Matt talks about great oldies songs you should know from the 1950s and the 1960s that make for perfect wedding songs and party songs. Get some fun facts about artists and the songs too!
- View the complete list of the best oldies songs for wedding receptions.
- See all Wedding Songs Podcast episodes.
Hi everybody, I’m Matt Campbell, and welcome to the 20th episode of the Wedding Songs Podcast. At the time of this recording is Wednesday, June 3rd, and tonight I’m going to be talking about 100 great oldies songs to play at your reception and parties. Now, this list is going to be alphabetical by artist. So, if you have your own list, you can follow along. If you prefer to read the list, you can do so on our website, myweddingsongs.com. So let’s go ahead and get started with our first song on the list. “Respect” by Aretha Franklin was released in 1965. This is a female anthem and fits great with any party atmosphere that will have everybody singing and dancing along. I’m feeling the “Good Vibrations”. The Beach Boys released this hit in 1966 and also in 1963 “Surfin’ U.S.A.”.
Would You Stand? “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King was released in 1961. This song is still popular today and was even featured in the Royal Wedding with Megan Markle and Prince Harry. “It’s In His Kiss The Shoop Shoop Song” by Betty Everett was released in 1964. Nope, I’m not talking about The Shoop song by Salt-N-Pepa much later in the nineties. 1 2, 3 o’clock rock, four o’clock rock. “Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets was released in 1954. You may remember this song was also featured in the TV series Happy Days. Bobby Darren released his hit “Mac the Knife” in 1959. Many other people have covered this song including Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and Michael Buble. Another very popular song released in 1958, “rock and”Rockin’ Robin” tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet by Bobby Day. A definite song that will have everybody singing along and tapping their toes. That’ll be the day that you make me cry.
“That’ll Be The Day” by Buddy Holly and the Crickets was released in 1957. Too bad that he passed away too early in a plane crash in 1959 with other artists including Richie Valens, the Big Bopper, and the pilot Roger Peterson. Famously coined by Don McLean – It was the day that music died. The next song on our list, you typically think of Elvis Presley singing, but no, it was Carl Perkins’s “Blue Suede Shoes” released in 1956 for those rockabilly fans. A very popular parent dance song was released in 1964 as a Broadway hit to Fiddler On the Roof. The cast sang “Sunrise Sunset”. The next song is primarily an instrumental song. “Tequila” by the Champs was released in 1958. If you remember the verse, how low can you go was on the song “Limbo Rock” by Chubby Checker released in 1962, and also his mega-hit “The Twist”.
Come on baby let’s twist was released in 1960. One of the greatest guitar players of all time, Chuck Berry, released his hit “Johnny B Goode” in 1958 and was one of the founders of Rock and Roll. One of the members of the Rat Pack, Dean Martin, released “That’s Amore” in 1953. Dion has two hits on our list. The first one was “Runaround Sue” released in 1961 and also in 1961, “The Wanderer”. Both of those are classic swing songs that you’ll have lots of people on the dance floor. A very popular wedding song is going to the Chapel and we’re going to get married. The “Chapel of Love” was released in 1964. Speaking of instrumentals, the next song by Duane Eddie is “Rebel Rouser” released in 1958. I have DJ’d a few weddings where they’ve had a dance to this song much like “Mony Mony” and a few other mega-hits. This one was released in 1958 for rockabilly fans and will have everybody in that party mood.
Another rockabilly hit by Eddie Cochrane “Summertime Blues” released in 1958. One of the few jazz songs on our list is “My Funny Valentine” by Ella Fitzgerald was released in 1956. So the next artist is the one and only Elvis Presley and he has five songs on our list of greatest oldies songs of all time. The first one alphabetically is “All Shook Up” released in 1957. The King continues on with one of the greatest love songs of all time “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” released in 1961. You ain’t nothing but a “Hound Dog” released in 1953 and “Jailhouse Rock” released in 1957. Also “Love Me Tender”, love me true – this one is actually categorized as a country song. So you have Elvis singing, country rock, blues, pop, you name it. He was the best and that’s why he’s the King with “Love Me Tender” released in 1956.
