1950s Music: What Songs Were Most Popular?


The world audience for music in the 1950s was the largest in history and showed every sign of growing even larger. Musicians of reputation were in such demand that they could have been performing every day of the year. Traditional seasonal patterns had disappeared.


In the U.S., music was everywhere, from Muzak to an unaccompanied violin in the restaurant. There was an audience for everything.

From Elvis Presley and Pablo Casals, Andre Kostelanetz and Otto Klemperer, folk singer and the Saint Matthew Passion.

There was a noticeable broadening of the taste of concertgoers.

Rock and Roll was just in its infancy, but LOTS of it was created. I’m always amazed at how many great songs were made in the 50s that I’ve never heard before.

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Classical music was still very popular. Blues, swing and jazz were easily accessible. It was truly the convergence of the future and the past because the Sixties changed everything permanently.

Most old people (like me) know the songs from the 50s that are popular today. Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Patsy Cline are all household names.

But do you really know who ruled the charts in the 1950s? I bet you haven’t heard most of these songs. It’s amazing what we think was popular back then and what actually was popular in the 50s.

It makes me wonder what’s going to be popular in the future that isn’t popular now!

Names like Patti Page, Perry Como and Nat King Cole carry over from the 40s. Rosemary Clooney had a good run, as did Tony Bennett. In the early 50s, the crooners perfected their trade.

But when Elvis came in everything changed. Not only did he completely dominate sales, but pop music from then on was completely different. Guitars, screaming, hip shaking music was topping the charts and the old folks were left wondering what the hell just happened.

Some quick notes: It’s kinda hard to believe All I Have To Do Is Dream gets overtaken by Purple People Eater in 1958. Mr. Blue by The Fleetwoods is a great song. Unchained Melody (1955) and Sleep Walk (1959) are also two of my personal favorites in this list.

Popular Artists from the 1950s

Who were the most popular musical artists in the 1950s?

  • Patti Page
  • Andrews Sisters
  • Nat King Cole
  • Perry Como
  • Les Paul
  • Tony Bennett
  • Percy Faith & His Orchestra
  • Doris Day
  • Rosemary Clooney
  • Elvis Presley
  • Guy Mitchell
  • Sam Cooke
  • The Everly Brothers
  • The Platters
  • Conway Twitty
  • Pat Boone
  • Andy Williams
  • Buddy Holly
  • Chuck Berry
  • Les Baxter
  • Frankie Avalon

Songs in 1950

What were the most popular songs in 1950?

Jan. 1 – Jan. 6, 1950
Jan. 7 – Jan. 13
Jan. 14 – Feb. 10
Feb. 11 – Mar. 10
Mar. 11 – Mar. 17
Mar. 18 – Mar. 24
Mar. 25 – Apr. 28
Apr. 29 – May 4
May 5 – June 2
June 3 – June 9
June 10 – July 23
June 24 – July 7
July 8 – Aug. 18
Aug. 19 – Oct. 27
Oct. 28 – Nov. 17
Nov. 18 – Dec. 1
Dec. 2 – Dec. 15
Dec.16 – Mar. 2, 1951
Mule Train
Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer
I Can Dream, Can’t I?
Chattanoogie Shoe Shine
The Cry Of The Wild Goose
Music! Music! Music!
If I Knew You Were Comin’ Id’ve Baked a Cake
The Third Man Theme
The Third Man Theme
Sentimental Me
I Wanna Be Loved
Mona Lisa
Goodnight, Irene
All My Love
Harbor Lights
The Thing
The Tennessee Waltz
Frankie Laine
Gene Autry
Andrews Sisters
Red Foley
Frankie Laine
Teresa Brewer
Eileen Barton
Anton Karas
Guy Lombardo
Perry Como with Fontane Sisters
Ames Brothers
Andrews Sisters
Nat King Cole
Weavers featuring Gordon Jenkins
Patti Page
Sammy Kaye
Phil Harris
Patti Page

Songs in 1951

What were the most popular songs in 1951?

