Best #1 single of the year retrospective: 1963

1962 was much more of a split decision than I thought it would be - as of this posting, no song from that year has more than 15% of the vote. Let’s take a look now at 1963, the last year before Everything Changed.

A brief note on this year’s entries - technically, “Telstar” was the #1 for the first week of 1963, and I had said before that I would list wrap-around songs in both years in which it was at #1. However, since it’s been leading the 1962 poll pretty consistently and is at this time only one vote shy of the lead for that year, I have made an executive decision to exclude it from this year’s vote. In the future, all wrap-around songs will still be listed in both years unless it wins or is within a very close margin of winning the first year’s poll.

That being said, excluding Telstar, there are 20 songs that topped the charts this year, including quite a few oddities - the only Japanese-language song to ever reach #1, the only #1 by a member of the Catholic clergy, the first surf song to reach #1, and a still-standing record for the youngest musician to ever achieve a #1. Which of these songs stands the test of time for you?

Previous polls: 1955-56 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 2012 2013

Some interesting songs from this year (and I’m including Telstar, for which I would have voted again had it been eligible but I certainly understand Smapti’s reasoning) – nothing terribly remarkable, but definitely some decent songs. Lots of one-hit wonders and lesser songs from artists who would do better things later. I’m a big fan of both The Chiffons and Jan and Dean’s songs on this list, but they’re not their best (One Fine Day and Ride the Wild Surf, respectively).

I waffled between Walk Like a Man and Fingertips, but went with the latter.

Surf City.
Brian Wilson’s first appearance in a #1 single, as he was the primary composer, and if I’m not mistaken he also is singing the high vocal part.

“Fingertips.” Hail to Stevie Wonder at the outset of one of the most brilliant careers in music of all time. SW can do no wrong.

It’s far more likely it’s Dean Torrence singing the high part, as he did on all Jan and Dean records. But Brian could easily have been part of the backing vocals.

“Fingertips” is fun but Stevie Wonder had twenty or thirty better songs ahead of him and he’s probably getting a vote from me at some point in the 70s.

I’ve gotta go with “Surf City,” which is a great song and one of the most influential on the list.

This is a way better year than 1962, but my God things are going to explode in 1964. I sneaked a peek at the list of #1s and holy crap, it’s not an easy call.

I’m sure enjoying reading all these titles and singing (badly) them in my head. I don’t know who to vote for but since I had a Bobby Vinton album and listened to “Blue Velvet” about 80 million times AND wore a blue velvet dress to the senior prom, guess I’ll vote for that. Even though I think probably “Surf City” is a better song. Oh and “Our Day Will Come” is pretty. Gaaa. I can’t choose!

No real favorites here, but the ones I didn’t mind hearing on occasion:

The Rooftop Singers - “Walk Right In” (my vote)

Steve Lawrence - “Go Away Little Girl”
Ruby & the Romantics - “Our Day Will Come”
Kyu Sakamoto - “Sukiyaki”
Little Stevie Wonder - “Fingertips”
Bobby Vinton - “Blue Velvet”

Ruby & the Romantics - “Our Day Will Come.” Awesome song.

This is a very tough decision. I started listening to the AM radio in late 1962, so the songs of 1963 have a special place in my heart from all the times I spent (yeah, I know it’s a cliché, but it really did happen) smuggling my transistor radio under the pillow at night to listen when I should have been sleeping.

No question that 1964 brought an amazing and welcome sea change to rock ‘n’ roll, but I’m fond of every one of these songs from the year leading up to it…some much more than others, of course.

If I hadn’t already voted for “Big Girls Don’t Cry” in 1962, I would have voted for “Walk Like a Man” here, as it’s one of my top three favorite Four Seasons songs.

The Chiffons are my favorite girl group (well, in parallel with The Shangri-las!), and “He’s So Fine” was the second 45 I ever bought. I like it a lot, but they did have greater songs that this one.

In the end, I too went with “Fingertips – Pt 2” (the correct title, BTW) — one of the most exciting live performances ever captured…most especially the unexpected coda.

For those who don’t know the story, Stevie appears to finish the song, and the MC is heard exhorting the crowd to show their appreciation. Meanwhile, the on-stage accompanying musicians are changing out in preparation for the next performer, with new ones taking the place of ones who had just played.

Suddenly, Stevie returns to the microphone and plays one more round of sinewy harmonica, making it clear he hasn’t finished with the song yet. The crowd is with him right away, clapping on the 2 and 4 just as they should, but the new musicians are thrown for a temporary loop (one is clearly heard shouting “What key? What key?”). The piano man throws in a couple of notes to get everyone oriented, and then everyone blasts back in right on cue for the finale.

As the end is nearing, they reach the part of the song where Stevie sings “Goodbye, goodbye…” Earlier this was a simple break, with just the handclaps keeping the beat. But now the (assumably new) drummer plays a thunderous accompaniment behind it, raising the excitement level even further.

After 51 years, this simple throwaway song still gets me every time.

Missed the edit window. I wanted to add that I decided to look up the Wikipedia entry for this song, which confirms the above sequence of events.

But I had no idea until now that the drummer on “Fingertips” was Marvin Gaye! I knew that he played drums on a lot of early Motown recordings (including “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes, the label’s first #1 record). But I didn’t know he was part of the band for the live revue.

Nope. We’re both wrong. I knew it wasn’t Dean (doesn’t sound like him) but was mistaken about what Brian sang. According to

“For the backing vocals on “Surf City,” Jan brought in a trio consisting of Tony Minichiello, Manuel Sanchez, and Vic Diaz…<snip>… All three were capable lead vocalists in their own right, and they blended beautifully together on harmonies. In the absence of Dean Torrence (who did participate on backing vocals), the prominent falsetto parts on “Surf City” were handled by Tony Minichiello. The subtle falsetto in the line, “Surf City, here we come,” was sung by Brian Wilson.”

Thanks for this info. Goes to show (twice now) that for all I think I know, I can still learn something new about rock ‘n’ roll!

Are you perhaps referring to Sweet Talkin’ Guy? That has been my absolute favorite girl group record since 1966 (?). Gotta love those finger-wagging, scolding backup vocals.

I’m ashamed to admit what my personal favorite among this crop is, but in my defense, I must point out that espresso coffee *does *taste mighty good.

Both “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” and “One Fine Day” are fine hit singles, but it’s the Chiffons album cuts and B-sides I treasure even more.

In particular, a late single, “What Am I Gonna Do With You (Hey Baby)” is, IMHO, the single most beautiful girl group record ever made.

I almost voted for the ‘cute little girlie in the leotard’ song, but c’mon, somebody had to vote for the nun. :smiley:

Well, there is one vote for the Singing Nun that wasn’t there the last time I checked this thread… :smiley:

Like 1962, I didn’t think this year had that great a selection of #1 records to choose from. I would’ve liked to have chosen “Louie, Louie”, “Be My Baby”, “Sally Go 'Round the Roses”, or “Surfin’ USA” but they just missed the top spot.

I gave serious consideration to “Surf City” but, in the end, I went with “Fingertips - Pt 2”. Certainly not Stevie Wonder’s best record but the way the single captured the electrifying chaos of the live performance and hearing a major talent at an embryonic stage of his career tipped it in its favor.

Just so everyone can get the context, here’s the full version of “Fingertips”. Incidentally, did any radio stations in 1963 ever play both parts 1 and 2?

Parts 1 and 2 were split across opposing sides of the 45. The only way they could have been played together would have been from the album, and Top 40 radio stations rarely played albums in those days.

Part 1 was apparently initially promoted as the A-side, but once someone thought to flip it over, it was done for.