Top 10 Doris Day Songs

Doris Day Songs

Photo: William P. Gottlieb, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Doris Day songs list looks at the song of one of the most loved and famous female singers and personalities in pop culture history. Born as Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, out of Cincinnati, Ohio, the entertainer the world knows her as Doris Day was named after an actress, Doris Kenyon. However, the world was led to believe her birthday was 1924 until the Associated Press discovered her birth certificate to show it was 1922.

While growing up as the youngest of three children, her parents separated after her mother discovered her father had an affair. At an early age, Doris Day actually took an interest in dancing first and was prominent in various dance competitions that were held across the United States. However, an automobile accident that occurred on October 13, 1937, forced the then fifteen-year-old to choose a different career path as the event severely injured her right leg.

New Chapter

Still known as Doris Kappelhoff at the time, she sang along with the radio while she was still recovering from her car accident injury. This is where she discovered she had a talent not previously realized. Encouraged, Doris began to take singing lessons as her mother also renewed her own interest in show business. After eight months of lessons, Doris got her first gig as a vocalist for the WLW radio program, Carlin’s carnival, in a local restaurant, after beating out two hundred other singers that each sang in what started out as an audition at first.

This is where she then adopted the stage name of Doris Day as her employer, Barney Rapp, felt Kappelhoff was too long to suffice as a marquee name. In 1945, Doris Day released her first recording, “Sentimental Journey,” which became an anthem that demobilized troops who fought in World War II to return home. To this day, that song has become one of Day’s signature pieces and has been re-recorded on several occasions. From 1959 until 1968, Billboard Magazine’s disc jockeys rated Doris Day as the number one female vocalist on nine different occasions. In addition to a singing career, Doris Day also took to acting where at one point her songs were outperforming an already successful acting career.

The Hollywood Lifestyle

Like many celebrities, the personal love life of Doris Day was not a smooth ride. When her third husband, Martin Melcher, died in 1968, Doris Day discovered her late husband and his business partner squandered her earnings and left her in debt. Day filed a lawsuit against Jerome Rosenthal, who was not only her late husband’s business partner but her divorce lawyer that got her out of her second marriage. In 1969, Day filed her complaint against Rosenthal and won in 1974, but it wasn’t until 1979 she saw the compensation that was owed to her. In the meantime, her late husband had her committed to a television series, The Doris Day Show.

As much as Day hated working television, she felt obligated to do so. From 1968 until 1973, the show ran for five seasons and served as a curtain-raiser for the Carol Burnett Show. It was also at the tail end of Day’s television career that saw the preferences of the audience change, which now saw Doris Day having to keep up with the times so that she wouldn’t be considered so outdated.

As successful as Doris Day had been as an entertainer, what her late husband, Melcher, and her former lawyer, Rosenthal, did to her as a person made life difficult for her, at least at a financial level. At a time when she was much younger, a naive Day left all business matters to the two men who betrayed her trust and caused her to deal with the financial consequences as a result. Although Day did receive compensation in 1979, the dirty business Rosenthal enthralled himself in did not just affect Doris Day, but many other businessmen and celebrities who had dealings with Rosenthal. Even though it didn’t leave her in financial ruin, it did impact the rest of her days as a person and as an entertainer.

Accolades & Accomplishments

In 1981, Doris Day was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame and received the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1989 for her career achievement. Year after year since the start of the twenty-first century, Doris Day participated in interviews and other celebrations at annual Doris Day music marathons. In 2004, then-president George W. Bush awarded Doris Day the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her accomplishments in the entertainment industry, as well as charity work that benefited animals.

The Grammy Award Hall of Fame awarded Doris Day three times for her musical recordings in 1998, 1999, and 2012, namely for “Sentimental Journey,” “Secret Love,” and Que Sera, Sera.” Day also received a Lifetime Achievement in Music Grammy Award in 2008. She was also inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2010, she also received the first Legend Award ever presented by the Society of Singers. In 2015, the Academy Awards offered honorary Oscars many times, but Day declined as she wanted no further part with the film industry.

Doris Day enjoyed an entertainment career that spanned almost five decades. From her big band start in 1939 until the day of her death on May 13, 2019, at the age of ninety-seven, Doris Day had over 650 recordings as a solo artist with Columbia Records, all within a twenty-year time span between 1947 and 1967. She remains one of the best-known and accomplished singers of the twentieth century. Although gone, she is by no means forgotten. To this day, her legacy lives on through her music and television accomplishments, as well as her Doris Day Animal Foundation.

