Chartcrush 1954 episode graphic

1954 Top Ten Pop Countdown Podcast

Racial integration is a Cold War imperative so Teens oblige by launching Black R&B records onto the Pop charts, amplified by the brand new Top40 radio format.

::start transcript::

Welcome to the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show, I’m your host, Christopher Verdesi. Every week on Chartcrush, we do a deep dive into a year in Pop music and culture, and count down the top ten songs according to our recap of the weekly Pop charts published at the time in Billboard, the music industry’s top trade publication and chart authority.

This week on Chartcrush, it’s 1954, the year Todd Storz invented Top40 radio, and Silent Generation Teens launched a crudely-recorded R&B disc by a Black Vocal Group, The Chords’ “Sh-Boom,” into the Top 10. The next Summer, Bill Haley & The Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” was the first #1 Rock ‘n Roll record. Then Top 10s by Pat Boone, Chuck Berry and The Platters, a #1 by The Platters, and in May of ’56, Elvis’s debut with “Heartbreak Hotel.”

TV, the nation’s new communications medium in the early ’50s. Sets in U.S. households went from just 1% in 1948 to 75% in 1955, and at the same time, the FCC was feverishly granting radio broadcast licenses, so with all the new options on the dial vying for a shrinking audience, radio got to be a very tough business. Most stations, still chugging along with the same TV-style hodgepodge of network and local talk, music, news, serials and variety as had been on radio since the ’20s.

But in ’51, Todd Storz, the GM of KOWH in Omaha, Nebraska, noticed that the only time anyone was listening was when his station was spinning records, so in ’51 he did for radio what MTV did for TV in the ’80s: music all day. And by the end of the year, KOWH was #1 in Omaha and Storz was copying the formula at stations throughout the Midwest.

And then in ’54, legend has it, on a long lunch, Storz noticed a waitress plunk a quarter in the jukebox to play a record they’d been hearing all afternoon played by patrons three more times, and it was an “aha” moment for him: don’t just play music; play the same 30 or 40 records over and over again all day. Well, once KOWH started doing that, ratings soared even higher, thanks to the throngs of Teens that started tuning in to hear the latest hits.

With mom and dad in charge of the one TV in the house, music on the radio became their go-to media, and by the end of the ’50s, Top40 stations were #1 in almost every market playing Rock ‘n Roll, R&B, Country and Traditional Pop hits, a racially integrated mix.

DJs Alan Freed and Hunter Hancock may’ve pioneered playing Black R&B and Doo Wop on the radio for a few hours a day (or, more accurately, night) in Akron, Ohio and Los Angeles. But it took Top 40 to magnify that impact once, as Billboard noted in September, “youngsters, [who were] the backbone of the Pop record business, [sought out those R&B records] in stores and on juke boxes.”

“Gee” was first: an upbeat record by a Harlem Doo Wop group called The Crows that made the national top 20 in the Spring. But then in the Summer, another group, The Chords out of The Bronx, made the top 10 with “Sh-Boom,” immediately covered by a White Canadian Vocal Group with a Pop arrangement on a major label, and that was one of the year’s biggest hits, #1 for eight weeks, launching the R&B gold rush that led to Rock ‘n Roll.

White Silents were seeking out R&B records as a harmless form of personal rebellion and release amid the conformity of the ’50s, but it was also against the backdrop of the Cold War battle for hearts and minds against Communists out there promising full equality. As Civil Rights lawyer and future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall cautioned during the Korean War, “America’s dereliction on race issues would put the U.S. in a vulnerable position” globally. In ’54, Marshall successfully argued for school desegregation in the Court’s landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case.

#10 Dean Martin – That’s Amore

So once White kids’ interest in Black R&B started showing up on the charts, that was the headline, but foreign sounds were another aspect of America’s postwar cultural voyeurism. Les Baxter’s 1951 album Ritual of the Savage launched the Exotica genre of lushly orchestrated tropical ersatz, but War vets and Italian immigrants of all ages had joined Silents in helping the whole Italian Crooner thing go supernova in the early ’50s with the Operatic belting of Mario Lanza and Al Martino.