Right after Elvis, I’m going to categorize this next song as the greatest wedding song of all time released by Etta James “At Last” my love has come along released in 1960. One of the best boy bands before there was boy bands was The Four Tops released “I Can’t Help Myself Sugar Pie Honey Bunch” in 1965 because of the reference to sugar pie. A lot of people choose to play this as they’re cutting their wedding cake. Now that we’re to the F’s, we’re down to Frank Sinatra and he has four songs on our list of greatest oldies. The first one was released in 1954, “Fly Me to the Moon”. The next Frank Sinatra song was the theme song to Married with Children called “Love and Marriage”. “Love and Marriage” was released in 1955. “Lucky Be A Lady” tonight is a great song to play for all the ladies and if you want a classic bouquet toss song released in 1963. Finally, the last Frank Sinatra song is a great father-daughter song or just a dedication to the bride is “The Way You Look Tonight” released in 1964. Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons released in 1967 “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” which makes for a great slow dance song to play during your party.
One of the greatest pop jazz songs of all time for weddings is “Moon River”, originally produced by Henry Mancini. There have been great covers of this song recently, including Frank Ocean. Next are two songs by Jackie Wilson. “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher” was released in 1967 and “To Be Loved” was released in 1958. The 39th song on our list is another surf song just like The Beach Boys. This one is by Jan and Dean “Surf City” released in 1963. “This Magic Moment” by Jay and the Americans was released in 1969. Goodness gracious “Great Balls Of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis was released in 1957. Yeah, he got in a lot of trouble by marrying a young lady, but this song is still a great party song. “Sugar Shack” because of the name Sugar makes for a great song to play while you’re cutting your wedding cake released by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs in 1963.
Johnny Mathis is one of the greatest pop artists of all time and I selected “Chances Are” released in 1957. If you’re looking for a choreographed song to play at your wedding, be sure to check out Johnny Otis’s great hit “Willie and the Hand Jive” released in 1958. Another great party song is “Louie Louie” by the Kingsman released in 1957. Come on everybody do “The Locomotion” originally done by Little Eva released in 1962. There was actually a rock version by Bachman Turner Overdrive later on who recently passed away. Little Richard released “Good Golly Miss Molly” in 1958. A great wedding song to play at any moment is “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong released in 1967. If you’re looking for a classic swing song, then check out “Jump Jive an Wail by Louis Prima released in 1958. It was also released much later by the Brian Seltzer Orchestra who is a member of The Stray Cats.
This next song I think we always think of the Rolling Stones doing this, but I actually liked the original by Martha and the Vandellas “Dancing in the Street” released in 1964. Now I only have one song on here by Marvin Gaye. He’s definitely on many other lists on our website, but I chose “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” released in 1968. As I said, he has many other hits like “Let’s Get It On” and duet songs with Tammy Terrell as well that you should be checking out if you’re looking for a classic father-daughter song. Then “Daddy’s Little Girl” by the Mills Brothers was released in 1950. “Devil with the Blue Dress” blue dress, blue dress devil with the blue dress on by Mitch Rider released in 1966. A great way to end the evening is one of my favorite artists of all time, Nat King Cole, and his song “The Party’s Over” released in 1956. Another song that he produced, “Unforgettable” was released in 1952.
You could play this version or a later version with his daughter Natalie Cole. One of the greatest sing-along songs of all time if you’re in the Boston area, not so much if you’re in the New York area just because it’s played a lot at the Boston Red Sox games, but for us on the West Coast, we really don’t care about that. I have to say that “Sweet Caroline” was released in 1969 by Neil Diamond. We’ll have everybody singing along. Talking about singing along “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” released by Otis Redding is a great song. You can just sit there and drink an alcoholic beverage too. In 1968, but also his love song “These Arms of Mine” was released in 1962. Otis definitely has two big hits that he released. Percy Sledge released “When a Man Loves a Woman”. No, I’m not talking about Michael Bolton, it’s Percy Sledge, and his hit was released in 1966. Just for the kids in attendance – put your left foot in, put your left foot out.
