In the year 1962, in terms of music, there’s much that feels contemporary. And not precisely because it sounds like something new. Because if we think about it, the top songs of 1962 has something familiar. In fact, many will recognize some of these great songs from movies or TV shows. On some occasions, it’s due to being monumental music that has made its mark in history on its own merits. In other cases, however, it’s due to not being taken seriously, both back then and now. Songs as fun or parodic as they are unique to us. It seems that we have evolved. Our ears have too.
The 1962 hit songs, in this selection, is quite eclectic. We have children’s music, music that has been humorously used, thanks to the salsa it offers. Among the top hits of 1962, you will find music for dancing like John Travolta (who changed quite a bit from leaving the music of the 50s), and even for walking along the edges of a train track (or on the track itself). Anything goes when there isn’t a degree for everything that can be sold, or at least that’s assumed from seeing this. So, for all these reasons, we invite you to discover which songs were most successful in 1962, whether by chance, television, or the passage of time (which even forgot them for a while).
In 1962, films like Harakiri (Seppuku) by Kobayashi, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance by John Ford, To Kill a Mockingbird, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, The Exterminating Angel by Buñuel, and Lawrence of Arabia were released. It’s the year of Ozu’s final film (The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice), the highly regarded La Jetée. It’s also the year of Kurosawa, Godard, Antonioni, Tarkovsky, and many other filmmakers who maintained their careers over time without decline, creating works that remain unaffected by the passage of time. Something impressive and not always as straightforward as it sounds when compared to music, as we’ll see below.
Top 24 songs of 1962
Top songs of 1962 in English
Ben E. King – Stand By Me
Stand by Me, the movie starring young actors Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, and Kiefer Sutherland, revitalized the success of one of those timeless songs by Ben E. King (which even led to a new music video, if I recall correctly). We’re talking about the year 1986, a long time ago, in fact.
Bobby Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers – Monster Mash
All the Universal monsters gathered for a song. That’s the story behind the apparent simplicity: a mad scientist tells us how the monsters he created rise late at night to dance. A catchy song that’s a bit silly in a way.
Dee Dee Sharp – Mashed Potato Time
Do you realize how similar Mashed Potato Time and Monster Mash sound? The key is in the “Mash.” This music was danced to, and you didn’t need to be a vampire or a werewolf to do it, although the rhythm is easier for the undead than for the living.
Dick Dale – Misirlou
Maybe it’s better not to say anything about this track. Many years have passed since the release of Pulp Fiction, and yet this track has become iconic and has surpassed the (also legendary) scene that brought it back into the musical spotlight. Later came Black Eyed Peas, as if to lighten the mood, but there are still fans who dance as if they were with Uma or John. Who knows, because it’s become something like imitating Chiquito de la Calzada, honestly.
Elvis Presley – Return To Sender
Another number one for Elvis Presley, the king of the moment. In this case, it’s a catchy saxophone that makes up half the song (with the other half being Elvis’s voice). The shift in style towards different territories continues to evolve in the career of the white king of rock and roll.
Pat Boone & Trini Lopez – Speedy Gonzales
We’re not familiar with the children’s TV programming of those times, but in our childhoods, back in the 90s, old animated series (especially from Hanna-Barbera) were frequently shown. Among the characters, Speedy Gonzales, the tough mouse, occasionally made an appearance. Well, this song is an example of its success. Maybe it’s not a great track, but it’s a song that goes beyond its intentions.
Quincy Jones – Soul Bossa Nova
Another iconic song that, through film, has been altered over time perceptions. Those lively Latin rhythms make you feel that way. Austin Powers said it too, like a total boss. One of the most famous works by the legendary Quincy Jones.
The Exciters – Tell Him
Another classic. A song that was translated into Spanish and many other languages due to its success. Once again, film and television have done a lot to revitalize the success of songs like this, but even at the time, it marked the entry of almost ye-ye pop (in its versions), although it started shaking young hips like pure soul.
