1930s Music: What Songs Were Most Popular?


Some of the best musicians ever born had their heyday in the 1930s. No one will ever forget the sweet sounds of Louie Armstrong, or the beautiful voice of Billie Holiday.

Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller and Judy Garland were all at the top of their game and the charts. Fred Estaire had a nice run in the 1930s and Count Basie established his dominance.

Most people did not have televisions, so the radio was the primary source of entertainment throughout the decade. And radio wasn’t exactly like it is now, where DJs play song after song after song. Radio was filled with entertainment of all sorts: stories, poetry, news, live music, variety shows and more.

Songs in the 1930s were sometimes more popular than the artist. It wasn’t strange for a song to become popular by one artist, and then re-done by another artist a month later. Because of this, we tend to focus on the songs more than the artists who performed them, because often times the song was popular and performed by several artists.

Music from the 1930s was generally upbeat and sometimes very relaxing. Humor was an important element in popular music.

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Swing and Jazz dominated the music scene in the 1930s. Musicals were also quite popular.

Billie Holiday was singing with everyone and Glenn Miller was at the top of his game. And although many of the songs from the 1930s are not well known today, that doesn’t mean they don’t soothe your soul after a stressful day at work.

Some of the most classic songs from the 1930s were: In The Mood, God Bless America, Over The Rainbow, Silent Night, Minnie the Moocher, Strange Fruit and Stormy Weather.

The was truly the era of big band, because the 1920s jazz sound had permeated everything, including orchestras. No longer was jazz limited to the traditional 3-piece combo — now it was being played by very large ensembles. The thirties witnessed the rise of big band.

If you head to the record store I’m sure you can find an awesome collection of 30s music back in the dusty section where they sell the 18-record set by Reader’s Digest for $2.

Over The Rainbow


Everyone knows this song. “Over the Rainbow” was written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg for Wizard of Oz.

It was sung by Judy Garland about 5 minutes into the movie. The song is now known as her signature song.

It was released in 1939, obviously, the same year as the movie.

The song is number one of the “Songs of the Century” list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. The American Film Institute also ranked “Over the Rainbow” the greatest movie song of all time on the list of “AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs”.

It was adopted (along with Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas”) by American troops in Europe in World War II as a symbol of the United States—in fact, Garland even performed the song for American troops as part of a 1943 command performance.

In April 2005, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp recognizing lyricist Yip Harburg’s accomplishments. The stamp pictures the opening lyric from “Over the Rainbow”.

In The Mood


“In the Mood” is a big band era #1 hit recorded by American bandleader Glenn Miller. It topped the charts in 1940 in the U.S. and one year later was featured in the movie Sun Valley Serenade.

No big band-era mixtape/mashup is complete without this one in the rotation. Gotta jukebox?

Like many awesome things in the 1930s, this recording was ALSO released in 1939. What an unbelievable year!

In 1999, National Public Radio (NPR) included the 1939 Glenn Miller recording on RCA Bluebird on the NPR 100, the list of “The 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century”.

The recording by Glenn Miller is one of the most recognized and most popular instrumentals of the 20th century. The song even appeared in The Beatles “All You Need is Love” #1 single in 1967.


Music in 1930

What were the most popular songs in 1930?

  • Body and Soul
  • Georgia on My Mind
  • The Battles of Jericho
  • Beyond the Blue Horizon
  • What Is This Thing Called Love?
  • Walkin’ My Baby Back Home
  • Embraceable You
  • I Got Rhythm
  • Bidin’ My Time
  • Little White Lies
  • On the Sunny Side of the Street
  • Love for Sale
  • St. James Infantry

What were the most popular albums in 1930?

  • Tiger Rag by Mills Brothers
  • You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me by Maurice Chevalier
  • Ten Cents a Dance by Ruth Etting
  • Let Me Sing and I’m Happy by Al Jolson
  • Three Little Words by Ipana Troubadours
  • Puttin’ On the Ritz by Leo Reisman
  • Kansas City Kitty by Rudy Vallee
  • Sing You Sinners by Smith Ballew

Who were some popular Jazz and Big Bands artists in 1930?

  • Duke Ellington
  • Paul Whitman
  • Nichols Band with Benny Goodman
  • Gene Krupa
  • Tommy Dorsey
  • Glenn Miller
  • Jack Teagarden

Music in 1931

What were the most popular songs in 1931?

  • Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries
  • Minnie, the Moocher
  • Mood Indigo
  • All of Me
  • Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
  • Dancing in the Dark
  • Dream a Little Dream of Me
  • Of Thee I Sing
  • The Thrill is Gone
  • Lady of Spain
  • Live is Sweeping the Country

What were the most popular albums in 1931?

