31 Best Songs From 1942

Big band and jazz were popular music genres in the 40s, and you might be trying to find out what the top tracks were of this decade. We’re going to tell you the 31 best songs from 1942 below, so keep reading to find out all about them! 

1. White Christmas – Bing Crosby 

White Christmas (Official Video)

First on the list is White Christmas by Bing Crosby, which landed at number one on the Billboard chart for more than 11 weeks! It also went to number one on the Harlem Hit Parade chart and stayed there for three weeks. For him, this was the first time he made it onto the Harlem Hit Parade chart, which was a chart for Black music. 

2. Sleepy Lagoon – Harry James 

Sleepy Lagoon (1999 - Remaster)

Next is Harry James with the song Sleepy Lagoon or By The Sleepy Lagoon, which is all about love, and the melody is slow enough and whimsical enough that it’ll remind you about those warm and fuzzy feelings. Not only is there piano and guitar in this track but also woodwinds, which give that gentle and calming feeling to those that listen to it. When it was released, it went to number one on the Billboard Best Seller chart and stayed on the chart for a total of 18 weeks. 

3. A String Of Pearls – Glenn Miller & His Orchestra

A String of Pearls

Calling all fans of the action movie The Sicilian, Glenn Miller & His Orchestra had a hit with A String Of Pearls, which was famously featured in that film. When this song was released, it landed on the top of the Billboard Best Seller chart and stayed on the chart for more than 21 weeks. It is both a jazz and big band standard, and the instruments are a perfect example of music during the swing era

4. Moonlight Cocktail – Glenn Miller & His Orchestra

Moonlight Cocktail

Once again we’re going to talk about Glenn Miller & His Orchestra, and they had a hit song called Moonlight Cocktail. For 10 weeks, this track was on top of the Best Selling Record chart, and it’s one of his many hits during the 40s. There are several instruments in this song including the trombone, saxophone, and trumpet, which creates an amazing sound that both big band and jazz were known for. The track is all about a romance that’s occurring with a few drinks in hand underneath the moonlight.

5. I Don’t Want To Walk Without You – Harry James

I Don't Want to Walk Without You feat. Helen Forrest

Up next is I Don’t Want To Walk Without You by Harry James, which quickly went to number one on the Billboard Pop charts, and it’s one of the best love songs of 1942. In the track, the lyrics are describing a fear of being alone. It goes on to talk about desiring a loved one to be around so that they aren’t isolated and alone anymore. 

6. Just As Though You Were Here – Tommy Dorsey, The Pied Pipers, and Frank Sinatra 

Just As Though You Were Here (Remastered 2004)

Calling all fans of romantic music, Tommy Dorsey makes the list with Just As Though You Were Here, which also features Frank Sinatra on the vocals along with The Pied Pipers. It hit number six on the Billboard chart and stayed on the chart for more than six weeks. This is one of those romantic songs that talk about how a loved one was gone and the hope that they will come back soon. 

7. Mister Five By Five – Harry James

1942 HITS ARCHIVE: Mister Five By Five - Harry James (Helen Forrest, vocal)

On our list next is Mister Five By Five by Harry James, which is all about how there is a short guy who had a huge personality, and his nickname was Mister Five By Five because of his size. There is a catchy melody in the song, and it’s very energetic thanks to the orchestra. You’ll hear both swing and jazz in this track, and it’s no surprise that crowds loved this upbeat dance song. 

8. [I’ve Got a Gal In] Kalamazoo – Glenn Miller & His Orchestra 

[I've Got A Gal In] Kalamazoo (From "Orchestra Wives") (1991 Remastered)

Glenn Miller & His Orchestra had several hits in 1942, including the song [I’ve Got A Gal In] Kalamazoo. This track went to number one on the Billboard chart for eight weeks and stayed on the chart for more than 19 weeks. It has a tempo that’s upbeat and vocals that are energetic and lively. It is about a guy who fell in love with a woman who is from a city in Michigan named Kalamazoo and how he wants to be with her. 

9. Who Wouldn’t Love You? – Kay Kyser 

Who Wouldn't Love You

Kay Kyser is on the list with Who Wouldn’t Love You? and this is a romantic song that is also lighthearted and playful, so it’s the perfect dance track. The song is fun to listen to, and the brass in the track offers some boldness to the light lyrics. When you listen to it, those instruments you hear only add to the charm and positive energy that you’ll feel. 

