40s Music: The Best Songs of the 1940s

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Unlike the decades before, solo artists dominated pop music around the world in the 1940s. The big bands could no longer pay the music clubs because of the bad economy. After World War II, big bands were gradually replaced by solo male and female singers.

Pop music in the 40s included swing and jazz.

The most popular singers of the 1940s were Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, who rose to become the best-selling male pop artists of the decade. In addition to music, they were also regularly featured in the major media of film and radio.

Other important representatives of ’40s music included Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, Nat “King” Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Ink Spots.

The top 100 songs of the Forties were chosen for their initial and enduring popularity and for their impact and influence on the course of music history. Many of the following songs were recorded by more than one artist. We have chosen to perform the most significant version of the song with the associated artist.

Trivia: The song “White Christmas” by U.S. singer and actor Bing Crosby is the best-selling song of all time. The Christmas Carol Has been sold over 50 million times according to the Guinness Book of Records.

(At the end of the article we have created a Spotify playlist for you with all songs listed here.)

The 100 most successful songs of the 1940s:

Each song is linked to the corresponding music video via the title.

№: Song: Performer: Listen: Year:
1. White Christmas Bing Crosby 1947
2. Besame Mucho Jimmy Dorsey 1944
3. Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall Ella Fitzgerald & the Ink Spots 1944
4. Amapola Jimmy Dorsey 1941
5. On The Atchison, Topeka And Santa Fe Johnny Mercer 1944
6. Comin’ In On A Wing And A Prayer Song Spinners 1943
7. Rag Mop Ames Brothers 1949
8. The Christmas Song Nat “King” Cole 1946
9. Shoo-Shoo Baby Andrews Sisters 1943
10. Lovesick Blues Hank Williams 1949
11. There! I’ve Said It Again Vaughn Monroe 1945
12. God Bless The Child Billie Holiday 1941
13. Sleepy Lagoon Harry James 1940
14. Stormy Weather Lena Horne 1943
15. Peg O’ My Heart Harmonicats 1947
16. ‘Round Midnight Thelonious Monk 1944
17. Don’t Fence Me In Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters 1944
18. The Breeze And I Jimmy Dorsey (Bob Eberly) 1940
19. Walking the Floor Over You Ernest Tubb 1941
20. Slippin’ Around Margaret Whiting and Jimmy Wakely 1949
21. Take The “A” Train Duke Ellington 1941
22. Cruising Down The River Blue Barron 1949
23. This Land Is Your Land Woody Guthrie 1940
24. I’ve Heard That Song Before Harry James 1942
25. Blues in the Night (My Mama Done Tol’ Me) Woody Herman 1942
26. Jingle, Jangle, Jingle Kay Kyser 1942
27. Rum And Coca-Cola Andrews Sisters 1944
28. My Sister and I Jimmy Dorsey 1941
29. As Time Goes By Dooley Wilson 1942
30. Tuxedo Junction Glenn Miller 1940
31. I’ll Get By (As Long As I Have You) Harry James 1941
32. You Are My Sunshine Jimmie Davis 1940
33. Green Eyes Jimmy Dorsey 1941
34. We Three (My Echo, My Shadow, And Me) Ink Spots 1940
35. Star Dust Artie Shaw 1940
36. Pistol Packin’ Mama Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters 1943
37. Bouquet of Roses Eddy Arnold 1948
38. Daddy Sammy Kaye 1941
39. Nature Boy Nat “King” Cole 1948
40. Baby It’s Cold Outside Johnny Mercer & Margaret Whiting 1944
41. Candy Kisses George Morgan 1948
42. Swinging On A Star Bing Crosby 1944
43. (There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs Of Dover Vera Lynn 1942
44. Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette) Tex Williams 1947
45. Frenesi Artie Shaw 1940
46. There Are Such Things Tommy Dorsey 1943
47. Smoke on the Water Red Foley 1944
48. Brazil Xavier Cugat 1942
49. Opus № 1 Tommy Dorsey 1944
50. Till The End Of Time Perry Como 1945
51. Cool Water Sons Of The Pioneers 1948
52. Tangerine Jimmy Dorsey 1941
53. That Lucky Old Sun Frankie Laine 1949
54. Anniversary Song Al Jolson 1942
55. You Always Hurt The One You Love Mills Brothers 1944
56. In The Blue Of The Evening Tommy Dorsey (Frank Sinatra) 1943
57. Moonlight Cocktail Glenn Miller 1942
58. A Night In Tunisia Dizzy Gillespie 1942
59. Buttons And Bows Dinah Shore 1948
60. Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be) Billie Holiday 1941
61. New San Antonio Rose Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys 1940
62. Prisoner Of Love Perry Como 1946
63. (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons Nat “King” Cole 1945
64. I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire Ink Spots 1941
65. Paper Doll Mills Brothers 1942
66. Near You Francis Craig 1947
67. I Can Dream, Can’t I Andrews Sisters 1949
68. Sentimental Journey Les Brown (Doris Day) 1944
69. Blues In The Night Woody Herman 1941
70. A String Of Pearls Glenn Miller 1941
71. A Tree In The Meadow Margaret Whiting 1948
72. Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer Gene Autry 1940
73. To Each His Own Eddy Howard 1946
74. The Old Lamp-Lighter Sammy Kaye 1946
75. (I’ve Got A Gal In) Kalamazoo Glenn Miller 1942
76. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore Ink Spots 1948
77. Oh! What It Seemed To Be Frankie Carle 1945
78. I’ll Never Smile Again Tommy Dorsey (Frank Sinatra) 1940
79. Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t (Ma’ Baby) Louis Jordan 1943
80. Pistol Packin’ Mama Al Dexter 1943
81. Linda Ray Noble (Buddy Clark) 1946
82. Auld Lang Syne Guy Lombardo 1946
83. Imagination Glenn Miller 1940
84. The Gypsy Ink Spots 1946
85. Daddy Sammy Kaye 1941
86. When You Wish Upon A Star Cliff Edwards 1940
87. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive Johnny Mercer 1944
88. Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy Red Foley 1949
89. You’ll Never Know Dick Haymes 1943
90. Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition! Kay Kyser 1943
91. That’s My Desire Frankie Laine 1946
92. I’ll Walk Alone Dinah Shore 1944
93. Manana (Is Soon Enough For Me) Peggy Lee 1947
94. Ballerina Vaughn Monroe 1947
95. Maria Elena Jimmy Dorsey 1941
96. Mule Train Frankie Laine 1949
97. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Vaughn Monroe 1946
98. Some Enchanted Evening Perry Como 1949
99. Blue Moon of Kentucky Bill Monroe 1947
100. Open The Door, Richard Count Basie 1947

40’s Spotify Playlist:

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