On Sunday the NFL celebrated its 50th Super Bowl. Coming up on Monday, the recording industry will celebrate its 58th Grammy Awards.

LL Cool J will host the event on CBS with performances by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Carrie Underwood, Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, Taylor Swift and Adele.

This week, to focus on popular music, we offer a list of the top 50 records from the second half of the 20th century (1950-99). The songs are not necessarily the biggest sellers, though some are. Others represent key songs by the most important singers of the five decades. Or songs that influenced the culture. There are even a few personal favorites.

50- Strangers in The Night, Frank Sinatra

49- The Twist, Chubby Checker

48- Let’s Get It On, Marvin Gaye

47- The Way We Were, Barbra Streisand

46- Brown Sugar, Rolling Stones

45- Everybody Loves Somebody, Dean Martin

44- Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers

43- Ebony and Ivory, Stevie Wonder/Paul McCartney

42- All I Have to Do Is Dream, Everly Brothers

41- A Change is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke

40- One Sweet Day, Boyz II Men/Mariah Carey

39- God Only Knows, Beach Boys

38- We Didn’t Start the Fire, Billy Joel

37- I Want You Back, Jackson 5

36- I Can’t Stop Loving You, Ray Charles

35- Livin’ on a Prayer, Bon Jovi

34- Candle in the Wind, Elton John

33- Yesterday, Beatles

32- Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, James Brown

31- I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston

30- Night Fever, Bee Gees

29- Blowin’ in the Wind, Bob Dylan

28- Honky Tonk Women, Rolling Stones

27- Jailhouse Rock, Elvis Presley

26- Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon & Garfunkel

25- The Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding

24- That’ll Be the Day, Buddy Holly

23- Proud Mary, Creedence Clearwater Revival

22- Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix

21- Like A Virgin, Madonna

20- Thriller, Michael Jackson

19- Heartbreak Hotel, Elvis Presley

18- Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band

17- I Walk the Line, Johnny Cash

16- You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, Righteous Brothers

15- Billie Jean, Michael Jackson

14- Respect, Aretha Franklin

13- Light My Fire, Doors

12- I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Beatles

11- Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Frankie Valli

10- Johnny B. Goode, Chuck Berry

9- Imagine, John Lennon

8- Rock Around the Clock, Bill Haley & Comets

7- Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin

6- Hound Dog, Elvis Presley

5- Good Vibrations, Beach Boys

4- Satisfaction, Rolling Stones

3- Hey Jude, Beatles

2- Like A Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan

1- My Girl, Temptations

The top ten includes three from the roots of rock, five of the greatest groups of all-time and Dylan. The number one song was written and produced by the great Smokey Robinson and featured David Ruffin singing lead for the first time. This song was The Temptations at their best, before the drama and the breakups.

Here is a link to Robinson talking about creating the song - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7HBmLFlI6E.

And the Temptations perform My Girl (lip syncing) here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IUG-9jZD-g.  

Next week some people you know from listening to them on the radio will tell you their hit choices from 1950-99.


People we meet: Valerie works at TD Bank in Ocean City. The only thing that makes sense is that she was born smiling because she is rarely without the smile that makes every customer feel special.


Words of Wisdom: “People ask me if I’m sorry I gave My Girl to The Temptations. No. The Temptations are my brothers and I had them in mind when I wrote the song. It is my international anthem. All people all over the world have to do is hear the first few notes and they go crazy.” (Smokey Robinson, writer-producer of My Girl)

(This At Large column, along with previous editions, can be found online at columns.shorenewstoday.com where you can post comments. Direct reactions or questions about this column can be sent via email to Tom.Williams@catamaranmedia.com. At Large can also be followed on Twitter at @atlargetw.)

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