The 30s were a wild time in music with jazz mostly filling the airwaves, but do you know what tracks were popular during 1934? Keep reading as we tell you what our picks are for the 31 best songs from 1934 and you might find some new tunes to listen to in the process.
1. Cocktails For Two – Duke Ellington
First on the list is Duke Ellington with the song Cocktails For Two, which is a cover by Carl Brisson. The track was put into the movie Murder At The Vanities, and it’s about ending prohibition in America. In 2007, Ellington’s version was put into the Grammy Hall of Fame and remains one of the most popular versions of the song.
2. June In January – Bing Crosby
Next is June In January by Bing Crosby, which comes from the movie Here Is My Heart, and it quickly rose to the top of the charts and went to number one. It’s one of the popular jazz standards and has been recorded by him more than once throughout his career. He recorded it for Bing: A Musical Autobiography in 1954 and that version was also in the movie The Joker Is Wild. He re-recorded the song in 1977 for Seasons, which ended up being his final record.
3. What A Shuffle – Chick Webb
Chick Webb had a hit with What A Shuffle, which was one of his most well-known songs. An interesting fact about him is that he could not read the music and would just memorize the band playing the arrangement and then would conduct them from there.
4. Honeysuckle Rose – Fats Waller
Fats Waller makes the list with Honeysuckle Rose, which was originally written in 1929 and used in the Broadway show Load Of Coal during a dance scene. He recorded a version of the song in 1934, and it would be this version that would make it into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
5. Love In Bloom – Bing Crosby
On our list next is Love In Bloom by Bing Crosby, which was in the movie She Loves Me Not. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song, although he didn’t win. Jack Benny would use it as his theme song for his television and radio show. Other artists had recorded the track too including Paul Whiteman, but Crosby’s version remained the best, and he would go on to record the song again for his album Bing: A Musical Autobiography in 1954.
6. The Very Thought Of You – Ray Noble & His Orchestra
Ray Noble & His Orchestra is on the list with The Very Thought Of You, which was written and recorded by him with the vocals being sung by Al Bowlly. The record label Victor released the record in America after releasing it in England, and it stayed in the number one position on the pop charts for five weeks. It is one of the biggest pop standards to date and has been an iconic track ever since he recorded it in 1934.
7. Stars Fell On Alabama – Guy Lombardo
Stars Fell On Alabama by Guy Lombardo makes our list and it seems that there was a book with this same title, which is where the name of the song comes from. It was one of the biggest jazz standards of the 30s, and it’s about a meteor shower that happened in 1833 in Alabama. Lombardo recorded one of the earliest versions of it, and Decca Records released it. More than 100 different musicians have since gone on to record this track including Dean Martin, Doris Day, and Frank Sinatra.
8. Isle Of Capri – Ray Noble & His Orchestra
Ray Noble is on the list again with Isle Of Capri, which was a very popular song in 1934 that incorporates foxtrot and tango for the perfect dance tune. It hit number one on the charts and stayed there for seven weeks.
9. Little Dutch Mill – Bing Crosby
Next up is Bing Crosby with Little Dutch Mill, which was one of his biggest hits, and it was a former partner of his in Rhythm Boys, Harry Barris, who composed the song. Harry was known as one of the primary and earliest singers of scat, and he helped record tracks including Mississippi Mud. Crosby got his solo start from that band, and Little Dutch Mill was one of the songs that helped him break out and become a hit solo star.
10. Tumbling Tumbleweeds – Roy Rogers And The Sons Of The Pioneers
Roy Rogers and The Sons Of The Pioneers are on the list with Tumbling Tumbleweeds, and this song was written by Bob Nolan and quickly became their signature track. This song got even more famous when it was put into a movie of the same name, and Gene Autry starred in that film. The Western Writers Of America even listed this track as one of the best Western songs ever. In 2010, it was put into the National Recording Registry because of its significance.
11. The Old Spinning Wheel – Ray Noble
Ray Noble had quite a few hits, and he’s on the list with the track The Old Spinning Wheel, which was a very popular swing-style song in 1934. This song was one of the multiple hits he would go on to have over the next several years and really showed off his talent as a jazz and big band musician and composer.