10. Blues In The Night – Woody Herman

Blues In The Night

Woody Herman makes the list with the song Blues In The Night, which is one of the tracks in the Great American Songbook. It went to number one on the Billboard Best Seller chart and stayed on the chart for a total of 21 weeks. There is heartbreak, loss, and pain in this track, and the vocals provide depth and emotion to convey those feelings quite well.

11. Brazil – Jimmy Dorsey 

Up next is Jimmy Dorsey with Brazil, which is one of the biggest songs in Brazil and quickly became an anthem to their culture. The track goes into detail about how vibrant and beautiful the country is and includes lyrics talking about their dancing, music, and incredible landscapes. 

12. Tangerine – Jimmy Dorsey 

We’re going to talk about Jimmy Dorsey again because he also had a hit with Tangerine, which is the most popular version of this song, and it went to number one on the Billboard chart. It stayed number one for six weeks and then stayed on the chart altogether for 15 weeks. It’s a jazz track that has a melody that’s catchy, and the song itself is upbeat, lighthearted, and romantic. 

13. I Had The Craziest Dream – Harry James 

I Had The Craziest Dream

Harry James was very popular because he released several hit songs including I Had The Craziest Dream. This track was featured in the movie Springtime In The Rockies, and it stayed on the Billboard chart for over 22 weeks, with it peaking at number one. It also hit the Harlem Hit Parade chart and peaked at four. This jazz swing song is romantic and is talking about a sweet dream, with a melody that’s catchy and the orchestra adding the element of power and soul.

14. Serenade In Blue – Glenn Miller & His Orchestra 

Glenn Miller & His Orchestra - Serenade In Blue

Glenn Miller & His Orchestra is making another appearance with the hit Serenade In Blue, which made it to number two on the Pop Singles Billboard chart, spending over 15 weeks on the chart altogether. This song is very sweet and romantic and also has a soothing feeling to it, which made it great for a slow dance since it was very dreamy. 

15. My Devotion – Charlie Spivak 

Next up is Charlie Spivak and his song My Devotion, which is a track that is all about how much someone loves their significant other. There’s a lot of feeling and emotion in this song, and the trumpet adds to that feeling even more. It’s a classic track that will put you in a romantic mood, and it’s one of the timeless love ballads of 1942. 

16. Remember Pearl Harbor – Sammy Kaye 

Remember Pearl Harbor

Sammy Kaye had a smash hit with the song Remember Pearl Harbor, which went to number three on the Billboard Singles chart and stayed on the chart for eight weeks. As you might imagine, it’s a patriotic track that is meant to remind people of Pearl Harbor since it was released not too long after the attack on it. 

17. Daybreak – Tommy Dorsey 

If you want an upbeat tune, Tommy Dorsey’s hit Daybreak might be one to check out. This song features Frank Sinatra on vocals, so you get his smooth soulful voice with the energy of the instruments, such as the drums. This track is one of the best songs of the year, and it was a favorite among those that loved to dance.  

18. He’s My Guy – Harry James

1942 HITS ARCHIVE: He’s My Guy - Harry James (Helen Forrest, vocal)

Harry James released He’s My Guy, which is one of those romantic ballads that are heartfelt and lovely. The song is all about how happy you feel when you’re with someone special and how those feelings of love just make you feel excited and content. The vocals in this track are by Helen Forrest, and her voice is so elegant that it pairs well with the horns and other instruments found in his orchestra.

19. [I Got Spurs That] Jingle, Jangle, Jingle – Kay Kyser 

[I Got Spurs That] Jingle, Jangle, Jingle

[I Got Spurs That] Jingle, Jangle, Jingle was covered by Kay Kyser and is one of the top songs of 1942 and the most successful versions. The track was famously featured in a movie that year called The Forest Rangers, although that version had Dick Thomas singing and not Kyser.

When she released his cover of the song, it hit number one on the Billboard chart. With a melody and rhythm that is as catchy as it is, we can see why it went to number one on the charts. You’ll notice how upbeat and lively the track is when you hear the brass and the guitar gives the song an even more playful element. 

20. Johnny Doughboy Found A Rose In Ireland – Kay Kyser

Johnny Doughboy Found A Rose In Ireland

Another hit by Kay Kyser we wanted to talk about is Johnny Doughboy Found A Rose In Ireland, which is about how a soldier who fought in World War II in Ireland and found the love of his life. The soldier is named Johnny, and this song is upbeat and exciting, just like it is when you find your special someone and have that feeling of utter enjoyment and excitement when you’re with that person.

