fbpx

35 Best Songs From 1969

The year 1969 was when things started looking up in the world. The Vietnam War was coming to a close, and we finally went to the moon. The music world was just as interesting, with some of the most iconic tracks in history being released before the decade drew to an end. In this article, we’ll use Billboard’s year-end rankings to determine the 35 best songs of 1969. 

1. Sugar, Sugar – The Archies

The Archies - Sugar, Sugar (1969) 4K

Sugar, Sugar has the distinction of being the most successful bubblegum pop song of all time despite being recorded—technically—by the fictional band from the TV program The Archie Show. Backed by the insanely popular Archie comics and the show based on them, the song spent four weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 and eight weeks on top of the UK Singles chart in 1969, becoming the most successful track of the year and ranking as the top song for both the US and UK. 

2. Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures) – The 5th Dimension

The 5th Dimension - Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures) (Audio)

You probably know this song better as The Age Of Aquarius, but it isn’t a standalone track. Instead, it’s a medley of two songs, both of which were written for the 1967 musical Hairspray. The 5th Dimension recorded the track and released it as a single in 1969. It then went on to spend six weeks on top of the Hot 100 and earned a platinum certification from the RIAA, cementing it as one of the most successful songs of the entire year. 

3. I Can’t Get Next to You – The Temptations

The Temptations "I Can't Get Next To You" on The Ed Sullivan Show

I Can’t Get Next To You was the song to replace Sugar, Sugar at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. It quickly became a number-one single for The Temptations, spending two weeks on top of the Hot 100 and five weeks on top of the R&B charts. It was their second number-one single and among the best-selling tracks they ever released. 

4. Honky Tonk Women – The Rolling Stones

Honky Tonk Women went through several iterations and eventually was released in both the US and the UK in 1969. The Rolling Stones would wind up with a song that topped both the US and UK charts and one that would be eventually inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It was interestingly released as a non-album single, though it would be included on their Let It Bleed album only five months later. 

5. Everyday People – Sly & the Family Stone

Sly & The Family Stone - Everyday People (Official Video)

Everyday People was the first single to reach the top of the Soul singles chart for Sly & The Family Stone. Composed by Sly Stone, it would also reach the top of the Hot 100, a position it would hold for four weeks. Even today, this plea for peace and equality between races and social groups is remembered as one of the most popular songs released throughout the 60s. 

6. Dizzy – Tommy Roe

Dizzy was a major hit both in the US and the UK, spending four weeks on top of the US Billboard Hot 100 and one week on top of the UK Singles Chart. To say the song was popular among artists is an understatement, as numerous covers have been released over the years. Even a 1991 cover by Vic Reeves would top the UK Singles Chart. 

7. Hot Fun in the Summertime – Sly & the Family Stone

Sly & The Family Stone - Hot Fun in the Summertime (Official Audio)

I Can’t Get Next To You was the only thing that stood between Sly & The Family Stone’s Hot Fun In The Summertime and the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Released days before the group’s Woodstock appearance, it peaked at number two on the Hot 100 and number three on the Soul singles chart in 1969. 

8. I’ll Never Fall in Love Again – Tom Jones

I'll Never Fall In Love Again

I’ll Never Fall In Love Again was originally written by Lonnie Donegan and Jimmy Currie, with Donegan releasing the song as a single in 1962. While his version was great, Tom Jones is the owner of the most successful version of the track. His rendition in 1967 was a UK hit and reached number two on their charts, but the reissue of the song in 1969 in the US saw it rise to number six on the Hot 100 instead of its previous run to number 49. 

9. Build Me Up Buttercup – The Foundations

The Foundations - Build Me Up Buttercup (Official Lyrics Video)

Butter Me Up Buttercup was the first recording of The Foundations that saw Colin Young serve as the lead vocalist. It quickly rose to number one on the Cash Box Top 100 and number three on the Hot 100, also rising to the number two spot on the UK Singles Chart. 

10. Crimson & Clover – Tommy James and the Shondells

Tommy James and the Shondells - Crimson & Clover

Crimson & Clove” is an incredibly interesting song, and you should definitely read my article diving into the meaning of it. That being said, it was one of the most successful tracks of 1969 despite some confusion over what it was really all about. It spent 16 weeks on the US charts, peaking at number one in February and selling an estimated total of five million copies. 

