R-2395162-1459710174-7309.jpeg#14 – Bruce Channel – “Hey! Baby” – (1962)

This #1 hit, released as a single in December of 1961, has become a popular song among collegiate marching bands. It’s got great harmonica and could be heard in the movie Dirty Dancing.

220px-Bk_dontplaythatsong#1 – Ben E. King – “Stand By Me” – (1962)

The album that “Stand By Me” was released on came out in 1962. But the song itself was a #1 hit in 1961. It’s one of the greatest songs of all time, with one of the best vocal performances you’re likely to ever hear. King co-wrote it with the Leiber/Stoller team and wanted the Drifters to record it. But they passed… so he sung it himself and the rest is history.

FourSeasons-Sherry&11Others#2 – The Four Seasons – “Sherry” – (1962)

This #1 hit was written by Bob Gaudio in about 15 minutes. And it’s one of the all time great vocals. You can learn everything you need to know about how awesome Frankie Valli’s voice was just by listening to this. It was The Four Season’s first national single and, to me, remains their signature song.

117614483#3 – Little Eva – “The Loco-Motion” – (1962)

The cool part about this song, which was co-written by Carole King, is that it has charted into the top five on the Hot 100 in three different decades by three different artists. This is the original, but it was also done by Grand Funk Railroad and Kylie Minogue. Fun fact, this song was written for Dee Dee Sharp, who turned it down. So Little Eva recorded it… who at the time was Carole King’s babysitter.

220px-ILeftMyHeartInSanFranciscoLP#4 – Tony Bennett – “The Best Is Yet To Come” – (1962)

Tony Bennett released this as a single in 1961 and included it on one of his great albums, I Left My Heart in San Francisco. Some people associate this song with Sinatra, but it’s all Tony Bennett. I do like that we’re back in time to the point where some of the great jazz vocalists and pop standards singers are starting to make appearances on these yearly lists.

BookerT.&theMG'sGreenOnions#5 – Booker T. & the M.G.’s – “Green Onions” – (1962)

Here is one of the great pop music instrumentals. This song is a staple in films, especially those that take place in the early 1960s… it’s just one of those tunes you instantly recognize.

Palisadespark45#6 – Freddy Cannon – “Palisades Park” – (1962)

This might seem like a throwaway pop song (though it did peak at #3), but it’s just so damned catchy that I can’t help but include it. Plus any song that manages to work in “I gave that girl a hug… in the tunnel of looove.” Also, it was written by Gong Show host Chuck Barris.

R-5163300-1386222628-8072.jpeg#7 – Gene Chandler – “Duke of Earl” – (1962)

“Du, Du, Du, Duke of Earl.” Probably best remembered for the way the song begins with the stuttering repetition of the title, this is a song with amazing vocals as you get into it. The doo-wop backing vocals are just the basis for Chandler really belting out some quality stuff.

220px-The-contours-do-you-love-me#8 – The Contours – “Do You Love Me” – (1962)

“Do You Love Me,” which was later covered successfully by The Dave Clark Five, is a song about what is quite possibly the most shallow woman ever. This poor guy is singing about getting dumped because he can’t dance and, apparently, she will only love him if he can dance. Which is pretty terrible. But at least at makes for a catchy song.

Surfin'SafariCover#9 – The Beach Boys – “409” – (1962)

Surf rock strikes yet again. This time it’s The Beach Boys with a song about cars. Okay, so I guess this is more Hot Rod Rock than Surf Rock. It’s about Chevy’s 409 engine, famously used in the early Impala SS cars.

220px-Breaking-up-is-hard-to-do-neil-sedaka#10 – Neil Sedaka – “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” – (1962)

Neil Sedaka got his start in the late 1950s and was still releasing big pop hits in the mid-1970s. But this #1 hit from 1962 is the one song that anyone who knows the name Neil Sedaka knows. It’s proof that doo-wop was still kickin’ in ’62.

Surfer's_Choice#11 – Dick Dale and His Del-Tones – “Miserlou” – (1962)

Here is a surf rock classic. It just might be the best example of surf guitar you’ll ever hear. Dick Dale, who is still around, absolutely shreds on this track, which is based on an Eastern Mediterranean folk song. This was from Dale’s debut album and it stands as possibly his greatest work.

