The year 1958 was an interesting one in music without a doubt. By August, Billboard finally installed the Hot 100 chart that still tracks the most popular songs in the US today. But a lot of singles were released as A-side/B-sides, leading to many of the best-performing tracks of the year being double-features thanks to in-store sales. In this article, we’ll tackle the best songs of 1958 by using Billboard’s year-end charts.
1. Volare (Nel blu dipinto di blu) – Domenico Modugno
Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu) was originally recorded by Domenico Modugno and was released as a single on February 1, 1958. It became incredibly popular, spending five non-consecutive weeks at the top of the Hot 100.
The following year, it became the first track to ever win Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in the same ceremony. It was also submitted at the Sanremo Music Festival and the Eurovision Song Contest, winning the former and placing third in the latter. It remains one of the best-selling tracks of the era with over 18 million worldwide sales.
2. All I Have to Do Is Dream / Claudette – The Everly Brothers
The Everly Brothers’ recording of All I Have To Do Is Dream remains today the best-known version of the track and one that made its way into several lists of the best songs of all time.
In 1958, the track became the first single to top all of the Billboard Singles charts simultaneously. It would oddly see them return to the Hot 100 in 1961 as well, entering the chart then and solidifying its position as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and within the Rock and Roll and Grammy Halls of Fame. The B-side, Claudette, was the first major songwriting success for the legendary Roy Orbison as well.
3. Don’t / I Beg of You – Elvis Presley
Don’t was another huge success for Elvis Presley. It became his 11th number-one single in the US while also peaking at number four on the R&B chart. It would go on to be used by Smokey Joe’s Cafe and the 1993 film Dave. I Beg Of You was the B-Side to Don’t, but it had its own run of success. It eventually made it to number eight on the Hot 100 and number four on the Country charts.
4. Witch Doctor – David Seville
Witch Doctor might have been classified as a novelty song, but it was the single that saved Liberty Records from hitting rock bottom and declaring bankruptcy. Performed by Ross Bagdasarian Sr. under his stage name, the catchy tune is one of the most infectious tracks to ever get stuck in your head. It would eventually top both the Hot 100 and the CashBox Top 100 charts, a resounding surprise success for both Bagdasarian and Liberty Records as a whole.
5. Patricia – Pérez Prado
Patricia has the distinction of being the final song to reach the top of the Billboard Jockeys and Top 100 charts before both were retired in favor of the Hot 100. Its best-known version was an instrumental of Pérez Prado’s orchestra spending four weeks at the top of the Cash Box charts and two weeks on top of the R&B Best Sellers for Billboard as well.
6. Sail Along, Silv’ry Moon / Raunchy – Billy Vaughn
Sail Along, Silv’ry Moon was originally written by Harry Tobias and Percy Wenrich in 1937, with its original recording performed by Bing Crosby. That year, it rose as high as number four on the US pop charts but took the top spot in Canada, Norway, and Germany. The 1958 version was an instrumental recorded by Billy Vaughn that rose to number five on the US pop chart and secured a place near the top of the year-end rankings.
7. Catch a Falling Star / Magic Moments – Perry Como
Perry Como would produce the most successful version of Catch A Falling Star in 1958. It would become his final number-one hit in the US, taking the top spot of the Most Played by Jockeys chart and reaching number three on the Billboard Composite chart. Its B-Side, Magic Moments, would prove to be even more successful overseas, reaching the top of the UK Singles chart in 1958, a spot it held for a total of eight weeks.
8. Tequila – The Champs
Tequila is one of the timeless songs of the era that people still know the words to today. Thankfully, it’s not hard to remember, as the saxophone-driven track only says the word tequila three times during its entire runtime. It was meant as a Latin surf instrumental song, and it reached the top of a couple of Billboard charts. Its legacy looms larger than most tracks on the list though, as it remains a pop-culture reference even today.
9. It’s All in the Game – Tommy Edwards
It’s All In The Game started out as a wordless composition written by Charles G. Dawes in 1911, but Carl Sigman added lyrics to it as early as 1951. The best-known recording of the song would be released by Tommy Edwards in 1958, producing a pop standard and a track that spawned dozens of hit cover versions over the years. It not only topped both the UK Singles and Billboard Hot 100, but it ranks on the All-Time US Billboard Hot 100 charts—1958 through 2018—at number 47.