Top 10 Doris Day Songs

#10 – My Buddy

At the age of eighty-nine years old, Doris day released her twenty-ninth and final album, My Heart, in the UK on September 5, 2011. It was the first time in nearly two decades since the 1994 release of the previous album, The Love Album, which was actually recorded in 1967. This was a compilation album that featured previously unreleased recordings produced by her son, Terry Melcher, before his death in 2004.

The tracks include a number of songs that were covered by Joe Cocker and the Beach Boys. However, the jazzy “My Buddy” was a song Doris Day originally sang in the 1951 film, I’ll See You in My Dreams. Released as a disc in the US, it reached the Amazon website’s bestseller list and helped raise funds for the Doris Day Animal League. This album put Doris Day’s name in the record books as the oldest artist to score into the UK Top 10 album chart that featured new material.

 

#9 – My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time (featuring Les Brown)

Together, Doris Day and the Les Brown Orchestra recorded “My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time” on March 2, 1945, and was released less than two weeks later by Columbia Records. On what is now known as the US Billboard Hot 100, the mix of this orchestral jazz song became a number one hit and remained on the charts for a total of twelve weeks. Although this song was recorded after the previous hit, “Sentimental Journey,” was already released, it actually hit the music charts sooner. This cheerful, jazzy number had inspired a number of artists to cover it as well, but “My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time,” as performed originally by the Day/Brown combo remains the biggest and most beloved version of all time.

 

#8 – Day by Day (featuring Les Brown)

“Day by Day” was the beautiful ballad that saw Doris Kappelhoff officially adopt the stage name, Doris Day. She, along with Les Brown & His Orchestra, saw their cover to Frank Sinatra’s original 1945 performance, chart as high as number fifteen on what is now referred to as the US Billboard Hot 100. “Day by Day” has been covered many times over by many different artists, but fans who have followed the career of Doris Day as a fan, will fondly remember this song officially launching what was more than just a new name for Doris, but a new life that certainly saw more people fall for her and her music, day by day.

Despite the ups and downs, the legendary status of Doris Day is as timeless as is the song itself. If there was ever a song that best describes the heart of Doris Day as she first started to make a name for herself as a celebrity, “Day by Day” would be it.

 

#7 – Everybody Loves a Lover

“Everybody Loves a Lover’ was a hit single in 1958 for Doris Day. The composer, Robert Allen, was known for his collaborations with other musical partners, as was Richard Adler. This song was written by Adler after the 1955 death of whom he used to compose music with, Jerry Ross. Doris day, who knew Richard Adler as a fellow entertainer, approached him in hopes to find a new novelty song to record. The result was “Everybody Loves a Lover,” which Day recorded with Columbia Records.

Before the song was actually recorded, there was a dispute between Day’s husband at the time, Marty Melcher, and the composer, Robert Allen. When the song was finally recorded and released, it first reached the US Billboard Magazine charts in the summer of 1958. As far as its chart performance goes, “Everybody Loves a Lover” peaked as high as number six on the now referred to US Billboard Hot 100 and the US Cash Box. It also peaked at number twenty-five on the UK Singles Chart. This was Doris Day’s final big hit in the US, but a memorable one for her playful melodics that has become one of her trademark sounds. BBC’s soundtrack to the period drama series, Call the Midwife, featured “Everybody Loves a Lover” as one of its chosen songs.

 

#6 – A Guy Is a Guy

“A Guy Is a Guy” was first published in 1952 by Oscar Brand, which was popularized by Doris Day after it was recorded on February 7, 1952. Reportedly, the origins of this song date back to 1719, but as I Went to the Alehouse (A Knave Is a Knave). “A Guy Is a Guy” is, apparently, a cleaned-up version of this song that Day managed to turn into a number one hit on the US Cash Box, as well as in Australia. On the US Billboard Best-Selling Records chart, the song charted as high as number four. In 1951, this song was recorded by Ella Fitzgerald. Although Fitzgerald’s jazzy number was a favorite, it was Day’s more playful style that made “A Guy Is a Guy” a global favorite.