Dec. 16, 1950 – Mar. 2
Mar. 3 – Mar. 9
Mar. 10 – Apr. 20
Apr. 21 – June 22
June 23 – July 27
July 28 – Sept.7
Sept. 8 – Nov. 2
Nov. 3 – Nov. 16
Nov.17 – Dec. 28
Dec. 29 – Mar. 14, 1952
The Tennessee Waltz
Be My Love
How High The Moon
Too Young
Come On – A My House
Because Of You
Cold, Cold Heart
Sin (It’s No Sin)
Patti Page
Perry Como
Mario Lanza
Les Paul & Mary Ford
Nat King Cole
Rosemary Clooney
Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett
Eddy Howard
Johnny Ray

Songs in 1952

What were the most popular songs in 1952?

Dec. 29, 1951 – Mar. 14
Mar. 15 – May 16
May 17 – June 20
June 21 – July 4
July 5 – July 11
July 12 – Sept. 12
Sept. 13 – Oct. 17
Oct. 18 – Nov. 21
Nov. 22 – Nov. 28
Nov. 29 – Dec. 26
Dec. 27 – Jan. 9, 1953
Wheel of Fortune
Blue Tango
Here in My Heart
Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart
You Belong to Me
I Went To Your Wedding
It’s In The Book
Why Don’t You Believe Me
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Johnny Ray
Kay Starr
Leroy Anderson
Al Martino
Percy Faith & his Orchestra
Vera Lynn
Jo Stafford
Patti Page
Johnny Standley
Joni James
Jimmy Boyd

Songs in 1953

What were the most popular songs in 1953?

Dec. 27, 1952 – Jan. 9
Jan. 10 – Feb. 13
Feb. 14 – Mar. 20
Mar. 21 – May 15
May 16 – July 24
July 25 – Aug. 7
Aug. 8 – Oct. 9
Oct. 10 – Nov. 6
Nov. 7 – Nov. 20
Nov. 21 – Jan. 1, 1954
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes
Till I Waltz Again With You
The Doggie In The Window
Song From Moulin Rouge
I’m Walking Behind You
Vaya Con Dios
St. George And The Dragonet
Vaya Con Dios
Rags To Riches
Jimmy Boyd
Perry Como
Teresa Brewer
Patti Page
Percy Faith & his Orchestra
Eddie Fisher
Les Paul & Mary Ford
Stan Freberg
Les Paul & Mary Ford
Tony Bennett

Songs in 1954

What were the most popular songs in 1954?

Nov. 21, 1953 – Jan. 1
Jan. 2 – Feb. 26
Feb. 27 – Mar. 12
Mar. 13 – Mar. 19
Mar. 20 – Mar. 26
Ma. 27 – Apr. 9
Apr. 10 – May 28
May 29 – Aug. 6
Aug. 7 – Sept. 24
Sept. 25 – Nov. 5
Nov. 6 – Nov. 12
Nove. 13 – Dec. 3
Dec. 4, – Jan. 21, 1955
Rags To Riches
Oh My Papa
Secret Love
Make Love To Me
Secret Love
Make Love To Me
Little Things Mean A Lot
Hey There
This Ole House
I Need You Now
Mr. Sandman
Tony Bennett
Eddie Fisher
Doris Day
Jo Stafford
Doris Day
Jo Stafford
Perry Como
Kitty Kallen
Rosemary Clooney
Rosemary Clooney
Eddie Fisher
The Chordettes

Songs in 1955

What were the most popular songs in 1955?

Dec. 4, 1954 – Jan. 21
Jan. 22 – Feb. 4
Feb. 5 – Feb. 11
Feb. 12 – Mar. 25
Mar. 26 – Apr. 29
Apr. 30 – July 8
July 9 – Sept. 2
Sept. 3 – Oct. 7
Oct. 8 – Oct. 14
Oct. 15 – Oct. 21
Oct. 22 – Oct. 28
Oct. 29 – Nov. 4
Nov. 5 – Nov. 25
Nov. 26 – Jan. 13, 1956
Mr. Sandman
Let Me Go, Lover
Hearts of Stone
The Ballad Of Davy Crockett
Unchained Melody
Rock Around The Clock
Yellow Rose Of Texas
Love Is a Many Splendored Thing
Yellow Rose Of Texas
Love Is a Many Splendored Thing
Autumn Leaves
Love Is a Many Splendored Thing
Sixteen Tons
The Chordettes
Joan Weber
Fontane Sisters
McGuire Sisters
Bill Hayes
Les Baxter
Bill Haley & his Comets
Mitch Miller
The Four Aces
Mitch Miller
The Four Aces
Roger Williams
The Four Aces
Tennessee Ernie Ford

Songs in 1956

What were the most popular songs in 1956?

