As the new year draws closer, we’ve decided to take a look the music that’s gotten us to where we are today. So in an effort to broaden our musical horizons and our understanding of contemporary artists, we’re counting down 2012 by counting up from 1952, taking a look at a handful of songs from a different year every day until January 1st. You can find the full list here. Today we’re heading back to 1961!
Beach Boys – “Surfin’”
“One day,” Brian Wilson attests, “my brother Dennis came home from the beach and said, ‘Hey, surfing’s getting really big. You guys ought to write a song about it.” He did, and it became The Beach Boys’ first single, launching the career of one of popular music’s most influential and iconic groups of all time, period. Wilson’s other brother/bandmate Carl got so excited first hearing it on the radio he vomited.
The Marcels – “Blue Moon”
Numerous artists have taken on this 1936 standard, and the results are usually pretty stellar (like Elvis’ 1954 version). But none will get stuck in your head like The Marcels’ hit version because BA BABABA BA BA BABA BA BABA BA BABABA BADANG A DANG A DANG A DING A DONG DING BLUE MOON MOON MOON MOON BLUE MOON DIP DA DIPDA DIP, etc.
Roy Orbison – “Running Scared” and “Crying”
I couldn’t choose between these two Orbison tunes, they’re both too great. “Running Scared” has an unconventional structure – there are no choruses. Instead, the song keeps moving forward in a slow building crescendo until it reaches its perfectly climactic finale. Austra did a very creative cover of “Crying,” included on the deluxe edition of 2011′s Feel It Break.
Audrey Hepburn – “Moon River”
Girls love Breakfast At Tiffany’s. It’s just a fact. I’ve only ever seen this one scene of Audrey Hepburn singing “Moon River”, written especially for the film, but it’s enough to get my approval. Unsurprisingly, it won the Oscar for best original song. Kid Koala does a pretty cool ‘cover.’
Elvis – “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You”
A gorgeous, iconic love song that was later massacred by UB40 in the ’90s. If this doesn’t make you believe in true love, then your silent fears are true: you are a monster.