  • The Peanut Vendor by Don Azpiazu
  • Where the Blue of the Night by Bing Crosby
  • Goodnight, Sweetheart by Ruth Etting
  • When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain by Kate Smith
  • You Rascal You by Jack Teagarden
  • Just a Gigolo by Bing Crosby
  • I Found a Million Dollar Baby by Ben Pollack

Who were some popular Jazz and Big Bands artists in 1931?

  • Freddie Martin
  • Eddie Duchin
  • Don Redman
  • Henry Busse
  • Paul Whitman
  • Glenn Miller

Music in 1932

What were the most popular songs in 1932?

  • Night and Day
  • April in Paris
  • I’m Getting Sentimental Over You
  • In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town
  • Shuffle Off to Buffalo
  • I Told Every Little Star
  • How Deep Is The Ocean
  • Granada
  • You’re an Old Smoothie
  • Forty-Second Street
  • You’re Getting to Be a Habit With Me

What were the most popular albums in 1932?

  • New Tiger Rag by Louis Armstrong
  • Reefer Man and The Man from Harlem by Cab Calloway
  • If You Were the Only Girl by Rudy Vellee
  • It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing by Duke Ellington

Music in 1933

What were the most popular songs in 1933?

  • It’s Only a Paper Moon
  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
  • Lazy Bones
  • Easter Parade
  • Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
  • Everything I Have Is Yours
  • Inka Dinka Doo
  • Lover
  • Let’s Fall in Love
  • Temptation

What were the most popular albums in 1933?

  • Stormy Weather by Ethel Waters
  • I Cover the Waterfront by Eddy Duchin
  • Forty-Second Street by Hal Kemp
  • Gold Diggers’ Song by Dick Powell
  • Honeymoon Hotel by Freddy Martin
  • Heartaches by Ted Weems
  • Sophisticated Lady by Duke Ellington

Music in 1934

What were the most popular songs in 1934?

  • Blue Moon
  • Anything Goes
  • Blow, Gabriel, Blow
  • I Only Have Eyes for You
  • Cocktails for Two
  • The Continental
  • What a Diff’rence a Day Made
  • Tumbling Tumbleweeds
  • On the Good Ship Lollipop
  • You and the Night and the Music
  • You’re the Top
  • I Get a Kick Out of You
  • Isle of Capri
  • The Very Thought of You

What were the most popular albums in 1934?

  • Honeysuckle Rose by Dorsey Brothers
  • Moonglow by Duke Ellington & Benny Goodman
  • Limehouse Blues by Fletcher Henderson
  • Sweet Georgia Brown by Earl Hines
  • Star Fell On Alabama by Jack Teagarden
  • Down Yonder by Gil Tanner
  • The Darktown Strutter’s Ball by Luis Russell
  • Let’s Fall in Love by Eddy Duchin

Who were some popular Jazz and Big Bands artists in 1934?

  • Benny Goodman
  • Bunny Berigan
  • Jess Stacy
  • Gene Krupa
  • Fletcher Henderson
  • Paul Whitman
  • Glenn Miller

Music in 1935

What were the most popular songs in 1935?

  • Begin the Beguine
  • The Music Goes ‘Round and ‘Round
  • East of the Sun and West of the Moon
  • It Ain’t Necessarily So
  • I Got Plenty O’ Nuthin’
  • Lovely to Look At
  • Red Sails in the Sunset
  • Stairway to the Stars
  • Summertime
  • These Foolish Things Remind Me of You
  • I Loves You, Porgy
  • You Are My Lucky Star
  • When I Grow Too Old to Dream

What were the most popular albums in 1935?

  • Cheek to Cheek by Fred Astaire
  • I’m in the Mood for Love by Frances Langford
  • It’s You I Adore by Russ Morgan
  • The Oregon Trail by Ozzie Nelson
  • Lullaby of Broadway by Dick Powell
  • Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart by Victor Young
  • June in January by Bing Crosby
  • Footloose and Fancy Free by Dorsey Brothers

Music in 1936

What were the most popular songs in 1936?

  • I’m an Old Cow Hand
  • Is It True What They Say About Dixie?
  • I’ve Got You Under My Skin
  • The Night is Young and You’re So Beautiful
  • Sing, Sing, Sing
  • Stompin’ at the Savoy
  • There’s a Small Hotel
  • W.P.A. Blues
  • Wiffenpoof Song
  • You’ve Gotta Eat Your Spinach, Baby

What were the most popular albums in 1936?

