Elvis Presley's 15 greatest songs ever, ranked

22 April 2021, 14:11

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Elvis Presley is the undisputed King of Rock and Roll, whose music continues to thrill millions around the world.

There's not many artists who recorded more songs and albums than Elvis Presley during his 23 years of making music.

We've selected just 15 of his very best songs to make for the perfect introduction to the King:

  1. Trouble

    Not to be confused with his later song 'T-R-O-U-B-L-E', Elvis goes all moody on this track from 1958's King Creole film.

    QUIZ: How well do you know Elvis Presley's song lyrics?

    Perfectly summing up his 'dangerous' appeal, Elvis later opened up his iconic '68 Comeback Special with the song.

  2. The Wonder of You

    Originally by Vince Edwards and later Ray Peterson, Elvis had a UK number one with his 1970 live version, recorded in Las Vegas in February that year.

    Read more: The story of how David Bowie and Elvis Presley came *so* close to collaborating

    According to Peterson: "He [Elvis] asked me if I would mind if he recorded 'The Wonder of You.' I said, 'You don't have to ask permission; you're Elvis Presley.' He said, 'Yes, I do. You're Ray Peterson.'"

  3. It's Now or Never

    This is actually Elvis Presley's best-selling single with over 20 million records sold.

    It was based on the Italian song 'O Sole mio', and reached number one for a second time in the UK when re-released in 2005.

  4. All Shook Up

    One of Elvis's early rock and roll standards, Otis Blackwell wrote the song in 1956 after a colleague shook a bottle of Pepsi, and suggested he write a song based on the phrase "all shook up."

    Elvis Presley facts: The King's parents, wife, daughter, films and death explained

    However, it has also been claimed that Elvis thought 'All Shook Up' was a good phrase for a song, and for this he received a co-writing credit.

    Elvis himself said: "I've never even had an idea for a song. Just once, maybe. I went to bed one night, had quite a dream, and woke up all shook up. I phoned a pal and told him about it. By morning, he had a new song, 'All Shook Up'."

  5. Fever

    This American standard is perhaps best known for the 1958 Peggy Lee jazz version, but Elvis also had a brilliant rendition.

    Elvis recorded it for his 1960 Elvis is Back! album, and based it on Peggy Lee's version, with added seductive finger-snapping.

  6. Burning Love

    This 1972 track proved to be Elvis's last big hit before his death five years later.

    Read more: When Elvis Presley joined Celine Dion on stage for a mind-blowing duet 30 years after his death (Yes, really)

    The fun rock track, complete with its memorable 'hunk-a hunk-a' chorus, saw him back in the UK and US top 10.

  7. Hound Dog

    Originally a blues song by Big Mama Thornton, Elvis scored a massive early hit with a rock and roll cover, and brought the genre to mainstream.

    His performance to over 40 million people on US TV at the time caused controversy for being supposedly "vulgar" and "lacking musical ability", but many disagreed.

  8. If I Can Dream

    Elvis recorded this passionate song just two months after Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968, and it features quotes from King's famous 'I Have a Dream' speech.

    First performed in the '68 Comeback Special, it was also one of the standout tracks in the recent orchestral compilation featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

  9. A Little Less Conversation

    This Elvis track was originally a minor hit taken from the 1968 film Live a Little, Love a Little.

    Fast forward to 2002, and a remix of the song by JXL for a sports advert gave Elvis a new legion of fans, as it reached number one in the UK.

  10. Jailhouse Rock

    For many people in the '50s, this was the first time they realised exactly what rock and roll was, and how music - and youth culture - had shifted.

    Written by Leiber and Stoller, this rock and roll anthem was taken from the film of the same name and was one of Elvis's biggest hits.

  11. Can't Help Falling in Love

    The melody of this ballad was based on 'Plaisir d'amour', a popular French love song composed in 1784 by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini.

    Read more: When and where was Elvis Presley's final concert performance before he died?

    It was recorded by Elvis for the Blue Hawaii film, and gave him one of his biggest songs. It was later covered by many artists including a number one for UB40.

  12. (Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame

    First recorded by Del Shannon and featuring a Bo Diddley-style beat, Elvis achieved a big UK number one single with a cover in 1961.

    It was one of Elvis's nine UK number one singles between 1960 and 1962.

  13. In the Ghetto

    This story-based song was written by Mac Davis, and follows a boy who is born to a mother who already has more children than she can feed in a Chicago ghetto.

    The boy grows up hungry, and is forced to steal and fight, before buying a gun and stealing a car, but is killed. The song ends with another child being born in the ghetto, leading to a sad cycle of poverty and violence.

    It gave Elvis a big hit in 1969, and was taken from his From Elvis in Memphis album.

  14. Always on My Mind

    BJ Thomas first recorded this song, but it was Elvis's stunning version that became one of his signature songs. He recorded it just a few weeks after his separation from his wife, Priscilla.

    Read more: The Story of... 'Always on My Mind'

    It was later also a big hit for versions by Willie Nelson and Pet Shop Boys, the latter of which was a tribute to the King.

  15. Suspicious Minds

    First recorded by Mark James, Elvis spotted that it could be a hit, and recorded it soon after. It formed part of his '68 Comeback Special, and gave him one of his all-time greatest successes.

    Read more: The Story of... 'Suspicious Minds'

    Perhaps the most famous version was from his Aloha from Hawaii live show in 1973, complete with white jumpsuit and colourful lei.