24 Oldies From 1950’s That Will Stand The Test of Time
Never Gets Old
Perhaps this is one of the marks of a good music – when it doesn’t expire in months and if it transcends time and generation. Today’s youth would most likely refer to them as “grandma or grandpa’s song” but , people are still listening to these and that’s what truly matters.
These timeless classics will never go out of style even at a time when cheesy pop and rap are dominating MTV and radio airwaves. So let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the greatest tracks ever made and half a century later, still sounds as stellar as when they were first released.
24. “That’s Amore” – Dean Martin (1953)
Not only was this a major hit for the “King of Cool” Dean Martin, but it also became his signature song. It’s a quirky but romantic track describing how they do love in a Southern Italy town. He compares the feeling and passion with traditional Italian dishes like pizza and pasta fagioli. Yum!
23. “All Shook Up” – Elvis Presley (1957)
They don’t make music like this anymore! There were many versions as to the song’s origin and inspiration but according to The King himself, “I’ve never even had an idea for a song. Just once, maybe. I went to bed one night, had quite a dream, and woke up all shook up. I phoned a pal and told him about it. By morning, he had a new song, ‘All Shook Up’.”
22. “Earth Angel” – The Penguins (1954)
More than sixty years later, this song remains gold even if was mostly an unfinished demo. This was the only hit for the American doo-wop group the Penguins and aside from selling over 10 million copies, this became an enduring track for much of the ‘50s era. There may be several cover versions but nothing beats the original, for sure.
21. “Sincerely” – The McGuire Sisters (1954)
Back when music was all about talent. The McGuire Sisters had the perfect harmony and so when they covered the popular song “Sincerely,” it immediately became the best-selling version. It eventually reached gold status which isn’t even surprising given how good this cover sounds. Even in 2017, nothing comes close to it.
20. “Come Go With Me” – The Del-Vikings (1956)
Widely known as the first multiracial pop group, The Del-Vikings released this song on Fee Bee Records and it was a massive hit and eventually became the band’s highest-charting song. Here’s a fun fact: the first time Paul McCartney saw John Lennon, the latter was singing this track! Now that’s one for the books.
19. “Peggy Sue” – Buddy Holly (1957)
Originally titled “Cindy Lou,” it was eventually changed to “Peggy Sue” after The Crickets’ drummer Jerry Allison’s girlfriend. Allison asked Buddy Holly for the name change just for brownie points to which Holly agreed. Holly also wrote a sequel called “Peggy Sue Got Married” and the demo tape was only discovered after his death.
18. “At The Hop” – Danny and the Juniors (1957)
It was originally titled “Do the Bop,” it gained massive attention after the band sang it on the music-performance show American Bandstand. It also returned to prominence a decade later after Sha Na Na performed it at Woodstock ’69 and also when it was used in the coming-of-age movie American Graffiti.
17. “Little Darlin'” – The Diamonds (1957)
This is one of the reasons why music in the ‘50s is unforgettable – no stunts, theatrics, or showing off. It was nothing but pure musical fun. The Diamonds’ cover version of “Little Darlin’” was a huge success (originally recorded by The Gladiolas) and went on to become a Rock ‘n Roll RnB classic.
16. “Jailhouse Rock” – Elvis Presley (1957)
Leave it to Elvis Presley to make prison look cool. “Jailhouse Rock” sounds catchy and fun which is why it’s no surprise that it topped both the US and UK charts for weeks. It was also certified 2x platinum by the RIAA after selling more than 2,000,000 copies in the US alone.
15. “Diana” – Paul Anka (1957)
This is for the ones who still fall in love with Paul Anka after hearing this song six decades later. It’s a certified classic and some believed the rumors that it was inspired by his high school friend Diana Ayoub but in his interview with Terry Cross, Anka said it was about a girl at his church he barely knew.
14. “Honeycomb” – Jimmie Rodgers (1957)
Written and originally recorded by the second most successful songwriter of the 1950s, Bob Merrill, the best-selling version was from popular music singer and folkie crooner Jimmie Rodgers and it was his biggest hit. This song was even referenced by The McGuire Sisters’ track “Sugartime” with the line “Just be my “Honeycomb””.