11. One – Three Dog Night

One was one of the best songs to appear on Harry Nilsson’s 1968 album Aerial Ballet. And while you may not recognize it by the title, its opening line is surely something you’ve heard: “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” Three Dog Night’s cover version of the track was more popular than Nilsson’s original, rising to number five on the Hot 100 in 1969 and ranking at number 11 on the year-end listings. 

12. Crystal Blue Persuasion  – Tommy James and the Shondells

Crystal Blue Persuasion

Crystal Blue Persuasion remains one of Tommy James And The Shondells’ biggest hits to date. Originally recorded in 1969, the song would reach the number-two spot on the Hot 100 and spend three consecutive weeks there. 

13. Hair – The Cowsills

Hair was the title song for a 1967 musical of the same name, as well as the 1979 film adaptation of said musical. In 1969, The Cowsills recorded the song and found the most successful single of their discography. It spent two weeks on top of the Cash Box Top 100 and peaked at number two on the Hot 100, held out of number one by Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In by The 5th Dimension. 

14. Too Busy Thinking About My Baby – Marvin Gaye

Too Busy Thinking About My Baby

Too Busy Thinking About My Baby was first recorded by The Temptations in 1966 for their album Gettin’ Ready. Marvin Gaye recorded a cover of it only three years later as the follow-up single to his single I Heard It Through The Grapevine and found his second biggest hit of the 60s. It rose to number four on the Hot 100 and held the top spot on the Black Singles chart for six consecutive weeks. 

15. Love Theme from “Romeo and Juliet” – Henry Mancini

Love Theme from "Romeo and Juliet" (Remastered)

This song may also be known as A Time For Us. It was an instrumental arrangement composed for Franco Zeffirelli’s film Romeo And Juliet, and it became a huge pop hit. It rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969 and held the spot for two weeks while also holding the top spot of the easy listening chart for eight weeks. 

16. Get Together – The Youngbloods

The Youngbloods - Get Together (Audio)

Get Together was included on The Youngbloods’ debut album in 1967 and was written by Chet Powers during his time with the psychedelic rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service. It remains their only top-40 single to this day, rising to number five on the Hot 100 in 1969. 

17. Grazing in the Grass – The Friends of Distinction

The Friends Of Distinction "Grazing In The Grass" on The Ed Sullivan Show

Grazing In the Grass is an instrumental piece that was first recorded by trumpeter Hugh Masekela. The Friends Of Distinction would go on to record the number-one hit song in 1969 and achieved a top-10 hit of their own, reaching number three on the Hot 100 and number five on the R&B charts that year. Their version interestingly had lyrics while the earlier one did not. 

18. Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds (Official Audio)

Perhaps one of Elvis Presley’s most famous songs despite it not being one he’s tied to in everyone’s minds, Suspicious Minds actually started out as a flop. It was released in 1968 by Mark James, but the track wasn’t commercially viable. Presley picked it up the following year, earning himself a number-one hit single on the Hot 100. 

19. Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Proud Mary (Official Lyric Video)

Proud Mary is one of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s best-known songs today, but it comes from only their second studio album. It was a major hit at the time of its release in 1969, rising to number two on the Hot 100 and becoming the first of five singles to peak at number two on that chart in their career. 

20. What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) – Jr. Walker & The All Stars

What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)

What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) was the second single from Jr. Walker to reach number one on the R&B charts, but it was a huge hit overall as well. It peaked at number five on the Hot 100 and number 13 on the UK Singles Chart, eventually selling over one million copies and earning a Grammy nomination along the way. 

21. It’s Your Thing – The Isley Brothers

The Isley Brothers - It's Your Thing (Official Audio)

It’s Your Thing was a fabulous funk single from The Isley Brothers that became an anthem against Motown CEO Berry Gordy. It’s also one of the most iconic tracks to come from this time period, making it onto Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and reaching number two on the Hot 100 in 1969. 

22. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

Yep, this song is that old. Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline has a legacy that far surpasses most of the tracks on this list, and it’s something that just about everyone has heard in a viral trend or sang along with at the bar. In 1969, the song rose to number four on the Hot 100. In 2021, the track re-entered the UK Singles Chart thanks to its use by England supporters during Euro 2020. 

