After dedicating several playlists to discussing each decade in a global manner, in this post, we want to take a new journey into the past in search of the most essential songs of 1961. A year as successful and prolific as others, but less highlighted here to promote those of future years. In any case, the forefront of songs was still advancing at a somewhat slow pace, back then.
Here you’ll find my top 1961 songs in various languages, with a completely personal criterion, divided by languages since English-language songs tend to be much more well-known and popular. Nonetheless, we believe they’re on the same level as most songs in Spanish, French, Portuguese, or Italian, as they are the main languages in this list. In reality, many of these musical gems are true classics even today, over fifty years later, so we hope you’ll enjoy them regardless of the language.
Top songs of 1961. Playlist + selection of best artists and bands
Bobby Vee – Take Good Care Of My Baby
The music of 1961 in English also didn’t escape the theme of versions made by different artists. This is a clear example. Many later versions ensure the great success this song achieved. A song composed by Carole King (famous at our place for Lisa Simpson’s version of another of her works) and its popularity among the youth extended for many more years.
As a curiosity that doesn’t make any sense, Bobby Vee was born in Fargo. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 74. I mention this because, in fact, the idea for this list was born about 10 years ago. Back then, while researching musicians from past decades… for whatever reason… ages were mentioned that left you more at ease when thinking whether these were young people with a long life ahead. That’s all.
Chubby Checker – Let’s Twist Again
I don’t know about now, but two decades or more ago, “Let’s Twist Again,” in a remixed version, was annoying for months and months. Perhaps that’s why this original version seems less insufferable to those of us who endured the disco variant at weddings. A few years later, “Mambo No. 5” came, and many perceptions of this style vanished.
The twist hasn’t gone down in history as a genre or a dance. A pity, because many herniated discs would probably be inoperable now. However, Chubby Checker took advantage of that moment to triumph and become something like immortal.
Elvis Presley – Can’t Help Falling In Love
This is another one of those songs that, depending on your age, have come to belong to other artists. We won’t say which band we mean, as it’s obvious. In any case, with its slower later version, the song performed by Elvis is even more melancholic within his style. A great song, actually (which took Elvis away from his characteristic style, moreover).
Linda Scott – I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star
What does Linda Scott make you think of here? One option, probably the most widespread, would conjure up a world full of clouds and smiles. The other, more dreamlike option, would transport you to a more cinematic, and therefore solitary, place. Both options are incomprehensible to us. Maybe David Lynch directed both possibilities.
Patsy Cline – Crazy
“Crazy” is one of those songs that resurface every now and then and gain followers from new generations. In 2005, it even lent its name to a movie (“C.R.A.Z.Y.,” whose acronym, in turn, represented the names of each son of the protagonist’s father). This film had a great soundtrack filled with various music classics, by the way, and glorified the lyrics of this song. Shortly after, at least in Spain, an advertisement used it, and the tone of everything seen was quite ridiculous. That’s how things change.
The Marcels – Blue Moon
It’s surprising to see how certain styles were in the spotlight at many different times. Doo-wop is one of those. Turned into music for children starting in the 90s (as also happened with a large part of The Beatles’ discography), initially its success among the most modern young people was quite unusual, to the point that even today songs like “Blue Moon” have more than 7 million views on YouTube (without an accompanying video).
The 1960s would be crucial in Charles Aznavour’s career. In that decade, his legend and worldwide success, almost exospheric, were forged, singing in different languages for each new single for each market where he was already a hit. In this case, “Les Comédiens” doesn’t yet enter the Olympus peak of his repertoire, perhaps because it appears to have a production more in line with its time, but its charm in each listen is undeniable.
Conchita Bautista – Estando Contigo
A song that speaks of the happiness of being with someone and makes you happy every time you hear it. “Estando Contigo” is another of those songs that has been covered by different voices and has resulted in numerous sales in all of them, so its fame cannot be disputed, at least not in the Spanish market, of course.
Dúo Dinámico – Quisiera Ser
One of Dúo Dinámico’s great anthems is “Quisiera Ser.” A song from 1961 that when we discovered it in the 90s, as kids, we thought it was from the 80s, who knows why. Perhaps it’s because it’s so ingenuous and at the same time fun and lively.
Gino Paoli – Senza Fine
Gino Paoli, on the other hand, changes the tone of this list of songs to bring in a bit more class and elegance. “Senza Fine” is classic in every sense of the word, and perhaps that’s why it’s also a melody that’s completely timeless, which isn’t the same as being immortal or current. It always puts us in a very good mood, we don’t know why, but it does.
Rafael Farina – Mi Perro Amigo
Because often the definition of a classic should be that: melodies, lyrics, or songs that come to us through human transfer unrelated to the author, artist, or composer of said classic. Rafael Farina is a well-known name in Spain, and “Mi Perro Amigo” is one of those songs that any ear can listen to, whether accustomed to this genre or not.
Serge Gainsbourg – La Chanson De Prévert
Finally, before entering the year 1962, we propose one of those classic songs cherished by a vast majority of people worldwide. One of Gainsbourg’s great hits, and one of the first of his career, and also one of the most representative of what his career would become later. A wintry song, above all else.
(Madrid, 1987) Novelist by vocation, SEO specialist by profession. Music lover, cinephile and reading lover, but in “amateur” mode.