So many artists had hits in 1953, and several great tracks were released that year, so we thought we’d tell you the 31 best songs from 1953 that you might want to add to your music playlist.
1. Your Cheatin’ Heart – Hank Williams
First on the list is Your Cheatin’ Heart by Hank Williams, which is one of the most iconic and important tracks in country music. He was talking about his ex-wife while on a drive with his fiancé, saying his ex had a cheatin’ heart, and the rest, as they say, is history.
He recorded it as a song, and it was a success immediately with it hitting number one on the Billboard Country & Western chart and staying there for six weeks! It is also dubbed as one of the greatest country music tracks ever and has been covered by several artists through the years.
2. I Believe – Frankie Laine
Next is Frankie Laine with I Believe, which also includes Paul Weston And His Orchestra. In the UK, this song was the best-selling single in 1953, and with 18 weeks at number one on the UK Singles chart, it holds the record books even today. In America, it went to number two on the charts, but it only lasted at number one for three weeks.
3. Dragnet – Ray Anthony
Calling all fans of the television show Dragnet, the theme song by Ray Anthony is up next, which was used first on the radio show and then on the television show. This track is legendary for those who grew up in the 50s and either heard the radio show or watched Dragnet on television.
To this day, you can find the theme song and the television show online or on television channels that play older shows, which means this track isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
4. Honey Hush – Big Joe Turner
Next up is Big Joe Turner with Honey Hush, which hit number one on the Billboard R&B chart and stayed there for eight weeks. This song is all about how a woman won’t do what he is telling her he wants her to do, and it’s semi-serious but also lighthearted. It was deemed very adult in nature due to the sexual lyrics in the track and remains one of the best blues songs of that decade.
5. Crying In The Chapel – The Orioles
Attention all fans of American Graffiti, The Orioles are on the list with Crying In The Chapel, which appears in the movie. This version of the song is more doo-wop than the original, and it hit number one on the Billboard R&B chart and was their biggest hit on the charts. It also went to number 11 on the Billboard Pop chart and is the most well-known version of the track to date.
6. April In Portugal – Les Baxter
Les Baxter makes our list with April In Portugal, and this song is a cover and probably the most well-known version since it hit number two on the Billboard Magazine chart. This version stayed on the charts for over 22 weeks and recently was included in the Wes Anderson movie Asteroid City. The track remains one of his biggest hits, and it’s a song to check out if you’ve never heard it.
7. I’ll Be True – Faye Adams
Up next is Faye Adams with I’ll Be True, which was her second number-one hit on the Billboard R&B chart. While it only stayed number one for a week, it remains one of her most iconic and successful songs and she only had limited success after I’ll Be True was released.
8. Gee – The Crows
The Crows are a doo-wop and R&B group that had a hit with Gee, and this track is important since it was given the title as the first hit song for a rock and roll band. It went to number two on the Billboard R&B chart and 14 on the Billboard Pop chart. It also became the first record from a 50s doo-wop group to sell more than a million records.
9. One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer – Amos Milburn
If you enjoy drinking then you probably know the song One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer, which was famously covered by George Thorogood. However, the original track was recorded in 1953 by Amos Milburn, and this blues song is all about the joys of drinking alcohol. He had several tracks that were themed on alcohol, but this one is iconic since it’s all about nagging a bartender for more booze before the bar closes. The guy is also trying to forget that his girlfriend left, and he can’t find her.
On the Billboard R&B chart, this song went to number two and stayed there for 14 weeks. While you can still hear this track on the radio, you’re more likely to encounter the Thorogood version of the song and not the Milburn version.
10. Ruby – Richard Hayman
If you’ve seen the movie Ruby Gentry then you know our next song, which is Ruby, and it was covered by Richard Hayman. This version of the track hit number three on the charts and was one of six versions of this song recorded in 1953.
11. [How Much Is That] Doggie In The Window – Patti Page
Next is the cute song [How Much Is That] Doggie In The Window by Patti Page. This track was a big hit and went to number one on the Billboard Best Sellers In Stores chart and number one on the Cash Box chart too. This record sold more than two million copies and has been covered several times through the years.
12. Vaya Con Dios – Les Paul And Mary Ford
Les Paul and Mary Ford are next with Vaya Con Dios, which hit number one on the Best Seller In Stores chart by Billboard Magazine and stayed number one for 11 weeks. Overall, the song was on the charts for more than 31 weeks, and it hit number one on the Cash Box chart and stayed in that position for five weeks. It was one of the biggest tracks of the year and sold the second-most records. It was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2005.
13. Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes – Perry Como
Next up on the list is Perry Como with Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes, which is a pop song that hit number one on the Billboard Best Selling Singles chart and number one on the UK Singles chart. This track sold more than 1.5 million copies and also is one of the biggest hits of 1953.
14. P.S. I Love You – The Hilltoppers
A track that’s referring to a love letter written to a significant other is next, which is the hit song P.S. I Love You. The Hilltoppers recorded a cover version of this track, which was originally performed by Rudy Vallee, and it went to number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Several other artists have recorded the song over the years including Tom Hall, a country singer.
15. Please Don’t Leave Me – Fats Domino
Next is Fats Domino with Please Don’t Leave Me, which he recorded in April and released in June as a single. He had several songs in the 50s, and this was just one of hundreds to become popular and deserve a spot on our list.
