The year 1962 saw the rise of the Twist dance craze that inspired quite a few artists to write songs that capitalized on the popularity of the dance. It also saw some wonderful crossover hits and a resurgence of folk music, making it difficult to pin down the best tracks of the year. In this article, we’ll use Billboard’s year-end charts to determine the 31 best songs released in 1962.
1. Stranger on the Shore – Acker Bilk
Stranger On The Shore was originally written as a clarinet piece by Acker Bilk for his daughter. It was first released in the UK and was used as the theme for a BBC TV drama of the same name, with the song reaching number one on the US Hot 100 and number two on the UK Singles chart. It would also be used by the Apollo 10 crew on their mission to the moon in 1969, included on a cassette in the command module of the spacecraft that carried the astronauts to the stars.
2. I Can’t Stop Loving You – Ray Charles
Don Gibson first recorded I Can’t Stop Loving You in 1957 for RCA Victor Records, and its release became a double-sided hit in 1958. Ray Charles covered the song in 1962, breathing new life into it and creating a massive hit for him that year as well. His version reached number one on the UK Singles, US Hot 100, US R&B, and US Adult Contemporary charts.
3. Mashed Potato Time – Dee Dee Sharp
The Mashed Potato was a big dance craze for some time during the 60s, and Mashed Potato Time directly refers to the dance itself. The song wasn’t alone in those references either, with several later hit tracks doing the same. It reached number two on the Hot 100 but also took the top spot on the Billboard R&B and CashBox Top 100 charts in 1962.
4. Roses Are Red (My Love) – Bobby Vinton
Roses Are Red (My Love) plays on the famous love poem and was actually a song that got rejected by Epic Records. Bobby Vinton found it in a pile of tracks and decided to record it, first as an R&B piece and then as a slower arrangement. His final version was a number-one hit in the US and four other countries, spending four weeks on top of the Hot 100 and giving Epic Records their first-ever number-one hit single.
5. The Stripper – David Rose
The Stripper was a hugely popular instrumental song in 1962 that reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 during the summer. It came about almost entirely by chance, as it was used as the B-Side of David Rose’s Ebb Tide out of a stack of unreleased—and unfinished—recordings he had lying around.
6. Johnny Angel – Shelly Fabares
Johnny Angel was recorded twice before Shelly Fabares picked it up and turned it into a hit song. Her version was the first to find fame, rising to number one on the Hot 100. Also in 1962, Patti Lynn covered the track and found a fairly successful hit on the UK Singles chart.
7. The Loco-Motion – Little Eva
The Loco-Motion is most notable for appearing in the top three of the US charts three times, with each appearance in a different decade. The 1962 version of the song by Little Eva was a US number-one hit single, as was the 1974 version by Grand Funk Railroad. In addition to those chart runs, Kylie Minogue achieved the number three spot on the Hot 100 with it in 1988.
8. Let Me In – The Sensations
Let Me In was recorded by its original writer Yvonne Baker and The Sensations in the same year. It wound up reaching number two on the US R&B charts and number four on the US Billboard Hot 100, with The Sensations’ version becoming their most successful single of all time.
9. The Twist – Chubby Checker
Inspired by the Twist dance craze, The Twist was originally recorded by Hank Ballard and served as the B-Side to Teardrops On Your Letter. Chubby Checker’s cover version of it rose to number one on the Hot 100 in 1960 for one week, then took the top spot again in 1962 for two weeks. This was one of the first times for a track to reach number one on two separate chart runs, a feat that wouldn’t be matched for 59 years until Mariah Carey did it with All I Want For Christmas Is You.
10. Soldier Boy – The Shirelles
Soldier Boy was a song popularized by The Shirelles thanks to their 1962 release of the song. It spent three weeks on top of the Hot 100 that year and was one of the most successful singles of the year. While it was originally titled I’ll Be True To You, the name change to Soldier Boy gave the track a bit more depth.
11. Hey! Baby – Bruce Channel
While a lot of people may know Hey! Baby from when it was used in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, it was originally released in 1961. After finding local success, the song was released nationally in 1962 and spent three weeks on top of the Hot 100. It was also a success in the UK, rising to number two on the UK Singles chart.
12. The Wanderer – Dion
The Wanderer was released by Dion on his 1961 album Runaround Sue. It’s consistently ranked as one of the greatest tracks in music history, finding a place on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 1962, it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, number three on the Cash Box Top 100, and number ten on the UK Singles chart.
13. Duke of Earl – Gene Chandler
Duke Of Earl is by far Gene Chandler’s best-known song. Originally written by him, Bernice Williams, and Earl Edwards, it was a 2002 inductee into the Grammy Hall of Fame and was also included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, finding a place on their list of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. In 1962, it was a number-one single, taking the top spot of both the pop and R&B charts.
14. Palisades Park – Freddy Cannon
Palisades Park was released as the B-side to June, July, And August, but it found ridiculous radio success when it was accidentally played by a Michigan DJ instead of its A-side counterpart. It would eventually peak at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the biggest hit of Freddy Cannon’s career.