 

#5 – If I Give My Heart to You

“If I Give My Heart to You” saw the best-recorded versions of this song released by Doris Day and by Denise Lor in 1954. For both ladies, they earned chart success, but it was Day’s version that hit the charts first. It peaked at high as number two on the US Cash Box, at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100, and at number four on the UK Singles Chart. At the time of 1954, Day’s “I’ll Give My Heart to You” peaked at number four on the Disk Jockey chart and the Best Seller chart. Lor’s version became Billboard Magazine’s Best Seller on August 25, 1954, and remained on the chart, peaking as high as number thirteen. Since then, “I’ll Give My Heart to You” has been covered by a number of artists throughout the years, but none reached the level of success like Day’s, nor Lor’s.

 

#4 – Love Somebody (featuring Buddy Clark)

Ever since Doris Day and Buddy Clark recorded “Love Somebody” on November 21, 1947, it has become a pop standard in the music industry today. After its release, it topped the US Billboard Top 100 Pop Chart in 1948 and stayed there for five consecutive weeks. This made it become a gold-certified seller by the Recording Industry Association of America. On the Billboard Magazine Best Seller Chart on May 28, 1948, “Love Somebody” peaked as high as number six and remained on that chart for nearly half a year. This playful duet between the two artists was among the best-loved songs with its soft, jazzy performance as Clark’s attempt to have Day fess up who it is she loved, perhaps hoping that secret love of hers happens to be him.

 

#3 – Sentimental Journey (featuring Les Brown)

In 1945, Doris Day recorded and released her first big recording, “Sentimental Journey.” Originally, Les Brown and His Band of Renown had performed this song but were unable to record it due to a strike that took place from 1942 until 1944. It wasn’t until after the strike ended that vocalist Doris Day recorded the song for Columbia Records on November 20, 1944.

It became the first number one hit for Doris Day, which occurred in 1945 on what is now known as the US Billboard Hot 100. The release of the song coincided with the end of World War II in Europe and has since become the unofficial homecoming theme for many war veterans. Since its release, “Sentimental Journey” has been covered many times over by many different artists throughout the years. It has also become a standard among jazz artists, and one of Doris Day’s signature hits.

 

#2 – Secret Love

For Doris Day, “Secret Love” had proved to be the most successful hit in her career as a vocalist. Not only did this single reach number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the US Cash Box but also on the UK Singles Chart. On an international level, it is among her best-recognized hits and one of her signature songs. Originally, “Secret Love” was composed for the 1953 musical, Calamity Jane and it was introduced by Doris Day as she played the movie’s title role.

For Doris Day, when she first heard “Secret Love” as a song, she was so moved by it that she admitted she felt thoroughly caught up in it. When Day recorded “Secret Love” on August 5, 1953, Day had performed a series of vocal exercises in her home before arriving at the studio. Originally, it was suggested by the producers she does a practice run first with the orchestra, but as it turned out the first recording was good enough. For the 1954 Academy Awards ceremony, she was asked to perform “Secret Love” before the audience, but she declined. As a result, Ann Blyth performed the song in her place at the ceremony. “Secret Love” is yet another one of the all-time greatest songs performed by Doris Day that sees a number of artists cover their own versions of it over the years.

 

#1 – Que Sera, Sera

With so many great all-time classic songs coming from the brilliant vocals of Doris Day, choosing that one signature song that identifies her the best is no easy task. However, “Que Sera, Sera” is definitely that one song that identifies Doris Day best. This 1955 song was first introduced in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 film, The Man Who Knew Too Much. The song was sung on cue to the scene of the onscreen kidnapped son, which saw the three iconic verses progress through the life of the narrator from childhood, then as a young adult, and later as a parent.

For Doris Day, “Que Sera, Sera” became a number two hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and a number one hit on the UK Singles Chart. It also won the 1956 Academy Award for Best Original Song. “Que Sera, Sera.” as a free-spirited, cheery quote, has been used in the English language as far back as the sixteenth century. Many believe the quote is of Spanish origin, but it was actually a word-for-word mistranslation that had since become a standard quote for “What will be will be.” “Que Sera, Sera” is not simply a song that has become a cult favorite among a multitude of nations. It has also since become just as iconic as Doris Day herself.

Top 10 Doris Day Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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