10. Return to Me – Dean Martin
Dean Martin recorded Return To Me several times during his career. The most successful version was released in 1958, and it spent 22 weeks on the UK’s New Musical Express chart. In the US, it rose to number four on the composite, Best Sellers in Stores, and Most Played by Jockeys charts.
11. It’s Only Make Believe – Conway Twitty
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Conway Twitty. It’s Only Make Believe was written by Jack Nance and Twitty while the two were touring in Canada together. While it was released as the B-Side to I’ll Try, the track wound up being the only number-one pop single of his career, reaching the top of the Billboard chart twice in November and also taking the number-one spot on the UK Singles chart.
12. The Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
The Purple People Eater is another one of the best novelty songs of all time and an amazing track to sing along with younger children. It wound up topping the US pop charts in 1958 for most of June and July and would also take the top spot of the Canadian and Australian charts.
13. Bird Dog / Devoted to You – The Everly Brothers
Bird Dog was an unusual song, mainly because it sticks to a 12-bar blues structure in the stanzas but goes into an eight-bar structure in the chorus. It spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard country charts and also reached number two on the Hot 100 and R&B charts in 1958.
14. Get a Job – The Silhouettes
Get A Job was a song that celebrated the achievement of getting a job, rather than lamenting people who don’t as you might expect it to do. It was released at the tail-end of 1957, but by February 1958, it rose to the number-one position on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. You can even find it in Robert Christgau’s Basic Record Library.
15. Little Star – The Elegants
Adapted from the timeless Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, Little Star was the one and only hit of The Elegants’ careers. It reached the top of the R&B Best Sellers list and Hot 100 in 1958, also topping out at number two on the rock charts and number 10 on the composite R&B singles rankings.
16. Twilight Time – The Platters
Twilight Time was originally a pop song by Buck Ram and The Three Suns. The Platters were the ones that made it famous though, recording a version that topped both the pop singles and R&B best-sellers charts in 1958, five years before they would record a Spanish version. You might have heard it in the official trailer for the Disney+ show WandaVision.
17. Stood Up / Waitin’ in School – Ricky Nelson
Stood Up was written by Dub Dickerson and was originally performed by Ricky Nelson. It would rise to number two on the pop chart, number four on the R&B chart, and number eight on the country chart in 1958. Later versions would come from Willie Nelson and Cliff Richard.
18. He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands – Laurie London
Anyone who grew up in a church would know this song as it’s long been known as a traditional spiritual. While the original publication happened in 1927, the track has been recorded numerous times, most notably in 1958 when it was turned into a pop hit by Laurie London.
19. Secretly – Jimmie Rodgers
Jimmie Rodgers’ recording of Secretly was the only one to become a gold record. In 1958, the song rose as high as number three on the Hot 100, and it also reached number five and seven on the C&W Best Sellers in Stores and R&B Best Sellers charts, respectively. The Lettermen would later cover the track, securing themselves a minor hit when it rose to number 64 on the Hot 100 in 1965.
20. At the Hop – Danny & the Juniors
At The Hop was one of the biggest songs in the US at the start of 1958. It secured first place on the pop charts in January of that year on top of being the number-one single on the R&B Best Sellers chart. Overseas, it peaked at number three on the UK Singles chart.
21. Yakety Yak – The Coasters
Yakety Yak by The Coasters is another one of the most famous songs of this era. Released in 1958, it was meant to mimic a teenager and parent going back and forth about doing household chores—responses my mother would have had a fit over. It was funny, witty, and edgy for the time, cementing its place on top of the Top 100 and R&B charts for a short stint.
22. Wear My Ring Around Your Neck / Doncha’ Think It’s Time – Elvis Presley
While Wear My Ring Around Your Neck was a successful song for Elvis Presley, it has the unfortunate distinction of ending a streak of 10 consecutive number-one hits for him. It peaked at number two on the pop charts to break the streak but still rose to the top of the US R&B charts in 1958.
