Follow Billboard. All rights reserved. In honor of Billboard magazine's th anniversary on Nov. The '60s was the first full decade of rock and roll, and the top twenty singles of the decade reflect a battle between old and new forms. Elvis Presley and Ray Charles , who helped lay the foundation for the explosion of rock and soul in the '50s, each appear on the list; so does the smooth doo-wop of the Four Seasons. Louis Armstrong , the famous jazz musician who had been recording since the s, had one of the biggest hit singles of the '60s. But the new era arrived quickly.
The swinging 60s might be more than half a century ago now, but their revolutionary impact still remains to this day. Whether you were Team Beatles or Team Stones, the two bands still stand as arguably the biggest this country has ever produced, but there were more to these years than just John and Jagger. From the hit machine and conveyor belt of in-house stars produced by Motown to the burgeoning, melon-twisting dawn of psychedelia, it was a decade of exploration and experimentation. Cash boosted it with the mariachi horns that give it its overriding, buoyant character. Although its chart performance was modest, the song has deservedly been covered on countless occasions by everyone from Jimmy Somerville to Leonard Cohen. Laughing Len once sang in a honey-smeared pop register before trilbies and dodgy accountants had taken their toll. OK, it nearly was. This one came from the end of Graham Gouldman, later one quarter of 10cc, who was inspired by gazing at the — yes — bus stop on his way to work. While Young sings as politely as before, the guitars riff and buzz with menace, setting out a whole new stall. The late, great Etta James had hit the skids by the lates, frittering away a decent career with a devastating heroin addiction — but there was enough faith in her voice to give her another go on her recovery.
#1 Songs (1960-1969)
The s are often considered the best decade for music in America. Folk enjoyed a political revival, yet, the British Invasion was blessedly not political. The blues bled into hard rock. Pop music felt its soul. Jazz felt free. Although we at Paste had previously compiled the 60 Best Albums of the s , we felt that a number of songs were missing.
The greatest album, song or festival of all time? The Sixties mark the decade when rock and roll fully took shape as an art form. This time around, with the s, we made things even harder, narrowing down the list to As always, we kept things focused on artists that are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Your list would surely be different.