For the first time, a year produces a full slate of 12 nominees for the Hall of Songs. Some of these are among the more ubiquitous tunes of the 1950s.
Of course, 1956 is when Elvis Presley becomes a massive star, the first star of the rock ‘n’ roll era. He registers five No. 1 hits this year, among them “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog.” The third of those turns Elvis into a national talking point, his gyrations and sexualized image considered a threat by prudish Americans.
But it wasn’t just Elvis. Rock ‘n’ roll itself was considered a threat to those who claimed to be in great moral standing, and reactions from those folks throughout 1956 demonstrated a need to control the direction of the country. It’s the year “In God we Trust” becomes a national motto, the year when God is inserted in the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Will these moves defeat a style of music giving us such gems as “Long Tall Sally” and “Roll Over Beethoven”?
That’s 1956. Songs that define early rock ‘n’ roll in a climate of change. In the middle is Elvis, the eye of a hurricane who seemingly can’t be stopped.
Our nominees are below. Listen to our newest episode and vote (scroll down on this page) for up to 10 songs to win induction in the Hall of Songs.
Our 1956 nominees:
- “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” as performed by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
- Written by Frankie Lymon, Herman Santiago and Jimmy Merchant; recorded November 1955; released January 1956
- “Heartbreak Hotel” as performed by Elvis Presley
- Written by Mae Boren Axton, Thomas Durden and Elvis Presley; recorded January 1956; released January 1956
- “Blue Suede Shoes” as performed by Carl Perkins
- Written by Carl Perkins; recorded December 1955; released February 1956
- “Long Tall Sally” as performed by Little Richard
- Written by Enotris Johnson, Robert Blackwell and Richard Penniman; recorded February 1956; released March 1956
- “In the Still of the Night” as performed by The Five Satins
- Written by Fred Parris; recorded February 1956; released spring 1956
- “I Walk the Line” as performed by Johnny Cash
- Written by Johnny Cash; recorded April 1956; released May 1956
- “Roll Over Beethoven” as performed by Chuck Berry
- Written by Chuck Berry; recorded April 1956; released May 1956
- “Be-Bop-a-Lula” as performed by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps
- Written by Gene Vincent, Donald Graves and Bill Davis; recorded May 1956; released June 1956
- “Don’t Be Cruel” as performed by Elvis Presley
- Written by Otis Blackwell; recorded July 1956; released July 1956
- “Hound Dog” as performed by Elvis Presley
- Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller; recorded July 1956; released July 1956
- “Blueberry Hill” as performed by Fats Domino
- Written by Vincent Rose, Larry Stock and Al Lewis; recorded summer 1956; released September 1956
- “I Put a Spell on You” as performed by “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins
- Written by Jalacy Hawkins and Herb Slotkin; recorded September 1956; released November 1956
Listen to the full episode to learn more about these songs. Then, vote for the songs you think should be inducted in the Hall of Songs. Scroll down or click here. Finally, come back on May 2, 2021, for our discussion on 1957.