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Awesome Music / Elvis Presley

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Officially, the highest selling solo artist ever, with record sales in the billions. And not for nothing:

  • His early Sun recordings show Presley at his loosest and most unhinged. Of particular note are "Baby Let's Play House" (if you think someone just saying "Baby, baby, baby" over and over again can't sound awesome, Elvis makes it so), "Mystery Train" (which sounds particularly haunting, and which Sam Phillips apparently considered the best thing he ever did with Elvis), and "That's All Right", another great rockabilly song.
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  • "Heartbreak Hotel", his first Number One. It has one of the most famous intros in rock history ("Well since my baby left me...") and it's a smooth, seamless mixture of blues and country, into what is possibly Elvis' most iconic song.
  • Love ballad "Love Me Tender". Elvis' singing on this one is goosebump-worthy.
  • "All Shook Up" has a great, upbeat feel, emphasized by the spare percussion (it's mostly just tapping on a guitar).
  • If ever a rhythm and blues song was Covered Up, it's "Hound Dog", which is a textbook example of classic rockabilly. "Y'AIN'T NOTHIN' BUT A HOUND DOG..."
  • "Jailhouse Rock". The dance scene for it from the film is one of the most recognizable musical numbers from any of Elvis' movies.
  • "Hard Headed Woman." Rockabilly may seem a bit tame to some people now, but by 1950s standards, this super-fast 12-bar blues number is wild. Amazing to think a song this boisterous hit #1, but that was Elvis for you.
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  • One of the first songs Elvis recorded after returning from the Army was a rendition of old 1920s ballad "Are You Lonesome Tonight." It's one of his most low-key ballads, complete with a spoken bridge ("I wonder if... you're lonesome tonight") and an excellent vocal.
  • And speaking of awesome ballads, "Can't Help Falling In Love" from Blue Hawaii is one of his most melodic; so potent a song that it was the finale of many of his latter-day concerts. And just to prove its staying power after fifty-plus years, watch Twenty One Pilots perform it for a group of millennials, who sing along to every single word despite their parents probably being too young to remember Elvis.
  • "It's Now Or Never." It's more or less Elvis' revised take on "'O Sole Mio," but he pours everything into his vocal, and it's amazing.
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  • "Viva Las Vegas". Catchy theme song for what the fans consider Elvis' best movie.
  • Elvis' "Comeback" Special. After years of wasting his talents in movies, Elvis picks up his guitar again and sings his ass off in a remarkably entertaining special. Aside from the grand musical numbers, his jam session with his old band members is a particularly famous moment in TV history, as well as a riveting section of music on its own terms (not to mention being a forerunner to MTV Unplugged).
  • "Always On My Mind" has passed through many hands over the years (Willie Nelson, Pet Shop Boys), but Elvis' version sees him give a great, soulful performance, and a great example of how his trademark baritone only got richer with time.
  • The sunny "Burning Love", Elvis' last top ten hit before his death and an almost proto-Power Pop song. Made even better by the version re-released by Priscilla Presley and the Royal Philharmonic Orchstra, sounding like something out of Electric Light Orchestra!
  • This 1977 performance of "Unchained Melody," showing that Elvis had one of rock's most powerful voices right up till the end.
  • "A Little Less Conversation". Particularly the remix by Junkie XL which became a worldwide hit in 2003, meaning Elvis had a hit song 26 years after he died. Such is the power of the King.

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