Want to put together some hot 50s dance songs for an oldies party? Here are a few of the best 50s rock-and-roll dance songs of all time. Most of these singles made Rolling Stone’s “The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” and “Pop Culture Madness Specialty Music and Annual Song Charts”.
The pre rock-and-roll 50s were desolate years for hipsters. Much of the popular music was sweet, square, and predictably boring. Some was just plain weird. It seemed like early 50s music only fit into a few categories:
Kooky Music: “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d’ve Baked a Cake” (Eileen Barton, 1950) and “Hoop De Doo” (Perry Como, 1950) – It’s a polka, for dog sakes.
Whining Cowboy Ballads: “Your Cheatin’ Heart” (Hank Williams, 1953) or “I Don’t Hurt Anymore” (Frank Snow, 1954)
Sedative Effects: “Sentimental Me” (Ames Brothers, 1950) or “Daddy’s Little Girl” (The Mills Brothers, 1950)
Somehow, Country Music morphed into Rockabilly, when it incorporated elements of Rythm and Blues. Then, God said, “Let there be loud electric guitar” and bingo! Americans were saved from hearing “How Much is That Doggie in the Window”. (Patti Page, 1952)
Around 1954 or 55, American-music charts started reflecting the happy popularity of rock and roll. Here are some of the best danceable songs from that era.
50s Dance Songs
“Rock Around the Clock”, one of the first rock and roll songs, was also one of the easiest to dance to. Maybe that added to its popularity, as a new generation of teenagers searched for a music style to call its own. Suburban American kids were primed and ready for American Bandstand and AM radio to bring that new “colored” sound into their well-manicured lives.
While early rock and roll seems so sweet and innocent now, it was just too racy and politically provocative for Southern Whites. The Huffington Post has a good description of the 50s reaction to Elvis Presley.
Here are some pop hits that make good dance music:
1954: “Rock Around the Clock” (Bill Haley and His Comets) – It is almost impossible to hear this and not jump up to look for a partner. Dancers can flail like nerds and still look cool.
1955: “Tutti-Frutti” (Little Richard) – Tutti-Frutti is wonderful for people who can swing dance or who like to dance in their own little world.
1956: “Hound Dog” (Elvis Presley) – Jumping Rockabilly and a half. “Blue Suede Shoes” (Elvis Presley) – Some people consider this to be the first mainstream rock-and-roll hit. “Roll Over Beethoven” (Chuck Berry) – Beethoven might have been rolling over in his grave, because he never had his own electric guitar.
“Don’t Be Cruel” (Elvis Presley) – Even with the corny bop-bop dorks in the background; this might be Elvis’ sexiest song of all time.