Yeah and this another boring 50's song. Guess it's fitting that it's the last #1 of the decade. It's also way too sappy for me. "I'll always love you so / Why, because you love me". Bleghh. It's even worse when the female backing singer joins in later.
And with that we say goodbye to our short stay in the 1950's. 1960 begins tomorrow.
Clocking in over 4 minutes in length, this was a long song for the time period. Which wound up being a risk that paid off. I believe this is regarded as a big classic within the country music world. It's a narrative set in the days of the Wild West. It starts off with this man falling in love with this woman named Faleena which he met in El Paso. But when another man makes a move on her, the protagonist shoots the other guy dead. This forces Marty's character to flee the city. The song then switches from past to present tense. Marty's character returns to El Paso out of love to find Faleena. But he ultimately gets shot dead in the process. I find this song enjoyable to an extent; the Spanish guitars add a nice touch and it has a strong melody; and the narrative captures my attention as well. But it's not normally my type of thing. I don't really know what to do with this one lol.
0025. Johnny Preston - "Running Bear" [3 weeks - 1960]
Similar to "El Paso", this tells the story of two lovers that are unable to be together and resolves with the protagonist dying. Well, actually both of them die. They're from enemy Native American tribes and there's this metaphorical "raging river" separating them. They finally get together by diving in the river, but ultimately both drown. Despite that, this song is really silly and novelty (especially with all the "Indian" chants going on.) And not in a good way. Also, I feel like it plays on stereotypes too much.
0026. Mark Dinning - "Teen Angel" [2 weeks - 1960]
Three #1's in a row about death. The previous two were more light-hearted, so to speak, but this one is very tragic and pulls at the heart strings. That is, until the song stops making sense. When this teenage couple's car gets stuck on the railroad tracks, the protagonist saves his girlfriend from harm. But then she goes running back to the car to rescue her boyfriend's high school ring, which results in her own death. It's made unclear as to why she would risk her own life to save the ring; but it must've really meant something special to her in order to do so. Like she wanted to wear the ring as a romantic gesture. But who would actually endanger their own life for that? The lyrics in general are a bit lacking, too. Except for the words "I'll never kiss your lips again; They buried you today", which I find very saddening. That said, despite the weird narrative, the depressing tone kinda works for me... so idk.
0027. Percy Faith And His Orchestra - "Theme From A Summer Place" [9 weeks - 1960]
I know the charts were super slow during this time period, but damn this spent a long time at #1. Instrumentals don't usually leave me much to talk about. Never seen the film, so no connection there. This is... nice, I suppose? It's strings-heavy, pretty soothing, sounds like a lullaby. But I have trouble remember much about it. And it just sounds like any random background music taken from any random movie score.
0028. Elvis Presley - "Stuck On You" [4 weeks - 1960]
This makes me think of that Sugarland song lol. This is a pretty fun song, though. The lyrics are really silly (like the usage of apple trees, grizzly bears, wild horses, and tigers), but Elvis has this sort of over-confidence that make them work. It's all in the way he sings it. Which can be said for a lot of his songs. He had this presence that just drew people in. If anything, his fans were the ones that were stuck to him like glue.
My favourite song so far. Though my fave pre-Beatles/British-Invasion #1 is still to come. That one's pretty random though lol. Anyway. Dying on the inside while pretending you don't care on the outside. Pretty common reaction when you get unexpectedly dumped. Especially when you were played for a fool the entire time. I love how the lyrics are just so honest, I guess. He's just trying to protect his pride. But what I also love about this song is that it sounds quite ahead of its time. The harmonies especially. It's the first #1 that sounds like it belongs in this decade.
I don't know if anyone's noticed, but this list has been one big sausage-fest so far. This is literally the FIRST #1 by a solo female artist. It only took 30 #1's. But if anyone could have the first, it's gotta be Connie. She was the biggest female artist of this time period. Admittedly, I don't know a lot about her, but from the songs I do know, she had this sort of sassy attitude that this time period really needed. This song is about her lover treating her badly but staying with him anyway. And the reassurance that she's not the only person who falls victim to this (or is it a warning to the listener?). Not my favourite of hers, but it's still pretty good. I like how she warns him about karma at the end. And Connie, of course, has a fantastic voice. I know it was the common practice back then, but these backing vocals in the chorus are just so bleghhh.