15. Breaking Up Is Hard to Do – Neil Sedaka
Neil Sedaka recorded Breaking Up Is Hard To Do on two separate occasions, once in 1962 and once in 1975. And while it was known as his signature song, his two recorded versions were vastly different. It rose to number one on the Hot 100 in 1962 and broke into the top 10 of the UK Singles chart by peaking at number seven.
16. Wolverton Mountain – Claude King
Wolverton Mountain was the track that really set off Claude King’s career. Starting out as a country music song, it quickly crossed over and became a huge US hit single. It rose to number six on the US Hot 100, number three on the easy listening chart, and number one on the US Hot Country Songs chart in 1962.
17. Slow Twistin’ – Chubby Checker & Dee Dee Sharp
Chubby Checker and Dee Dee Sharp teamed up for Slow Twistin’, though Sharp would be left uncredited on the single version of the song. In 1962, it peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts, with several versions by the duo and other artists coming out in the subsequent years.
18. It Keeps Right On a-Hurtin’ – Johnny Tillotson
It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin’ was a massive success for Johnny Tillotson in 1962. It wound up being one of the most prolific crossover hits of the year, peaking at number three on the Hot 100, number four on the Country charts, and number six on the R&B charts. Many notable artists would record covers of the song, including the likes of Elvis Presley and Dean Martin.
19. The One Who Really Loves You – Mary Wells
Smokey Robinson of The Miracles was the original writer of The One Who Really Loves You, but it would be Mary Wells who performed and popularized the song. Her version of it peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the R&B chart in 1962, earning her a place within the top 20 on the year-end Billboard rankings.
20. Good Luck Charm – Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley’s Good Luck Charm was the song that capped off a second round of three-consecutive UK number-ones. In 1962, this hit single topped the Hot 100, CashBox Top 100, and Uk Singles chart, the last of which saw it reign for five consecutive weeks.
21. Midnight in Moscow – Kenny Ball
Midnight In Moscow is a Soviet Russian song that originated as Moscow Nights. It was written around 1955, but the wave of folk music revival in the US saw it covered by several artists in later years, most notably by Kenny Ball. His version of the track reached the number two spot on the UK Singles Chart and Hot 100 in 1962.
22. Sheila – Tommy Roe
Tommy Roe originally wrote Sheila by basing it on a girl from his high school but ended up naming it after his aunt. In 1962, the song reached the top spot of the US Billboard Hot 100 and held that spot for two weeks. It then ran up the R&B charts to peak at number six.
23. Twistin’ the Night Away – Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke’s Twistin’ The Night Away was one of the most popular dancing songs of 1962. It saw a tremendous chart run, taking the top spot of the R&B chart and peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962. Rod Stewart would release a cover of the track in 1973, finding less success but still managing a solid hit.
24. The Wah-Watusi – The Orlons
The Wah-Watusi by The Orlons was one of the best singles of 1962. It made it to number two on the Hot 100, held out of number one only by Roses Are Red (My Love) by Bobby Vinton, and peaked at number five on the R&B chart. With its super fun name, it would go on to sell over one million copies and earn a gold disc.
25. Peppermint Twist – Joey Dee & the Starliters
Yet another song that capitalized on the dance craze of the Twist, Joey Dee & The Starliters produced Peppermint Twist by combining the dance with the club that Dee performed in. It rose to number one on the Hot 100 despite being split into two parts because it was too long for a standard 45-rpm single. In a twist of fate, it replaced Chubby Checker’s song The Twist for the top spot on the charts.
26. Break It to Me Gently – Brenda Lee
Break It To Me Gently found success at the very beginning of 1962 by peaking at number four on the Hot 100 in January of that year. You may have heard this one on the AMC series Mad Men, where it served as one of the closing songs of season two.
27. Playboy – The Marvelettes
Playboy served as an important warning to stay away from any man who ran around with every woman he got a chance with. Released in 1962, the song became The Marvelettes’ second top-10 single when it peaked at number seven on the Hot 100 and it gave them a top-five hit by reaching number four on the R&B charts.
28. Ramblin’ Rose – Nat King Cole
Ramblin’ Rose was a beautiful love song by Nat King Cole that earned him the number-two position on the Hot 100. As a single, it sold over one million copies and spent an additional five weeks on top of the easy listening charts.
29. Sealed with a Kiss – Brian Hyland
Brian Hyland’s Sealed With A Kiss was not the original recording of the song, but it is the one we remember most today. His version peaked at number three on both the UK Singles and Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1962, eventually rising to that same position on the UK Singles chart in 1974.
30. She Cried – Jay and the Americans
She Cried became a huge hit when Jay And The Americans covered it in 1962. Their version of the song made it to number five on the Hot 100 and was their first big hit. Later covers would also enter the charts.
31. Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You – Connie Francis
Don’t Break The Heart That Loves You was a song that found success in two different genres and two different decades. Connie Francis’s version in 1962 was a pop hit that made it to number one on the Hot 100, while Margo Smith’s country version was number one on the Country chart in 1974.
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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