Things calmed down after that, but into a very crowded Crooner field in ’54 emerged our Italian-American Singer at #10 as we kick off our Countdown, from the unlikeliest of places: a comedy duo. Well, at least he was the straight man! Jerry Lewis was the “banana,” and the song was from their 1953 musical comedy The Caddy, in which Lewis joins in. But on the record it’s all Dean Martin. Not his first chart entry, but his breakthrough, and it would’ve been #1 in February if not for another ethnic hit by Eddie Fisher that we’ll be hearing here in a few minutes. At #10, it’s “That’s Amore.”

“That’s Amore,” #10 here on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 1954, Dean Martin’s first top ten, still teamed with comic Jerry Lewis until their epic split in 1956. “Amore,” of course, Italian for love. Not in the top ten on any of Billboard‘s 1954 year-end rankings because it first hit the charts in November of ’53 and Billboard only counted weeks in calendar ’54. But it comes out at #10 when you count its full chart run like we do for every song here at Chartcrush.

Over the years, dozens of major hits have fallen through the cracks like that on Billboard‘s year-end rankings thanks to that chart run splitting between years, which Billboard has tried to address in various ways since the ’70s, but really can’t as long as they have to get those year-end charts out before New Years.

#9 The Four Knights – I Get So Lonely (Oh Baby Mine)

At #9, a Black Vocal Group that hit the charts three and a half months before The Crows’ “Gee,” that first R&B crossover hit I mentioned. But these guys had been together since the mid-’40s, on the charts since ’51, and regulars on TV variety shows like Red Skelton and Ed Sullivan. Plus, it’s a song by a White Songwriter, so they had more in common with The Mills Brothers or Ink Spots than The Crows or Chords. Yet this was their first top ten, and it hit just as Black R&B was about to break through. It’s The Four Knights’ “I Get So Lonely (When I Dream About You),” also known as “Oh Baby Mine.”

Also known as “Oh Baby Mine” because that was the title on the record when it first came out. It’s the hook repeatedly sung by Four Knights’ Bass Singer Oscar Broadway. But subsequent pressings retitled the song to “I Get So Lonely,” and Billboard changed it on the charts several weeks into its run. Fortunately, the confusion didn’t hurt though; it continued climbing and stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks.

The Four Knights’ next three charting singles, ’55 to ’57 were collabs with none other than Nat King Cole, their label-mate on Capitol Records.

#8 Rosemary Clooney – This Ole House

At #8 as we continue our Chartcrush Countdown of 1954’s top ten hits, the first of two we’re gonna hear this hour by ’54’s top-charting Female Singer, narrowly beating “The Singing Rage Miss Patti Page” for that title after being outranked by her three years in a row.

Bandleader Tony Pastor discovered her and her sister Betty in 1945 singing on radio in Cincinnati and she was the Singer on the Pastor band’s last four charting singles in ’48 and ’49. She cut her first solo discs in ’49, but didn’t break through ’til ’51 when Columbia Records’ new A&R Chief Mitch Miller gave her the ethnic Novelty “Come On-a My House.” Which she hated, but it was a huge hit and in ’52 she followed up with a Pop version of Hank Williams’ “Half as Much” and another Miller-decreed ethnic Novelty, “Botch-a Me.”

Both of those got to #2 and by ’53 she was making Technicolor big screen musicals for Paramount and getting hitched to Oscar-winning Puerto Rican Actor Jose Ferrer. #8 for ’54, it’s Rosemary Clooney’s “This Ole House.”

“This Ole House,” #8 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 1954, one of the many hits that Mitch Miller snatched off the Country charts and handed to Columbia’s Arrangers and Singers to class up into Pop hits in the early ’50s. Tony Bennett doing Hank Williams’ “Cold Cold Heart,” the first of those in ’51, and ’54 was when other enterprising diskmen started mining the R&B charts the same way: the R&B gold rush I mentioned earlier.

