When you hear the name Elvis Presley, you think of a larger-than-life star rightly nicknamed “The King of Rock and Roll.” Girls swooned and pined for him, and at his concerts, they would announce that “Elvis has left the building!” His influence in modern music has been mind-boggling. Presley transformed society and music as a whole, challenging conventional limits with his provocative dance moves and, for the time, rebellious music. Here is a ranking of ten chart toppers and some not as well-known songs from The King!
10. Love Me Tender
This song is sweet and tender, just as the name implies. It’s one of his original love songs and is recognizable, even with those not familiar with Presley. Its simplicity is obvious by its length, standing only at 2 minutes and 50 seconds, but also in the instrumentals. A chorus of “oohs” and “aahs” punctuate the background as a guitar strums gently. The humbleness Elvis sings with draws all audiences.
9. An American Trilogy
Only one word can describe “An American Trilogy”, and that is unique. Elvis pays homage to his Southern and Christian roots by creating an arrangement that no modern artist has been able to accomplish. By combining three traditional songs, including “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, he laments not being home. “Look away/look away/look away/Dixieland,” are a part of the very sparse lyrics. However, the instrumentals make up for any lack of lyrics there may be. Drums roll and the string instruments, especially the violin, play in an unprecedented manner.
8. Viva Las Vegas
This song is a personal favorite (the movie is fantastic and worth a watch). You can put on your dancing shoes and shimmy to this toe-tapper any time of the day. Sometimes a silly and fun song is in order, and with the jamming guitar it has been proven to shake the blues away.
7. Suspicious Minds
Articulate and complex, “Suspicious Minds” pays close attention to the little details that augment a tune and make it go from “good” to “epic.” From prominent background vocals to tempo changes that add dramatics and keep the listener hooked, nothing seems to have been left out. The high note heard directly at the end of the song kicks everything up a notch, as does the crescendo that is distinctly noticeable. The song begins to die out when suddenly it gets louder and louder, leaving everyone wondering what happened and in awe.
6. In the Ghetto
An international hit, this chart topper brought Elvis back to the music charts in 1969. However, it achieved much more than that. Through the lyrics, a story is told, one beautiful and poignant. He sings about the struggle a child faces growing up poor. It relates the troubles families, specifically mothers, face when raising children in desperate situations, revealing a cycle of violence. The story is the song, one that is sang in a way that brings the message to the forefront. Vocals are balanced with the lyrics perfectly.
5. Jailhouse Rock
This was a major hit for Presley at the peak of his fame. The innovation that combined his singing and dancing all on screen made it that much more iconic. This is what made rock and roll a genre and “a thing.” It’s defined a generation and coined him “The King of Rock and Roll.” It was undoubtedly one of the most pivotal songs in his career.
4. Gospel Medley
The Christian faith played an enormous role in the development of Elvis and his style in singing. Gospel was used in many of his songs and this is a medley that captures every influence Elvis has had. Not to mention that his vocals are out-of-this-world, it gives us a glimpse into the life of the man of legend.
3. Can’t Help Falling in Love
Covered by every artists seemingly known to man, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is quintessential Elvis Presley. He delves into his vocal range, pulling out deep and powerful notes and then swiftly moving towards his upper range. The harmonies intertwine with such tenderness, bringing out the passionate lyrics. Elvis brings out a vibrato that has such an intensity, and creates an iconic song. Although done by others, you must always hear the original version to get the full picture.
2. Unchained Melody
Originally done by The Righteous Brothers, Elvis created a version of his own, one that stands out. It should receive much more recognition, and all the stops are pulled in this song. It’s chill inducing, and there is the perfect balance between vocals and instrumentals, with piano being a standout. There is a fierceness to this poetic love song not found anywhere else.
1. How Great Thou Art
This epic song was born from Elvis crafting the gospel music he loved into something that was uniquely his own. Deep seated soulfulness is brought out in a reverent way, and it’s never been sang so beautifully. Often, it’s a full choir piece. But Presley pulls it off as a single artist, never been done before and possibly won’t be done again. Without this song, he wouldn’t have been the artist he was. His power is striking as he sings and prays in a song that will stand the tests of time.
Overall, Elvis Presley was other worldly singer who made his mark on the music world that will not be forgotten. What do you think of our ranking? Let us know in the comments below!