16. The Clock – Johnny Ace
Johnny Ace is up next with The Clock, and this song is all about feeling lonely and how a man is just sitting there watching the clock. It went to number one on the Billboard R&B chart, and this was the third time he got on the chart and his second to peak at number one. Given how popular this track was at the time, it’s worthy of a spot on this list.
17. Sunday Kind Of Love – Harptones
Up next is the Harptones, which are a group in the doo-wop genre, and while they never had any song hit the Billboard R&B chart, Sunday Kind Of Love was one of their most famous tracks. They were inducted in 2002 into the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame and have been immortalized with songs such as Sunday Kind Of Love living on.
18. With These Hands – Eddie Fisher
Eddie Fisher is next with the song With These Hands, which hit number one seven on the Billboard Pop chart. This track was incredibly popular in 1953 and was placed at number 28 on the Top 30 list of songs for that year compiled by Billboard. This is one of his most famous tracks, and it’s one that had a lot of airplay throughout the late 50s.
19. Ebb Tide – Frank Chacksfield
Frank Chacksfield makes our list with Ebb Tide, which is a song talking about how the Ebb tide is responsible for the waves coming in and out of the ocean and onto the shore. There is also some metaphor being used in the track to illustrate having sexual desires. On the UK Singles chart, this song went to number nine, and in America, it went to two on the Billboard Pop chart.
20. Tell Me You’re Mine – The Gaylords
The Gaylords make the list with the song Tell Me You’re Mine, and this track hit number two on the Billboard Pop chart while making it to three on the Cashbox chart. This was one of the biggest songs of the year and made it to 17 on the Top 30 Singles of 1953 ranking by Billboard. It remained one of the biggest tracks that they would release and is one of their most popular songs to this day.
21. Pretend – Nat King Cole
Next on the list is Nat King Cole with his song Pretend, which hit the Billboard Best Seller chart and peaked at number three but stayed on the chart for a total of 20 weeks. On the UK Singles chart, it went to number two, and it’s the best-known version of this song and one of his most popular and iconic tracks.
22. Have You Heard – Joni James
Joni James makes our list with Have You Heard, which is one of the biggest songs of the year and peaked at number four on the Billboard Magazine chart and stayed on the chart for 14 weeks in total. While the track came out in December 1952, the song did not chart until the next year.
23. The Things That I Used To Do – Guitar Slim
Up next on the list is The Things That I Used To Do by Guitar Slim, and this track is a blues song and a standard that included Ray Charles producing the recording session. The track was a major hit, and it hit number one on the Billboard R&B chart and stayed there for six weeks while remaining on the chart for a total of 42 weeks. Over one million copies were sold, and it was dubbed as the highest-selling R&B record for 1953.
24. I’m Mad – Willie Mabon
Willie Wabon had a hit with I’m Mad, which hit number one on the Billboard R&B chart, and this would be one of two tracks he had that would land at the top of the R&B chart. He did not have a lot of hits in the following decade, but this song is still thought of as one of his best tracks.
25. Oh! – Pee Wee Hunt
Up next is Pee Wee Hunt with Oh! This song was the second time he scored a major hit on the charts, and it landed at number three. This track helped him sell more than two million records and remains one of his most successful and memorable songs to date. While several other artists have covered this track, his version is one of the more memorable and most successful.
26. I Didn’t Want To Do It – The Spiders
The Spiders are next with I Didn’t Want To Do It, which was their first single, and it hit three on the Billboard R&B chart. They were a gospel vocal group that had several other hits through the years, but this remains one of their best songs and was incredibly popular in 1953.
27. I Wanna Know – The Du Droppers
Up next is The Du Droppers with I Wanna Know, and this song is one of their most famous and successful tracks. They were a gospel doo-wop group that sang some of the most memorable songs of the 50s. This track made it to three on the Billboard R&B chart and was one of the biggest songs of the year.
28. Mess Around – Ray Charles
Iconic singer Ray Charles makes the list with Mess Around, which was one of his earliest hit songs. In this track, he is talking about dancing and encourages everyone to begin dancing, such as the girl who has the red dress on. This was a great song that is upbeat and makes you want to groove.
29. Don’t Deceive Me – Chuck Willis
Chuck Willis had a hit with Don’t Deceive Me, which is one of several hit songs this rock and roll and R&B artist had throughout his career. While it didn’t reach number one like his track C.C. Rider, it was still one of the biggest songs of the year.
30. Saving My Love For You – Johnny Ace
Johnny Ace is next with Saving My Love For You, which is a love song where the main character is talking about he is saving his love for the girl he had to say goodbye to. This sweet love track then talks about him promising that he will love her even more and make her love him even more when they reunite.
31. Soul On Fire – LaVern Baker
LaVern Baker concludes our list with Soul On Fire, which was a huge hit for this R&B singer. Even though this song didn’t hit the charts, it’s noteworthy as one of several tracks she released over the year. In 1991, she was put into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because she was part of the reason rock and roll took off in the 50s. She had over 20 songs land on the R&B chart between 1955 and 1965 and that cemented her legacy as one of the best musicians of all 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.