Roy Orbison Songs Ranked

Roy Kelton Orbison (April 23, 1936 – December 6, 1988) was an American singer, songwriter, and musician known for his impassioned singing style, complex song structures, and dark, emotional ballads. His music was described by critics as operatic, earning him the nicknames “the Caruso of Rock” and “the Big O”. Many of his songs conveyed vulnerability at a time when most male rock-and-roll performers chose to project defiant masculinity. He performed standing still, wearing black clothes to match his dyed black hair and dark sunglasses.
In the 1980s, Orbison experienced a resurgence in popularity following the success of several cover versions of his songs. In 1988, he co-founded the Traveling Wilburys, a rock supergroup with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne. Orbison died of a heart attack in December that year at age 52. One month later, his song “You Got It” (1989) was released as a solo single and became his first hit to reach the U.S. Top 10 in nearly 25 years.
Orbison’s honors include inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1989, and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2014. Rolling Stone placed him at number 37 on their list of the “Greatest Artists of All Time” and number 13 on their list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”. In 2002, Billboard magazine listed him at number 74 in the Top 600 recording artists. Here are all of Roy Orbison’s songs ranked.

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15. Penny Arcade (The Big O, 1970)

“Let’s bring back Roy Orbison. He wrote music for our childhoods and teenage years. This little-known ditty will become your favorite earworm. Especially for you gamers; you know who you are! When I play it, it takes me back to summer nights at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire”

14. Blue Bayou (In Dreams, 1963)

“A must have for the Roy Orbison fan. Best in recording quality, the kind you used to sing along with on the radio while driving around town.”

13. California Blue (Mystery Girl, 1989)

“I have loved Roy Orbison since I was a teenager. So many of his songs went straight to the heart of life and some made you sad and some made you happy depending on what mood you were in.”

12. She’s a Mystery to Me (Mystery Girl, 1989)

“Without watching the movie Aquaman, I regret that I would have known nothing of this song. It’s a very romantic song in it’s own way. The type of instrumentation is different, and the lyrics are sweet. It’s a sweet song that I greatly enjoy.”

See more: Roy Orbison Albums Ranked

11. Lana (Crying, 1962)

“This is one of them songs that everyone heard of at least once in there life. a great song. Sounds great no static in the sound.”

10. Goodnight (The Best of Roy Orbison, 1965)

“The thing I love most about Roy Orbison is that even when he’s singing about happy subjects his voice lends every song an element of melancholy.”

9. It’s Over (More of Roy Orbison’s Greatest Hits , 1964)

“If you ever got dropped by somebody you thought you truly loved, then you can understand the physical and emotional pain Mr. Orbison conveys with that magical voice. The staccato back beat and the rising urgency in his voice bring it all home.”

8. Mean Woman Blues (The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison, 1972)

“”Mean Woman Blues” is exactly what the title says and a good simple blues. Even so, both the title of the song and his delivery of the lyric still have a tinge of sadness about them, reflected in the bittersweet melody too.”

7. Crying (Crying, 1962)

“A beautiful and a painful song by roy orbison, I LOVE YOU EVEN MORE THAN I DID BEFORE’ best line of the song, great lyrics, great melody” crying is the best song of roy orbison” a heart broken song with a beautiful lyrics”

6. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream) (Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream), 1962)

“”Dream Baby” is a nice love song with cool background singers as stilton pointed out. Sweet ‘n’ groovy! “The Actress” is the kind of sound I used to associate with Orbison, a dreamy ballad. This is indeed a very nice single!”

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5. Only the Lonely (Know the Way I Feel) (Lonely and Blue, 1961)

“Only the Lonely” is the transitional song in Roy Orbison’s career: it’s the first song in which he started to experiment with the rock and roll songwriting formula, the first song on which he allowed his falsetto to flourish, the first song to truly fit all the glorious elements of the Nashville sound”

4. Running Scared (Crying, 1962)

“Running Scared is Roy Orbison at his absolute best. This tune keeps building and building and Mr. Orbison keeps the tension climbing and climbing until he reaches the fantastic climax. All the listener can do is sit back, take a deep breath, light a cigarette, and relax.”

3. In Dreams (In Dreams, 1963)

“Roy’s vocals are top notch, and the instrumentation is lush and well produced. I first listened to this with a ton of skepticism but had to quickly admit that these are great versions of his greatest songs.”

2. You Got It (Mystery Girl, 1989)

“Most beautiful and melodic song I’ve ever heard. Orbison is a true legend whos music will live forever. A great, memorable pop song from Orbison; always the modest looking individual, this spelled the end of a great career in pop music.”

1. Oh, Pretty Woman (Oh, Pretty Woman, 1964)

“It’s just so beautifully catchy! I mean, that opening is iconic – The drumbeats, followed by that guitar riff and finally the instantly recognizable lyrics. Orbison’s voice is of course fantastic as usual and sounds really cool. The way he holds those notes is great and that growl is wonderful.”