The year 1967 saw the Summer of Love and the beginning of numerous political and social movements in the Western world whose reverberations are still felt today. In a polarizing and feverish climate like that, it’s no wonder so much good music came out this year. In this article, we’ll take a look at Billboard’s year-end rankings to determine the 35 best songs produced in 1967.
1. To Sir With Love – Lulu
To Sir With Love was the theme song for James Clavell’s 1967 film of the same name, with Lulu both starring in the film and being the artist who recorded the hit single.
It was the best-selling single of 1967 and rose to the top of the US Billboard Hot 100, which coincidentally made her the second female British artist to top the US charts. It not only topped the Hot 100, but it also topped the Cash Box Top 100, rose to number 11 on the UK Singles Chart, and became an international hit single by charting in several other countries.
2. The Letter – The Box Tops
The Letter was The Box Tops’ first single, and it would wind up being their most successful release. A top-10 song internationally, it would rise to the top of the Hot 100 and Canadian RPM charts en route to inspiring innumerable cover versions in the years past. Rolling Stone named it to their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted it by including it on their list of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, and it’s also been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
3. Ode to Billie Joe – Bobbie Gentry
Bobbie Gentry used Ode To Billie Joe as the title track of her debut album and scored a massive hit single with it. Not only did it rise to the top of the US Hot 100, but it also broke into the top 10 of the Adult Contemporary and R&B charts while turning into a top-20 country song. It would later be nominated for eight Grammy awards, winning three of them, and would even be selected by the Library of Congress for its National Recording Registry.
4. Windy – The Association
Windy was the second big-hit single for The Association. In 1967, the song rose to number one on the Hot 100, Cash Box Top 100, and Canada RPM Top Singles charts. After sparse album sales on their previous work, the lead vocals were handled by their guitarist and new member Larry Ramos.
5. I’m a Believer – The Monkees
I’m A Believer might have been recorded in 1966, but it’s a song you’ll still hear regularly in films and other media today. It was so popular that it was the final number-one single of 1966 and became the best-selling single of 1967. While Billboard may have ranked it at the number five spot for the year, you could easily argue that this dance track could have been the best song to come out this year.
6. Light My Fire – The Doors
The Doors are known as one of the greatest bands in history, and Light My Fire ranks as one of the best songs they ever produced. In 1967, it spent three weeks on top of the Hot 100, but its legacy goes far beyond the charts. It is one of the earliest psychedelic rock tracks to be produced, and it became synonymous with the entire psychedelic and sexual revolutions of the 1960s.
7. Somethin’ Stupid – Frank & Nancy Sinatra
Somethin’ Stupid was originally recorded by Carson Parks and Gaile Foote, but the 1967 version by Frank Sinatra and his daughter Nancy is the best-known version we have today. It became a massive hit single, rising to the top of both the US Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles charts. Even in recent memory, the song has been a success, with a 2001 cover including Nicole Kidman reaching the top of the UK Singles chart.
8. Happy Together – The Turtles
Happy Together is the only song The Turtles released that made it to the top of the US Billboard Hot 100. It became an international hit after being released by the group, charting in the top 20 of several different countries before being included as the title track of the band’s 1967 album.
9. Groovin’ – The Rascals
Groovin’ not only became a number-one hit, it also became The Rascals’—previously called The Young Rascals—signature song. Several versions of it would be released by the group over the years, and additional cover versions by other artists were plentiful. Their 1967 release of the track took the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, number three on the US R&B chart, and number eight on the UK Singles Chart.
10. Can’t Take My Eyes off You – Frankie Valli
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You is undeniably one of Frankie Valli’s biggest hits, and between 1967 and 1975, it was his highest-charting single. The song would rise to number two on the Hot 100, held out of number one by Windy, and marked a turning point for his career. It allowed him to do solo records in his own style and proved they could be a success, letting him be both more creative and more comfortable while performing.