0031. Hollywood Argyles - "Alley Oop" [1 week - 1960]
A song about the comic strip of the same name. The song, of course, makes numerous references to it. I've never heard of the comic strip, but apparently it's about a time travelling caveman. Anyway. I feel like I'd have to know the comic to really get this song. I get that it's attempting to be funny, but I'm just staring at with a blank face. All the background "alley oop"'s and their key changes don't do much for me. And whatever fake accent is being sung here is just annoying. I think this is just too out there for me.
And it didn't take long to get the second lol. Most people today probably know Brenda for that Christmas song, but this was probably her signature hit at the time. She was only 15 years old when she released this, and what an astonishing voice for someone so young. This is such a heartfelt and genuine song. Really captures her feelings of remorse. I just wish there was some more lyrics to it. I like the strings throughout this. The instrumental would be too boring without them.
LOOOOOOOOOOOOOL. Well, it's fun and cheeky, at least. It also has a memorable title / hook, and the "1, 2, 3, 4" part is quite camp. And it helped break the barriers of a time period that was super conservative, so there's that. But much like the Chimpunks, I don't know what to do with this.
0034. Elvis Presley - "It's Now Or Never" [5 weeks - 1960]
This is one of his biggest hits. I can see why as it's more middle-of-the-road as far as Elvis songs go. So I imagine it had broader appeal (ie a song that some non-Elvis fans could enjoy). Usually his songs are bursting with confidence and subtle (or not) sexual-ness, but this time he's being a romantic charmer. He spends the verses slow dancing, and the chorus belting out a final urgent plea (especially at the very end). The finality of "IT'S NOW OR NEVER MY LOVE WON'T WAIT" has its appeal, but the subdued verses don't work for me.
Obviously only need to review this once. A song that went #1 in two different chart runs and tops the all time Hot 100 chart because of that reason alone. This sounds like it belongs in the previous decade, but I find the 60's don't really feel like the 60's until the Beatles anyway. I also find Chubby's voice kinda irritating. Lyrically, this is a really simple song, but that's exactly what they were intending. It's meant to just be a fun song to dance along to that makes everyone feel happy. And it accomplishes just that.
0036. Connie Francis - "My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own" [2 weeks - 1960]
It's kind of boring, and I don't really like the country sound going on (her voice is quite shaky), but it's decent enough. Every single part of her being wants to move on from this guy, but her heart just won't let her. The lyrics are just okay, but the emotion in her voice saves it.
Novelty songs galore in 1960, it seems. This one is just stupid, however. It's basically a worse version of "Running Bear". It features this guy with a really annoying whiny voice objecting to fighting in the American Civil War(?). But it attempts to funny when it just isn't. And it comes off as borderline offensive.
0038. The Drifters - "Save The Last Dance For Me" [3 weeks - 1960]
Ben E King, who of course went on to sing "Stand By Me" not long after this, was the leader singer of the Drifters for this song.
"Save The Last Dance For Me" was inspired by one of the songwriters (Doc Pomus) after watching his wife dance with someone else at their wedding; due to Doc being in a wheelchair and physically unable to dance himself. But the lyrics work in any sort of context involving the insecurities someone may feel in a relationship. There's just so much emotion in them. All he needs for reassurance is something as simple as the last dance. His request sounds reasonable enough, and he doesn't come off as demanding, so it's easy to sympathize with him. The chorus also has a pretty strong melody.
0039. Brenda Lee - "I Want To Be Wanted" [1 week - 1960]
Much like her last #1, she definitely brings out the big vocals for this one. I like the desperation in the lyrics and her voice, but I find this a bit too forgettable. I do like the odd way she says "lonely heart" though.
0040. Ray Charles - "Georgia On My Mind" [1 week - 1960]
I'm sorry but I find this incredibly dull to listen to. Too slow for me. So it loses a lot of points because of that. But I will say that I can appreciate Ray's vocal style. It sounds like something from later years. To the point that the backing singers sound really out of place. And the lyrics are pretty sweet... assuming this is being sung to a girl named Georgia and not the state.
