15 Best Songs From 1930

Best Songs From 1930

While many of us weren’t around then, there are a lot of classic songs from 1930 that people still reminisce about today. The music of that time presents a diverse range of genres like blues and jazz.

In this article, we’ll explore the best songs in 1930.

1. “Happy Days Are Here Again” by Ben Selvin

Song Year: 1930

This jazz classic by Ben Selvin unofficially became the campaign music for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidential run. The lyrics painted a picture of a protest song, talking about how citizens could sing cheerfully again. It was a powerful mantra that resonated with audiences during the Great Depression, a time of economic hardship and uncertainty.

Many artists made their renditions of this tune, including Barbra Streisand, Leo Reisman, Mitch Miller and the Gang, and Vanessa Williams. The song has also been part of several television shows and movies.

“Happy Days Are Here Again” by Ben Selvin

2. “Body and Soul” by Paul Whiteman

Song Year: 1930

This song is renowned for its emotional depth, performances, and influential impact on the genre of jazz. What makes “Body and Soul” exceptional is the mesmerizing performance by Paul Whiteman and his orchestra, accompanied by the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Bing Crosby.

Although several artists took their chances at recording and producing the song, no version took off until Paul Whiteman gave it a chance in 1930. The tune became an instant classic throughout the United States.

3. “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” by Nat Shilkret

Song Year: 1930

In 1930, the song became one of the top ten requested plays. Like many other songs of the time, it had several versions before its release and after. However, this rendition with Nat Shilkret and his orchestra is the one that flew the tune to the top of the charts across the country.

Throughout the lyrics, you will hear the singer reference being in a relationship with someone but yearning for someone else simultaneously. The heartfelt vocals and expressive orchestration by Nat Shilkret further enhance the song’s emotional impact.

4. “Puttin’ On the Ritz” by Harry Richman

Song Year: 1930

While this song was written in 1927, it remained unpublished until Harry Richman picked it up in 1930 through a movie with the same name. Many people today don’t understand the reason behind the title, but it was a popular slang term at the time—meant to say ‘dress nicely as you would at the Ritz.’

Numerous artists have covered and reinterpreted the song over the years, solidifying its status as a jazz standard. It has appeared in films, commercials, and stage productions, further cementing its place in popular culture.

“Puttin’ On the Ritz” by Harry Richman

5. “Little White Lies” by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians

Song Year: 1930

This song was written by Walter Donaldson in 1930 and recorded in the same year. The song was such a hit that the same record label produced it with two different musical groups. Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians’ rendition of the song adds a delightful touch to the catchy melody, infusing it with their signature harmonies and energy.

Since its release, the song has received renditions from many famous musicians, including Dinah Shore, Paul McCartney, and Ruby Murray.

6. “You’re Driving Me Crazy!” by Guy Lombardo

Song Year: 1930

This song by Guy Lombardo was recently remastered in 2008. As it gained popularity, it was recorded by three artists in one year. Outside of Lombardo (whose version had Carmen Lombardo on vocals), other renditions were made by Lee Morse and Rudy Vallee.

Most people will know this song from the popular musical that starred Fred and Adele Astaire, called “Smiles.” Many people took the time to see it as a comedy performance, and the song resonated with them.

7. “Ten Cents a Dance” by Ruth Etting

Song Year: 1930

This early 1930s song was referred to as a pop and jazz tune. It was initially written for the musical “Simple Simon” where Etting performed. Later on, there were two movies made of the same title.

This song has become integral to American music, being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. It was also added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry for its vital importance to American pop culture.

“Ten Cents a Dance” by Ruth Etting

8. “When It’s Springtime In the Rockies” by Hilo Hawaiian Orchestra

Song Year: 1930

“When It’s Springtime In the Rockies” by the Hilo Hawaiian Orchestra captures the essence of spring and the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. The orchestra’s rendition brings a touch of Hawaiian musical flair to the composition, infusing it with the sounds of ukuleles and steel guitars.