23. Jean – Oliver

Oliver "Jean" on The Ed Sullivan Show

Jean was a pop song that came from the 1969 film The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie. The Oliver recording of the track would reach the number two spot on the Hot 100, the top spot on the Adult Contemporary chart, and the top of the Canadian RPM charts. 

24. Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bad Moon Rising (Official Lyric Video)

Bad Moon Rising is probably the most iconic Creedence Clearwater Revival song out there, and it has to be their most covered track by other artists. Serving as the lead single for their Green River album, it peaked at number two on the Hot 100 and number one on the UK Singles Chart. 

25. Get Back – The Beatles

Get Back (Remastered 2009)

Get Back is yet another The Beatles song that wound up having a different album version and a single version released to the public. The single release would be hugely successful, reaching the top spot in the US, UK, and 12 other countries in 1969. 

26. In the Year 2525 – Zager & Evans

Zager & Evans - In The Year 2525 - 2nd version (1969)

Zager & Evans found a huge hit in their single In The Year 2525. A pop-rock banger, this one spent six weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 and three weeks on top of the UK Singles Chart. While it was officially released with a smaller record label in 1964, it wasn’t until the RCA Records release in 1969 that it achieved much acclaim. 

27. Spinning Wheel – Blood, Sweat & Tears

Blood, Sweat & Tears - Spinning Wheel (Official Audio)

Spinning Wheel was released by Blood, Sweat & Tears on their eponymous album in 1969. It would rise to number two on the Hot 100 in July and stayed in that spot for three weeks, kept out of number one by The Love Theme From “Romeo And Juliet.” A little later, it would top the easy listening chart, spending two weeks in that position and earning three Grammy Nominations in the process. 

28. Baby I Love You – Andy Kim

Baby I Love You was originally recorded by The Ronettes in 1963 for their debut album. That version would reach number 24 on both the Hot 100 and Cash Box Top 100, becoming one of the best girl-group songs of all time. Andy Kim’s 1969 version saw even more success, becoming a top 10 hit by reaching number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. 

29. Going in Circles – The Friends of Distinction

Going In Circles was originally performed by The Friends Of Distinction on their 1969 album Grazin’ and was incredibly successful. It reached number 15 on the Hot 100 and number three on the R&B charts. Notable artists have covered it over and over in the years since, including the likes of Luther Vandross and Isaac Hayes. 

30. Hurt So Bad – The Lettermen

Hurt So Bad was a hit single throughout the 60 and 70s. It started out as a top-10 hit for Little Anthony And The Imperials in 1965, and a later version by Linda Ronstadt would also achieve the same ranking. The Lettermen recorded the song in 1969 and saw it rise to number 12 on the Hot 100, earning them a place on the year-end rankings as well. 

31. Green River – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Green River (Official Lyric Video)

The title track of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 album fared the same as their other entries to this list, peaking at number two on the Hot 100. Unfortunately, this one was stuck behind Sugar, Sugar, but that didn’t stop it from being one of the best songs of the entire year. 

32. My Cherie Amour – Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder’s My Cherie Amour would turn out to be his third top-10 hit. It reached number four on the Hot 100 in 1969 and was another one of the famous collaborations between him and Henry Cosby that brought both men commercial success. 

33. Easy to Be Hard – Three Dog Night

Easy To Be Hard is another entry to our list from the musical Hairspray. While the original recording fared well, Three Dog Night’s version was the most successful. It went on to reach number four on the Hot 100 and would become the 33rd-ranked song for the year.

34. Baby It’s You – Smith

Baby It’s You is a hit-maker of a song, evidenced by it being a success for The Shirelles and The Beatles. The band Smith broke it out in 1969 and recorded the most successful version of the track, seeing it rise to number five on the Hot 100 that year. 

35. In the Ghetto – Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley - In the Ghetto (Official Audio)

Originally titled The Vicious Circle, In The Ghetto was a major hit that served as a big part of Elvis Presley’s comeback album. It was an early piece of social commentary, discussing the cycle of violence in poverty-stricken neighborhoods and the sad fate that awaits many who do not receive help. It would go on to reach the number three spot on the Hot 100 and the number two spot on the UK Singles Chart.

Recommended Next:

The best songs from 1968

The best songs from 1967

The best 1960s songs

Leave a Comment