11. Little Bit O’ Soul – The Music Explosion
The original writers of Little Bit O’ Soul were British songwriters, John Carter and Ken Lewis, with the original recording being performed by The Little Darlings. The Music Explosion would popularize the song in the US in 1967, with their recording rising to number one on the Record World 100 Top Pops chart and number two on the Hot 100. While it would be their only hit single, it sold over one million copies and earned a gold certification from the RIAA.
12. I Think We’re Alone Now – Tommy James & the Shondells
I Think We’re Alone Now was groundbreaking in the music industry as it’s been credited as the song that invented bubblegum music, though this came about by complete accident. Tommy James & The Shondells’ version of the track in 1967 would become a major hit for the group, rising up the Hot 100 until it peaked at number four and finishing as the 12th most successful track of the year on Billboard’s year-end rankings.
13. Respect – Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin’s Respect is not a song that I think I honestly need to say much about. You’ve heard it, and its legacy is unquestioned. Released in 1967, it was a cover of Otis Redding’s 1965 hit single, but her rearranged cover became an even bigger success. It would go on to become a feminist anthem for the second-wave feminism movement of the 1970s and remains one of the most legendary tracks in the history of music.
14. I Was Made to Love Her – Stevie Wonder
I Was Made To Love Her was the title track of Stevie Wonder’s 1967 album and a huge hit for him. While it was held out of the top spot on the Hot 100 by The Doors’ Light My Fire, it peaked at number two on that chart and rose to the top of the R&B chart. It also made it to number five on the UK Singles Chart, giving him his first top-10 hit single on that ranking.
15. Come Back When You Grow Up – Bobby Vee
Come Back When You Grow Up was the title track of Bobby Vee And The Strangers’ 1967 album. While the album version starts with an instrumental piece, the single version was slightly shorter and began with his vocals. The song itself wound up peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and served as something of a comeback for him after a run of less successful single releases.
16. Kind of a Drag – The Buckinghams
Kind Of A Drag was the title track of The Buckinghams’ debut LP, and it started their careers with a bang. The song would become the first number-one single on the Hot 100 of 1967 and held that spot for two weeks. It was the track that served as the catalyst for four more top-40 hits for them that year as well.
17. Sweet Soul Music – Arthur Conley
Sweet Soul Music was written by Arthur Conley and Otis Redding, but it was based on Sam Cooke’s song Yeah Man. This one would end up reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts, selling over one million copies and even achieving some international acclaim in the process.
18. Expressway (to Your Heart) – The Soul Survivors
Expressway (To Your Heart) appeared on the Soul Survivors’ 1967 album When The Whistle Blows Anything Goes. It peaked at number three on the R&B chart and number four on the Hot 100, ending up being one of the top-20 songs of the year on Billboard’s year-end rankings.
19. Soul Man – Sam & Dave
Soul Man was the first successful single of Sam & Dave’s career as a duo. It was a huge hit for them and Atlantic Records, rising to number two on the Hot 100 in 1967 and eventually being included on Rolling Stone’s 2004 and 2010 lists of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Perhaps, its greatest achievement is its inclusion by the Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry, an honor it received in 2019.
20. Never My Love – The Association
While Windy may have been the more successful song in 1967, Never My Love is the track The Association is best known for today. After their original recording peaked at number two on the Hot 100 and number one on the Cash Box Top 100, numerous other artists would go on to cover it in subsequent decades. Its recording and playtime were so extreme that BMI named it the second most-played song on radio and television of the 20th century—within the US at least.
21. Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie – Jay & the Techniques
Music can make you feel certain things, and this song made me hungry. Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie was recorded by Jay & The Techniques as the title track of their 1968 album, and it was one of the top tracks of 1967. It would reach the number six spot on the Hot 100 and number eight on the R&B chart that year thanks to its novelty sound.