Cowboy Singer-Songwriter Stuart Hamblen wrote “This Ole House” after a hunting trip with Western Actor John Wayne in the High Sierras and finding an old miner dead in his dilapidated cabin with his dog still standing guard.

Hamblen’s own version was in the top ten on the Country charts at the same time as Clooney’s was on the Pop charts, and both versions have those deep bass vocals sung by the same guy, Thurl Ravenscroft, later the voice of the Frosted Flakes mascot Tony the Tiger (“they’re great!”), and also the Singer of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” which became Ravenscroft’s first entry on the Hot100 under his own name when streaming clicks first put it on the Hot100 over the holidays in 2020.

#7 Eddie Fisher – I Need You Now

So Rosemary Clooney, again, ’54’s top Female act; next up at numbers 7 and 6 we have a two-fer: two songs in a row by the year’s top Male act, and the top charting act overall by a slim margin thanks to landing eight records on the charts during the year: the most of any act in ’54. Clooney had three. The two in our countdown, of course, the biggest of the eight, and both recorded live at New York’s Webster Hall backed by his label RCA-Victor’s top Arranger-Conductor Hugo Winterhalter & Orchestra. At #7, the later of the two on the calendar: #1 for five weeks in November and December. It’s Eddie Fisher’s “I Need You Now.”

Eddie Fisher’s “I Need You Now” at #7 here on our 1954 edition of the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show. The song, written for 1953’s top-charting Female Singer, Joni James, but RCA rushed out Fisher’s version and it shot into the top 10 in just its second week before James’ label MGM could even get a single out, so James’ remained an album-only cut.

By the way, if you think Fisher’s eight chart hits in ’54 is impressive? In 1953 he had ten and in ’52, 13!

#6 Eddie Fisher – Oh! My Papa (O Mein Papa)

’51 and ’52 during the Korean War was when Fisher was all over the TV variety shows singing in uniform as “PFC Eddie Fisher.” Then, as soon as he was out of the Army, he got his own show on NBC, Coke Time with Eddie Fisher, and by ’54, he was dating his future wife, Actress-Singer Debbie Reynolds. Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia in Star Wars was their daughter.

Things got super-messy after he started cheating on Reynolds with Elizabeth Taylor, and the scandal raged for a few years, but NBC canceled his TV show due to the bad publicity in ’59, RCA Victor dropped him in ’60, and by the time late-Boomers came of age in the ’80s, Eddie Fisher was mostly forgotten. But back to 1954, Fisher at his peak: the first of his two #1’s in the year from January, at #6 in our 1954 Chartcrush Countdown, “Oh! My Pa-Pa.”

The Silent Generation already manifesting its global reach on the eve of the Jet Age and propelling “Oh! Mein Pa-Pa” to #1, Anglicized to “Oh! My Pa-Pa” on the record, a song from a Swiss-German stage musical that became a German movie musical in 1954. Eddie Fisher wasn’t involved in either, but his vocal version of the song soundly beat an instrumental by another Eddie, Trumpeter Eddie Calvert, that was in the top ten at the same time. In Calvert’s native U.K. it was the other way around: the instrumental was #1 and Fisher’s peaked at #9.

“Oh! My Pa-Pa,” recorded dozens of times since ’54 including by Siouxsie & The Banshees in 1979 and Bjork in 1990. It even showed up in an episode of The Simpsons, sung by Krusty the Clown! But doubtful that many of those listeners had ever heard the Eddie Fisher version or even of Eddie Fisher!

 #5 Rosemary Clooney – Hey There

At #5, the other Singer with two hits in our 1954 Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown. We heard the first of them at #8, right before our Eddie Fisher two-fer, and get this: the two songs were on the same single. “This Ole House” on the flip, and both sides were in the top ten for 16 straight weeks in the late Summer and Fall: the biggest double-A sided single of the ’50s until Elvis’ “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog” in ’56.

