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33 Best Songs From 1951

The 50s were a great time in music with doo-wop and R&B tracks topping the charts. We’re going to tell you the 33 best songs from 1951, so read on to see the tracks that started this amazing decade. 

1. Unforgettable – Nat King Cole 

The first song on the list needs no introduction, which is Unforgettable by Nat King Cole. This track has recently been featured in the movie Watchmen, and it’s one of the most well-known songs of all time. When it was released, it went to 12 on the Most Played by Disk Jockeys chart, 14 on the Best-Selling Pop Singles chart, and 15 on the Best-Selling Sheet Music chart. 

2. On Top Of Old Smoky – Weavers 

On Top of Old Smokey

On Top Of Old Smoky is one of the most famous tracks of all time, and this folk song, which was performed by Weavers, is one of the funnest tunes to sing. The track went to number two on the Billboard Charts and hit number one on Cash Box. Known as one of the best folk songs ever, it’s one of the most covered tracks in this genre. 

3. Dust My Broom – Elmore James

Elmore James had a hit with Dust My Broom, which is a blues standard that features a guitar riff multiple artists have covered over the years. This song has made it into the Grammy Hall of Fame and Blues Foundation Blues Hall of Fame and is in the National Recording Registry for its significance to blues music and rock and roll. 

4. Cold, Cold Heart – Tony Bennett 

Tony Bennett - Cold, Cold Heart (from Viva Duets)

Tony Bennett is on our list with Cold, Cold Heart, which is a cover of a Hank Williams song that features a pop sound instead. It went to number one on the Billboard Magazine chart and overall spent 27 weeks on the chart. This was the most successful and famous version of the track, and it helped people learn about Hank Williams and take them both to a more mainstream audience. 

5. Too Young – Nat King Cole 

Nat King Cole - "Too Young" (1961)

Nat King Cole is on the list with Too Young, which hit number one on the Billboard chart for five weeks and stayed on the chart itself for 29 weeks. The song also was the best-selling track of the year 1951 and on the Cash Box chart spent eight weeks at number one. He has gone on to say that he loved covering this song, and it had always been one of his favorite tracks that he recorded. 

6. Hey Good Lookin’ – Hank Williams 

Hank Williams - Hey Good Lookin' (Official Video)

Hank Williams is on the list with Hey Good Lookin’, which is one of the most famous tracks in music ever. In 2001, this song was put into the Grammy Hall of Fame and he is one of the most beloved and well-known country artists to date. When the track was released in 1951, it went to number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.

7. Ramblin’ Man – Hank Williams 

Ramblin' Man (Hd Remastered Version)

Ramblin’ Man is up next, which is Hank Williams as Luke The Drifter, who is his alter ego or pseudonym that he used when he wanted to record his less-than-typical songs. This track is about a man knowing he will break his gal’s heart because he is a drifter and womanizer and accepts that fact. This was one of his most famous songs, and it’s one of the iconic country tracks where once you hear it you can’t help but sing along.

8. Come On-A My House – Rosemary Clooney

Come On-a My House

Rosemary Clooney makes the list with Come On-A My House, which was a success for her, and her version of this song is what made it popular. If you’ve watched The Stars Are Singing, you will hear her sing the track in the movie. What’s funny is that in real life, she hated singing it as she would admit later in life.

9. A Kiss To Build A Dream On – Louis Armstrong 

A Kiss To Build A Dream On

A Kiss To Build A Dream On is next by Louis Armstrong, which is one of his many hit songs in the 50s. You can find this track in The Strip, which was a 1951 movie where the song is prominently placed. It was such a great track for the film that it was even up for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, although it lost. You may also recognize the track from the hit movie Sleepless In Seattle.

10. Sixty Minute Man – The Dominoes 

The Dominoes are on our list with Sixty Minute Man, which is one of the most important songs for rock and roll. This track is also important since it was one of the first crossover hits from R&B to pop. It landed on the Billboard R&B chart and peaked at number one for 14 weeks, and it went onto the Billboard Pop chart where it peaked at 17. It was Song of the Year, and it’s a track of a man boasting about his sexual energy and libido. 

