One thing’s for sure, Elvis was a unique entertainer in his own lane of music. “There was no other musical performer who left such a unique and indelible stamp on the American music landscape than Elvis Aron Presley. Whether it was rock and roll, gospel or country, the singer did it all — as nobody else before him or since,” says Billboard. While it is hard to choose, the best Elvis songs are held high among fans and critics even today.
Mr. Presley left a massive mark on the American music industry, and is still an important figure among artists. Music is such an instrumental (no pun intended) part of our lives. There are songs for literally every situation – first love, breakup, drinking with friends, staying young, growing old, etc. In fact, one study revealed that music actually brings out 13 specific emotions in listeners. Elvis’ music surely left lots of fans feeling a range of emotions. So much so, that authorities were often rooting against “The King of Rock.”
These emotions, amusement, joy, eroticism, beauty, relaxation, sadness, dreaminess, triumph, anxiety, scariness, annoyance, defiance, and energizing, were then mapped out on an interactive audio map. The map allows users to listen to thousands of song samples and see if their own emotional reactions to the songs match up with other people across various cultures.
There are many names in the music business that have made history, but none quite like Elvis Presley. During his career, he charted at least 100 times on Billboard’s Hot 100, with 17 songs reaching No.1. A previous study even revealed that millennials are familiar with music from Elvis’ genre and time period! “The 1960s to 1990s was a special time in music, reflected by a steady recognition of pieces of that era— even by today’s millennials,” says Wallisch, a clinical assistant professor at NYU’s Department of Psychology, in a university release.
Elvis Presley’s arrival on the music scene in 1954 changed music forever with his sound and influence. Even after nearly 46 years, Elvis remains a legend! So, whether you’re a fan or want to explore the King’s greatest hit, StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 expert review sites to find the best Elvis songs loved by people of all ages today. Our list is comprised of the 10 most frequently named songs across the experts’ articles. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments section below!
The List: Best Elvis Songs, According to Expert Reviews
1. “Suspicious Minds” (1969)
This song was initially recorded by songwriter Mark James. After failing to take off, Elvis recorded his version which became No. 1 on the US Billboard Top 100 less than a year later!
“Written by Mark James, it became his first Number One hit in seven years and was a regular highlight of his live show,” comments the Rolling Stone.
There were rumors of Elvis and Priscilla having marital woes prior to this song’s release. Though we can’t know for sure, it is believed that Elvis chose this song from a place of personal heartbreak.
Today adds: “More than 50 years after its release, ‘Suspicious Minds’ still gets plenty of airplay on the radio today. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969, making it Elvis’ last song to do so.”
Smooth Radio recalls one the most legendary performances of this hit: “Perhaps the most famous version was from his Aloha from Hawaii live show in 1973, complete with white jumpsuit and colourful lei.”
2. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (1961)
This song is probably one of the most played Elvis songs, especially for special occasions such as weddings and Valentines Day. With its beautiful melody and dreamy flow, it’s no wonder it has remained a hit!
Rolling Stone adds: “The dreamy song, which was written for his 1961 movie Blue Hawaii, ended every single one of his post-comeback shows. The sweet ode to true love was the perfect way to wrap up the evening. It has since been covered by everybody from Bob Dylan to U2 to UB40, who turned it into a huge hit in 1993.”
“The melody of this ballad was based on ‘Plaisir d’amour’, a popular French love song composed in 1784 by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini,” adds Smooth Radio.
It’s so well known that Today thinks no one is shocked at its spot on this list: “It should come as no surprise that this classic love song is the top Elvis song on Spotify. Hear Kacey Musgraves’ contemporary cover on the ‘Elvis’ movie soundtrack.”
And oh boy! How Elvis just pulls you in with his soothing vibrato!
3. “Love Me Tender” (1956)
“Love me tender, love me sweet … Never let me go” …This romantic lullaby can make even the most reprehensible critic swoon like a schoolgirl.
“After becoming a rock ‘n’ roll sensation, Elvis took his charisma to the big screen in the 1956 movie, ‘Love Me Tender.’ His gentle ballad by the same name shot to No. 1 shortly after the movie’s release,” says Today.
Elvis adapted songs from the Civil War period for “Love Me Tender” by Ken Darby, the movie’s musical director. He used the melody from “Aura Lee,” an 1861 classical piece to develop the song we know and love.
USA Today adds: “On the second verse, Elvis raises the intensity and kicks into a full creamy croon, making even musicologists forget momentarily that this song was based on the Civil War ballad ‘Aura Lee.'”
4. “Heartbreak Hotel” (1956)
Elvis recorded several heartbreak songs including “Kentucky Rain,” “Blue Christmas,” “Devil in Disguise,” and “Return to Sender,” two of which made this list. However, Elvis’ first number one hit was “Heartbreak Hotel.”
“‘Heartbreak Hotel’ was Elvis Presley’s first big hit after he was signed to the RCA record label in 1956. The song was a number one hit for eight weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 and along with television appearances, it began Elvis hysteria that continues to this day,” says Blues Rock Review.
Gold Derby says, “The single spent 27 weeks on the Top 100, earning Presley his first gold record and becoming the best-selling single of 1956. Many musicians, including John Lennon, George Harrison, and Keith Richards, have cited this song as having one of the biggest influences on them.”
“‘Heartbreak Hotel’ is the song that launched Elvis’ career into the stratosphere, firmly establishing him as a rock ‘n’ roll sensation. Long after its release, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1995,” adds Today.
Needless to say, Elvis has remained an icon since his first hit!
5. “Burning Love” (1972)
“Burning Love,” one of Elvis’ 38 top 10 hits on the mainstream music chart is recognized by the “hunk-a-hunk-a” chorus. “This 1972 track proved to be Elvis’s last big hit before his death five years later,” says Smooth Radio.
