Best #1 single of the year retrospective: 1962

Today’s edition of the pop music retrospective takes us to 1962. 1961 was much more of a split decision than I expected it to be, and I have a feeling 1962 might be much of the same - there are some pretty memorable tunes in the mix here. It’s worth noting that Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” returns to the #1 spot here, two years after its first run at the top of the charts, making it the only single in Hot 100 history to make a recurrence after so long.

This year, we have 21 singles to choose from. Which is your favorite?

Previous polls: 1955-56 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 2012 2013

I’ve been waiting for this one - I wanted to vote for Telstar by the Tornados!

This one is rough. My heart belongs to “Telstar,” but I have to cast my vote for doo-wop. “Sherry” for the win.

This was a pretty weak selection. I voted for “Duke of Earl” because it was fun, but now I see why kids were so excited by the Beatles!

A lot of good stuff on there, what with The Four Seasons coming into their own. For an instrumental, I’ll go with Aker Bilk and that smooth clarinet; a jazz player who was able to cross over. The Twist, of course, was an enormous cultural phenomenon, and pretty much ended contact fast dancing. Guess I’d go with Sherry. We all tried to hit those high notes, with limited success.

No clear winner here. My vote went to “Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” only because of the half-life of the title.

Gotta be “Telstar”.

A good song, although I prefer the remake he did of it in 1975.

There are several songs I’m fond of here, but overall, it’s the weakest batch yet.

I went with “Big Girls Don’t Cry” simply because it really did represent a new sound. I know “Sherry” came before it, and it’s a good song too, but not all that different from its doo-wop predecessors. (It’s also a sentimental favorite because it’s the first 45 I ever bought.)

I like “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” for its harmonies and infectious energy (the less said about Sedaka’s remake years later, the better). “Hey Baby” will always raise a smile and get the foot tapping. “Telstar” was indeed very innovative and I like it, but it was very much a one-shot deal. All are very good, but not great records.

I suspect that “I Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” will win thanks to musical political correctness, but the fact of the matter is, the record as a whole sucks. The song is great (though Don Gibson’s original is still the definitive version), and Ray’s vocal is fine, but I will never, ever get past those screeching white-bread backing vocals and the bombastic instrumental accompaniment. I know they’re a product of the times, but they’re unlistenable to me.

I’ve long said if it were possible to go back to the original tapes and just have Ray’s vocal with very simple musical backing, then you would really have something worthwhile. But I’ve been told by those in the know that this isn’t possible.

Is that specifically to number 1 or specifically after two years? I seem to remember the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” hit the Hot 100 in 1965 and 1990. (Looking it up, it seems it reached #4 in 1965 and #13 in 1990).

Specifically to #1. It’s the only song to score #1 in two nonconsecutive years in two different runs on the chart.

Gotcha. Was there a reason for the resurgence?

I think a lot of it had to do with the rich and famous, trendy set discovering The Twist, which the first time around was just another in a long line of teenage dance steps.

ISTR Jackie Kennedy being among those seen dancing The Twist. The ascendence of the Peppermint Nightclub in New York City might have also had something to do with this.

In other words, it became something more of an adult phenomenon the second time around. Dance crazes always need music to dance to, and while there was “The Peppermint Twist” and a few others, inevitably folks went back to the original (not the true original, of course, as that had been Hank Ballard and the Midnighters’).

I agree with most all of this, other than Sedaka’s remake. It seemed like a poignant look back for him and his voice was certainly still up to the task. I hate that Ray Charles song. Having strings backing your play was a big deal for some reason. I didn’t like it with Charlie Parker, and like it less with Charles.

Several good ones here, but for it’s Sedaka by a mile.

For me, the weakest year yet. Telstar, by a thousand miles.

When I passed on The Twist in 1960, I knew it would hit #1 again and I could vote again. But dammit, Telstar is just too good not to vote for it.

“He’s a Rebel.” There are a few pretty good songs here, but nothing that kicks ass.

Gotta pick the Twist again. This year also features two of my least favorite songs due to just horrible falsetto singing: Big Girls Don’t Cry and the Lion Sleeps Tonight. Maybe I had to live in 1962 to appreciate that, but from the perspective of an 80s kid it’s just annoying. Must be like how heavy metal screaming sounds to 60s kids.

There are people who seriously argue against the point that rock was dying in the early 1960s before the Beatles.

Look a this list. And 1961’s. And 1960’s.

Of course good music existed that didn’t make it to number one. That happens every year. What should be hitting everybody in the face that the very notion of rock, even rock ‘n’ roll, has practically disappeared from the top of the charts. Even the black artists - more than in 1957, 1958, and 1959 combined - offer a sanitized product.

One guitar-based song makes the top. “Telstar.” Not the greatest of the rock instrumentals, but sheer magic, especially to a space-happy kid getting that signal from out of this world.