11. Glory Of Love – The Five Keys 

The Five Keys make the list with Glory Of Love, which made it to number one on the Billboard R&B chart. This was one of the most popular R&B groups of the decade, and it is one of their most famous songs. In 2002, they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame. 

12. Cry – Johnnie Ray

Next up is Johnnie Ray with Cry, which is one of his biggest hits. This song was number one on the Billboard Magazine chart, and it is one of his signature tracks. While the song might have been a cover and has also been covered since then, Ray has what most consider the best version

13. Long Distance Calls – Muddy Waters 

Muddy Waters - Long Distance Calls (Live)

Muddy Waters makes the list with Long Distance Calls, which hit eight on the Billboard R&B chart. This song is from the perspective of a guy who is singing to his woman asking her to say some kind words about him. This track is considered to be one of the most famous blues songs of the modern era. 

14. Peace In The Valley – Sam Cooke & Soul Stirrers 

Peace In The Valley

The Soul Stirrers and Sam Cooke had a hit with Peace In The Valley, which is a well-known gospel song that is still played in churches today. In total, Soul Stirrers had an 80-year music career with Cooke joining the band as a vocalist from 1950 to 1956. This was one of their biggest hits and is popular for helping develop what we know as quartet gospel singing. 

15. I Got Loaded – Peppermint Harris 

Peppermint Harris is on our list next with the hit I Got Loaded, which went to number one on the Billboard R&B chart. He was one of the several jump blues and R&B singers of that decade but only had two hits on the charts, with this being the more successful out of the two since it went to number one. 

16. How High The Moon – Les Paul & Mary Ford 

How High The Moon (Remastered)

Next on the list is How High The Moon by Les Paul & Mary Ford, which was one of the biggest tracks of the year spending more than 25 weeks on the Billboard chart. It peaked at number one on the chart and stayed there for nine weeks. In 1979, it was put into the Grammy Hall of Fame and is also on the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame’s Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll list. 

17. Best Wishes – Roy Milton 

Roy Milton was a very successful jump blues singer, band leader, and R&B singer that had a hit with Best Wishes, which went to number two on the R&B chart. He was incredibly popular and had more than 19 songs that landed in the Top 10 through the years with this being one of the most well-known of them all. 

18. Dear John – Hank Williams 

Hank Williams is on the list again with Dear John, and this song was the A-side on the record that contained his even bigger hit Cold, Cold Heart on the B-side. When you listen to this track, you’re going to remember hearing it all of the time because it was everywhere and was one of his most successful songs. It went to number eight on the Billboard Country Singles chart. 

19. There’s Always Room At Our House – Guy Mitchell

There's Always Room At Our House

One song that was popular at the time was There’s Always Room At Our House by Guy Mitchell featuring Mitch Miller And His Orchestra. When you listen to this song, you can feel the love and friendship that it offers. It was a successful track because it was easy to listen to and had the emotional appeal that allowed it to become a radio hit. 

20. Down Yonder – Del Wood 

Down Yonder was a popular song that was released by Del Wood, and it’s one of the most successful versions of this track to date. In this song, the term “Down Yonder” is referring to the Southern part of America. It landed on the Billboard charts where it peaked at number four and stayed on the charts for 25 weeks total! 

21. The Thrill Is Gone – Roy Hawkins 

Roy Hawkins-The Thrill Has Gone

Roy Hawkins may not have had the most successful version of The Thrill Is Gone, but his version was the one that started it all. It went to number six on the Billboard R&B chart. B.B. King covered the song later and that version is the most well-known, while also helping it become a standard in blues. 

22. Mockin’ bird Hill – Patti Page 

Patti Page had a smash hit with Mockin’ Bird Hill, and her version of this song went on to peak at number two on the Billboard Pop charts. It stayed on the charts for more than 22 weeks, and while other artists have recorded the track through the years, her version is often the most well-known and liked. 

23. Lilacs In The Rain – The Ravens 

Lilacs In The Rain

The Ravens were one of the biggest R&B groups at the time and throughout the 50s, and they had a hit with Lilacs In The Rain. They were so good that in 1998, they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame. While there are many songs that they released that were iconic, this track helps showcase their unbelievable talents and skills as musicians. 