Twistin'_the_Night_Away_(album)#13 – Sam Cooke – “Twistin’ The Night Away” – (1962)

Sam Cooke is one of the all-time greats. A phenomenal voice who died way too young (at age 33). This was a top ten hit in the U.S. and across the world. This song has a screaming sax and trumpet, recorded with some of the best session musicians available in 1962.

R-6630753-1423461946-5592.jpeg#14 – Tommy Roe – “Sheila” – (1962)

Tommy Roe got his first big hit in 1962, with this #1 hit. It sounds like something Buddy Holly would’ve done and is very teen pop sounding. He had another big hit in 1969 with another bubblegum pop song, but the thing is, most artists couldn’t make the transition from the pop-fueled early 60s to the more psychedelic late 60s. Tommy Roe did it.

hqdefault#15 – David Rose & His Orchestra – “The Stripper” – (1962)

As we go backward in time with these countdowns, this marks the first appearance of the words “and his orchestra” on a song’s artist. This is the norm in the 1940s and even somewhat into the 1950s, but kind of odd for a #1 hit from 1962. Then again, this song is called “The Stripper” – something probably more appropriate for the 60s than the 50s or 40s.

220px-Ppm#16 – Peter, Paul and Mary – “If I Had a Hammer” – (1962)

Folk music was alive and well in 1962. This song was originally recorded by Pete Seeger’s The Weavers in 1950. Peter, Paul & Mary rode this track into the top 10 on the Hot 100, winning two Grammys in the process. The song is confusing, because it talks about wanting a hammer but then, once a hammer is acquired, performing many acts where the hammer is completely superfluous and unnecessary.

BabyItsYouAlbum#18 – The Shirelles – “Soldier Boy” – (1962)

The Shirelles were an early girl group (founded in 1957) that made it huge just prior to Phil Spector arriving on scene and dominating the sub-genre of female pop groups. The pre-dated Motown as well. “Soldier Boy” was a #1 hit.

61riIKCEnDL._SY355_#19 – Rene Touzet – “Baby Elephant Walk” – (1962)

Why am I featuring Cuban bandleader Rene Touzet’s version of Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk?” Good question. I have no idea. Mancini wrote it in 1961 for use in the 1962 movie Hatari!, of which, I’ve never heard. It won Mancini a Grammy and is fairly recognizable across generations.

220px-Williams-Best.jpg#20 – Andy Williams – “The Bilbao Song” – (1961)

I had this one as from ’62 but it was actually released a year earlier (hey, we’re getting way before my time here). This was a top 40 hit for Andy Williams. While it has bits that are kind of dated (the female background singers singing some nonsense), it still has a good beat and catchy lyrics.

Quincy_Jones_-_Big_Band_Bossa_Nova#21 – Quincy Jones – “Soul Bossa Nova” – (1962)

Getting pretty far back, musically, at this point. Most everything from here on back is completely foreign to modern FM radio. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t a big radio smash in its day, but probably made most famous by its inclusion as the theme for the Austin Powers films. It’s incredibly catchy.

Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers – “Monster Mash” – (1962)

One of my favorite parts of Halloween is that I get to hear this song on the radio – even if it’s only once. As far as novelty songs go, I think this has to be one of the greatest – it was a #1 hit! And I think its chart history is interesting because in 1962, the Beatles hadn’t really broken through yet and this was more doo-wop-ey than rock, but it still had to sound fairly strange on the radio back then. In any case, this is the best Halloween song ever.

John Barry – “James Bond Theme” – (1962)

This is the song that everybody knows. It’s the original “Bond Theme” – the signature instrumental theme that pops up in some way or another in just about every Bond flick. It has a surf rock type guitar riff, as that was the musical craze at the time. You’d think it would date the song, but it doesn’t because it is timeless. It’s been arranged differently over the years, but this is the original. It was written by Monty Norman but arranged and performed by the John Barry and his Orchestra. You might be wondering why this isn’t #1 and I don’t have a great explanation other than that #1 is incredible on all fronts, not just as a Bond theme. This was also the main theme for Dr. No, the first Bond movie. It’s been used in just about every Bond movie since.