Best Songs From 1962

1962 was a diverse year for music. With standouts in rock and roll, jazz, rhythm and blues and more, it’s hard to narrow down all the good music from ’62. Hard, but not impossible, as I’ve done just that below! Here are the best songs from 1962.

1. “Green Onions” by Booker T. & the MG’s

Song year: 1962

You have heard “Green Onions” before. The song remains one of the most popular pieces of instrumental soul music ever recorded and appears in many adverts, platforms and venues around the world.

Booker T. Jones said the band improvised the song in the studio while recording. “Green Onions” has a unique sound thanks to an organ line that gives the track its beat and charm. This song is perhaps the most enduring piece of music of 1962.

2. “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Ray Charles

Song year: 1962

Ray Charles took a classic country-western tune and gave it his spin with “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Charles added an R&B and soul bend to the song that made it unique from the original version Don Gibson recorded.

The song’s lyrics describe a person looking back on a lost love. No matter how long they spend apart, they cannot let go of the person they love.

3. “Stranger On The Shore” by Acker Bilk

Song year: 1962

“Stranger On The Shore” was the biggest song of 1962 and put Acker Bilk on the map. The song began as a clarinet arrangement that Bilk wrote on a napkin before producer Leon Young added strings to complete the track.

“Stranger On The Shore” was so popular that in 1969, the astronauts of the Apollo 10 mission took the song with them and played it as they orbited the moon.

4. “Mashed Potato Time” by Dee Dee Sharp

Song year: 1962

Pop music was still in its infancy in 1962, and there was no formula for success. “Mashed Potato Time” borrowed from R&B and dance music of the era to create a song perfect for sock hops.

Dee Dee Sharp performed the song, and it was one of the biggest songs of the year. Its popularity lived on more than 30 years later thanks to a Campbell Soup advertisement campaign with a new version of the song sung by Sharp.

5. “Bring It On Home to Me” by Sam Cooke

Song year: 1962

“Bring It On Home to Me” is a pop standard today with countless covers and variations. In 1962, however, it established Sam Cooke as a significant player in rhythm in blues music.

Critics have said the song helped shape the direction of rock and roll music to follow. “Bring It On Home to Me” saw Cooke reworking a gospel song with a secular bent to excellent effect.

6. “Twist and Shout” by The Isley Brothers

Song year: 1962

You likely know “Twist and Shout” as a classic of the early Beatles catalog. Before the lads from Liverpool recorded their version, the Isley Brothers recorded “Twist and Shout.” The Isley Brothers were not the original artists either, as the Top Notes claim the first rendition of this popular tune.

The Isley Brothers made “Twist and Shout” into a hit, and it is a classic rock and roll song about love.

7. “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me” by The Miracles

Song year: 1962

“You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me” is another song you may remember from a Beatles cover. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles recorded the original version the year before with a soul twist to it.

Despite being released as a B-side, “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me” proved to be the bigger hit and was one of the highest-charting songs of the year.

8. “Return to Sender” by Elvis Presley

Song year: 1962

Elvis Presley was an icon by 1962, and everything he touched seemingly turned to gold. So it should not be surprising that “Return to Sender” was another hit for the King of Rock and Roll.

“Return to Sender” sees the singer in a messy relationship with little love. They keep sending their partner cards but get no response, and the singer questions if the relationship has any chance of working out.

9. “Love Me Do” by The Beatles

Song year: 1962

No list of best songs from 1962 would be complete without the Beatles. “Love Me Do” was a standout single for the Fab Four during the band’s early days and assisted with getting the Beatles on the radar in England.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney crafted this love song inspired by skiff rock and blues. “Love Me Do” is one of the first joint songs the two would create.

10. “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by The Four Seasons

Song year: 1962

Another classic of rhythm and blues, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by The Four Seasons, was a big chart mover for the group. The song has a doo-wop tune with falsetto singing to open the track.

The origins of the title have several stories. Bob Gaudio claimed he fell asleep watching the movie Tennessee’s Partner and heard the line in it when he woke up. Co-songwriter said he heard the line from the movie Slightly Scarlet.

