The year is 1960; John F Kennedy is elected as the 35th President of The United States, the Rat Pack is taking over Las Vegas, and viewers from around the nation tune in every week to see the adventures of Marshal Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke. Yet for so many of us, the memories we have come from the music we listened to. The soundtrack to 1960 was quite spectacular, as you’ll see with the top 10 Billboard hits from that year. See if you can guess them all!
We’ll start with number 10 and work our way back. This hit song was originally released in 1959 by a different artist, but in 1960 it became so big that it inspired a dance craze!
“Come on baby let’s do the twist!” Of course, we’re talking about Chubby Checker’s infectious hit, “The Twist.” While it’s only number 10 on the Billboard list, Billboard magazine declared it the “biggest hit” of the 1960s.
Number 9 on the list features a hit song from music royalty. It was catchy enough to knock number one on our list off the top of the charts (more on that later). We’ll give you a hint: “You can shake an apple off an apple tree…” Any guesses?
We can’t have a list about music from 1960 without the King himself, Elvis! “Stuck on You,” was Elvis’ first hit single after serving in the Army for two years, and his first hit single of the year.
Number 8 might be a little tricky, as the artist never really reached the popularity of others on the list. While this song was eventually covered by James Taylor in 1977 (albeit in a slower rendition), we’ll always remember the “Comma, Comma Comma Comma.”
Back to the King himself, Elvis, for number 7. It’s the second best-selling single by the King, and his only other appearance on this list. Those are the only hints you get, so take a guess and continue to see the answer!
Of course we’re talking about the melodic ballad, “It’s Now or Never.” A fun fact about this song: this song is one of two based off the Italian song “O Sole Mio,” with the other being Tony Martin’s 1949 hit “There’s No Tomorrow,” which inspired Presley’s version!
Number 6 on the list is described as the artist’s definitive song, who was only 15-years-old when she recorded it! Considered to be an early example of the new “Nashville Sound,” this tale of unrequited love is one I’m sure all of us remember.
We’re hoping the age of the artist tipped you off to guess Brenda Lee’s hit, “I’m Sorry.” According to Fred Bronson, author of the Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Lee recorded the song early in 1960, but the record label held it’s release due to concerns that she wasn’t mature enough to sing about such a sensitive topic!
On to the top 5! Number 5 on the list actually came out in December of 1959, but was considered too sad by many radio station executives and didn’t receive instant success. However, by February of 1960, the song went on to reach number one on the Billboards. This one might be a toughie, but we’re sure you can get it.
The teenage tragedy song “Teen Angel,” by Mark Dinning was actually written by his sister Jean Dinning and her husband, Red Surrey. It was Dinning’s only song to reach the Billboard top 50, but we’ll always remember how that last verse made us feel (a puddle of tears to be specific).
Number 4 is remembered for it’s rhythmic chanting (“uga-uga”) throughout the three verses, and tells the love story of a “young Indian brave.” It was also featured in the 1994 Steve Martin movie, A Simple Twist of Fate. That’s all we can say without giving it away.
How many of you guessed “Running Bear?” Recorded by Johnny Preston and writhed by The Big Bopper himself, J.P. Richardson, this song was number one for three weeks in January. The song was rerecorded by multiple artists, and was allegedly a part of Led Zeppelin’s live performances.
Only 3 left on the list! Are you still with us? If so, you’ll be pleased to know that number 3 is performed by one of our favorite groups from the 60s, and the best brother duo in music history (not to editorialize). The song included a distinctive drum pattern achieved with a tape loop, and was featured on the B-side of their album “Always It’s You.” By now you probably already know…
You just knew that the Everly Brothers would make an appearance on this list at some point, right? Well, their hit song “Cathy’s Clown,” reached number one on the charts in May of 1960, and was said to be very influential on a group of fellas in Liverpool. In fact, you can hear the similarities of this song with The Beatles first U.S. single, “Please Please Me.”
And then there were 2. One of the first crossover hits we can think of, this song came out in the fall of 1959, and topped the Hot Country Singles chart, reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and even made it to number 13 on the R&B Singles Chart. It was covered by many artists, including Elvis, and even prompted an answer song written by Jeanne Black. Get your answer ready…
Gentleman Jim himself, Jim Reeves, and his hit single “He’ll Have to Go,” are number 2 on the list. The song was inspired by the writers, Joe and Audrey Allison, having difficulties communicating on the telephone.
And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The number one song from the Billboard charts in 1960! We’ll try not to say too much and spoil it. It was written for a 1959 movie starring Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue. No matter how old or young you are, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard this melody.
Of course we’re talking bout the “Theme From A Summer Place,” by Percy Faith! What are the odds that an instrumental orchestral arrangement would ever reach the number one spot nowadays, much less even make it on to the radio? This song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in late February of 1960 and remained there for nine consecutive weeks, setting a record that wouldn’t be broken until 1977 (by Debbie Boone’s “You Light Up My Life”).
So how did you do? We’re you able to guess all 10 songs correctly? Do you agree with this top ten list? These great songs were the soundtrack to our youth. When we weren’t listening to them we had to find some other way to stay entertained, and these fads provided the perfect solution.