12. Winter Wonderland – Guy Lombardo
Guy Lombardo had a hit with Winter Wonderland, which was recorded by him and his band The Royal Canadians that became a huge hit. The song was written by Richard Smith and he was inspired to write this tune after he saw snow covering the park in his town.
Lombardo first recorded it in 1934 but re-recorded it in 1946 with the addition of The Andrews Sisters and an arrangement featuring Boogie Woodie. Today, the track is one of the most famous winter songs of all time, and no version has been dubbed the best since they all are great for their own reasons.
13. All I Do Is Dream Of You – Jan Garber & His Orchestra
On our list next is All I Do Is Dream Of You, which is by Jan Garber & His Orchestra. This was a very popular song that had been written for the movie Sadie McKee starring Joan Crawford. You can hear the track at the beginning of the film, and it was later featured in other movies such as Crimes And Misdemeanors and The Affairs Of Dobie Gillis. The version by Garber went to number one on the charts and stayed there for more than 14 weeks!
14. Stay As Sweet As You Are – Jimmy Grier & His Orchestra
Jimmy Grier & His Orchestra made the list with Stay As Sweet As You Are, which was the last time that they made the charts. Throughout the previous three years, they had multiple songs top the charts although that success ended after this track.
15. I Only Have Eyes For You – Ben Selvin
I Only Have Eyes For You by Ben Selvin is on the list, which is one of the most well-known love songs of all time. It was featured in the 1934 movie Dames. While his version is one of the earliest and most popular, other artists such as Art Garfunkel also released a cover version that went onto the charts.
16. You Oughta Be In Pictures – Little Jack Little
You Oughta Be In Pictures by Little Jack Little was a hit in 1934. The song is all about the movies, and it was written in 20 minutes by Edward Heyman and Dana Suesse. They both said that they’d be able to write a track that’d be a hit in 20 minutes and so they went into a room with a piano and came out with that song. It was in the film The Ziegfeld Follies Of 1934.
17. One Night Of Love – Grace Moore
Next is Grace Moore with One Night Of Love, which was written for the musical of the same name starring her. The movie won an Academy Award for the score, and the song was a huge hit both in the film and on the charts.
18. Sleepy Head – The Mills Brothers
The Mills Brothers make the list with Sleepy Head, which is one of the multiple hit tracks they had over their career. The group was a mixture of pop and jazz and throughout their career had sold over 50,000 records and made over 2,000 song recordings. With tracks like this, it’s no wonder that in 1998, the four of them were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame.
19. Little Man You’ve Had a Busy Day – Emil Coleman and His Orchestra
Up next is Little Man You’ve Had A Busy Day by Emil Coleman And His Orchestra, which is a cover of the song by Mabel Wayne earlier that year. Four different artists had covered the track that year with Coleman being one of the best out of the covers. Instead of this being a traditional song, it’s more of a lullaby with the mood and vocals being done in that style as opposed to a singing style.
20. You’re The Top – Ethel Merman
Ethel Merman is on our list with You’re The Top, which was one of her hit songs that became a standard when she first popularized them on Broadway. Not only is her voice incredibly powerful, but she was an actress and comedian. It is one of those tracks you will recognize along with her other well-known hit There’s No Business Like Show Business.
21. If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again – Thomas A. Dorsey
Thomas A. Dorsey makes the list with If I Could Hear My Mother, which was a very popular gospel song that originally was released in 1922. It was a tribute to John Whitfield Vaughan’s mother, and he wrote this track for her. He made this song popular when he recorded it, and it made it into the National Recording Registry in 2007.
22. All Through The Night – Cole Porter
Cole Porter had a smash hit with All Through The Night, which was for his musical released in 1934 called Anything Goes. This version is one of the most popular ones to date, but Paul Whiteman also had a successful cover of this song. The chromatic scale is descending, which is different from a lot of other music, and that’s what makes this track’s melody so unique.