11. “Roses Are Red (My Love)” by Bobby Vinton

Song year: 1962

“Roses Are Red (My Love)” is the kind of song you may expect to have heard at a high-school dance in 1962. The song tells of two high school sweethearts as one of them reminiscences about how they met and writes about how roses are red in the other’s yearbook.

Vinton drew on country music for the instrumentation of the song, but it remains decidedly pop.

12. “Soldier Boy” by The Shirelles

Song year: 1962

Despite the United States being involved in no active wars at the time, the girl group the Shirelles recorded “Soldier Boy.” The song is about a woman waiting at home for her lover to return home from the war. She vows to remain faithful to him and awaits his return.

The Shirelles did not originally intend for this song to talk about a soldier until recording it.

13. “The Stripper” by David Rose

Song year: 1962

David Rose produced one of the more risque songs of 1962 with the evocatively named “The Stripper.” He originally recorded the song in 1958 but waited four years to release it.

“The Stripper” is an instrumental jazz song; many burlesque clubs played the track. Despite being a B-side, “The Stripper” is one of the most popular songs Rose has ever recorded.

14. “Johnny Angel” by Shelley Fabares

Song year: 1962

“Johnny Angel” is another pop staple of the era. Multiple artists recorded versions of the song years prior, but none of them managed to make much of an impression. Shelley Fabares put her spin on the song and turned it into one of the most popular songs of 1962.

The song had a strong appeal to teenagers at the time, as Fabares sang about unrequited love.

15. “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” by Neil Sedaka

Song year: 1962

Neil Sedaka recorded his signature song in 1962 with “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.” Sedaka proved his ability to make pop music with this song, and it set the stage for later in his career when he helped co-write many hits.

The intro to the song was improvised because Sedaka could not write any lyrics to start the song.

16. “Duke of Earl” by Gene Chandler

Song year: 1962

Gene Chandler had the biggest hit of his career with “Duke of Earl.” The song became so synonymous with him that he took to calling himself the Duke of Earl in later years.

Most of the lyrics are just Chandler repeating Duke of Earl. Chandler said he came up with this idea while warming up and turned it into the song.

17. “The Loco-Motion” by Little Eva

Song year: 1962

“The Loco-Motion” was a classic dance track of the early 1960s and lives on today as a popular song of that era. Studios originally wanted Dee Dee Sharp to sing the song, but when she passed on it, they gave it to Little Eva.

The lyrics describe the dance moves you are supposed to do while listening to it. Unlike most dance songs, the “Loco-Motion” dance existed before the song.

18. “The One Who Really Loves You” by Mary Welles

Song year: 1962

The Motown label was one of the biggest for Black artists for years, and Mary Welles scored a hit with the label with “The One Who Really Loves You.” As was common at the time, Welles did not write the song; the writer was Smokey Robinson.

Welles sings about a girl trying to convince her partner not to leave her for another girl. The protagonist believes she is the only girl for her boyfriend.

19. “Surfin’ Safari” by The Beach Boys

Song year: 1962

The Beach Boys hit the ground running with “Surfin’ Safari.” The band would go on to hit new commercial and critical heights in later years, but this surf rock anthem proved they had all the musical chops you could want.

The lyrics are a simple affair of wanting to head out surfing and having fun. The lyrical content was standard for the Beach Boys in this era of the group’s career.

20. “Lovers Who Wander” by Dion

Song year: 1962

Dion carved out a long and storied career, but in 1962, he was a fresh-faced singer-songwriter looking to make a name for himself. “Lovers Who Wander” was one of Dion’s first big hits, and it helped promote his music to a larger audience.

The song talks about two partners who are drifting away, and nobody is sure if they can find their way back.

21. “Palisades Park” by Freddy Cannon

Song year: 1962

Freddy Cannon was an early practitioner of rock and roll and recorded one of his most enduring hits with “Palisades Park.” Chuck Barris wrote the song about a generic amusement park and could not settle on a name. He noticed the Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey and determined it would be the name of his song.

Cannon brings high energy to the track with his rock and roll style.

Top Songs From 1962, Final Thoughts

Many big artists of the 1950s were still recording music in 1962, and many new artists were emerging in the mainstream. It is safe to say there was no shortage of good music from 1962.

What are your best songs from 1962? Did we miss any of the best tracks from that year? Let us know in the comments below!

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