Popular Songs of 1957

Pat Boone holding his baby daughter in a home setting

Pat Boone at the peak of his popularity

1. All Shook Up – Elvis Presley
2. (Let Me Be) Your Teddy Bear – Elvis Presley
3. Young Love – Tab Hunter
4. Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley
5. Tammy – Debbie Reynolds
6. Love Letters In the Sand – Pat Boone
7. Butterfly – Andy Williams
8. Honeycomb – Jimmie Rodgers
9. Wake Up Little Susie – The Everly Brothers
10. You Send Me – Sam Cooke
11. April Love – Pat Boone
12. Too Much – Elvis Presley
13. Round and Round – Perry Como
14. That’ll Be the Day – The Crickets
15. Diana – Paul Anka
16. Chances Are – Johnny Mathis
17. Don’t Forbid Me – Pat Boone
18. Young Love – Sonny James
19. Great Balls of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis
20. At The Hop – Danny & The Juniors
21. Peggy Sue – The Crickets
22. Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On – Jerry Lee Lewis
23. Bye Bye Love – Everly Brothers
24. Little Darlin’ – The Diamonds
25. All The Way – Frank Sinatra
26. Searchin’ – The Coasters
27. Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) – Harry Belafonte
28. I’m Walkin – Fats Domino
29. Party Doll – Buddy Knox
30. My Special Angel – Bobby Helms
31. Come Go With Me – The Del Vikings
32. Silhouettes – The Rays
33. So Rare – Jimmy Dorsey
34. Raunchy – Bill Justis
35. Butterfly – Charlie Gracie
36. Kisses Sweeter Than Wine – Jimmie Rodgers
37. The Stroll – The Diamonds
38. Old Cape Cod – Patti Page
39. School Days – Chuck Berry
40. Mr. Lee – The Bobbettes

The late 1950s are the most difficult years to define in terms of “American Popular Song.” For the purposes of PopularSong.org, 1957 is a turning year based on the overwhelming influence of rock and roll. The chart above includes songs that should be defined as “rock,” and as such, will not be included in PopularSong.org charts post-1957. In other words, the chart above represents the broad spectrum of top-selling songs in the USA. Moving forward, PopularSong.org charts from 1958-1970 will more closely resemble “Adult Contemporary” charts.

As an example, here’s what the 1957 chart would look like if we removed what are considered purely “rock” songs:

1. (Let Me Be) Your Teddy Bear – Elvis Presley
2. Young Love – Sonny James
3. Tammy – Debbie Reynolds
4. You Send Me – Sam Cooke
5. Love Letters In the Sand – Pat Boone
6. Butterfly – Andy Williams
7. Chances Are – Johnny Mathis
8. All Shook Up – Elvis Presley
9. Honeycomb – Jimmie Rodgers
10. Round and Round – Perry Como
11. April Love – Pat Boone
12. So Rare – Jimmy Dorsey
13. Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) – Harry Belafonte
14. Diana – Paul Anka
15. All The Way – Frank Sinatra
16. Don’t Forbid Me – Pat Boone
17. Witchcraft – Frank Sinatra
18. Little Darlin’ – The Diamonds
19. Melodie D’Amour – The Ames Brothers
20. Walkin’ After Midnight – Patsy Cline
21. Too Much – Elvis Presley
22. I’m Walkin – Fats Domino
23. Young Love – Tab Hunter
24. My Special Angel – Bobby Helms
25. Come Go With Me – The Del Vikings
26. Silhouettes – The Rays
27. Wonderful, Wonderful – Johnny Mathis
28. Raunchy – Bill Justis
29. Butterfly – Charlie Gracie
30. Kisses Sweeter Than Wine – Jimmie Rodgers
31. The Stroll – The Diamonds
32. Old Cape Cod – Patti Page
33. Dark Moon – Gale Storm
34. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down & Write Myself a Letter – Billy Williams
35. It’s Not For Me to Say – Johnny Mathis
36. Marianne – Terry Gilkyson & The Easyriders
37. Send for Me – Nat King Cole
38. Party Doll – Buddy Knox
39. A White Sport Coat – Marty Robbins
40. I Like Your Kind of Love – Andy Williams

If you compare and contrast the two different charts from 1957, you’ll better understand the PopularSong.org charts in general, and especially those from 1958-1970. You’ll see that All Shook Up is a little too rock and roll to maintain the number one spot, but not so rock and roll that it moves off the chart completely. Jailhouse Rock could arguably be considered part of the American Popular Song canon, but really it is rock and roll and as such is not on the second chart. Notice that Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry are off the chart completely. But as for Elvis and the Everly Brothers, they are a little harder to define, and certainly many of their songs fit the mold of popular song and not rock and roll. Certainly some are rock and roll.

Tastes were a bit, ah, “confused” in 1957. Probably one of the most dismal pop performances of all time was an extraordinarily huge hit — Tab Hunter’s “cover” of Sonny James’ Young Love. Notice in the second chart the James’ version is given its due credit, as it is the version that has lasted. James did spend a couple weeks atop the sales and airplay charts, but it was Tab Hunter’s dreadful version that dominated the Billboard charts for an incredible six weeks. What were people thinking in 1957.

Some of the great artists of the popular song era (1940-1953) were hanging on gamely in 1957, none more so than Jimmy Dorsey, who had a massive hit with So Rare recorded just prior to
his passing. Although performed by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, history tells us that he didn’t actually play his saxophone on the recording. Either way, it is the last great gasp from the Big Band era.

Other pre-rock and roll artists who were still cranking out hits were Patti Page, Nat King Cole, and the Ames Brothers. Perry Como was still at the top of his game; he had a massive hit with Round and Round and would, incredibly, go on to even bigger hits in 1958. Frank Sinatra, now a major movie star, was back on top of the charts with a more polished sound. He was no longer “Bones,” now the “Chairman of the Board.” With hits like Witchcraft he would move from teen idol crooner-turned movie star to superstar.

Back to King Cole. Nat proved he could adapt to new sounds quite nicely with the rock and roll-influenced Send For Me. But like Sinatra, Como, Page, etc. Cole was aging — and the younger audiences were turning to younger crooners like Pat Boone and Sam Cooke. Cooke would die too soon as a result of his own lifestyle (sort of, but that’s another story) and Boone would be abandoned by the youth within a few years for not being “original” enough. Two stars who came on the scene in the late 1950s and would continue to see chart success into the 1970s were Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis. Mathis was a silky smooth balladeer; Williams had a range that is rarely equaled. Crooners? Sure. We wish there were more of them.

The Butterfly Guys

Notice the two listings for Butterfly on the chart. The best known version is, of course, Andy Williams’. But this was a cover record; Charlie Gracie hit the charts first and actually knocked Elvis out of the number one spot. Gracie’s sound was a little rougher, a little rockabilly, and he didn’t have the lasting commercial appeal of Williams. But Gracie has been revered through the years within the rockabilly and guitar rock scene, and he continues to perform and delight audiences. While one would expect Gracie to be bitter about Williams’ mainstream fame, he is most certainly not. Charlie appeared on Andy Williams’ TV show on a couple of occasions, and the two remain friends. A famous photo taken in 2003 in Harrisburg, PA after a Williams Christmas concert, shows Gracie holding a 45 RPM of Williams’ Butterfly and Williams holding a copy of Gracie’s. Both records were million sellers. Although their musical styles differ greatly, no question these two “Butterfly Guys” were both a class act.

Photo above courtesy University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, UNT Libraries Special Collections.