Today adds: “It’s hard to believe that this classic wasn’t a No. 1, especially since it’s one of Elvis’ most-streamed songs on Spotify. It did, however, stay on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for 15 weeks, peaking at No. 2.”
Elvis was experiencing a “slump” at the time this song was recorded in 1972 as a result of his failing marriage and a dearth of number one songs for over two years. That didn’t stop him from performing with the hip thrusts and gyrations we all know and love him for!
“A rocker in a time of (often overwrought) ballads, played and sung with more weight and passion than in the original Arthur Alexander version, this was an update of the original Southern rock ‘n’ roll sound that didn’t sound creaky or nostalgic. Elvis’ last real hit and, arguably, his last great record,” says Commercial Appeal.
6. “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” (1957)
With so many great Elvis ballads, it is hard to narrow them down to a list of only 10. Albeit “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” made the list, possibly due to the nostalgic ’50s vibe.
“‘(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear’ is another song with a movie tie-in—this time with 1957’s Loving You—the cheeky, heart-on-sleeve tune topped the pop, R&B and country charts, driven by lush harmonies and sensitive lyrics that hint at a rougher side: ‘I don’t wanna be a tiger/Because tigers play too rough/I don’t wanna be a lion/’Cause lions ain’t the kind you love enough,'” says Parade.
Only three years after Elvis started singing and acting, this song became a smash on its own. “Not long after ‘Love Me Tender,’ Elvis starred in his second feature film, ‘Loving You.’ The movie tells the story of a delivery man who rises to fame and fortune — and finds love along the way, hence this sweet song,” adds Today.
Among this tune’s accolades, “it became his third Number One pop hit in 1957. One of his most commercially successful singles, it remained at Number One for seven weeks, and also topped the R&B Best Sellers List and the country charts,” writes Gold Derby.
7. “Blue Christmas” (1957)
There’s nothing like listening to all the greats – Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole – sing those Christmas songs that have now become classics to us all! This group wouldn’t be complete without the King himself singing “Blue Christmas.”
The Parade states: “Taken from 1957’s Elvis’ Christmas Album, the single barely landed in the top 40 when it was released in 1964, but has since become a seasonal staple. That’s due to Presley’s lovelorn vocal performance—as implied by the title, the song’s about being lonely around the holidays—and brilliant backing from vocal group the Jordanaires.”
This song is still one of the most played holiday singles today! “The melancholy ballad has become a holiday staple, with streaming catapulting Presley’s rendition to number 40 on the ‘Billboard’ charts in 2019, 42 years after his death,” says Gold Derby.
“With a quintessential Elvis vocal performance (‘I’ll have a bluuuuue blue-blue-blue Criss-muss,’ the singer concludes), this Christmas classic seems to become more ubiquitous every season,” says Commercial Appeal.
8. “All Shook Up” (1957)
“In 1957, Presley continued earning the kind of success he had enjoyed the previous year. That was in no small part thanks to the strolling ‘All Shook Up,’ which became Presley’s first chart-topping single in the U.K. and also reached No. 1 in America,” says Parade.
I think it’s safe to say when most people think of Elvis, they think of this song – the swinging beat, the “Mm-mm, yeah, yeah, yeah” lyrics that are true to his style. It’s no wonder this song was a hit!
“This infectious dance tune topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1957, staying there for eight weeks,” says Today.
“Otis Blackwell wrote ‘All Shook Up’ according to one story after seeing someone shake up a bottle of Pepsi. The song went to #1 and became the biggest selling single of 1957 when it stayed in the top position on Billboard’s Top 100 Singles for eight weeks,” says Blues Rock Review.
9. “Kentucky Rain” (1970)
Though it only peaked at 16 on the U.S. Top 100 Billboard charts, it became a number one hit on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks.
“Elvis began the 1970s on very strong footing when he released Eddie Rabbit and Dick Heard’s mournful ‘Kentucky Rain’ as a single in January of 1970. The song hit Number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold more than a million copies, though it only stayed in his live show for a few weeks,” adds Rolling Stone.
The lyrics of this song speak for themselves, but Elvis’ vocal rendition brings out haunting vibes that make this ballad a hit!
Commercial Appeal writes: “Buoyed by Chips Moman’s atmospheric production touches and tempo shifts, as well as the piano playing of a then-unknown Ronnie Milsap, the track is defined by the vaulting, dramatic vocals that became Presley’s signature during his post-’60s career.”
10. “Jailhouse Rock” (1957)
And how could we make a list of Elvis’ top ballads without including this one – another well-known movie tune that has become a global hit.
USA Today says, “The opening two-chord riff and drum beat presage the rock riot to come in the Leiber and Stoller-written soundtrack hit, which spent seven weeks at No. 1. And there probably wasn’t a better staged performance caught on film until Michael Jackson came along.”
This song is still Elvis’ second most played song on Spotify. After the 1957 release of the film, the song shot straight to the top of the Billboard charts.
“Meant to be tongue-in-cheek, Presley sang the silly lyrics as straight rock ‘n’ roll, and created a Number One hit on the Pop, Country and R&B charts. The choreographed dance scene from the film of the same name became one of his most iconic images, and cemented a place for him in film history as well as music history,” adds Gold Derby.
Commercial Appeal describes the song: “The thundering power chords set a tone, while D.J. Fontana’s drumming is, in the words of rock critic Dave Marsh, ‘halfway between strip joint rhumba and the perfect New Orleans shuffle.’ Elvis cuts so loose that he’s overcome, his ‘rockrockrock’ at the song’s midpoint descending into babble that only Scotty Moore’s guitar can put back together.”
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