The “Hokey Pokey” by Ray Anthony was released in 1953. The next song was made more popular by the movie Ghost and is “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers in 1965. Talking about movies, the next song became popular because of Top Gun with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” released in 1964. “La Bamba” by Richie Valens was released this hit in 1958. “Angel Baby” by Rosie and the originals in 1960. I am a “Soul Man”. No, I’m not talking about the Blues Brothers. I’m talking about Sam and Dave’s version released in 1967. Sam Cook is on our list with “You Send Me” which is a great love song released in 1957. A great party song on the list is “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs released in 1965. I guarantee if you have a toga party, you definitely have to play this song. One of the greatest duet songs of all time by Sonny and Cher “I Got You Babe” released in 1965.
Did you know that they actually had a TV show? If not, maybe you could check it out on some of the streaming services. “Gimme Some Lovin” by Spencer Davis Group. Did you know a member of the Spencer Davis group is Steve Winwood? This song was released in 1966. One of the greatest father-daughter songs of all time is “My Girl” my girl, my girl by The Temptations released in 1964. Next up, I’m going to get to all of the artists that have “the” in their name. So starting off with The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar” honey honey released in 1969 makes for another great cake-cutting song. The Beatles have three songs on our list. The first one makes for a great processional song or recessional song – “All You Need is Love” love, love in 1967. “I Saw Her Standing There”.
No, I’m not talking about the Tiffany version. It’s The Beatles song released in 1963. The lead singer of Green Day released a cover of this song, Billy Joe Armstrong. The last Beatles song is one of my favorites, “Twist and Shout”, released in 1963 – a definite must-play party song. “Do You Love Me?” by The Contours released this song in 1962. But do you remember it was also featured in the movie Dirty Dancing? The Crests with “16 Candles” is a very popular doo-wop song released in 1958. The Drifters are on our list twice with their first song making for a great last dance song of the evening titled “Save the Last Dance for Me” released in 1960. Also “Under The Boardwalk” down by the sea was released in 1964. Dream, dream, dream, dream “All I Have To Do Is Dream” by the Everly Brothers was released in 1958. “In The Still of the Night” by The Five Satins was released in 1956. Also their popular wedding song “To The Aisle” was released in 1957.
“I Only Have Eyes For You” by the Flamingos was released in 1959. “Build Me Up, Buttercup” is a great cake-cutting song if you have cupcakes by The Foundations released in 1968. You make me want to “Shout” by the Isley Brothers released in 1959. However, many people choose the version by Otis Day and The Knights released in 1978 from what movie? National Lampoon’s Animal House. The Monkeys are on our list twice with our first one being “Daydream Believer” released in 1967. From the year before “I’m A Believer” was released in 1966. You’ll also have to check out the version “I’m a Believer” by Smash Mouth. The Platters are on our list three times from this popular doo-wop band of the 1950s “Old You” released in 1955. “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” in 1958 and also in 1958, the popular “Twilight Time”, which makes for a great first dance song. Another very popular song that I used to play as a last dance for a slow picture moment time.
Goodnight, sweetheart well, it’s time to go. “Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight” by The Spaniels was released in 1954. The Temptations have two hits and their first one “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” was released in 1966. And no, I’m not talking about the TLC version with Left Eye. The next song by the Temptations is “My Girl”. Hey, I was just checking to see if you were paying attention. I actually mentioned them a little bit before. So you actually get 99 songs instead of a hundred. Let’s see if you remember this next song. “A Lovers Concerto” by The Toys was released in 1967. One of my friends actually had this next song as their first dance. “Love is All Around” by the Troggs was released in 1967. If you want a newer version, be sure to check out the version by Wet, Wet, Wet. “Happy Together” by The Turtles released in 1967 could be a great recessional song.
Hopefully, you’re happy now that you’ve said the I do’s and you’re married. If you ever watch the show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, then you definitely know this next song. “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones was released in 1965. Well, why was this popular on the show? Well, Carlton used to do the Carlton dance to this song. Tony Bennett’s hit “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was released in 1962. One of the best party songs, again by Van Morrison, who’s actually from Scotland released “Brown Eye Girl” in 1967. With two songs left “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett was released in 1966 and “Good Lovin'” by the Young Rascals released in 1966. That rounds out our one-hundred greatest, or I should say, 99 greatest oldies songs of all time. If you want to read our list, you can do so on myweddingsongs.com. If you have any questions or want to discuss any of the songs, please go to our Facebook page. Thanks for listening and have a great day.