  • Let’s Face the Music and Dance, Let Yourself Go, The Way You Look Tonight and Pick Yourself Up by Fred Estaire
  • Pennies from Heaven by Bing Crosby
  • In the Chapel in the Moonlight by Ruth Etting
  • No Regrets by Billie Holiday
  • Love is Like a Cigarette and Welcome Stranger by Eddy Duchin
  • Indian Love Call by Nelson Eddy & Jeanette MacDonald

Who were some popular Jazz and Big Bands artists in 1936?

  • Jo Jones
  • Buck Clayton
  • Count Basie
  • Mildred Bailey
  • Meade Lux Lewis
  • Pete Johnson
  • Albert Ammons and
  • Bob Zurke
  • Lester Young

Music in 1937

What were the most popular songs in 1937?

  • A Foggy Day
  • The Donkey Serenade
  • Harbor Lights
  • Nice Work if You Can Get It
  • Whistle While You Work
  • I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
  • Johnny One Note
  • The Lady Is a Tramp
  • My Funny Valentine
  • September in the Rain
  • Thanks for the Memory
  • In the Still of the Night
  • Where or When

What were the most popular albums in 1937?

  • Bei mir bist du Schoen by Andrew Sisters
  • They Can’t Take That Away From Me, They All Laughed, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off and Shall We Dance by Fred Estaire
  • Someone to Care for Me by Deanna Durbin
  • Ebb Tide by Bunny Berigan
  • Have You Met Miss Jones? by Sammy Kaye
  • Sweet Leilani by Bing Crosby & Lani McIntire and His Hawaiians

Who were some popular Jazz and Big Bands artists in 1937?

  • Benny Goodman
  • Charlie Parker
  • Jay McShann Band.
  • Mary Lou Williams
  • Andy Kirk’s Kansas City Band
  • Harry James
  • Benny Goodman
  • Hal Kemp
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Carmen Mastren
  • Bob Haggert
  • Teddy Wilson
  • Gene Krupa
  • Tommy Dorsey
  • Chu Berry
  • Harry James

Music in 1938

What were the most popular songs in 1938?

  • Chiquita Banana
  • Falling in Love With Love
  • This Can’t Be Love
  • They Say
  • You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby
  • Get Out of Town
  • My Heart Belongs to Daddy
  • September Song
  • Jeepers Creepers
  • My Reverie
  • Spring is Here

What were the most popular albums in 1938?

  • Love Walked In by Kenny Baker
  • I Married an Angel by Larry Clinton
  • It’s Wonderful by Shep Fields
  • Thanks for the Memory and Two Sleepy People by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross
  • You Go to My Head by Kay Kyser
  • Love in the Starlight by Dorothy Lamour
  • One O’Clock Jump by Harry James
  • Begin the Beguine by Artie Shaw
  • Jalousie by Boston Pops, Arthur Fiedler
  • Beer Barrel Polka by Will Glahe
  • A-Tisket, A-Tasket by Chick Webb & Ella Fitzgerald
  • Boogie Woogie by Jimmy Dorsey

Who were some popular Jazz and Big Bands artists in 1938?

  • Benny Goodman
  • John Hammond
  • Count Basie and
  • Joe Turner
  • Billie Holiday joins
  • Artie Shaw’s band
  • Casa Loma
  • Benny Heller
  • Bob Haggart
  • Bob Zurke
  • Bud Freeman
  • Harry James

Music in 1939

What were the most popular songs in 1939?

  • All the Things You Are
  • South of the Border
  • Frenesi
  • I Concentrate on You
  • I Didn’t Know What Time It Was
  • I’ll Never Smile Again
  • If I Didn’t Care
  • My Prayer
  • Brazil
  • Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead!
  • Tara’s Theme

What were the most popular albums in 1939?

  • Oh, Johnny Oh by Orrin Tucker with Bonnie Baker
  • Miss Thing by Count Basie
  • It Don’t Mean a Thing by Lionel Hampton
  • Body and Soul by Coleman Hawkins
  • Indiana by Earl Hines
  • Some Like it Hot by Gene Krupa
  • Little Brown Jug, In the Mood and Sunrise Serenade by Glenn Miller
  • That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine by Gene Autry
  • Ciribiribin by Harry James
  • Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland
  • Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday
  • Tuxedo Junction by Erskine Hawkins
  • Cherokee by Charlie Parker

Who were some popular Jazz and Big Bands artists in 1939?

  • Charlie Parker
  • Charlie Christian
  • Benny Goodman
  • Jimmy Blanton
  • Billy Strayhorn
  • Ben Webster
  • Duke Ellington
  • Sy Oliver
  • Jimmy Lunceford
  • Tommy Dorsey
  • Billy Eckstine
  • Earl Hines

Browse 1930s Music by Artist or Song

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