24. Eternally – The Swallows 

The Swallows had a hit with Eternally, and this song is one of their most popular tunes and it was a huge hit when it was released. It is all about a guy who is asking a former girlfriend why she left, then he begins to feel sorry for himself and is trying to win her back throughout the song. The track shows the softer side of The Swallows, and when you hear them, you will find yourself thinking they are similar to The Orioles. 

25. Crazy About You Baby – Sonny Boy Williamson

Crazy About You Baby

Next is the famous blues singer Sonny Boy Williamson with the song Crazy About You Baby, which was first released by him in February 1951. Several other versions of the track were made including one by Big Wheeler and another by Lonnie Brooks. Willaimson’s version remains the most successful and well-known and is one of his best songs.  

26. Be My Love – Mario Lanza

Be My Love (From "The Toast of New Orleans")

Up next on the list is Be My Love by Mario Lanza, which he sang for the movie The Toast Of New Orleans. The song sold more than two million copies and landed on the Billboard charts, peaking at number one and staying on the charts for over 34 weeks total. When Lanza had a radio program, this track was the theme song, and it quickly became his signature track. 

28. Jezebel – Frankie Laine 

Calling all fans of I Love Lucy, if you watched the first season of the show, you might remember Jezebel, which was famously sung by Dezi Arnez in an episode. Frankie Laine had a huge hit with this song, and it went to two on the Billboard charts and sold more than a million records.

If you aren’t familiar with the name, there is a woman in the Bible—Old Testament version—called Jezebel, and she is a princess who worshiped Baal and was evil. This track is all about her, and Laine’s version remains one of the most well-known and successful to date. 

28. My Resistance Is Low – Hoagy Carmichael 

My Resistance Is Low

Next on the list is Hoagy Carmichael with My Resistance Is Low, which you can find in Howard Hughes’ classic The Las Vegas Story. The song was a huge hit in the UK and America and was covered years later by the likes of Bing Crosby and Elvis Costello. 

29. Too Young – Jimmy Young 

Jimmy Young is a UK radio personality, singer, and broadcaster who had a hit with Too Young. This track was a cover of the Nat King Cole song and was one of the biggest and most famous covers of it. It was released before the UK charts existed, so it never charted there or in America, but it went on to sell a lot of sheet music. 

30. I Get Ideas (When we Are dancing) – Tony Martin 

I Get Ideas (When We Are Dancing)

Calling all fans of the movie Cruella, you may know the song I Get Ideas (When We Are Dancing) by Tony Martin from this movie. This track was very popular in 1951, and this tango song that includes lyrics went to number three on the Billboard Magazine chart and stayed on the chart for a total of 30 weeks. The most famous version of it is the version by Martin and remains an iconic track to this day. 

31. My Reverie – The Larks 

The Larks are next on the list with My Reverie, which is a song that showcases the talent of this band and how well they can put emotion into tracks. Not only are the vocals superb in this song, but you can feel the intensity and hopeful feeling he has while singing, and deep down, that anticipation and worry that it won’t work out in the end. 

32. Sound Off – Vaughn Monroe 

Vaughn Monroe "Sound Off (The Duckworth Chant)" on The Ed Sullivan Show

Vaughn Monroe is next with Sound Off, which is one of his most famous songs, and it’s one of the best tracks of the decade. If you haven’t heard this song, then you should check it out because he sang baritone; he also played trumpet, so he is capable of incorporating many elements into his tracks, such as this. He’s good enough that he even has two different stars on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, with one being for radio and the other being for singing. 

33. The Thing – Phil Harris 

The Thing (Digitally Mastered 1988)

Phil Harris had a hit with The Thing, which lasted 14 weeks on the Billboard charts and stayed there for around 14 weeks. The track is what’s known as a folk novelty song that is sung in a first-person perspective. The lyrics talk about a box that is wooden floating in the water, and what’s weird is that whatever might be in the box is never talked about as “the thing.” This track has been featured in multiple movies including the movie The Wild Blue Yonder.

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