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35 Best Songs From 1964

The year 1964 might have been one that was almost completely owned by The Beatles and their string of legendary single releases, but it definitely had more to offer than just their work. In this article, we’ll use Billboard’s year-end charts to determine the 35 best songs released in 1964. 

1. I Want to Hold Your Hand – The Beatles

The Beatles - I Want To Hold Your Hand - Performed Live On The Ed Sullivan Show 2/9/64

I Want To Hold Your Hand was the first song by The Beatles to be recorded using four-track equipment. Advance orders of the track were well over one million copies, meaning the song would have instantly been at the top of the UK Singles Chart had our next entry not blocked it from the spot. It wound up taking two weeks to knock off She Loves You before rising to the top spot of the chart, then held it for the next five weeks.

In the US, it became their first number-one hit by rising to the top of the Hot 100 and was the song that kicked off the British Invasion in America. In the end, it would become their best-selling single worldwide with over 12 million record sales, and one of the best-selling songs in music history. 

2. She Loves You – The Beatles

She Loves You (Remastered 2009)

In contrast to our last entry, She Loves You remains the top-selling song from The Beatles in the UK to this day and helped set a record for them when they held the top five spots of the US chart at one time. It was their first track to sell over one million copies and was sitting on top of the UK Singles Chart when I Want To Hold Your Hand was released, but was only able to hold that entry out of the top spot for two weeks.

By year-end, it was the number-two song on Billboard’s rankings and the number-one track in the UK, and even today, it sits in the top 10 of the all-time UK Singles Chart rankings. 

3. Hello Dolly – Louis Armstrong

Hello Dolly (Remastered)

Hello Dolly was the title song of a 1964 musical, but it was Louis Armstrong’s version that found the most success. Jerry Herman was the original writer of the track, a musician who wrote numerous scores for other popular musicals of the time. Armstrong’s version of the song came from his publishing demo tape and wound up taking the top spot on the US Hot 100.

It was the track that ended The Beatles’ streak on the charts of three consecutive number-one singles that allowed them to own the top spot for 14 weeks in a row. Eventually, it became the best-selling single of Armstrong’s career and earned him a Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Performance in 1965. 

4. Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison - Oh, Pretty Woman (from Black & White Night)

Roy Orbison actually wrote Oh, Pretty Woman about his lovely wife. He was inspired by imagining her on a shopping trip, completely unaware of all the looks she was sure to garner as she walked down the street. It ended up being a massive hit for him, spending three weeks at number one on the Hot 100 and another three weeks on top of the UK Singles Chart in 1964.

5. I Get Around – The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys "I Get Around" on The Ed Sullivan Show

I Get Around was the opening track of The Beach Boys’ 1964 album All Summer Long and is one of their best-known songs today. It was their first track to reach the top of the American charts, rising to number one on the Hot 100 and becoming a top-10 international hit along the way. In 2017, the song was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. 

6. Everybody Loves Somebody – Dean Martin

Dean Martin - Everybody Loves Somebody (Official Audio)

Everybody Loves Somebody was originally written by Irving Taylor and Ken Lane in 1947, but Dean Martin’s recording of the song in 1964 made the song famous. Numerous other artists covered the track in the 20 years since it was first released, including the likes of Frank Sinatra, but Martin’s version was the most successful by a mile.

It eventually knocked The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night out of the number-one spot on the Hot 100 and additionally spent eight weeks on top of the Pop-Standard Singles chart that year. 

7. My Guy – Mary Wells

Mary Wells - My Guy (Lyric Video)

My Guy was a huge hit single for Mary Wells that was very much unlike many of the pop songs out today. In it, a woman rejects the advances of another man and confirms her commitment to her current partner. It would eventually rise to the top of the Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100 and place number five on the UK Singles Chart. 

8. We’ll Sing in the Sunshine – Gale Garnett

We'll Sing in the Sunshine

Gale Garnett’s We’ll Sing In The Sunshine was a massive hit on the easy-listening charts and an early ode to the free love movement that wasn’t far away at the time. It wound up reaching number four on the Hot 100 but took the top spot on both the Cash Box Top 100 and US Billboard Adult Contemporary charts.