It reached such a level of popularity that it was digitally remastered in 2015 to allow the music to carry on into future years. Moreover, seven years after the song’s release, a hit movie of the same title was created with actor Gene Autry.

9. “Walk Right In” by Cannon’s Jug Stompers

Song Year: 1930

“Walk Right In” by Cannon’s Jug Stompers exemplifies the joy and simplicity of early American folk and jug band music. It became part of several more albums under the same name, including the album “Cool Water” in 1962 from the band Rooftop Singers.

The tune later went on to be nominated for a Grammy award, although it did not win. The lead singer of the band, Gus Cannon, released the song with the hope of introducing jug bands to the world and widening their reach.

10. “On the Sunny Side of the Street” by Ted Lewis

Song Year: 1930

This song was first recorded in 1930 by Ted Lewis, and then Harry Richman took his shot with it shortly after. Both artists’ versions were trendy in the 1930s and excited others to record and perform them.

Since then, musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and Lester Young covered the song, while many more created their versions. You may have also heard this song in an episode of Cheers and Frasier.

11. “If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight” by McKinney’s Cotton Pickers

Song Year: 1930

First published in 1926, this song didn’t pick up speed until 1930 when McKinney’s Cotton Pickers released it. Previously, it was sung by Clarence Williams and Eva Taylor, and after by Louis Armstrong. Moreover, in 2020, famous cover artist Stephanie Trick released a new version online.

Behind the lyrics and musical arrangement are James P. Johnson and Henry Creamer. The hit song was remastered in 1992 and resided on the album “The Chronological Classics: McKinney’s Cotton Pickers 1929-1930.”

“If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight” by McKinney’s Cotton Pickers

12. “St. Louis Blues” by Louis Armstrong

Song Year: 1930

This song was initially penned in 1914 by classic songwriter W.C. Handy. Since the beginning, it has remained a staple in the blues and jazz musical genres. The songwriter was inspired to create the tune after meeting a woman upset about her husband on the streets of St. Louis.

The song became popular when Louis Armstrong took his turn, and many other artists were inspired to create their renditions. Following Armstrong’s success, musicians like Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Glenn Miller, and Guy Lombardo produced and recorded versions for public release.

13. “Sittin On Top of the World” by Mississippi Sheiks

Song Year: 1930

This song is unique because of the vast array of genres that it fits into. Not only is it jazz, but it is also classified as gospel, holiday, rock, blues, pop, country, folk, and Christian. It was written by Walter Vinson and Lonnie Chatmon and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.

In 2003, Jack White recorded a new version of this song for the movie “Cold Mountain.”

14. “Three Little Words” by Duke Ellington

Song Year: 1930

“Three Little Words” by Duke Ellington is a captivating song that showcases the brilliance of Duke Ellington’s jazz style and his mastery as a bandleader. It’s a lively and infectious tune that has become a beloved jazz standard.

Since 1930 the song has seen many new versions by various artists. Most recently, in 2022, musician Tyshawn Sorey covered the song. Before that, artists such as Nat King Cole, John Coltrane, Gene Ammons, and Ella Fitzgerald created their renditions.

15. “I’m In the Market For You” by Van Phillips

Song Year: 1930

“I’m In the Market For You” stands out for its energetic tempo, toe-tapping rhythms, and Van Phillips’ engaging vocal delivery. Recently remastered for a classics compilation of Van Phillips hits, this song is getting a renewed audience.

Born in 1905, Phillips was well known for many hit songs and roles in movies and theater shows. While he died in 1992, Phillips’ music and compilation talents continued to represent him, with his last professional work in 1994.

“I’m In the Market For You” by Van Phillips

Top Songs From 1930, Final Thoughts

While you wouldn’t think that songs from 1930 are relevant today, many are regarded as some of the best songs ever. This list of the best songs from 1930 will have you reminiscing about the famous music and musicians back in the day.

From the bluesy vibes of the Mississippi Sheiks, or the playful charm of Van Phillips, these songs reflect the spirit and sentiments of the 1930s.

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