0041. Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs - "Stay" [1 week - 1960]
I think I remember reading somewhere that "Stay" is the most commonly used song title. This one doesn't compare to Shakespears Sister or a future #1 (that has brackets), though. I know this song under one of its cover versions, but I can't figure out which one lol. Maurice wrote this song when he was 15 years old. He tried to convince his date to "stay just a little bit longer", since her parents wanted her home at a certain time, but it didn't work. It's a simple feeling that a lot of people can relate to, even outside of the world of adolescent romance. The fact that it's such a harmless request (and that it doesn't come off like a command), and the fact that he gets rejected, makes it endearing. The instrumental lacks something for me, though, and this falsetto has always kinda annoyed me.
0042. Elvis Presley - "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" [6 weeks - 1960 / 1961]
I never expected Elvis to get so shady. And that's exactly what I like about this. He's basically telling his ex "oh you're lonely tonight? well that's your fault!". The song has such a stripped down production, which throws the spotlight on Elvis. He seems to try to sing this somewhere between restrained and belting words at random, though. But then comes the spoken word section. During this part, Elvis overacts to the point that it sounds like a presidential speech. It's very odd. But I think he's aiming to sound like someone in a Shakespearean play; which would make sense in the context of the lyrics. At this point, he sort of breaks down and admits "But I'd rather go on hearing your lies; Than go on living without you". As much as I'd rather him continue dragging his ex, it makes the situation more realistic. The whole song is a bit over the top, but I don't mind.
0043. Bert Kaempfert And His Orchestra - "Wonderland By Night" [3 weeks - 1961]
On to 1961! See, we're moving somewhere. And we're at the song that was #1 when JFK was inaugurated. Fun. Just 9 more presidents to go! This is... ok I guess. Just not my thing. It's a horns-heavy wintery orchestral number, set on a miserably chilly snowy day. But I'm struggling to find anything more to say about it.
0044. The Shirelles - "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" [2 weeks - 1961]
Girl groups are something we'll be seeing a lot of in this decade. And this was the first girl group to ever top the Hot 100. Indeed, it does sound very 60's. The strong harmonies and melody especially. I like the strings too. "Is this a lasting treasure; Or just a moment's pleasure". This song asks the old "does he only want me for sex?" question. It's a song full of doubts, fears and uncertainty, and we never find out the answer to this question. It takes on an even stronger meaning if you take it to be in the context of giving up one's virginity.
And there's my first 9! Though "Cathy's Clown" was a high 8. Don't think the first 10 comes til 1964, though.
0045. Lawrence Welk And His Orchestra - "Calcutta" [2 weeks - 1961]
The previous instrumental #1's were quite boring, but this one is pretty interesting. Quite a lot going on in it. It briefly starts off a bit rock n roll with the guitar. But then comes some background vocals and the accordion, which makes it sound quite Mediterranean. Then the latter part of the song becomes heavy on the drums and hand clapping. I'm not sure what that reminds of. It definitely stands out amongst everything else I've listened to so far, though. And it all flows really well. It also takes me to another place; not exactly sure where.
This is pretty much the exact same song as "The Twist", but with a different title. The instrumental and vocals are aggressively energetic enough in encouraging you to do the dance, but, again, it just doesn't do anything differently than the "The Twist". And I get tired of him yelling "C'MON!" at me.
0047. Elvis Presley - "Surrender" [2 weeks - 1961]
I'm not sure what he's going for in this one. He sounds like a goat in the first half, and then tries to sound like an opera singer in the second half. And the big dramatic finish really catches me off guard. But I do like the impatient, seductive urgency of "Surrender".
On paper, this seems like one annoying ass song: "Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang ba ba ding a dong ding blue moon". And, believe me, it is quite annoying, but it's amusing at the same time. Not quite a novelty song, but it does seem to be over-exaggerate doo-wop in a way. It's hard to take the lyrics seriously because of that, but it's definitely an odd listen...
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