Top songs of 1962 in Spanish and French
Antonio Prieto – La Novia
The most commonly used song (at least in the past) to introduce the bride at a wedding altar. A fundamental misunderstanding, given the lyrics that Antonio Prieto sang in La Novia. Yes, everyone remembers the beginning: “Blanca y radiante va la novia…” but very few know the continuation. Well, it’s not as beautiful as one might expect. In fact, if you asked us, we’d probably say it’s quite contrary to marriage, at least from a formal point of view, after years of wear and tear on relationships. In short, it’s beautiful, yes.
Françoise Hardy – Tous Les Garçons Et Les Filles
One of the most internationally recognized young French women began her promising music career with a song that broke away from formal yé-yé stereotypes, but, one could say, spoke about them by referring to the youth of her time. Remember that the yé-yé movement was highly successful in France, and many singers emerged, with varying degrees of success, but they emerged nonetheless.
This music and her perspective on life were reflected in New Wave films, in fashion, and were capitalized upon by composers like Serge Gainsbourg, who contributed some of the most memorable songs to the movement. The movement, again, should be distinguished from Françoise Hardy, despite her being possibly one of the most famous figures of the decade.
Hermanos Rigual – Cuando Calienta El Sol
When the “Song of the Summer” in Spain was an event (something that lasted until recently), the winning song would become forever remembered even by future generations. Every news piece about summer heat would be accompanied by a hit from that period (from a different year); every music show would have a special section for summer songs.
And so on. Few will remember the Hermanos Rigual, or associate them with this song, but yes, they were the instigators of this success and this enduring trend until the arrival of viral content and the internet. And the worst part is: we only know the chorus.
Johnny Halliday – L’Idole Des Jeunes
We write these words at the beginning of 2018, a few weeks after the death of Halliday, the greatest star of French music, with his English rocker appearance but hailing from France. Even in 1962, he was singing a song about the idol of the youth (which surely referred to himself). The images of his farewell, parading the coffin through half the city, clearly showed his significance after so many years of his career. A legend, although he went relatively unnoticed here (among other yé-yé artists).
Lola Flores – A Tu Vera
And in contrast to yé-yé, the most yé-yé rumba singer, Lola Flores. She established a family legacy exploited on television and other media (presumably with the approval of those involved), created her own musical style, an unforgettable repertoire that other artists couldn’t replicate, and most importantly, she was an event in all its forms and appearances.
As an American critic once said, she doesn’t sing or dance well, but you have to see her (or something like that). A Tu Vera is Lola Flores’ more serious version, perhaps because it was from a different time.
Los TNT – Y Volvamos Al Amor
Another of those songs that time has broken, despite its charm. Why, then, you might ask. Because of the beginning, which combines charm with maximal kitsch (if such a word exists), and because of the lyrics that would be unthinkable now, although today we hear much worse lyrics, not because it’s better or worse, but because it’s very much of the decade in which it was made. The same thing happened in the 80s with the lyrics of some bands like Hombres G or that one about “The friends of my friends are my friends” (woooh, what a mess).
Marisol – Estando Contigo
Marisol, the great cornerstone of Spanish cinema for the masses in the decade, was exploited during her childhood and turned into a major star, thanks to her own talent. Any song that had the potential for success would be given to her, and everything that was given to her became a big hit. This year is a good example of that, first with Estando Contigo…
Marisol – Tómbola
And then with Tómbola, her most well-known song, most likely (also her film). Days and days of glory for Cine de Barrio, despite not having Marisol herself on the show, although they had her daughter, if that ever happened. Talent turned into a legend when Pepa Flores ended Marisol and withdrew them both from showbiz. A legend.
Tito Puente – Oye Como Va
Tito Puente, for many the best music teacher who has ever been on The Simpsons, was already the best at what he did before, and this button proves it. Oye Como Va, in its instrumental version and in its version with lyrics, is so well known that it has become eternal, and almost no one really knows when it was put on sale, except for those who have the information at home, of course.
(Madrid, 1987) Novelist by vocation, SEO specialist by profession. Music lover, cinephile and reading lover, but in “amateur” mode.