And this side, our #5 song: pretty ambitious for 1954: a Singer having a conversation with herself. In the hit Broadway musical the song is from, The Pajama Game, the character Sid confides his feelings singing into a Dictaphone tape machine and duets with himself in the playback, but how do you pull that off non-visually, i.e. on a record? Well here’s how. Again, Rosemary Clooney with “Hey There.”

Rosemary Clooney’s “Hey There” at #5 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown of 1954’s biggest hits. Did I mention that Rosemary’s little brother Nicholas was Actor George Clooney’s dad? That makes Rosemary Clooney George Clooney’s Aunt, and she guest-starred as an Alzheimer’s patient in an Emmy nominated recurring role on his ’90s TV show E.R.

“Hey There” was her last top ten hit, but she was on TV regularly into the ’60s, and her ubiquitous paper towel commercials in the ’80s (“Extra value is what you get, when you buy Coronet”).

Unlike most Singers from her era, Clooney cut a ton of albums in her later years: one, often two a year almost every year from 1976 until her death in 2002.

#4 Jo Stafford – Make Love to Me!

At #4 we have another Female Singer: “The Singer’s Singer,” with impeccable phrasing and pitch, who by ’54 was a 15-year industry veteran with over 60 chart hits, updating for the mid-’50s on a brash, brassy, sexy record with a Doo-Woppy vocal hook that turned out to be her last top ten. Her follow-ups including a cover of Cuban-American Girl Group the DiCastro Sisters’ hit in 1954, “Teach Me Tonight,” only scraped the top 20. But “Make Love to Me!” was the #1 Jukebox hit in the land for seven straight weeks in early Spring. It’s Jo Stafford.

[note: song is not in Spotify’s library; here’s a link to it in Apple Music]

Jo Stafford’s “Make Love to Me!,” #4 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown of 1954’s top ten hits, backed by her longtime Bandleader-Arranger Paul Weston, first at Capitol, then moving with her to Columbia, and along the way they got married.

In ’59 Stafford turned down an extended gig in Vegas to focus on her family and mostly retired from music, but in retirement, her and Weston honed their bad music party act into a Grammy-winning Comedy album under the pseudonyms Darlene and Jonathan Edwards, and music biz titan Mitch Miller blamed their third album in ’62 for fatally torpedoing his brand by spoofing his Sing Along with Mitch franchise.

Darlene and Jonathan went dormant in the late ’60s but resurfaced in ’79 with a one-off single butchering The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” right as Disco was crashing. According to Stafford in a 2003 interview, Barry Gibb was not amused.

#3 The Crew-Cuts – Sh-Boom

At #3, the record that started the 1954 R&B gold rush I’ve been talking about that made Rock ‘n Roll inevitable. It’s the first cover by a White act made deliberately to cash in on Teens’ newfound obsession with Black R&B, stoked by Alan Freed, Hunter Hancock and other trailblazing DJs on the radio, and then magnified by Top40 once enough kids bought the records and got them on the charts. That was the perfect storm that lifted this record to #1 on all three of Billboard‘s Pop charts (Best Sellers, Airplay and Jukeboxes), and kept it there for five straight weeks in late Summer.

Now, a quick note before we hear it about how we compile our Chartcrush rankings for pre-Hot100 years with those three separate charts. It can get confusing, so to streamline things, we just do the same thing that Billboard did when it created the Hot100: weigh the rankings on the Sales, Airplay and Jukebox charts equally and combine them into a single weekly chart. And from there we just rank the songs exactly how we do for Hot100 years, post-1958. Neat, huh?

OK, so without further ado, the hit that transformed the music biz in ’54: The Crew-Cuts cover of The Chords’ “Sh-Boom.”

After the success of “Gee” by The Crows just two months earlier, the minute executives at Mercury Records got wind of another R&B record selling like crazy, they paired their house Arranger-Bandleader and Musical Director David Carroll with the fresh-faced Canadian group they’d just signed, whose debut “Crazy ‘Bout Ya Baby” had just hit the charts, to class it up for the Pop charts. And 72 hours later, the Crew-Cuts version of “Sh-Boom” was recorded, pressed and on its way to radio stations and stores.