9. Last Kiss – J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers

Last Kiss was first released by Wayne Cochran in 1961 but failed to do well on the charts. While he would re-record the song in 1963, it was the 1964 version by J. Frank Wilson And The Cavaliers that did the best. Their rendition rose to number two on the Hot 100 that year and was the inspiration behind other cover versions of the track from groups like Pearl Jam.

10. Where Did Our Love Go – The Supremes

Where Did Our Love Go

The Supremes would set records for the amount of number-one hit singles they recorded, but Where Did Our Love Go was their very first to reach the pinnacle of the music charts. It topped the Hot 100 for two weeks in 1964 and was the first of five of their releases in a row to reach that spot.

11. People – Barbra Streisand

People was originally composed by Jule Styne for the 1964 Broadway musical Funny Girl, with Barbra Streisand starring in the production and introducing the song. Her version of it would eventually be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and peaked at number five on the Hot 100.

12. Java – Al Hirt

Java was a highly successful instrumental piece that was adapted from a string of piano compositions that debuted in The Wild Sound Of New Orleans. Al Hirt would revive the song and record the most successful version of it, rising to number four on the Hot 100 and spending four weeks on the top of the Easy Listening chart in the same year.

13. A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles

The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night

A Hard Day’s Night was released as the title track of a 1964 movie and was the featured song of The Beatles’ first feature film. After eventually being released as a single, the track reached the top of the charts in the US, UK, and nine other countries.

14. Love Me Do – The Beatles

Love Me Do (Remastered 2009)

Love Me Do is the official debut single for The Beatles and one of the most important songs in music history. While it was written several years before they were actually formed, it would become one of their biggest songs. Released in the UK in 1962 and the US in 1964, it was a US number-one hit despite peaking at number 17 on the UK Singles Chart two years prior.

15. Do Wah Diddy Diddy – Manfred Mann

Do Wah Diddy Diddy

Manfred Mann would pick up and cover Do Wah Diddy Diddy in 1964 and find near-limitless success with it. It spent two weeks on top of the US and UK charts and was described by many as the perfect teenage rocker of the day.

16. Please Please Me – The Beatles

Please Please Me (Remastered 2009)

Please Please Me was the first song The Beatles released in the US and only their second single released in the UK. Serving as the title track of their first LP, it would reach number two on the UK Singles Chart in 1963, but its re-release in the US a year later would rise to number three on the Hot 100.

17. Dancing in the Street – Martha & the Vandellas

Martha & The Vandellas "Dancing In The Street" on The Ed Sullivan Show

Martha & The Vandellas were the first to record this Marvin Gaye song, and they found a huge hit with it. It eventually peaked at number two on the Hot 100 and number four on the UK Singles Chart that year, becoming their signature song and one of the Motown Records classics.

18. Little Children – Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas

Little Children saw Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas trying to bribe kids to not tell on them for cheating on a partner by offering them candy and other potential gifts in a hilarious hit single. The song went to the top of the UK Singles Chart and reached number seven on the US Hot 100.

19. Love Me with All Your Heart (Cuando Caliente El Sol) – The Ray Charles Singers

Love Me With All Your Heart (Cuando Caliente El Sol)

Love Me With All Your Heart was entirely based on the Spanish-language song Cuando Caliente El Sol. A version of the track by The Ray Charles Singers spent four weeks on top of the Pop Standard charts in the US in 1964 and rose as high as number three on the US Billboard Hot 100.

20. Under the Boardwalk – The Drifters

Under the Boardwalk

Under The Boardwalk is one of the most famous songs The Drifters ever produced, and it’s by far the one that gets covered the most by other artists. In 1964, their version of the track rose to number four on the Hot 100, and it would later be recognized by Rolling Stone by being included on the publication’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

21. Chapel of Love – Dixie Cups

Dixie Cups - Chapel Of Love (1964) 4K

Chapel Of Love was first made famous by the Dixie Cups in 1964, with their version spending three weeks in the top spot of the Hot 100. Many other artists would pick up this single devoted to the thrill of a bride’s wedding day over the years, but their version of it was the first to find chart success.