23. Rockin’ Robin / Over and Over – Bobby Day
Rockin’ Robin would become Bobby Day’s biggest hit single. It peaked at number two on the Hot 100 and spent a week at the top of the R&B charts in 1958. Interestingly, the song is in the public domain today, meaning anyone can use it as the owners never renewed the copyright on the track. Michael Jackson covered it in 1972 for one of his early solo albums, securing a hit single that rose to the same spot as Day’s 1958 version.
24. Poor Little Fool – Ricky Nelson
Poor Little Fool has an interesting backstory. It was written by Sharon Sheeley after she met Elvis Presley and had been encouraged to write songs by him. Ricky Nelson would be the artist to perform the track in 1958, eventually reaching the top of the Hot 100 and number four on the UK Singles charts that year.
25. A Wonderful Time Up There / It’s Too Soon to Know – Pat Boone
A Wonderful Time Up There also goes by the name Gospel Boogie, and it’s sure to get you moving. It was first recorded in 1947, but Pat Boone would pick it up near the end of the 50s. Alongside Billy Vaughn And His Orchestra, this single would peak at number four in the US and number two on the UK Singles chart.
26. Just a Dream – Jimmy Clanton
There is still dispute over the proper writing credits for Just A Dream today, but there’s no disputing that it was one of the top songs of 1958. Jimmy Clanton’s version of the track spent a week on top of the R&B Best Sellers list and rose as high as number four on the Hot 100.
27. Sugartime – The McGuire Sisters
The McGuire Sisters produced the most successful recording of Sugartime in 1958. Theirs would spend time atop the Most Played chart and become the trio’s second number-one single on the composite chart that year. Later covers would come from artists like Johnny Cash and Alma Cogan.
28. Tom Dooley – The Kingston Trio
Tom Dooley is a traditional folk song from North Carolina that was based on the 1866 murder of a woman in Wilkes County. The Kingston Trio would record and release it as a single in 1958, seeing it reach the top of the Hot 100 and break into the top 10 of the R&B chart in that same year.
29. Sweet Little Sixteen – Chuck Berry
Sweet Little Sixteen was one of the legendary Chuck Berry’s highest-ranking songs on the Billboard charts. It peaked at number two on the Hot 100 and rose to the top of the R&B Best Sellers chart. He would reuse the melody of his song The Little Girl From Central for this one, producing a bigger hit than its predecessor.
30. Topsy I / Topsy II – Cozy Cole
Topsy, Pts. 1 & 2 were released as an instrumental by Count Basie And His Orchestra in 1937 and was even a hit single for Benny Goodman in 1938. By 1958, Cozy Cole would record the song and released it as a two-parter. Its A-side Topsy I would reach number 27 on the Hot 100, while the B-side Topsy II made it to number three and number one on the Hot 100 and R&B charts, respectively.
31. Looking Back / Do I Like It – Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole’s 1958 release of Looking Back peaked at number two on the US R&B chart and number five on the Hot 100. Its B-side Do I Like It rose as high as number 67 on the Hot 100, cementing the single’s place on the year-end rankings just outside of the top 30.
32. Book of Love – The Monotones
While Book Of Love was recorded in 1957, it wasn’t until December of that year that it was released. In 1958, the song would peak at number five on the pop charts and number three on the R&B charts.
33. Tea for Two Cha Cha – Tommy Dorsey
Tea For Two was introduced in 1924 for the Chicago run of the musical No, No, Nanette. Tommy Dorsey recorded the song over 25 years later, reaching number seven on the Hot 100 and spending 20 weeks on the chart in total.
34. Tears on My Pillow – Little Anthony and the Imperials
The original recording of Tears On My Pillow was also the most successful. It was a top-five hit on the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number four, and it rose as high as number three on the Canadian charts in 1958.
35. Short Shorts – The Royal Teens
Inspired by a short pair of shorts on a woman walking down the street, the 1958 version of Short Shorts by The Royal Teens was a huge success. It eventually peaked at number two on the R&B charts and number three on the pop charts.
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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