song.

Do You Wanna Dance

Listen:
Artist:
  • Bobby Freeman
Album:
  • Do You Wanna Dance
Description

Rumor has it Jerry Garcia was featured as a guitarist on this album. Sadly, those rumors were false. However, Bobby Freeman successfully reached the #2 and the #5 spot on two separate Billboard charts.

The Train Kept a-Rollin'

Listen:
Artist:
  • Grady Martin
Album:
  • The Train Kept a-Rollin' (Remastered)
Description

Recorded originally in good ole’ Cincinnati, OH, The Train Kept A-Rollin is now known as one of the top 500 songs that helped shape Rock and Roll.

Can't Hardly Stand It

Listen:
Artist:
  • Charlie Feathers
Album:
  • His Complete King Recordings
Description

A classic from the start! “Can’t Hardly Stand It is now widely recognized for its appearance in the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill Vol. 2 and the very successful video game Grand Theft Auto 5.

Sh-Boom

Listen:
Artist:
  • The Crew-Cuts
Album:
  • Let's Play Again (Remastered)
Description

In the year 1954, both The Crew-Cuts and the Chords would both share a place in the top 10 of the Billboard charts with the smash hit Sh-Boom.

At The Hop

Listen:
Artist:
  • Danny & The Juniors
Album:
  • The Complete Releases 1957-62
Description

Also featured in the hit teen comedy American Graffiti, At The Hop earned high praise in the year of its release. This Doo-wop/Rock and Roll song became one of the top-selling singles in the year 1958.