by Amy Gold
Listing top songs by decade is like driving down memory lane in a classic convertible with the top down. Just you, the fresh air and the greatest songs ever to hit the charts. It's a trip no one can resist and when you look at what each decade has to offer, it can bring back wonderful memories of good times in days gone by.
From the 1950s, when “the King” dominated the airwaves with hits like "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock,” to the birth of what would become known as Rock 'n Roll, it was a time of innocence and hopefulness. Soda fountains, sock hops and going steady were all the rage and they played out to a soundtrack that included songs from artists like Bill Hayley and His Comets to Debbie Reynolds.
The clean-cut feel of the 1950s gave way to free love and flower power with the dawning of the 1960s. Look at the top songs by decade and you'll see the defining musical event of this decade was the British invasion, led by four mop-topped lads from Liverpool who would change the face of music altogether. The Beatles gave us several of the decade's top songs, including "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Hey Jude.”
As society continued to see a shift in behavior and more freedom of expression, the 1970s exploded with never before heard sounds. People were less inhibited and the top hits reflected that trend. The dawn of disco music heavily influenced the music of the time, with hits from the Bee Gees and Donna Summer. It was a time when funk was in and fashion was out there and the music flowed with it.
Disco began to morph into techno with the dawn of the 1980s. Unlike any era before it, this was a time of musical experimentation and the top hits reflected this with everyone from Olivia Newton-John to Madonna represented. But the biggest musical breakthrough belonged to Michael Jackson, who burst out on the scene as a solo artist with hits like "Billie Jean.”
The 1980s had witnessed the birth of rap as an influential musical style and the 1990s took it one step further with the emergence of hip hop. Artists like Kris Kross and Sir Mix-A-Lot brought their own unique style to the 1990s. A look at the top songs by decade will show the pervasive influence of these and many other talented musicians.
Looking back at the best of the best in each decade you can clearly see the direction we were moving as a society, from sock hopping to voguing and everything in between. The last 50 years have seen man walk on the moon, the cold war come and go and fashion move from saddle shoes and poodle skirts to torn jeans and shabby chic and our music moved with us.
If you're feeling sentimental, take a journey back and enjoy the memories, just make sure to have the right music playing as you hit the road. From the King of Rock and Roll to the King of Pop, there is something for everyone in the best songs of the last five decades. So sit back and prepare to be entertained … and make sure to have your dancing shoes on!