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by Seth Colter Walls

March 13, 2014

The 50 Best Songs of 1957

by Seth Colter Walls  |  March 13, 2014

Welcome to The 50, a Rhapsody scheme in which we attempt to compile the biggest, best, most historically remarkable songs of every year. Our list of 50 tracks -- presented here in no particular order, ideally flowing like a time-traveling DJ set -- has been argued over and (grudgingly) agreed upon by our full editorial staff. Please enjoy.

Goodness, gracious -- what a year! Not only was this the time of Jerry Lee Lewis' anthem "Great Balls of Fire," it was also a powerful year in just about any genre you might care to name. In jazz, you had Charles Mingus' "Haitian Fight Song"; in classical, there was the first-ever recording of Charles Ives' strikingly modernist Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1; and then, of course, there was the power of rock in its surging early decade. Between Muddy Waters' "Got My Mojo Working" and Elvis' "All Shook Up," there's enough sterling music in our attached mix to make you squeal with delight, like Little Richard did, in "Lucille."

Click play and you'll hear from the year's chart-toppers and history-makers: Chuck Berry, Duke Ellington, Wanda Jackson, George Jones and Sonny Rollins (who wrote the key tunes on Miles Davis' LP Bags' Groove, in addition to blowing the roof off during his A Night at the Village Vanguard sessions). Add in a little doo-wop, soft pop and some swinging vocals -- including those of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald -- and we've got the best of 1957 right here. Enjoy!

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