The_Tymes_-_So_Much_In_Love#21 – The Tymes – “So Much In Love” – (1963)

Well, we’re officially in Oldies territory. Before rock and roll really got heavy, doo-wop was still an alternative popular music style. Doo-wop really hit its stride in the 50s, but had some staying power because this classic was a #1 hit in 1963.

oh_pretty_woman_single_cover#1 – Roy Orbison – “Oh, Pretty Woman” – (1964)

Is it just me or does Roy Orbison always look 50 years old regardless of what year his photo was taken? This song is the number one song of 1964 because it is iconic and was a #1 all over the world. You know what it is from those opening chords and most of the words (if not just the chorus) right down to Roy’s little growl at one point in the song.

TheManfredMannAlbum-#3 – Manfred Mann – “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” – (1964)

Manfred Mann’s cover of this song was a #1 hit in the U.S. Songs with nonsensical lyrics (or titles) don’t always get the best reviews, but this one is so catchy and its famous appearance in the Bill Murray comedy Stripes has helped it endure.

TheBeatlesSecondAlbumreissuecover#4 – The Beatles – “She Loves You” – (1964)

“She Loves You” was actually a standalone single from 1963 that was thrown onto their The Beatles’ Second Album album that Capitol records released in the U.S. in 1964. It was a #1 in the U.S. and it’s wonderful because this was the Beatles at their most elemental. Pure, simple, pop songs. No politics, so sadness, no drugs, no drama. Just happy, love me do, pop music. Also, this video is ridiculous. I wonder what these girls think now when they see themselves losing their shit over this band 55 years ago.

Undertheboardwalk#5 – The Drifters – “Under the Boardwalk” – (1964)

The original version – this version – of “Under the Boardwalk”, which came out in June 1964, has to be one of the last “pop standards” to ever break into the top five on the pop charts. It was a #4 hit and other than slightly upbeat music, it’s largely done in the same style as vocal groups from throughout the 1950s and even back into the 40s. It’s a classic.

ScreenHunter_945 Mar. 29 18.54#6 – Betty Everett – “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)” – (1964)

This great soul hit did not come from Motown, but instead from Mississippi-born Betty Everett. Her #6 hit was actually a cover of a version done the year before by Merry Clayton. It’s great. Cher would later have one of her biggest hits with her own cover in the 1990s.

Jan_And_Dean_-_The_Little_Old_Lady_From_Pasadena#7 – Jan and Dean – “The Little Old Lady (from Pasadena) ” – (1964)

In 1964, a brand new, shiny red, Super Stock Dodge was serious business (Max Wedge-engined cars are very expensive today). And any little old lady driving one was probably badass. This surf rock classic is often mistaken for being a Beach Boys hit, though they did cover it. Instead, it was a top three hit for Jan & Dean.

220px-Four_Tops_(album)#8 – Four Tops – “Baby I Need Your Loving” – (1965)

This 1964 single from the Four Tops is among their greatest achievements. It’s Motown gold straight from Hitsville U.S.A. It was the group’s first Motown single and, penned by Holland-Dozier-Holland, it reached #11 on the Hot 100. Johnny Rivers covered it in 1967 and took it to #3.

220px-Supremes-wherelove#10 – The Supremes – “Baby Love” – (1964)

Every time I listen to a song by the Supremes I think “this is the best song by the Supremes.” And then I listen to a different one and think the same thing. They were fantastic. This Motown #1 was written by, who else, the trio of Holland-Dozier-Holland. Astonishingly, it lost the 1965 Grammy for Best R&B Recording to a song I’ve never heard of. Seems like theft!

220px-Myguycover#11 – Mary Wells – “My Guy” – (1964)

Album titles that tell you exactly what you are getting are great. Example: Mary Wells Sings My Guy. Perfect! This is a classic example of smooth-as-silk Motown and it was written by Smokey Robinson. Mary took it to #1, and deservedly so.

Jay_&_The_Americans_-_Come_A_Little_Bit_Closer#13 – Jay and the Americans – “Come A Little Bit Closer” – (1964)

What I love about this song is the barely-there Latin tinge that it offers. Part of it is the lyrics, but part of it is the lyrical delivery. And this isn’t the only song they did this with (see: “Cara Mia”). You’d think that this band was made up of a bunch of Hispanic kids from the Bronx, but nope. White guys all around.

R-2771333-1300305645.jpeg#14 – Peter and Gordon – “A World Without Love” – (1964)

Peter (Asher) and Gordon (Waller) were a duo from Britain and they released this #1 hit as their first single in early 1964. Does it sound like it was written in a somewhat familiar style? Well if it does, maybe that’s because it was written by Paul McCartney at the height of Beatlemania.

The_Animals_(American_album)#16 – The Animals – “The House of the Rising Sun” – (1964)

First off, I didn’t realize that The Animals were actually British. Maybe it’s because their signature song is an original take on an American folk song about New Orleans. In fact, it’s such a folksy song that the credited writer is “Traditional” – meaning it’s so old no one gets credit for it. It hit #1 and is sort of thought to be the first folk-rock smash hit. 

51QlIRrWf3L#17 – The Four Seasons – “Rag Doll” – (1964)

Not many things are better than songs by the Four Seasons. This #1 hit is one of their best and it would be their last #1 hit until their comeback in 1975. The pacing and tempo of the song is very similar (I think) to “Walk Like a Man.” 

220px-At_the_Whisky_à_Go_Go_cover#18 – Johnny Rivers – “Memphis” – (1964)

The song “Memphis” was originally written and recorded by Chuck Berry in 1959. Johnny Rivers did a live version of it – which was really his own take on it – in 1964 and this version made it to #2 in the U.S. After this, Chuck Berry’s live versions of the song resembled this version more than the original, which says something about how good this version is.

220px-downtown_warner_bros#19 – Petula Clark – “Downtown” – (1965)

Just like #20, this was released as a single in ’64 with the album following the next year. This #1 hit means we are finally into “Oldies” territory! When was the last time you heard this on the radio? I can only find it on AM stations, which is kind of sad. We’ll continue to lament the death of true oldies radio throughout the remainder of the years we run through.

220px-begin_here_decca#20 – The Zombies – “She’s Not There” – (1965)

Released as a single in mid-1964 (the album came out in early 1965), “She’s Not There” is among the catchiest songs from The Zombies. “Time of the Season” gets all the love but this song was a #2 hit in the U.S. It’s good stuff – before all of the psychedelia took over.

bob_dylan_-_the_times_they_are_a-changin#21 – Bob Dylan – “The Times They Are a-Changin'” – (1964)

In 1964 the times certainly were a-changin’. Socially, politically – and musically. If you look at the lists we’ve done from 1965 through 1969, the songs were heavier, more politically charged. But this song was sort of the turning point. Everything from here back is just… simpler. Compare #1-20 in 1964 to 1966 and you’ll likely notice a big difference in tone.

220px-the_boy_from_new_york_city_ad_libs#14 – The Ad Libs – “The Boy From New York City” – (1964)

This top ten hit – a non-album single – was by The Ad Libs, a soul group from Bayonne, New Jersey. The lead singer was female and the male vocalists backed her in a doo-wop style. Couple that with the uptempo music and you get a really cool sound. This was the groups biggest hit (and yes, it came out in December of 1964).

220px-BeatlesforsaleThe Beatles – “No Reply” – (1964)

Okay, it’s apparently hard to find Beatles songs on YouTube. The video below sort of has the song, broken up by a bunch of weird, racist 60s cartoons. It’s not The Beatles’ best work, but it’s not terrible and is kind of underrated. 

BBXmasCoverThe Beach Boys – “Frosty the Snowman” – (1964)

Gotta love the Beach Boys. They were able to define summer and winter. There are many version of this song, but this is among the best. Why? Because of those vocals! Plus, Christmas music from the 1950s and 1960s is just better. There’s no denying that. And like every Beach Boys song, this song is short – coming in under two minutes.

The Beach Boys – “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” – (1964)

If you love vocal harmonies, then you better love the Beach Boys. This album is soooo good, this song being among the best on it. It has classic Beach Boys harmony but it also has a very 1960s Las Vegas feel to it with light backing brass for most of the song, punctuated by big brass hits here and there. It you want a nostalgic take on an already classic Christmas tune, then this is your song.

#11 – Shirley Bassey – “Goldfinger” – (1964)

This is one of the more well known Bond themes. I have no idea why. Shirley Bassey’s voice is so nerve-grating here that it’s almost unbearable. But you can’t help but keep listening. It’s Shirley Bassey’s signature song and whenever someone mentions this film, I just think of her saying “Golddd fingaaa!”

Vince Guaraldi – “Linus and Lucy” – (1964)

This isn’t technically a Christmas song but the only airplay it gets is every year around Christmastime. It’s famous for this because it appeared in the television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas and also on that soundtrack, in 1965. It’s a well-known piece of music and every time I hear it I picture Schroeder sitting at a mini-piano playing it while all the Peanuts characters dance around him. Some people think that this is the “Peanuts theme” but that’s not really true either, even though it did appear in most of the TV specials. Technically or not, in my mind, this is the song when it comes to Peanuts.

The Beach Boys – “The Man with All the Toys” – (1964)

Gotta love the harmonies here. “He’s the man – bop – with all – bop – the toys – bop.” Or at least I think they’re saying “bop,” I don’t really know. Since its St. Nick’s Day I thought I’d go with “Little Saint Nick” from the same Beach Boys Christmas Album but that song was already posted in our Christmas countdown. This is a nice little, original, song from the Beach Boys and one people seem to like.