The Chords only had the Billboard charts to themselves with their original for a single week. It kept rising though, peaking at #5 on the Jukebox chart the week The Crew-Cuts version hit #2 on the Sales and DJ charts: the first R&B single to make the top 10 on any Pop chart. But it lost momentum once the Crew-Cuts hit #1.

“Boom,” according to Chords tenor Jimmy Keyes, was the slang word on the streets of New York: a word you’d hear 15 times in five minutes: “Hey, man, boom, how ya doin’.” They added the “shh” to make it sound like an incoming bomb. “Sh-Boom.” And “ding dong, alanga langa lang?” Well that’s church bells, of course!

The Crew-Cuts, of course, totally oblivious to all that, but would The Chords original have gotten the same traction in 1954 if Mercury hadn’t sprung into action with The Crew-Cuts version? Hard to say, but after “Sh-Boom” hit, the pillaging of the R&B charts for Pop hits reached a frenzy.

Gradually, more and more kids started seeking out the originals, but notwithstanding the massive Songwriting royalties generated by big Pop hits, the case could be made—was made—that all this Pop “whitewashing” was coming at the expense of Black artists. But once labels just started signing the Black R&B artists themselves to make bigger-budget records that could cross over, it was a moot point, and flush with cash, R&B labels new and old did the same. Motown, anyone?

#2 Perry Como – Wanted

Well we’re down to #2 here on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 1954, and it’s another chart veteran. By ’54 he wasn’t just on TV, he’d been on TV as long as there’d been TV, and he had not one but two shows: his weekly Sunday night Chesterfield Supper Club, and a 15-minute musical variety show on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays immediately following the Nightly News. And both those shows, simulcast on the radio.

He hadn’t done any movies since the ’40s but still, with that TV and radio footprint, when he put out a new record, it was a big deal, and this one was a bigger deal than most. At #2, Perry Como’s “Wanted.”

The #1 DJ and Jukebox hit of the year in Billboard; #2 Sales; his biggest hit since “If” in 1951, Perry Como’s “Wanted” at #2 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 1954. Same Arranger and backing band we heard on Eddie Fisher’s hits at numbers 7 and 6, RCA’s Hugo Winterhalter & Orchestra.

Como also scored in ’54 with not the first, but one of the biggest and best remembered hits of the first year of the ’50s Mambo dance craze sweeping the country two years before Elvis, “Papa Loves Mambo,” heard in many an Arthur Murray Dance studio as people answered ads and signed up for lessons in the tens of thousands.

By the way, another milestone in ’54: the first year vinyl 45s outsold shellac 78 RPM records: better sound with vinyl as consumer hi-fi caught on, and jukebox operators upgraded to newer models. A third of the 200 million records made in ’54, destined for America’s 450,000 jukeboxes, according to Billboard.

#1 Kitty Kallen – Little Things Mean a Lot

And at #1, the song that replaced “Wanted” at #1 on our weekly charts derived from Billboard‘s published Sales, DJ and Jukebox charts, and it was #1 for ten weeks, three longer than “Wanted.”

She was the Singer on two of the most iconic hits of 1945, as the Allies cruised to victory in World War 2: “I’m Beginning to See the Light” and “It’s Been a Long, Long Time,” featured under Trumpeter Harry James and his Orchestra. After that, though, she couldn’t score another hit, even reuniting with Harry James for two singles on Columbia in ’52. But then this one appeared in March of ’54 and just left everyone breathless: one of those records that says exactly what folks need to hear, how and when they need to hear it. It’s Kitty Kallen’s “Little Things Mean a Lot.”

