Year 1954, the fifth part of the planned ten to finalize the list of 100 songs from the 50s decade. In the year 1954, music begins to change relentlessly towards new styles that will become anthems of global popular culture. So, even though we are talking about top songs of 1954, all of them are classics now.
Among the top hits of 1954 we find greatest songs such as of Big Joe Turner, Bill Haley & The Comets’ “Rock Around The Clock,” Elvis, Muddy Waters with his famous blues, Ray Charles, The Chordettes, The Chords, The Penguins, The Spaniels, Portuguese Amália Rodrigues, Spanish Antonio Molina, and French Georges Brassens. Let’s rock!
In the links with the best songs of 1954 that we provide below, you can discover which songs have been part of the list in previous years: going back to discover the songs from the previous year. Or click on the following links to discover everything that came after.
Playlist with 1954 music hits and of all the decade
Top songs of 1954 in English
Big Joe Turner – Shake, Rattle And Roll
In 1954, rock and roll is a reality. It starts with that mix of R&B and rock, one of the liveliest songs of the decade, and a pioneer of a style that, with its respective evolutions and twists, has become the most widespread genre in popular culture, alongside pop.
The most successful version of this song was done by Bill Haley, but Big Joe Turner was the first to perform “Shake, Rattle And Roll,” and in my opinion, the result is much better.
Bill Haley & The Comets – Rock Around The Clock
Everything has been said about this classic. We’ve heard this melody since we were kids and have been extensively informed about the origin of the term “rock and roll” for the genre based on the lyrics of this song… by a white guy. Not for nothing, because the song is really good, of course, but until a white man started playing it, it didn’t get a name. Tchs.
According to reliable sources, this song was first published on May 20, 1954.
Elvis Presley – That’s All Right
There were many “kings” during this era of music, but if one stood out above the rest, it was always Elvis Presley. Perhaps due to his somewhat premature death, his special charisma, being the first youth idol in history (in today’s terms), or his distinctive movements and that unique voice, which has been imitated (along with all his other aspects) to the point of absurdity in some individuals. Everyone knows who Elvis Presley is, even 60 years after this hit called “That’s All Right.”
The anniversary of his death still appears on the news (whenever they find a spot between all the weather news), his music is still being listened to, and his clothing and hairstyle are still being imitated—especially his hairstyle—among young people. A true symbol of music and a creator of prototypes.
Muddy Waters – (I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man
Sometimes it happens that the beginning of a blues song starts playing, and the first thing that comes to mind is: “It’s (I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man!” Then, it turns out not to be, because in reality, Muddy Waters composed one of the greatest anthems in music history with this one. The lyrical content for calling someone a fucker now is pretty much the same as it was back then.
Ray Charles – I’ve Got A Woman
This year had it all: R&B, rock, blues, and with Ray Charles, soul (along with vocal groups). Ray Charles, the blind pianist always characterized by his sunglasses (as Stevie Wonder would later do), led a wild life that undoubtedly influenced his music, which he composed at a rapid pace.
A few years ago, they made a movie about his life that I haven’t seen, but they said it was good, so I recommend watching it.
The Chordettes – Mr. Sandman
Sandman was a guy who came while you were sleeping and threw sand in your eyes, at best, to leave terrible eye boogers there so that when you woke up after eight hours, you’d have a terrifying and unrecognizable face, even to yourself.
Here, The Chordettes hit it big forever, and this song has even been covered by the band Blind Guardian and Mocedades, among many others. That’s how sinister things are.
The Chords – Sh-Boom
Also known as “Life Could Be a Dream,” classic R&B in which various voices provide the chorus, and almost everyone takes turns with solo verses. The precursor of boy bands, they even had choreographies (though not particularly elaborate).
I can imagine them doing a jump like Chiquito de la Calzada every time they say “Sh-Boom.”
The Penguins – Earth Angel
I really like this song in the version sung by Death Cab For Cutie, a guilty pleasure because right from the start, I thought it was too sentimental, but it has an appealing quality (both versions, though I stick to the original by The Penguins).
Here’s another demonstration of how important music could have been in those years to combat racism, being a massive hit throughout the US. Like when the rapper 2Pac was asked for an autograph by a Nazi during the period he spent in jail (according to his words).
The Spaniels – Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight
Duduru dudú, goodnight, sweetheaaaart, weeeeeell, it’s tiiiime to goooo, duduru dudú. The most successful version of this song—by The McGuire Sisters—omitted the “duduru dudú,” which, in my opinion, is the best part of this song. The rest, other than the chorus, is as current as the latest R&B—in The Spaniels’ version.
Top songs of 1954 in Spanish, Portuguese and French
Amália Rodrigues – Solidão
We cross the Atlantic and find some fado, which is a music genre that was born precisely from crossing the Atlantic (according to some sources) and from the sorrow of going, coming, and missing things and people that aren’t there. You can’t live staring at the ocean; it would be like living on a planet facing space… um, wait.
Loneliness, one of the many nuances of the life of Amália Rodrigues.
Antonio Molina – Adiós A España
Meanwhile in Spain, what was most popular was copla and flamenco, which sound a bit like fado (and vice versa) and are generally just as sad, although in this case, I have no made-up explanations to offer. Antonio Molina gave many great songs and lyrics within this genre and in the history of music in Spain. He was one of my grandfather’s favorites, may he rest in peace. And if the sound comes from a record player, even better.
Georges Brassens – Le Parapluie
Pay attention, because this is the second time it’s on the list, and it will appear two more times. His satirical lyrics still sting some, and that deserves recognition.
(Madrid, 1987) Novelist by vocation, SEO specialist by profession. Music lover, cinephile and reading lover, but in “amateur” mode.