13. “So Rare” – Jimmy Dorsey (1957)
One of the greatest songs ever written, Jimmy Dorsey enjoyed massive popularity after achieving success with his version of “So Rare.” The earliest known recording was that by Carl Ravell and his Orchestra in 1937. Other 1937 releases were from Gus Arnheim and his Coconut Grove Orchestra and Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians.
12. “You Send Me” – Sam Cooke (1957)
What’s not to love about this Sam Cooke masterpiece? The commercial success of his debut single says it all. By the end of 1957, it has sold more than 1.5 million copies thus Cooke “became a secular superstar, with audiences consisting of black and white, men and women, young and old.”
11. “Chances Are” – Johnny Mathis (1957)
Johnny Mathis’ voice is as smooth as butter over French toast – just delightful. This is one of those songs you need to put on repeat just because. In 1998, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Because of its massive success, it went on to become a gold record.
10. “Tipitipitipso” – Caterino Valente
You don’t need to understand German to love this song. It’s catchy, sounds fun and gives off that feel-good vibes – the recipe for a surefire mainstream success. And Italian Caterina Valente wasn’t just a singer and guitarist. She’s also a dancer and actress who achieved global fame because of her hit songs.
9. “Every Day” – Buddy Holly (1957)
This upbeat song didn’t make it to the charts for Buddy Holly but it ranked no. 238 on The Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. This was also the B-side of another timeless classic we included in this list, “Peggy Sue.” There are several cover versions but still, nothing comes close to the original.
8. “Teddy Bear” – Elvis Presley (1957)
Elvis Presley was on a roll during the 1950s. He was at the peak of his career and there’s no better testament to that than the fact that three of his songs made it to this list. Although to be honest, most of those in his catalog have proven that they stood the test of time.
7. “Young Love” – Sonny James
The sad thing is, we’ll never have music like this again. But on the upside, artists like Sonny James left us a legacy so beautiful and timeless; the next generations could still enjoy their musical greatness. Even another half a century later, people will look back at the ‘50s and then put this on repeat.
6. “Tammy” – Debbie Reynolds (1957)
Debbie Reynolds’ version of “Tammy” is perhaps the most popular one with the Ames Brothers’ rendition following close second. This was used as a love theme in the movie “Tammy and the Bachelor.” The track received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song but it lost to “All The Way.”
5. “La Bamba” – Ritchie Valens (1958)
It’s one of the songs that pop into your head when you think timeless. It’s adapted from a traditional Mexican folk song and Ritchie Valens incorporated a rock beat to it. It’s often played at weddings and it became a massive hit for him. Sadly, however, he died in a plane crash at just 17 years old.
4. “Great Balls Of Fire” – Jerry Lee Lewis
Featured in the 1957 rock and roll film “Jamboree,” “Great Balls of Fire” sold a million copies in the United States only 10 days after it was released. It eventually went on to become one of the best-selling singles of all time. It also topped the UK Singles Chart and peaked at no. 2 on the US Billboard Pop Charts.
3. “Tequila” – The Champs (1958)
Based on a Cuban mambo beat, The Champs enjoyed popularity thanks mostly to this song. It dominated the charts after its release and even today, most people remember it as one of the biggest hits of the 1950s. During the first ever Grammy Awards, this track bagged the award for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance.
2. “Johnny B. Goode” – Chuck Berry (1958)
Ladies and gentlemen, it goes without saying that this is one of the finest rock ‘n roll tunes ever written. Based on Chuck Berry’s life, it has been covered by numerous artists but let’s face it, nothing will ever come close to the original. It’s easily recognizable and hands-down incredible.
1. “Sleep Walk” – Santo & Johnny (1959)
This instrumental song featured a steel guitar and was a chart-topping hit. It gave Santo & Johnny their first gold record. It also became a huge inspiration to Peter Green, the founder of Fleetwood Mac, for his 1968 track “Albatross” which, in turn, also inspired The Beatles’ 1969 “Sun King.”