Kitty Kallen happened to be in her new label Decca Records’ A&R office looking for material to record the day “Little Things Mean a Lot” came in. She loved it, but Decca, not so much. “That’s a ‘women’s song;’ it could never be a hit,” they said. Which might’ve been the end of it had Kallen not believed so strongly in the song that she offered to be on the hook for the recording session until the record sold 50,000 units. Well Decca liked that idea, and “Little Things” topped the Best Sellers chart for nine straight weeks.

Kitty Kallen followed up with another top 10 in ’54, “In the Chapel in the Moonlight,” but in ’55 she lost her voice in the middle of a gig in London and wouldn’t perform again for four years. She was back on the charts in ’59 though with a new deal on Columbia. Then in ’62 on RCA.


Well that’s the top 10 according to our exclusive Chartcrush recap of Billboard‘s weekly Sales, Airplay and Jukebox charts. Again, our ranking derived by combining those three into a Hot100-style chart, then using the same method we use for Hot100 years to calculate the points. But some records were among the top 10 on one, two, or even all three of Billboard‘s published year-end charts (again Sales, Airplay and Jukeboxes), but yet didn’t make the top 10 on our Chartcrush ranking, so, just so we don’t leave anything out, let’s have a look at those.

#11 Patti Page – Cross Over the Bridge

The song Billboard ranked #8 on its year-end DJ chart and #6 on Jukeboxes just misses our Chartcrush Top ten at #11: the biggest hit in ’54 by the Singer Rosemary Clooney finally beat out for Top Charting Female in ’54: Patti Page with “Cross Over the Bridge.”

Patti Page had seven charting records in ’54, more than any other Female Singer, and “Cross Over the Bridge” was the biggest, but another was a cover of “The Queen of R&B” Ruth Brown’s “Oh, What a Dream,” around the same time as Mercury labelmates The Crew-Cuts were out there with their version of “Sh-Boom.” It only got to #15, so not all White R&B covers were big hits!

Oh, and here’s a fun fact: the Chords original version of “Sh-Boom” was not the intended hit. The A-side of that record was a cover of the song we just heard, Patti Page’s “Cross Over the Bridge!”

#12 Doris Day – Secret Love

Next as we look at the songs that made Billboard‘s year-end Sales, Airplay and Jukebox top 10s for ’54 but missed the top ten on our combined Chartcrush ranking, our #12 song which was Billboard‘s #9 Best Seller and #8 DJ hit of ’54. From the 1953 musical Calamity Jane, Doris Day, who also stars in the film, “Secret Love.”

Doris Day with the Best Original Song at the 26th Oscars, “Secret Love,” from Calamity Jane.

#13 Frank Sinatra – Young-at-Heart

Now Frank Sinatra in ’54 was fresh from his Supporting Actor Oscar win for his role in From Here to Eternity, which also lifted him out of his chart slump with his first top 5 hit since 1946. It was Billboard‘s #6 year-end Airplay hit, and it shakes out at #13 on our Chartcrush combined ranking we counted down the top 10 from earlier: “Young-at-Heart.”

“Young-at-Heart,” Frank Sinatra’s first major hit for Capitol Records after parting ways with Mitch Miller and Columbia; the title song from the movie that paired Sinatra with Doris Day. There’s that name again! And in the film Young at Heart, Day’s character’s father gets a hi-fi for his birthday. Billboard predicted that that was going to help drive hi-fi sales nationwide.

#15 The Gaylords – The Little Shoemaker

Billboard‘s #10 year-end Jukebox hit of ’54 notched in at #15 on our Chartcrush combined ranking: another imported song, this time from France, and Rosemary Clooney appropriately sang some of it in French on her version, but that didn’t chart. Chicago Vocal Trio The Gaylords’ version with verses sung in Italian did though. Go figure! But that was The Gaylords’ gimmick on almost all their hits, so… In the top 5 on all three Billboard charts for eight weeks: “The Little Shoemaker.”

Gaylords, “The Little Shoemaker.” Petula Clark scored the U.K. hit with her all-English version of that song. Petula, still a decade away from her first U.S. hit in ’64, “Downtown.”