Nov. 26, 1955 – Jan. 13
Jan. 14 – Feb. 17
Feb. 18 – Mar. 2
Mar. 3 – Mar. 23
Mar. 24 – May 2
May 3 – June 15
June 16 – Aug. 3
Aug. 4 – Aug. 17
Augu. 18 – Sept. 14
Septe. 15 – Nov. 2
Nov. 3 – Nov. 16
Nove. 17 – Dec. 7
Dec. 8 – Dec. 21
Dec. 22 – Dec. 28
Dec. 29 – Feb. 8, 1957
Sixteen Tons
Memories Are Made Of This
Great Pretender
Rock And Roll Waltz
Poor People Of Paris
Heartbreak Hotel
Wayward Wind
I Almost Lost My Mind
My Prayer
Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog
Green Door
Love Me Tender
Singing The Blues
Love Me Tender
Singing The Blues
Tennessee Ernie Ford
Dean Martin
The Platters
Kay Starr
Les Baxter
Elvis Presley
Gogi Grant
Pat Boone
The Platters
Elvis Presley
Jim Lowe
Elvis Presley
Guy Mitchell
Elvis Presley
Guy Mitchell

Songs in 1957

What were the most popular songs in 1957?

Dec. 29, 1956 – Feb. 8
Feb. 9 – Feb. 15
Feb. 16 – Mar. 29
Mar. 30 – Apr. 19
Apr. 20 – June 2
June 3 – July 14
July 15 – Sept. 1
Sept. 2 – Oct. 6
Oct. 7 – Oct. 20
Oct. 21 – Nov.3
Nov. 4 – Dec. 8
Dec. 9 – Dec. 29
Dec. 30, – Jan. 10, 1958
Singing The Blues
Don’t Forbid Me
Young Love
All Shook Up
Love Letters In The Sand
Teddy Bear
Wake Up Little Susie
Jailhouse Rock
You Send Me
April Love
Guy Mitchell
Pat Boone
Tab Hunter
Andy Williams
Elvis Presley
Pat Boone
Elvis Presley
Debbie Reynolds
Jimmie Rodgers
The Everly Brothers
Elvis Presley
Sam Cooke
Pat Boone

Songs in 1958

What were the most popular songs in 1958?

Dec. 30, 1957 – Jan. 10
Jan. 11 – Feb. 14
Feb. 15 – Mar. 21
Mar. 22 – Apr. 25
Apr. 26 – May 2
May 3 – May 16
May 17 – June 13
June 14 – July 25
July 26 – Aug. 8
Aug. 23 – Aug. 29
Aug. 30 – Sept. 5
Sept. 6 – Oct. 3
Oct. 4 – Nov. 14
Nov. 15 – Nov. 21
Nov. 22 – Nov. 28
Nov. 29 – Dec. 5
Dec. 6 – Dec. 26
Dec. 27 – Jan. 18, 1959
April Love
At The Hop
Don’t (I Beg of You)
Twilight Time
Witch Doctor
All I Have To Do Is Dream
Purple People Eater
Hard Headed Woman
Little Star
It’s All In The Game
It’s Only Make Believe
Tom Dooley
It’s Only Make Believe
To Know Him is To Love Him
Chipmunk Song
Pat Boone
Danny and the Juniors
Elvis Presley
The Champs
The Platters
David Seville
The Everly Brothers
Sheb Wooley
Elvis Presley
Domenico Modugno
The Elegants
Domenico Modugno
Tommy Edwards
Conway Twitty
Kingston Trio
Conway Twitty
Teddy Bears
David Seville & The Chipmunks

Songs in 1959

What were the most popular songs in 1959?

