The Best of Elvis
The best of the best from "The King"
by Mark Zurlo
Elvis made few recordings in other languages and his only international concerts were in Canada.
For an artist with 18 chart-topping songs, it can be nearly impossible to single out the best Elvis songs, but it's worth a try. Here is an all-Elvis top ten (in chronological order).
Blue Suede Shoes (1956)
"Blue Suede Shoes" was originally written and recorded by Carl Perkins in 1955, when it reached No. 1 on the pop charts. Record label RCA waited until Perkins's version of the song had left the charts before releasing Elvis's version, which featured a quicker tempo. While it only reached No. 20 on the charts, the song has been called "rock 'n' roll's national anthem" and has become one of Presley's signature tracks.
Heartbreak Hotel (1956)
Elvis's first No. 1 song, it was released as a single along with the B-side "I Was the One" on January 27th, 1956, and it would go on to become the best-selling single of that year. It was the first song Elvis recorded for RCA, and some at the company were skeptical about the song because it sounded little like others he had recorded at Sun Records. It went on to spend 17 weeks at No. 1, and even returned to the top of the charts when it was re-released in 2006. The song is still widely covered today, famously by Bill Clinton on saxophone on "The Arsenio Hall Show" during his first presidential campaign.
All Shook Up (1957)
One of Elvis's most successful songs, "All Shook Up" reached not only the top of the pop charts, but also the country and R&B charts, where it stayed for eight weeks. Like other popular Elvis songs, it was widely covered by well-known artists, including The Beatles, Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, and Rod Stewart.
Jailhouse Rock (1957)
Released along with Presley's movie of the same title, the single would go on to hold the top spot on the charts for seven weeks and sell two million copies in the U.S., earning double platinum status. The song also later reached No.1 in the U.S. as performed by Carl Perkins, and in the UK as performed by John Stump.
Stuck on You (1960)
The first song recorded following Elvis's two years of military service, "Stuck On You" quickly reached No.1 on the charts and become his 13th chart topper, and first hit of the 60s.
Return to Sender (1962)
Performed by Elvis in the film Girls! Girls! Girls!, the song reached No. 1 on the UK charts and No. 2 in the U.S. and features a signature baritone saxophone opening provided by Boots Randolph. When the Elvis Presley postage stamp was released in 1993, thousands of fans used the stamp to mail a letter to a nonexistent address in order to have the letter returned stamped "Return to Sender."
A Little Less Conversation (1968)
This song was originally recorded in 1968 for the film Live a Little, Love a Little, and saw little success. Presley then re-recorded the song for Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special, but the track was not used on the program, and it was not officially released until the 1990s. In 2002, the song was remixed by Junkie XL, and used in a series of Nike commercials promoting the World Cup. From there, it would go on to become a No.1 hit in 20 different countries, providing Elvis with his most surprising triumph.
Kentucky Rain (1969)
While it only climbed as high as No.16 on the U.S. charts, "Kentucky Rain" has become one of the most played Elvis songs. Written by Eddie Rabbitt, who went on to enjoy his own successful country-music career, the song is a trademark of Presley's later material.
In the Ghetto (1969)
Written by Mac Davis and released as a single with "Any Day Now" as the b-side, this song tells about a young boy who lives a rough life in Chicago and is eventually shot. While some feared the song was too political, Elvis commented it was one of his favorites, and said he would continue to perform songs "he believed in." Fans have said that the song, Elvis's first top 10 hit in four years, illustrated how Elvis's life could have turned out had he not succeeded in music.
Burning Love (1972)
Rising as high as No. 2 on the Billboard charts, "Burning Love" was Elvis's 40th and final U.S. top-10 hit. It was also one of his final rock 'n' roll songs, as much of the material that followed "Burning Love" was of the country variety or a slower tempo.