#17 Tony Bennett – Stranger in Paradise

Now as you’ve been hearing throughout our Chartcrush Countdown Show for 1954, songs often had multiple versions on the charts simultaneously. That was dying down a little since its peak in the late ’40s, but it still happened, so Billboard‘s Honor Roll of Hits was a weekly chart that ranked songs instead of records, combining all the versions into a single ranking position.

Well at #8 on Billboard‘s year-end Honor Roll recap for ’54 was a song that had three competing top ten versions on the records charts, none strong enough to make the year-end top ten records, but when you combine all three of them, one of the year’s top hits. And the biggest with 12 weeks in the top 10 on all three weekly records charts: Sales, Airplay and Jukeboxes was Crooner Tony Bennett’s version. “Stranger in Paradise”

Tony Bennett sang that song in concert for the next 57 years, and in 2011 even re-did it for his album Duets II with Opera Singer Andrea Bocelli, “Stranger in Paradise.” Our Chartcrush ranking has Bennett’s version at #17 for 1954, up against Singer Tony Martin’s and Vocal Group The Four Aces’ versions at numbers 57 and 26, respectively.

#18 Four Aces featuring Al Alberts – Three Coins in the Fountain

And speaking of the Four Aces, their biggest hit of ’54 was #8 on both Billboard‘s year-end Sales and Jukebox charts and #10 Airplay. So how on Earth is it only #18 on our Chartcrush ranking? Well, because it got stuck at #2 for six weeks in the Summer behind “Little Things Mean a Lot,” so songs that did get to #1 outrank it in our Chartcrush point system.

As Billboard started doing in 1967, our ranking method awards bonus points for weeks at #1, which better reflects the hockey-stick curve with sales and airplay as the song rankings approach #1. Still a massive hit, though: featuring Lead Singer Al Alberts, The Four Aces’ “Three Coins in the Fountain.”

The Four Aces’ grandiose, cinematic “Three Coins in the Fountain.” It was the title song of a movie and even won the Best Original Song Oscar the year after “Secret Love,” but the Four Aces version isn’t the one in the film; Frank Sinatra’s is, and his more low-key version even charted, but was “Aced” on the charts by the version we just heard. No Four Aces recording ever appeared in a movie in the ’50s, but Robert Zemekis used their version of “Mr. Sandman” in 1985’s Back to the Future

#19 Archie Bleyer & Maria Alba – Hernando’s Hideaway

…instead of the better-known Chordettes version produced by, the Artist who scored 1954’s #10 Best Seller according to Billboard; that’s #19 on our Chartcrush ranking. I mentioned the movie The Pajama Game back when we heard Rosemary Clooney’s “Hey There” back at #5. This was another big hit from the film, capitalizing on that Mambo craze I talked about: Cadence Records Founder-Owner-Producer Archie Bleyer with Spanish Actress Maria Alba on castanets, “Hernando’s Hideaway.”

Johnnie Ray and Guy Lombardo, both out with versions of “Hernando’s Hideaway” in ’54, but Archie Bleyer’s with the sound effects and castanets, the clear winner on the charts.

That meme of secret, mysterious after-hours clubs where only a select few are welcome and you need a password: it surfaced again in ’56 on Jim Lowe’s “The Green Door.” What goes on in there, hmmm? Well in ’50’s America there was a long, wide-ranging list of taboo and illicit behaviors that listeners could draw from to flesh out their imaginations.

And on that titillating note, it’s time to wrap up our 1954 edition of Chartcrush! I’ve been your host, Christopher Verdesi. Hey, if you like what you heard and you want more, head over to our website, for a full transcript of the show and a link to the podcast version on Spotify, plus boss extras like our full top 100 chart and interactive graph of the actual chart runs of the songs we heard this hour. We do that for every year, ’40s to present, and it’s all on the website, again, Thanks for listening and be sure and tune in again this time next week, same station, for another year, and another edition of Chartcrush.

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