22. Come on Down to My Boat – Every Mother’s Son
Come On Down To My Boat was the only top 40 hit that Every Mother’s Son would score, but it was still one of the most successful songs of 1967. Serving as the best-known single of their eponymous album, the track rose to number six on the Hot 100 and was all about the freedom to make your own choices in life.
23. Incense and Peppermints – Strawberry Alarm Clock
Incense And Peppermints might sound familiar to you if you give it a listen, but that may be because it was featured in the film Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery. Recorded by psychedelic rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock, it took the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in May of 1967, holding that spot for one week before starting its descent in the rankings.
24. Ruby Tuesday – The Rolling Stones
Ruby Tuesday is a big hit single from The Rolling Stones that came relatively early in their time together. The song rose to number one in the US, becoming their fourth number-one hit in total, and also peaked at number three on the UK Singles chart. While it was the B-side to the single Let’s Spend The Night Together, it got more playtime on the radio thanks to the controversial nature of its A-side counterpart.
25. It Must Be Him – Vikki Carr
It Must Be Him originated as a French-language song written by Maurice Vidalin and recorded by Bécaud under the title Seul Sur Son Étoile. Vikki Carr’s English version of the song was an international hit, rising to the number three spot in the US, the number two spot in the UK, and the top of the Australian charts in 1967.
26. Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone – The Supremes
Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone was the second-consecutive number-one single to come from The Supremes’ 1967 album and their ninth overall number-one single as a group. It took the top spot on the Hot 100, R&B, CashBox Top 100, and UK R&B charts.
27. For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield
Inspired by the Sunset Strip riots in 1966, Buffalo Springfield produced one of the greatest anti-war songs of an anti-war era in music. For What It’s Worth would peak at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and was one of the most successful tracks of the year, but its legacy is bigger than its chart rankings. Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time ranked it at number 63.
28. Gimme Little Sign – Brenton Wood
Several versions of Gimme Little Sign have charted over the years, but Brenton Wood’s—also known as Alfred Smith’s—version was the original. Released on the 1967 album Oogum Boogum, it peaked at number nine on the US Hot 100 and number 10 on the UK Singles Chart.
29. The Happening – The Supremes
The Happening was the theme song for the 1967 film of the same name. Interestingly, the movie was an utter failure, but the single was released by Motown Records and became an instant hit. It would eventually rise to number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming The Supremes’ 10th number-one single.
30. All You Need Is Love – The Beatles
All You Need Is Love was released by The Beatles as a non-album single in 1967 and was Britain’s contribution to the first live global television link. It was meant to be associated with the Summer of Love and the counterculture movement of the time, and its satellite broadcast would reach over 400 million people. Today, it’s known as one of their signature tracks, and in 1967 it was an international number-one hit.
31. Release Me – Engelbert Humperdinck
Release Me was originally written and recorded in 1949, with several later versions finding even more success than its first iteration. Engelbert Humperdinck’s 1967 release was the best-selling single of the year in the UK, and its six weeks at number one on the UK Singles chart held off The Beatles’ Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever from gracing the top spot of that chart.
32. Your Precious Love – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
Your Precious Love was a return to doo-wop and a hugely successful single. Marvin Gaye’s version reached number five on the Hot 100 and number two on the R&B Singles chart in the US.
33. Somebody to Love – Jefferson Airplane
Jefferson Airplane’s version of Somebody To Love is still the most popular one to this day. Darby Slick recorded it on her own but took it to the group when she joined them. Their version together was a top-five single in the US and earned a spot in Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
34. Get on Up – The Esquires
The Esquires’ Get On Up was featured on their 1967 album Get On Up And Get Away. It reached number three on the US R&B chart and number 11 on the Hot 100 that year.
35. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
Brown Eyed Girl is another song on this list with a bigger legacy than its initial success. In 1967, the track peaked at number 10 on the Hot 100 and spent a total of 16 weeks on the chart en route to becoming Van Morrison’s signature song and a legendary release in its own right.
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
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.