23. Boll Weevil – Lead Belly
Attention all fans of Nirvana, you might have heard of Lead Belly before because the grunge band covered several songs from the blues artist. One track that was a hit for him was Boll Weevil, which was originally by Alan Lomax. It became one of the most popular versions of the songs to date, and it’s all about a beetle that feeds on both flowers and buds of cotton and ended up causing a lot of devastation in the 20s.
24. Autumn In New York – Vernon Duke
Next is Autumn In New York by Vernon Duke, which was featured in the hit musical on Broadway called Thumbs Up! There have been several different versions of the song through the years, with his being one of the top, although Frank Sinatra covered the track in 1949 and that overshadowed this version.
25. I Never Had a Chance – Eddy Duchin & His Orchestra
I Never Had A Chance by Eddy Duchin & His Orchestra is on our list, which was covered by more than one person in 1934. His version was one of the first, but Glen Gray also performed the song later in the year. Since the version Duchin was one of the first popular renditions of the track, we’ve decided to include that one instead.
26. Hawkins Rag – Gid Tanner
Gid Tanner released Hawkins Rag, which mixed genres of world, country, and folk to create one of the best songs of the year. This instrumental track has only been notably covered by The Hotmud Family in 1974 and Ernie Hawkins in 2000.
27. Flying Down To Rio – Fred Astaire
The iconic Fred Astaire had a hit with Flying Down To Rio with Edward Eliscu and Gus Kahn writing the lyrics and Vincent Youmans being responsible for the music. The man who would be Astaire’s collaborator primarily later on, Hermes Pan, ended up being the assistant dance director.
28. I Can’t Dance I Got Ants In My Pants – Chick Webb
Calling all fans of the video game Fallout 76, you may know the song I Can’t Dance I Got Ants In My Pants since this track can be found in the game if you listen to Appalachia Radio. This song by Chick Webb is one of the most successful tracks of 1934, and Taft Gordon helped with the refrain vocally in this song.
29. Blame It On My Youth – Jan Garber
Next up is Jan Garber with Blame It On My Youth, and for this song, the vocals were performed by Lee Bennet. When talking about the record label, Victor, this was one of the more popular records from them, and we’re not surprised given the talent of Garber. It was one of the jazz standards, which means that several artists have recorded versions of it through the years.
Edward Heyman wrote the lyrics to the song in 1934 and then Oscar Levant was responsible for writing the music. Garber was the third highly-successful artist to cover the track with The Dorsey Brothers having been the group that recorded the song first.
30. Champagne Waltz – Glen Gray
Glen Gray makes the list with Champagne Waltz, which made the charts and ended up peaking at number 46. We’re not surprised that he had yet another song make the charts since he was one of the more successful jazz musicians of that era.
There were several versions of this recorded that year, but this one is one of the earliest. His track was even the inspiration for the comedic film The Champagne Waltz, which was released in 1937. Even more interesting is that in Popeye, there was an episode that featured this song during a dance contest.
31. Love Thy Neighbor – Bing Crosby
Last on the list is Love Thy Neighbor by Bing Crosby, which was written by Harry Revel and Mack Gordon. It was first recorded in February by Crosby and was then put into the movie We’re Not Dressing in April. It was also released as a single and was one of the biggest hits of the year. When you listen to the song, you’ll notice it has more of a pop style to it, even though it still contains the jazz sounds that were popular during this time.
From the time she was little, Florence loved listening to music and quickly learned how music can make you happy and feel fulfilled. One of her favorite memories is being in the garage with her dad working on classic cars with the local rock station blaring in the background. Ever since Florence was 3, she loved grunge music and spent hours listening to bands such as Alice in Chains, Mad Season, Soul Asylum, and Soundgarden.
She also enjoys classic rock, modern rock, nu metal, alternative rock, and old 90’s R&B. Her love of music grew as she got older, and used music to help her get through tough times in her life. More often than not, you’ll see Florence with earbuds in while she’s writing, cooking, cleaning, and doing other tasks. She also loves to debate music with her friends such as which lead singer is the best vocalist, the most iconic guitar solos in music, and what songs are really the best of the decade.