There were several talented musicians that put out music in 1954, and it spanned genres such as country and rock and roll. Here is a list of the 31 best songs from 1954 that you might want to check out.
1. Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine) – The Penguins
First up on the list is Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine) by The Penguins, and this track is one of the most well-known Doo-wop songs of all time. It went to number one on the Best Sellers In Stores R&B chart, Most Played By Jockeys chart, and Most Played in Jukeboxes chart. It ended up becoming the first release by an independent label to hit the Billboard pop charts. This was the only hit they would have, and in 2005, it was put into the National Recording Registry due to its significance.
2. Don’t You Know – Ray Charles
Ray Charles lands on our list with Don’t You Know, which was one of the songs from his self-titled first album. This track went to number 10 on the charts and became one of the top songs on his debut album. Interestingly, all of the tracks on it had already been released previously, so his debut album was merely a compilation album.
3. That’s All Right – Elvis Presley
Next up is Elvis Presley with the song That’s All Right, which has become one of his more well-known songs in the years after his passing. While the track didn’t hit the national charts when it was released, it did land on the Memphis charts at number four and sold close to 20,000 at the time of its release.
4. Secret Love – Doris Day
Attention all fans of the movie Calamity Jane, Doris Day makes our list with the song Secret Love, which was a track that comes from the movie. The song went to number one on the Billboard Top 20 charts and number one on the Billboard Best Selling Singles chart. This is one of her most successful tracks and one that fans of hers and this movie have enjoyed ever since.
5. Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnite – The Spaniels
You might not know The Spaniels, but you probably have heard the song Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnite. This track was one of the biggest doo-wop songs of the year, and it went to five on the Billboard R&B chart and number five on the Billboard R&B Records chart. For the Top R&B Songs list of 1954, this track was ranked 15 by Billboard.
6. Rock Around The Clock – Bill Haley & His Comets
Bill Haley And His Comets is next with Rock Around The Clock, which is the most successful and well-known version of the song to date. It hit number one on the Billboard chart and stayed there for two months and also went to number one on the UK Singles chart.
This was the first time that a rock and roll track had hit number one on the charts in America and the UK, and it was an anthem for the youth rebellion of the 50s. You can find this song in many movies and television shows including the movie Blackboard Jungle, and it’s considered one of the greatest tracks of all time.
7. I Feel So Bad – Chuck Willis
Next is Chuck Willis with the song I Feel So Bad, which went to number eight on the Billboard R&B chart and is one of the biggest songs of 1954. Even though Elvis Presley would go on to record this track several years later, this version is still one of the most successful blues songs of the decade.
8. In Other Words (Fly Me To The Moon) – Kaye Ballard
Kaye Ballard is next with In Other Words (Fly Me To The Moon), and this track is a love song that was released at the same time she was in the show The Golden Apple. While her version was the first recording of it on a commercial level, several artists would cover it and overshadow her version, including Frank Sinatra and Bobby Womack.
9. Mr. Sandman – Chordettes
The Chordettes is a band you probably don’t recognize, but you might recognize the track Mr. Sandman because it’s one of the biggest folk songs of all time, and includes the lyrics “Bring me a dream.” While Vaughn Monroe And His Orchestra recorded the original version that Pat Ballard wrote, The Chordettes made it a successful tune, and their version remains one of the most well-known.
10. Gloria – The Cadillacs
Next up on our list is The Cadillacs with the track Gloria, which is a cover of the famous doo-wop song, but revamped a bit by them. It was put onto their debut record where it became a hit. Several artists and groups have covered the Leon René track over the years, but The Cadillacs had one of the more famous versions of the song that is still popular to this day.
11. Blue Moon Of Kentucky – Elvis Presley
Once again Elvis Presley is on the list with Blue Moon Of Kentucky, which features Bill and Scotty. This song was a very big hit, although it was mostly a hit in the Southern part of the US. It was number six on the C&W Territorial Best Sellers List in Memphis and went into the top 10 in cities such as New Orleans and Nashville. While other versions of this track exist, including the original version, it was the Elvis version that gained attention and charted higher than any other.
12. Shake, Rattle And Roll – Big Joe Turner
Big Joe Turner is on our list with Shake, Rattle And Roll, and this was one of the top songs of 1954. It hit 22 on the Billboard Singles chart, and it went to number one on the Billboard R&B chart, making it one of the best tracks to dance to at clubs. This song has only grown in popularity through the years.
13. White Christmas – The Drifters
Next are The Drifters with White Christmas, which is one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time. You can hear this version of the track in movies including The Santa Clause and Home Alone. It was a huge hit in the black community specifically and went to number five on the Billboard R&B chart.
14. Young at Heart – Frank Sinatra
The iconic Frank Sinatra is next with Young At Heart, which is a pop song that was first recorded by him, and it was a big hit landing at number two on the Billboard chart. Originally an instrumental track by Johnny Richards called Moonbeam, Carolyn Leigh added the lyrics and then the title was changed to the movie Sinatra was working on at the time to match this song.
15. Little Mama – The Clovers
Little Mama by The Clovers makes the list, and this was one of the biggest songs of the decade with them also becoming one of the biggest groups of the 50s. This track is a mix of both doo-wop and blues, and while it didn’t have success like their song Love Potion No. 9, it still managed to become one of their more popular tracks.