21. Jersey Bounce – Jimmy Dorsey 

Jersey Bounce (Remastered)

Jersey Bounce by Jimmy Dorsey is on the list, and this song is not only catchy but has a rhythm that’ll leave you feeling energetic and like you want to dance. There are drums and horns in the track, which give you that electric feeling where you can just get up and dance all night, and there is some soul found in him playing the clarinet. 

22. Manhattan Serenade – Tommy Dorsey 

Manhattan Serenade

Tommy Dorsey had a hit with Manhattan Serenade, which you may remember if you’ve seen the movie The Godfather or the musical from 1940 called Broadway Rhythm. This instrumental song is about how beautiful and lovely Manhattan is at night, and you can feel the beauty of it all in the whimsical tempo. When you hear this track, you’re taken along for the ride and can feel the charm and excitement that Manhattan can offer. 

23. I Left My Heart At The Stage Door Canteen – Charlie Spivak

I Left My Heart At The Stage Door Canteen

If you want to hear a song that was written during World War II then you might want to listen to I Left My Heart At The Stage Door Canteen by Charlie Spivak. This track is very sweet and nostalgic as he talks about how a soldier ends up falling for a woman he met while at a club called the Stage Door Canteen. The woman was a hostess at the time, and he would see her every time he went into this club.

However, since he has to go back onto the battlefield, he feels that he left his heart with her, so there is a bittersweet element to the song as well. 

24. Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me) – The Glenn Miller Orchestra 

Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)

The Glenn Miller Orchestra makes our list with Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me), which stayed on the Billboard chart for over 13 weeks with it being named as one of the best-selling records of 1942. It’s a jazz swing tune that is about a couple who remain faithful to one another while one of them is off serving in the war. Not only is this song romantic, but it’s also lighthearted, charming, and upbeat. 

25. Be Careful, It’s My Heart – Bing Crosby 

Be Careful, It's My Heart

You’ve probably heard of Bing Crosby a time or two, and he had a massive hit with the song Be Careful, It’s My Heart, which was one of the many romantic tunes that he released through the years. He talks about how important it is to protect your heart and how vulnerable being in love makes you feel. It’s soulful and also very tender, which helps convey the fact that when we are in love, our hearts often are worn on our sleeves. 

26. Dearly Beloved – Johnnie Johnston

1942 Johnnie Johnston - Dearly Beloved

A name you may not know is Johnnie Johnston, and he makes the list for the first time with the song Dearly Beloved. This track has been covered multiple times through the years, but his version remains one of the best given his smooth and very sweet vocals that convey the sincerity in the song. It is a romantic track that talks about how devoted he is to his woman, and it’s one of the classic love songs from the 40s that is still just as beloved and relevant today seeing as love is a universal and timeless feeling. 

27. Miss You – Bing Crosby

Another song the famous crooner Bing Crosby released that was a hit in 1942 was Miss You, which was one of his many romantic ballads to become hits. This track is all about missing someone special, hence the title, and his smooth voice lends itself beautifully to this song. There is a piano in the track along with strings, which conveys the emotions and depth of the lyrics

28. Praise The Lord and Pass The Ammunition – The Merry Macs 

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

Patriotism is in full swing with the song Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition by The Merry Macs. As you might imagine, this track is very patriotic and goes into detail about how brave and amazing our soldiers were in the middle of fighting World War II. It was instantly a hit and gave people a sense of unity and pride. 

29. American Patrol – The Glenn Miller Orchestra 

American Patrol by The Glenn Miller Orchestra is a song that was featured in the movie musical Orchestra Wives. Landing at number 15 on the Billboard chart, this is a very energetic and patriotic track. It made everyone feel pride and reflected on the unity of America during World War II. The imagery of fighter planes and soldiers can be found in this big band song, which has both a melody that’s catchy and a tempo that is very upbeat. 

30. How About You? – Tommy Dorsey 

How About You? (From "Babes on Broadway")

Another Tommy Dorsey hit we wanted to tell you about is How About You? The song is very fun and playful as it’s just giving scenarios to the other person in the romantic relationship, and it’s one of the top tracks of both jazz and big band music fans. Frank Sinatra provides vocals on it, so you know it’s a song full of style and his classic smooth delivery. 

31. Strip Polka – Alvino Rey 

Lastly, we wanted to mention the song Strip Polka by Alvino Rey, which is all about the strip polka dance. This type of dance requires that as the track continues to progress, you take off your clothes. There is a lot of energy in this song while the overall vibe is flirty, sexual, and also playful. During a time when war was dominating everyone’s lives, this was a track that people could let loose to and just have fun for a few hours.

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