Best 1950’s Dance Songs and Classic Hits Playlist

The Influence of Music

1950s dance songs sum up the entire era pretty nicely: Cool, fun, and fabulous! The 1950s was a decade of great music and aesthetics, especially when it came to dance songs to stand the test of time. From romantic ballads to upbeat rock ‘n’ roll hits, the ’50s had something for everyone on the dance floor. There are seriously so many good ones, I didn’t know what to do with myself trying to compile all the things for this article LOL!  Let’s take a little stroll down memory lane and revisit some of the best songs that had everyone on their feet in the era of sock hops and poodle skirts. 

IT’s The 1950s & You’re in Love

The 1950s were filled with love songs that provided the perfect soundtrack for slow dances and stolen glances. Classics like Ray Charles’ “Come Rain or Come Shine,” Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable,” and Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon” remain timeless favorites, whether for a wedding first dance song or another special occasion.

It’s the dreamy voice of Ella Fitzgerald on “Dream a Little Dream of Me” and the desperate longing in Patsy Cline’s “Crazy!” that make these ballads still pack crazy emotional punches to the gut.

Nothing gets me quite like Tony Bennett’s “The Way You Look Tonight” (I mean, c’mon! Have you seen ‘Runaway Bride‘???) or Johnny Mathis’ “Misty.” And I grew up listening to the Everly Brothers singing that all they have to do is dream, so you know that’s setting my standards high HAHA! 

Girl leaning in to kiss boy in the 1950s. They are in love. For 1950s dance songs
Anonymous Couple

Party like it’s 1950

When it was time to hit the dance floor and let loose, nothing got the party started like an electric guitar and the energetic drumming of rock ‘n’ roll music. Elvis Presley’s iconic hits like “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock” had everyone twisting and shouting. Meanwhile Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” became a classic anthem for generations (Think of Back to The Future’s ‘Enchantment Under the Sea‘ prom scene.) James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” is great for belting, whether you actually do feel good or not! And, seriously, who could forget the infectious rhythm of Bill Haley and His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock,” which was the first rock and roll record to make its way, and stay, at the top of pop charts in both the United States and the UK?

Novelty Songs and Dance Crazes Oh my!

In addition to romantic ballads and rock ‘n’ roll hits, the 1950s also gave rise to a slew of novelty songs and dance crazes that added a touch of whimsy to the music scene. From the playful antics of Bobby Darin’s “Splish Splash” to the silliness of Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater,” (a Halloween classic in my book!) These songs caused laughter to dance floors across the country.

I mean, who could resist joining in on the Bunny Hop or doing the Hokey Pokey when these catchy tunes came on? And I needn’t even mentioned Elvis’ sassy, “Blue Suede Shoes!” Talk about Classic! (Hey! Psst! if you’re interested in a fun, new, female take on “Blue Suede Shoes” you can check out my cover here!) 

An Era of Icons

Elvis Presley onstage 1950s dance songs

The 1950s were a time when legendary artists made their mark on music history, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire and influence musicians today. From the smooth crooning of Perry Como and Dean Martin to the soulful sounds of Sam Cooke and Ray Charles, these artists captivated audiences with their talent and charisma. And let’s not forget about the literal pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard, whose electrifying performances and rebellious spirit changed the face of popular music forever.

The Playlist

DOWNLOAD: “1950s Dance Songs” playlist on Spotify, Apple Music, or Youtube

1950s dance songs pinnable graphic

A Moment for the Fashion

Okay, now, a moment for the fashion moments that came from the 1950s. The era’s fashion landscape was defined by iconic figures like Marilyn Monroe, Jackie O, and Audrey Hepburn. Three ladies whose timeless elegance and signature styles are still being saved on Pinterest boards (boy! do I know) and referred to on red carpets. From Hepburn’s little black dress to Monroe’s bombshell glamour, Hollywood starlets set the standard for sophistication and allure. 

Meanwhile, designers like Coco Chanel and Christian Dior revolutionized haute couture with their innovative designs! The classic silhouette of the 1950s has been attributed to Christian Dior. Luxtailor said it “Featured his iconic hourglass suit with voluminous skirts, heavy pleating, nipped waists, padded hips, and soft shoulders. 

Christian Dior Magazine cover, woman in white, luscious ball gown

The 1950s also saw the rise of rebellious style icons like James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Montgomery Clift. Decked out in leather or lettermen jackets, they added an edgy twist to the era’s fashion. Of course Elvis Presley and his music also influenced this aspect of 50’s style. 

Black in white of James Dean sitting on a velvet chair in a sweater, with his elbows on his knees and his hands together.
Vogue France

Everyday chicness was epitomized by the suburban housewife look, featuring darling skirts and kitten heels. Of course we HAVE to talk about poodle skirts! Characterized by their full, swingy silhouettes and whimsical poodle appliqués, these skirts became synonymous with 50’s. It’s worth noting that these items didn’t just showcase poodles, but a variety of other playful and thematic appliqués as well. From music notes and records to classic cars and even playful scenes depicting hobbies or interests, these diverse embellishments allowed their wearers to express individuality and showcase their personal passions.

The Legacy of THE 1950s Dance Music and Aesthetic

As we look back on the music of the 1950s, it’s clear that this was a decade filled with unforgettable songs (pun intended, Nat King Cole) and timeless classics. Just as the fashion of the era captured the essence of romance, rebellion, and individuality, so too did the music of the ’50s. Whether you’re feeling uplifted by one of Louis Armstrong’s many perfect songs, swaying to the romantic melodies of “Earth Angel,” or rocking out with the energy of “Great Balls of Fire,” the music of the ’50s continues to bring joy and nostalgia to listeners of all ages. So put on your dancing shoes, cue up this lovely playlist, and let the good times roll as we enjoy 1950s dance songs and classic hits!

XOXO, Attalie

P.S. Here’s the cutie doodle I made for the playlist cover!

1950s dance songs dancing feet

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