31 Best Songs From 1956

As rock and roll started to gain popularity, the pop charts quickly adapted to this new style of music. When mixing that in with the various other musical styles and genres, 1956 had some great songs.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane and listen to some top songs from 1956.

1.“Heartbreak Hotel” By Elvis Presley

Song Year: 1956

One of Presley’s most influential songs, “Heartbreak Hotel,” changed pop music overnight. This reverb-heavy blues track broke barriers and dominated the pop and country charts in 1956.

“Heartbreak Hotel” had a monumental impact on many other musicians from John Lennon to Keith Richards. If you had to choose one song to represent Elvis, “Heartbreak Hotel” would be his masterpiece. 

2. “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” By Doris Day

Song Year: 1956

Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, Doris Day performed a unique rendition of “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) in 1956. The song was successful after its use in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

The song peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won an Academy Award for best original song in 1956. It also popularized the phrase, “Que Sera, Sera” in the English language.

3. “Blue Suede Shoes” By Carl Perkins

Song Year: 1956

While you might think of Elvis when you hear “Blue Suede Shoes,” Carl Perkins scored a big hit with the song in 1956 before Presley released his version. Perkin’s version is considered one of the first rockabilly records and mixes blues, country, pop, and rock music.

Lasting 16 weeks on the Cashbox best sellers charts, “Blue Suede Shoes” is an all-time classic. Release the same year, Presley scored a hit with the song as well. 

4. “The Great Pretender” By The Platters

Song Year: 1956

The Platters recorded many inspiring and successful songs in the 1950s. “The Great Pretender” is one of the biggest songs for this 1950s band. The song reached number 1 on the US charts and found success in the UK as well.

Claiming to write the song in less than 20 minutes, The Platters’ manager, Buck Ram, is credited with writing credits on “The Great Pretender.”

5. “Memories Are Made of This” By Dean Martin

Song Year: 1956

Originally recorded by The Easy Riders, “Memories Are Made of This” found commercial success after Dean Martin used his signature voice to transform the track.

“Memories Are Made of This” was an instant hit upon release and spent 6 weeks at number one on the Billboard charts. It also found success across the pond and spent 4 weeks atop the UK Singles charts in the same year.

6. “Moonglow and Theme From Picnic” By Morris Stoloff

Song Year: 1956

Recorded for the film “Picnic”, “Moonglow and Theme From Picnic” hit the top of the Billboard charts in 1956.

Originally written in 1933 by Will Hudson, Irving Mills, and Eddie DeLange, the song found success thanks to its inclusion in the film “Picnic.” This version was helmed by Morris Stolof and his orchestra.

7. “Don’t Be Cruel” By Elvis Presley

Song Year: 1956

We’ll be hearing a lot from Elvis on this list, and “Don’t Be Cruel” is his second chart-topper of 1956. Upbeat and danceable, “Don’t Be Cruel” was Presley’s biggest-selling record and sold over six million copies by 1961.

Still popular today, “Don’t Be Cruel” was recently inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004 and ranked as the 197th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine.

8. “(The) Rock and Roll Waltz” By Kay Starr

Song Year: 1956

While rock and roll gained popularity, Shorty Allen and Roy Alfred wrote a waltz version of rock and roll. The mix of waltz triple meter and rock and roll bass combine flawlessly to create a unique tune and sound that fits perfectly in the pop music scene of the 1950s.

The most popular version of the song featured Kay Starr on vocals. Her version peaked at number 1 and spent 6 weeks at the top of the chart.

9. “Lisbon Antigua” By Nelson Riddle

Song Year: 1956

Originally recorded in 1937, “Lisbon Antigua” found popularity in 1956 after the Nelson Riddle orchestra released their version.

 Riddle crafted a new modern arrangement and included himself on the piano. Topping the Billboard charts for 4 weeks, “Lisbon Antigua” was also used as the theme song for the film “Lisbon” in 1956.

10. “My Prayer” By The Platters

Song Year: 1956

Originally released in 1939 by violinist Georges Boulanger, “My Prayer” found pop success in 1956 after The Platters recorded a doo-wop version. The Platters hit the top of the pop and R&B charts with their rendition.

An all-time classic, “My Prayer” is often featured in films and TV shows. You might remember the song from “Twin Peaks” or “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

11. “The Wayward Wind” By Gogi Grant

Song Year: 1956

One of the most memorable country songs of 1956, “The Wayward Wind,” is an anthem for wandering spirits. Gogi Grant’s version of “The Wayward Wind” was the biggest seller and peaked at number 1 on Billboard’s charts.

Grant sings of a man dreaming of traveling while living near passing trains. While the traveler lives a lonely life, it’s the only life for him.

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