25 Biggest Hits of the ‘60s According to Billboard

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Tumultuous, divisive, and revolutionary are words commonly used to describe the social upheaval, political assassinations, and hippie culture of the 1960s.

And then there was the music.

Children born in the wake of World War II danced away from the hip-shaking soda-fountain rock n’ roll sound that dominated the (white) culture of the ‘50s, embracing a more rebellious and socially aware music, edgier for its time than the squarer stuff in their parents’ record collections.

It’s important to note, however, that the parents of Boomers were still in their late 30s and early 40s at the time, so many of the songs that spent the longest time near the top of the Billboard Top 100 chart in the 1960s were still focused on music that appealed to them. The kids might have been out there sweating to Jimi Hendrix but their parents were at home listening to Henry Mancini. (Check out the most popular song the year you were born.)

To determine the biggest pop hits of the 1960s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed performance data on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Songs were ranked based on an inverse score wherein a week at No. 1 is worth 100 points, a week at No. 2 worth 99 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 100 worth one point. Chart data is current through the week of August 20, 2022. (Christmas songs were not included.)

Out of the 25 biggest pop hits of the 1960s, based on how high and how long a song was a Billboard Top 100 hit, eight were released in 1960, including Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry” and Elvis Presley’s, “It’s Now or Never.” Five of these 25 “high and long” hits came out in 1962.

By the end of the decade, The Beatles had two hits – “Twist and Shout” in 1964 and “Hey Jude” in 1968 – that went to or near the top of the chart and stuck around for months. “Sunshine of Your Love” by the British rock band Cream made it to No. 5 in 1968 and remained on the chart for 26 weeks. (Those two songs were just the beginning for The Beatles, of course; they went on to top the list of the artists with the most No. 1 hits.)

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