Dec. 27, 1958 – Jan. 18
Jan. 19 – Feb. 8
Feb. 9 – Mar. 8
Mar. 9 – Apr. 12
Apr. 13 – May 10
May 11 – May 17
May 18 – May 31
June 1 – June 12
July 13 – Aug. 9
Aug. 10 – Aug. 23
Aug. 24 – Sept. 20
Sept. 21 – Oct. 4
Oct. 5 – Nov. 15
Nov. 16 – Dec. 13
Dec. 14 – Dec. 27
Dec. 28 – Jan. 3, 1960
Chipmunk Song
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
Stagger Lee
Come Softly To Me
The Happy Organ
Kansas City
The Battle Of New Orleans
Lonely Boy
A Big Hunk O’ Love
The Three Bells
Sleep Walk
Mack The Knife
Mr. Blue
Heartaches By The Number
David Seville & The Chipmunks
The Platters
Lloyd Price
Frankie Avalon
The Fleetwoods
Dave “Baby” Cortez
Wilbert Harrison
Johnny Horton
Paul Anka
Elvis Presley
The Browns
Santo & Johnny
Bobby Darin
The Fleetwoods
Guy Mitchell
Frankie Avalon

More 1950s Music

1950s Musical Instruments

1950s Musical Instruments: History & Pictures »

There was a musical revolution going on in the 1950s, much of it carried on the back of the electric guitar. Fender, Gibson & Gretsch led the way.

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13 thoughts on “1950s Music: What Songs Were Most Popular?

  1. deanna

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  3. Danny

    In the early and middle 1950’s, most of the music wasn’t Rock. Most radio stations carried either western (country) or the last stand of big band (a much peppier version of 40’s music). Some rock-a-billy tracks aired on western (country) stations. And, sometimes a radio station would do a special after-school hour of Rock; however, that was only in cities, never on community radio.
    Around the clock broadcasts of 50’s rock did actually happen, for the last two years of the 50’s (only in cities) and half of the 90’s as well (the 50’s&60’s “oldies” stations easily competed against sour sounding “alternative rock” stations during the 90’s). Most people growing up in the 50’s, had they grown up in a small town, had to wait until the 90’s before they heard 50’s rock. Rock was not mainstream in the 50’s. Rock was actually considered “deviant” during most of the 50’s.
    As far as real 50’s music goes, have you heard it yet?
    For example, http://www.1940sukradio.co.uk/1950sukradio/

  4. Guy

    MAN!!!?&^%*$# Where’s FATS in your list?? …. as in Fats Antoine Domino. In the late fifties, there was only ONE artist bigger than he and that was of course Elvis. I was spinning his 45’s on my little shoebox phonograph when I was 5.

  5. Marcelo Daneri

    In part of music many people omit things, this always happens, let’s see … This will be a comment so that people are not so closed minded.
    At that time, that music was for the mainstream that was ” White Adults ” but the music of the teenagers was totally different, in those times. Just because Pop’s lists were Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennet does not mean they were idols for teenagers. Let’s understand one thing, rebellion began in the 50’s, yes, why? For music, that’s the reason, what kind of music ?, R & B music. I was waiting to see on this website names like Alan Freed, Leonard Chess, Sam Phillips, etc, Djs Jockeys who understood teenagers. So, people, do not let yourself be completely guided by this, if you obviously want to write a 1952 white adult script, definitely the pop list would be efficient, but if you want to write a script about teenagers in 1952, definitely Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, Louis Jordan, Fats Domino and all the R & B singers will help you completely. Rock and Roll is more than a genre, it is a feeling that was born at the beginning of the 50’s when white teenagers from all over the United States listened late at night r & b in secret from their parents.

  6. Shawn Knox

    A notable exclusion on this list is JERRY LEE LEWIS. Despite the scandal that followed him in the late 50s, he entered the scene like a firestorm, and for time gave Elvis a run for his crown before his (temporary) fall from grace.

  7. Ellen Bales

    One Christmas I asked Santa for a “record player.” Yes, it actually played vinyl–33 1/3, 45, and 78 rpm. For 45’s you had to have an adapter and every so often you had to replace the “needle.” Sometimes the record skipped and my brother told me to tape a penny or a nickel to the tone arm to give it extra weight. Some of my favorite music artists in the 50s were Frankie Avalon (Venus), The McGuire Sisters (Sincerely), Johnny Mathis (anything!), Fats Domino (Blueberry Hill), Ricky Nelson (Poor Little Fool) and so many others. I remember it as my first real introduction to music. That was when I first started memorizing lyrics and to this day I can recall at least a couple of lines from most songs, as well as lyrics all the way up through the 80’s. And now all those tunes are being brought back and the kids think they’re new!


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