The year 1955 was huge in music. It saw some of the first times that TV and film had a big impact on the best-selling music of the year, was the origin of some of the earliest rock and roll songs, and saw tracks pushed to international acclaim by companies like Disney. And while I base these lists on Billboard’s year-end charts, do know the magazine was in its infancy at this time. So, in this article, we’ll use what they had to give you the best 31 songs from 1955.
1. Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White – Pérez Prado
Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White was the English version of the song Cerisiers Roses Et Pomme Blans by Louiguy from 1950. Pérez Prado would record the track as an instrumental alongside his orchestra, originally releasing the song in 1953 in Mexico. It would become a hit there and in the US by 1955, spending 10 weeks at the top of the Hot 100 chart in the US.
2. Rock Around the Clock – Bill Haley & His Comets
Several big blues and rock artists would record Rock Around the Clock, but Bill Haley’s would eventually be recognized as the most popular version of the song. It spent two months at the top of the charts en route to becoming the first rock and roll record to top both the US and UK pop charts.
3. The Yellow Rose of Texas – Mitch Miller
The Yellow Rose Of Texas started as an early American folk song published as early as 1953. Several big names recorded the track throughout the years, including the likes of Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson, but Mitch Miller’s version was a hit in 1953. His version spent six weeks at the top of the Hot 100 that year and was used in the 1956 film Giant.
4. Autumn Leaves – Roger Williams
Autumn Leaves is one of the most popular early jazz standards, originally written in French by Jaques Prevert. In total, it has been recorded over 1,000 times in a commercial setting, with almost every big name in jazz picking it up during the 50s. Roger Williams’ version was the first piano instrumental to reach number one on the Hot 100.
5. Unchained Melody – Les Baxter
Unchained Melody was written for the 1955 prison film Unchained, but it would eventually turn into one of the most recorded songs of the 1900s. Three versions of the track would reach the Top 10 of the Hot 100 in 1955, with Les Baxter’s doing the best of those recordings.
6. The Ballad of Davy Crockett – Bill Hayes
The Ballad Of Davy Crockett is a song that’s going to appear on this list more than once, and I believe it also appears on the 1956 year-end charts. The first introduction of the track was used in the ABC television series Disneyland in 1954. Bill Hayes’ version of the song did exceptionally well on the Billboard charts. It rose to the top of the Hot 100 and number two on the UK New Musical Express chart.
7. Love Is a Many Splendored Thing – The Four Aces
Love Is A Many Splendored Thing first appeared in a film of the same name in 1955 and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1956. It would later be used as the titular theme song to a soap opera based on the movie. The Four Aces’ version remains the best-selling recording of the track, taking the number-one spot on both the Billboard and Cash Box charts in 1955.
8. Sincerely – The McGuire Sisters
The Moonglows first recorded and released Sincerely in 1954, but theirs would not become the best-selling version of the song. That honor would go to The McGuire Sisters, as their pop cover of the track reached the top of the charts in 1955. It would also be one of the few songs during the time period to earn a gold record certification.
9. Ain’t That a Shame – Pat Boone
Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew were the original writers of Ain’t That A Shame, with the Domino version of the song reaching the top of the Billboard R&B chart and number 10 on the pop chart in 1955.
Pat Boone would record the track just after the release of Domino’s version, even releasing it in the same month. That version earned national fame despite Domino’s version eventually being more popular, soaring to the top of the charts for Boone’s first number-one single and spending two weeks as the most-played song in the country.
10. Dance with Me Henry (Wallflower) – Georgia Gibbs
The Wallflower found its beginnings as a 12-bar blues song by Etta James in 1955, serving as an answer track for Work With Me, Annie. It would quickly be covered by Georgia Gibbs for the pop market under the title Dance With Me Henry (Wallflower), reaching the top of five separate pop charts in the US.
11. The Crazy Otto Medley – Johnny Maddox
The Crazy Otto Medley is a ragtime medley that was originally recorded by Fritz Schulz-Reichel, but Johnny Maddox’s version would be the most remembered one. It spent 20 weeks on the Hot 100 in 1955, peaking at the number-two position where it remained for seven of those weeks. It remains one of the best-selling ragtime medleys in history to boot.
12. Melody of Love – Billy Vaughn
Melody Of Love was a popular song long before Billy Vaughn recorded a version that entered the Billboard charts. Its music was originally written by Hans Englemann in 1903, with Tom Glazer adding lyrics 50 years later. Vaughn released an instrumental version of it in 1955 and found a lot of success with it, reaching the Billboard Best-Seller list and spending 27 total weeks on the Hot 100 in 1955.
13. Sixteen Tons – Tennessee Ernie Ford
Sixteen Tons is another track on here that’s going to appear several times across our best song lists for the next few years. It was written by Merle Travis about a coal miner, basing it on the lives and workplaces of coal miners in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. He would be the first to record the track in 1946, but it would remain popular in later years.
Tennessee Earnie Ford released the song in 1955 as a pop arrangement and saw it spend 10 weeks at the top of the country charts before crossing over and rising to the top of the pop charts for eight weeks.
