The 1950s marked the birth of rock'n'roll. From big band tracks to jazz standards, until midway through the 20th century, music was a resolutely parent-friendly zone. But then everything changed. Elvis had flustered teenagers all shook up, while the likes of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and the like were destroying the old safety nets with a virile, passionate new sound. Here are the top 100 tracks from the decade that that sparked a musical revolution. Words by Matthew Horton, Tim Chester, Priya Elan. 100 best tracks of the '50s - Spotify playlist

20Wanda Jackson, 'Let's Have A Party'

Another Elvis classic recorded for the movie Loving You, it was also laid down by rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson in ’60 and used on the soundtrack for Dead Poet’s Society. Sonia also did a version in 2010, but the less said about that the better.

19Jerry Lee Lewis, ‘Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On’

Recorded by several obscure artists before and numerous big names after (from Little Richard, Eddie Cochran and Gerry & The Pacemakers to Elton John and Ten Years After), this raucous ditty was made most famous by Lewis, who less tinkles the ivories than spanks them remorselessly.

18The Flamingos, 'I Only Have Eyes For You'

Originally written for the 1934 film Dames, before being covered by Peggy Lee, the definitive version of this track was by the vocal harmony group The Flamingos. A gentle waltz that relied heaving on a mountainous orchestration, it showcased the vocal talents of doo-wop quintet.

17Bo Diddley, ‘Who Do You Love?’

A favourite of The Rolling Stones, this ramshackle r ‘n’ b classic was thrust into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2010 and with good reason – it’s a perfect little slab of catchy choruses and infectious guitar.

16Fats Domino, ‘Blueberry Hill’

Originally a Glenn Miller jazz standard from the early ‘40s, this classic was revived by Louis Armstrong at the end of the decade and reworked by Elvis Presley and Little Richard. However, Fats did it best, and it remained his biggest track. Vladimir Putin attempted it live last year – every time someone watches that rendition, a cat is tortured somewhere on the globe.

15The Isley Brothers, ‘Shout’

Few songs come spring-loaded with the amount of energy this tune packs. A brilliantly constructed couple of minutes it weaves frenetic harmonies, time signature changes and varied dynamics to irresistible effect. Forget Lulu’s rendition – this is the real deal.

14Junior Parker, ‘Mystery Train’

From its brassy train whistle to the evocative lyrics, few tunes encapsulate a sense of travel and wonder as this early ‘50s classic. Where’s it coming from? Where’s it going? It remains a mystery but we’re very much on board for the ride.

13Chuck Berry, ‘Roll Over Beethoven’

If not rock ‘n’ roll’s calling card then a strong contender, this track’s been covered approximately 12,000 times, mostly notably by The Beatles for several years at the start of their career. Chuck Berry’s cut remains the set text, though.

12Carl Perkins, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’

Inspired in part by a guy’s precious love for his suede shoes over the girl he was dancing with, Perkins’ big hit went on to sell a million records in the first three months (no mean feat in ’55) and climb the country, rhythm and blues, and pop charts simultaneously. Not bad for a tune about footwear.

11Elvis Presley, 'Heartbreak Hotel'

In the world of rock mythology, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ was inspired by a real life suicide, the story of which propelled songwriting duo Axton and Durden to pen this track. A bluesy rock and roll number with a dour undercurrent, it was Elvis’ first number one.

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