16. Hoochie Coochie Man – Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters is on the list with Hoochie Coochie Man, which hit eight on the Best Seller Billboard chart and three on the Jukebox charts. The song managed to stay for 13 weeks on the charts, and at that point, it was the track that had stayed on the charts the longest. It is one of those blue standard songs that uses an arrangement in music called stop-time, while also containing some folk elements. It would go on to be one of the most successful and popular tracks of his career.
17. It Should Have Been Me – Ray Charles
Ray Charles makes the list with the R&B hit It Should Have Been Me, which contained a little boogie-woogie comedy rap element. In the song, he talks about liking good-looking women and then goes into how they had a boyfriend and he didn’t like that. This track went to number five on the Billboard R&B chart, and it was the first time he had a song make the charts while working under Atlantic Records.
18. Last Night – Little Walter
On the list next is Little Walter with Last Night, and this is one of the most well-known blues songs of the year. What’s unique about him is that he is a harmonica player and was one of the first to introduce the instrument into tracks in the revolutionary manner he did.
He was such a popular singer and so awesome with the harmonica that he was inducted in 2008 into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. No other artist at that point was in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame for specifically being a harmonica player, and Last Night is a song that can help you get a feel for how talented this blues singer really was.
19. In The Chapel In The Moonlight – Kitty Kallen
Kitty Kallen had a hit with In The Chapel In The Moonlight, which was first recorded in 1936 but covered by her in 1954. She used the Jack Pleis Orchestra in her version of the song, and it went to four on the Billboard charts. Currently, her version is still the most popular and is one of the most successful tracks of her career.
20. Stranger In Paradise – Tony Bennett
Up next is Tony Bennet with the song Stranger In Paradise, which comes from Kismet, a musical from 1953. This track went to number one on the UK Singles chart and was the first hit he had there. It is performed as a duet in the musical, and it’s all about love and having feelings of transcendence. While his version became the most popular, other artists have covered it through the years including The Four Aces.
21. Hurts Me To My Heart – Faye Adams
Faye Adams had a hit with Hurts Me To My Heart, which is the original version of the song, and it was released in August 1954. You can hear her version in the 2013 movie Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Other artists covered the track in 1954 including Johnny Parker and The York Brothers, but the most successful and popular version is that from Adams.
22. Teach Me Tonight – Dinah Washington
Up next is Dinah Washington with the song Teach Me Tonight, which went to number four on the Billboard R&B chart. She was one of the biggest Black musicians in the 50s and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Meanwhile, Teach Me Tonight was put into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, and it’s one of the most well-known jazz standards today.
23. That’s Amore – Dean Martin
The iconic Dean Martin is on our list with That’s Amore, which is known as his signature song and was also one of his biggest hits. In Italian, “amore” means “love,” and this crooner got a lot of attention singing about love. You can find this track in movies such as Stuart Little, Moonstruck, and Grumpier Old Men. It went to number two on the Billboard charts and is a song that still hasn’t lost its charm even today.
24. Wanted – Perry Como
Perry Como makes the list with Wanted, which is the most popular version of this song and it hit number one on the Billboard chart. This track was the biggest song on the radio and on the jukebox during that year and ended up becoming the second-highest-selling track for 1954. It remains one of his biggest hits and also one of his most successful songs.
25. You Don’t Have To Go – Jimmy Reed
You Don’t Have To Go by Jimmy Reed is on the list, and it went to number five on the Billboard R&B chart. This song was one of his most well-known tracks, and he was a huge influence on other artists including The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley. He had several songs that charted through the years as one of the best electric blues musicians of the 50s.
26. Sexy Ways – The Midnighters
The Midnighters had a hit with Sexy Ways, which helped them create their legacy as a risque group, and it was one of the best songs of the decade. Hank Ballard was a part of The Midnighters, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, and the band was put into the Michigan Rock and Roll Hall of Fame of Legends in 2010.
27. Answer Me, My Love – Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole’s version of Answer Me, My Love became a huge hit, and it’s one of the most well-known versions of this song. The track is based on a German song that originally was titled Answer Me, Lord Above. It was eventually changed by Carl Sigman, the guy who wrote the English lyrics to have a broader appeal in America, and that’s the version Cole recorded later on down the road.
28. Hold My Hand – Don Cornell
Don Cornell makes the list with Hold My Hand, which you may know from the movie Susan Slept Here and that led this track to be nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Song category. The track hit number two on the Most Played by DJs chart and hit number one on the UK Singles chart.
29. Sincerely – The Moonglows
Next is The Moonglows with the track Sincerely, which was a very popular song that hit number one on the Billboard R&B chart and also went to 20 on the Jukebox chart. It is one of their most well-known and successful tracks to date and was the first song that they recorded as a part of Chess Records.
30. The Wind – Nolan Strong & The Diablos
The blues and soul band Nolan Strong & The Diablos had a hit with The Wind, which is all about a guy who is thinking about a woman who left him while he is sitting there letting the wind blow by during the summer. This was a doo-wop song, and it would be the only hit they would have, but they had local success afterward in Detroit.
31. Make Love To Me – Jo Stafford
The last song on our list for 1954 is Make Love To Me by Jo Stafford, which went to number one on the Billboard chart. On the Cash Box chart, it went to number two and is one of her most well-known and successful tracks. This was one of her many hits and helped her cement her legacy in the music industry as one of the top female musicians of the decade.
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.