14. Learnin’ the Blues – Frank Sinatra
Learnin’ The Blues became a standard in the big band community, originally written by Dolores Silvers. The song was first recorded with the Gene Krutch Orchestra, but it was Frank Sinatra who turned it into a mainstream hit. His version had two stints during the year where it was the most-played track on US radio, turning into a worldwide hit in 1955 before being re-recorded by him in 1962.
15. Hearts of Stone – The Fontane Sisters
Hearts Of Stone was first recorded in 1954 by The Jewels. It was covered by several other groups, from John Fogerty to The Fontane Sisters, the latter of which reached the top of the charts in 1955 and found a spot on the year-end Billboard rankings.
16. Tweedle Dee – Georgia Gibbs
Tweedle Dee was written by Winfield Scott for LaVern Baker, the artist who first recorded the song in 1954. It turned into a hit for Baker when it reached number four on the R&B chart and 14 on the pop chart. Georgia Gibbs covered the track totally in a pop style and all but ruined the chances of Baker’s version topping the charts. Gibbs’ version would earn her a gold record and a spot on the year-end rankings.
17. Moments to Remember – The Four Lads
Moments To Remember was a very popular song about nostalgia for the old days in 1955. The Four Lads recorded and released the track, though it was originally intended to go to Perry Como. It made it to number two on one of the first Top 100 lists produced by Billboard and sold over 4 million copies.
18. Mr. Sandman – The Chordettes
Mr. Sandman is one of the songs on this list I expect modern readers to actually recognize just by the title. It was a hugely popular track by Pat Ballard in 1954 but numerous artists would record it over subsequent years. The Chordettes’ version in 1955 would reach the top spot of all three Billboard pop charts.
19. Let Me Go Lover – Joan Weber
Let Me Go Lover was based on an earlier song that told the devil to let them go, discussing the escape from alcoholism. It was first featured on the TV program Studio One in 1954 and was one of the first instances of a track being promoted to commercial success by television. It would hit number one on all of Billboard’s charts by 1955 and number 16 on the UK Singles chart.
20. A Blossom Fell – Nat King Cole
Howard Barnes was the original writer of A Blossom Falls, but Nat King Cole’s version remains the most popular one today. It would spend 20 weeks on the Billboard charts, rising as high as number two. A re-recording of the song also appeared on The Nat King Cole Story album in 1961.
21. Unchained Melody – Al Hibbler
Al Hibbler’s version of Unchained Melody would rise as high as number three on the Billboard chart and number two on the UK versions of those. It made for the second-best showing for the song in 1955.
22. The Ballad of Davy Crockett – Fess Parker
Fess Parker was another one of the three artists to record The Ballad Of Davy Crockett and see it make it onto the top 30 of the Billboard year-end charts. His version would climb to number six on the weekly Hot 100 and finished the year at number 22 on the magazine’s year-end charts.
23. Honey-Babe – Art Mooney
Honey-Babe was a featured song on the 1955 film Battle Cry and was originally written by Max Steiner and Paul Francis Webster. Art Mooney and his orchestra would record the track for commercial release that year, reaching the number-six spot on the US pop chart.
24. The Ballad of Davy Crockett – Tennessee Ernie Ford
To round out our rankings of The Ballad Of Davy Crockett, we turn to the version recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford. His would peak at number four on the country chart and number five on the pop chart.
25. Ko Ko Mo (I Love You So) – Perry Como
Ko Ko Mo (I Love You So) was one of the earliest true rock and roll songs and has become one of the most-recorded rock and roll tracks in history. Perry Como’s version would also be RCA Records’ first rock and roll release, rising to number two on the Billboard charts in 1955.
26. Hard to Get – Gisele MacKenzie
Jack Segal published Hard To Get in 1955, and Gisele MacKenzie would pick it up and run with it. Alongside the orchestra of Richard Maltby, the song would become her biggest hit by peaking at number five on Billboard’s Best Sellers in Stores chart.
27. The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane – The Ames Brothers
The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane leads listeners to believe the song is describing a salacious woman that happens to live on Shady Lane but has a cute twist at the end. It’s actually describing a newborn infant, making the track much more appropriate for radio audiences of the time. The Ames Brothers’ recording of the song would reach number three on both the Best Seller and Juke Box charts for Billboard in 1955.
28. That’s All I Want from You – Jaye P. Morgan
Jaye P. Morgan released the most popular version of That’s All I Want From You. This track would reach number three on the US Billboard charts.
29. Only You – The Platters
The Platters recorded Only You in 1954 but didn’t release the song until it was re-recorded the following year. It made it to number five on the Billboard Best Sellers In Stores chart that year.
30. It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie – Somethin’ Smith & the Redheads
It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie was first published by Billy Mayhew in 1936. Several artists would record the song, but in 1955, Somethin’ Smith & The Redheads found a hit in it, seeing it reach number seven on the Billboard charts that year.
31. I’ll Never Stop Loving You – Doris Day
And for this spot, we sort of run out of information. Billboard technically didn’t even have a Hot 100 yet and their year-end chart was a release of the top 30 songs of the year. So this spot is up to us, and we’re going with Doris Day’s 1954 hit I’ll Never Stop Loving You. It would be nominated for an Oscar the following year and was a Top-10 hit after being released in December of 1954, so I think it was close enough to count.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
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