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20 Biggest Songs of the Summer: The 1950s

From mambos to the birth of rock, the best songs for hitting the drive-thru in the warmer months

20 Biggest Songs of the Summer: The 1950s

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If the postwar prosperity of Fifties America gave us the emergence of both rock & roll and teen culture itself, it serves to reason that it also gave us the summer jam – or at least pop music’s increased social significance in the months when school is out. Billboard didn’t originate the Hot 100 until 1958, so this list was compiled by tabulating length of peaks within that chart window, as well as peaks across pre-Hot 100 sales, jukebox and disc jockey charts between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox, from 1950 to 1959. We’ve also taken the liberty of deleting all the ballads – so our apologies to Percy Faith, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, the Andrews Sisters and many more. By Al Shipley

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1. Elvis Presley, “Don’t Be Cruel”

1956 became the summer of Elvis, or rather the first of several, with the July release of “Don’t Be Cruel” (backed by another chart-topper, “Hound Dog”). In early September, Presley opened his first Ed Sullivan Show appearance with this hip-swiveling classic, and the rest is history.

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