I’m sure you all remember the music you danced to at prom. Or listened to in your room, lying in bed with the record cover in hand. Or sang to in your car, with the windows rolled down, as you cruised through the streets at night. Or the bands you saw in concert, ticket stub stashed in your pocket. There are so many songs that we associate with defining moments in our life, and they continue to be relevant all these years later.
#1 Hits From Each Decade
December 28th, 1959: Frankie Avalon, "Why"
This song was written by Avalon’s manager and record producer, Bob Marcucci and Peter De Angelis, and was Avalon’s second and final #1 hit. The melody is based on an Italian song and features an uncredited female singer. Donny Osmand recorded a cover in 1972, which peaked at #3 in the United Kingdom and #13 in New Zealand.
December 27th, 1969: Diana Ross and the Supremes, "Someday We'll Be Together"
Written by Johnny Bristol, Jackey Beavers, and Harvey Fuqua, this track was the last of twelve American #1 pop singles for the Supremes on the Motown label, and was the last song for the group before Ross left for a solo career. However, none of the other members of The Supremes are featured on the song. In 1992, Janet Jackson sampled the opening riff for her hit If. This serves as a goodbye, with the title showing hope that the group may reunite again.
December 29th, 1979: Rupert Holmes, "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)"
This song was written for Holmes’ album Partners in Crime and was the lead single. The content tells a story of a man who is bored with his current relationship because it’s become routine. One day, he finds an ad in the newspaper from a woman who is looking for a man that likes “pina coladas”, among other things. He arranges to meet with the woman, only to find out that she’s actually his current partner. They both realize they have more in common than they thought and find contentment with each other. The song is still featured in many movies today, including Shrek, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Grown Ups.
December 30th, 1989: Phil Collins, "Another Day in Paradise"
Released as the first single from his number one album …But Seriously, the track talks about homelessness and is a departure from the dance-pop genre of his previous albums. In the song, a third-person narrator observes a man crossing the street in order to distance himself from a homeless woman, and the observer begs the listener not to turn a blind eye to those that are less fortunate. This was Collins’ seventh and final #1 single, and one of his most successful songs. It won a Grammy award in 1991, when he also gave a live performance with David Crosby.
December 25th, 1999: Santana featuring Rob Thomas, "Smooth"
Although the track was originally written by the composer Itaal Shur, he gave it to Rob Thomas (from the band Matchbox 20) who re-wrote the lyrics and melody and then recorded a demo to play for Carlos Santana. Thomas originally envisioned George Michael singing the song, but Santana asked him to record it, which was subsequentially released on Santana’s album Supernatural. It was the first of Santana’s songs to reach #1 in his long career, spending 12 weeks in a row at the top of the charts and staying in the top ten for 30 weeks after. As of 2018, “Smooth” is ranked as the second most successful song of all-time by Billboard Magazine. It won three Grammy awards and is the only track to appear on two decades-end Billboard charts.
December 26th, 2009: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, "Empire State of Mind"
From Jay-Z’s 11th studio album The Blueprint 3 and featuring a sample of “Love on a Two-Way Street” by The Moments (from 1968), “Empire State of Mind” was originally written by Angela Hunte and Janet Sewell-Ulepic as a tribute to their hometown of New York City. When the songwriters submitted it to Jay-Z, he kept the hook (sung by Alicia Keys) but changed the rest of the verses. Deemed a critical success, the track was included in both The New York Times’ and Rolling Stone Magazine’s top ten list of best songs from 2009. It also won Best Rap Song at the Grammys.
December 29th, 2018: Ariana Grande, "thank u, next"
Released as the lead single for her 5th studio album and written by Grande, Tayla Parx, and Victoria Monet, the critically-acclaimed track reflects on past relationships. However, unlike typical revenge break-up songs, Grande sings about what she learned from each past love and how they affected her in a positive way. Debuting at #1 on the charts, the song became her first #1 single and broke the record for the most streams in a single day by a female artist on Spotify. There were also a total of 829,000 people viewing the YouTube music video live when it premiered, making it the most-watched music video on YouTube within 24 hours.
What are some of your favorite songs from each decade? Did you like the ones on this list? Leave a comment below!