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by Tom Eames
1954 was a year that we kept seeing the Americans dominating the charts. It was also a year in which the Top 12 became a Top 20 on the 1st October, the first 45rpm singles appeared to mark the end of the 78s, and the Record Mirror published its first issue.
The year started with Frankie Laine staying at the top with "Answer Me", only to be overtaken the next week with one of the hits of the year, Eddie Calvert's "Oh Mein Papa", a song which soon after worked by Eddie Fisher, and it stayed there for nine weeks. The Stargazers then took over with "I See The Moon". Johnnie Ray's "Such A Night" which got to the top for one week, then had to spend eight weeks at No. 2, as the best charting hit of the year, Doris Day's "Secret Love" spent nine weeks at No. 1 altogether, a song from her film, "Calamity Jane".
One of the hits of the year that didn't get to No. 1 was that of a German school choir. "Happy Wanderer" by Oberkirchen Children's Choir spent 26 weeks in the chart, most of which spent in the top 10, becoming the fourth best charting song of the year. After "Secret Love"'s success at the top, along came the best selling single of the year, "Cara Mia" by David Whitfield, which stalled at the top for ten weeks, a song written by Mantovani, who also provided accompaniment with his string orchestra.
After this, Kitty Kallen got to No. 1 for a single week, with "Little Things Mean A Lot". Despite only one week at the top, it stayed in the chart for a long time. This was also the first charting year for Frank Sinatra, whose "Three Coins In The Fountain" stayed at the top for three weeks. Other big songs of the year included Don Cornell's No. 1, "Hold My Hand", Nat King Cole's "Smile", and Rosemary Clooney's "This Ole House".
Other famous songs which didn't chart too well to get into the top 20 of the year, include Dean Martin's classics, "That's Amore", and "Sway", (both hitting the top 10), Max Bygraves' "Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen By The Sea", a childrens favourite, and Vera Lynn's "My Son My Son". This was also the year in which we properly heard the birth of rock & roll, when "Shake Rattle & Roll" came into the charts for the first time by Bill Haley & His Comets. The Christmas No. 1 this year went to British piano player, Winifred Atwell, who stayed at the top for four weeks at the end of the year with "Lets Have Another Party".
Here are the 20 best charting singles of the year:
Here are the ten most successfully charting artists of 1954: