"I don't sound like nobody."
-- Elvis Presley

"Time" Man of the Year: The Hungarian Freedom Fighter

Oscar for Best Picture: "Around the World in 80 Days"

Oscar for Best Actor: Yule Brenner -- "The King and I"

Oscar for Best Song: "Whatever Will Be, Will Be"
-- Doris Day
Emmy for Best Actor in a Continuing Series: Phil Silvers, Phil Silvers Show, You'll Never Get Rich
Emmy for Best Actress in a Continuing Series: Lucille Ball -- "I Love Lucy"
Emmy for Best News Reporter / Commentator: Edward R. Murrow Oscar for Best Actress: Ingrid Bergman - "Anastasia" Best Seller -- Fiction: "Don't Go Near the Water"
-- by William Brinkley
"Don't Be Cruel" -- by Elvis Presley
"Don't Be Cruel" debuted in the top 40 on August 4, 1956, reaching #1 on August 18 and remaining #1 for 11 weeks. My favorite song for 1956 has a lot of popular support! With the slap bass rhythm and the "bop, bop bop" backing vocals of the Jordanaires, "Don't Be Cruel" was a perfect transition from the "hillbilly rock" of Elvis's Sun recordings to his more modern rock and roll. For me, this was Elvis at his best. It was the top ranked song for the year by Gilbert & Theroux and Cashbox; Billboard listed it as #2. In August of 1956, "Don't Be Cruel" was released as a single one week after the "A" side to the record, "Hound Dog" had been released. By September, both songs were listed as #1 by Billboard. "Don't Be Cruel" was written by Otis Blackwell with Elvis Presley also getting credit although he wasn't really present when the song was written.
"Be Bop a Lula" -- by Gene Vincent

Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps were among the early pioneers of rock and roll that produced the "rockabilly" sound. From the opening "Wellllll, " to the screams that accompany the breathless "she's the one that love's me so," to the trailing "my baby doll, my baby doll, my baby doll" to the incantation "let's rock" this is a quintessential rock and roll song -- you've just got to start movin'. It first reached the charts on June 23rd, 1956 and would peak at #7 (best seller list), spending 15 weeks on the chart. Gene Vincent would have no more top ten hits in the U.S. But he did find success in England where he became a major influence on a young group then performing as The Quarrymen. By the time the Beatles were appearing in Germany they were emulating Vincent's style with black leather pants. Unfortunately, Vincent diede at the age of 36 "virtually forgotten."

"My Prayer" by The Platters"
I could almost select any of The Platters' recordings of 1956 ("The Great Pretender", "Magic Touch"). "My Prayer" was originally a French song, and from the opening "When the twilight is gone" it fulfills every requirement of a slow song for romance and slow dancing. It spent 5 weeks at number one, beginning on August 4, 1956, having debuted a month earlier on July 7th. It remained in the top position for two weeks. Initially, their label (Mercury) was not inclined to release the record, but when Alan Freed (New York disc jockey who had been playing the song off of an album cut) started a rumor that The Four Aces were going to release their version, Mercury relented and made the song a single with "Heaven On Earth" as the "B" side. Billboard put "My Prayer" in the #4 position for the year 1956.
"Why Do Fools Fall in Love"
by Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers
"Why Do Fools Fall in Love" is one of the best early "doo wop" songs ("da, doom doppa doom dopp doom doppa do wah"). It was on the chart for 16 weeks beginning on February 2, 1956 and reaching #6. It is somewhat surprising that such a well-known rock classic didn't come any closer to #1, but maybe it was due to its impact being somewhat diluted: It was covered by Gale Storm -- her version reached #9, and the Diamonds, #12. It was the "B" side to the Beach Boys "Fun, Fun, Fun" in 1964 and would reach #7 for Diana ross in 1981.
"I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
"I Put a Spell On You" was released in November of 1956 and never reached the top 40. It was originally supposed to be sung as a ballad, but Jay and the band got drunk and ended up with a wild, raucous rendition. Coffins, skulls and capes became part of his stage act to match the mood of the recording. Perhaps its the hypnotic back beat, or perhaps Hawkins' low gutteral voice, along with his spooky laugh, but I chose "I Spell On You" as one of the best songs of 1956 (see "My 1956 CD"). "I Put a Spell On You" was also one of the first singles released by Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1968. To quote Screamin' Jay -- "I aint lyin'."


"(I'll Remember) In the Still of the Night"
by The Five Satins
"Shoo doo shoo be doo" -- "In the Still of the Night" is another "doo-wop" classic from 1956. While it only reached #24, it's one of the most recognizable songs of the year. The Five Satins were part of the large number of black vocal harmony groups that followed the thread of the Ink Spots, The Orioles, and Moonglows that layed the foundations for rock and roll in their R&B recordings of the early 1950's. The song entered the Billboard charts on September 29, 1956, remained for only six weeks. The Five Satins would only have one other Top 40 song, "To the Aisle," which a year later would reach #25, only slightly less successful than "In the Still of the Night." But I'll bet you can't sing a single line of "To the Aisle." Ronnie Milsapp had a country hit in 1985, "Lost in the Fifties Tonight" that uses "In the Still of the Night" as its reference point.
"I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash
Not a whole lot of country songs crossed over to the pop chart in 1956. But "I Walk the Line" would be tough to beat out for the best regardless of the numbers. Released on October 20, 1956, it topped out at #17. Its noteworthy that none of Elvis's Sun recordings were able to be this successful on the pop chart. Sam Phillips said one of the reasons he was willing to sign over Elvis' contract to RCA was the other talent he had at Sun studios. Cash's "I Walk the Line" and Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" didn't disappoint him in 1956. The "ch ch chm" drum beat and the guitar plucks intro with Johnny's "hmmmmmm" make this song instatntly recognizable. Cash originally didn't like the song and tried to discourage Phillips from releasing it -- later he acknowledged that he was glad he did.