22. Suspicion – Terry Stafford

Suspicion was first recorded by Elvis Presley, but it became a bigger hit for Terry Stafford. He was an Elvis sound-alike, sort of like the actors in Vegas today except he could actually sing like the King of Rock and Roll. His version of the song was the one that broke The Beatles’ run of owning the top five spots on the Hot 100 when it peaked at number three. 

23. Glad All Over – The Dave Clark Five

Glad All Over (2019 - Remaster)

Glad All Over was a fun group call-and-response song with plenty of energy and one of the earliest tracks described as a wall of sound. It was the song that started the rivalry between The Dave Clark Five and The Beatles, rising to the top of the UK Singles chart and eventually reaching number six on the US charts. That ranking was the first incursion of the British Invasion to not be produced by The Beatles.

24. Rag Doll – The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons - Rag Doll (Official Audio)

Rag Doll was once voted the number-one song of all time according to a listener poll by radio station WCBS-FM in New York, a poll that took place in 2010. Upon its initial release in 1964, the track reached the top spot of the US Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100 charts.

25. Dawn (Go Away) – The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons - Dawn (Go Away) (Official Audio)

Dawn (Go Away) was another one of the incredibly popular hits The Four Seasons put out in 1964, reaching number three on the Hot 100 and falling just short of Ragdoll in terms of total sales for the year.

26. Bread and Butter – The Newbeats

Bread And Butter was The Newbeats’ first and most successful hit single. It served as their demo as they were trying to secure a record deal and became their first release after signing that contract. The song spent 12 weeks on the Hot 100, peaking at number two.

27. It Hurts to Be in Love – Gene Pitney

It Hurts to Be in Love (Remastered)

Gene Pitney found the most success with It Hurts To Be In Love, but numerous other artists would cover the song later. His version would rise to number seven on the Hot 100 and spent a total of 16 weeks on the chart.

28. Deadman’s Curve – Jan & Dean

Deadman’s Curve details a teenage street race gone wrong and was a story that resonated with many young people in the US at the time. It would eventually go on to become one of the most popular teenage tragedy songs of all time and earned an induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.

29. Come a Little Bit Closer – Jay and the Americans

Come A Little Bit Closer

Come A Little Bit Closer was the biggest hit Jay And The Americans produced during their career., It rose to number three on the Hot 100 and number four on the Cashbox Top 100 in 1964, but you might have heard it in the 2017 film Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

30. A World Without Love – Peter and Gordon

A World Without Love

A World Without Love was the first single Peter And Gordon ever released. Written by Paul McCartney, the song eventually reached number one in the US, UK, and Ireland. 

31. Have I the Right? – The Honeycombs

The Honeycombs - Have I The Right? (1964) 4K

The Honeycombs burst onto the music scene with their debut single Have I The Right? and it would turn out to be their biggest hit song. It peaked at number five on the Hot 100 and rose to the top of the UK Singles Chart. 

32. Don’t Let the Rain Come Down (Crooked Little Man) – The Serendipity Singers

Don't Let The Rain Come Down (Crooked Little Man)

Don’t Let The Rain Come Down (Crooked Little Man) originated as a folk song and served as the debut single of The Serendipity Singers. It did its best work on the Adult Contemporary chart, rising to the number two position, but it also made it to number six on the US Hot 100.

33. Baby Love – The Supremes

Baby Love unsurprisingly rose to the top of the Hot 100, but it was the song that made The Supremes the only Motown Record act to have more than one track reach the top spot of the chart. It would later rank as one of the 500 greatest songs of all time according to Rolling Stone Magazine. 

34. Let It Be Me – Betty Everett & Jerry Butler

Let It Be Me originated as a French-language song titled Je T’Appartiens. It would become a worldwide hit single after The Everly Brothers wrote an English version of the song, with Betty Everett and Jerry Butler finding a hit that rose to number five on the Hot 100. 

35. Wishin’ and Hopin’ – Dusty Springfield

Wishin' And Hopin' (Stereo Version)

Wishin’ And Hopin’ was first recorded by Dionne Warwick in 1962, but it became a huge hit when Dusty Springfield recorded the song two years later. Her version broke into the top 10 of the Hot 100 and just missed out on being a number-one single in Canada by peaking at number two.

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