With the upcoming release of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, I’ll be marking the occasion by reviewing all of Elvis Presley’s 18 #1 hits on Billboard including 11 that topped pre-Hot 100 charts and 7 that topped the Hot 100 after its 1958 inception.
Elvis Presley- “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear”
HIT #1: July 8, 1957
STAYED AT #1: 7 weeks
When looking at Elvis’ career, one amazing aspect is that the prevalent cool image of him as a young rebellious hip-swiveling sensation that brought rock and roll to the masses really only lasted for a couple of years. Among rock historians, Elvis going into the Army in 1958 marks the end of the classic Elvis, the one who scared your parents and whose looks and moves aroused young girls. After coming home in 1960, the wild energy exhibited early on was largely gone as manager Col. Tom Parker pushed Elvis more into movies and become more of a toned-down inoffensive entertainer while continuing to rack up hit after hit.
Even before he joined the Army, you can already hear this transition at work in “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear,” the big hit to Elvis’ second movie Loving You which was also the first movie where he received top billing.
With its piano-led instrumental and backing vocals, “Teddy Bear” sounds more like an old show tune or a movie musical number than ‘50s rock and roll. Elvis sings about wanting to love a girl like a teddy bear cause as he puts it, “I don’t wanna to be a tiger/Because tigers play too rough/I don’t wanna be a lion/‘Cause lions ain’t the kind you love enough.” True to the song’s title, Elvis delivers it all in a very cute and cuddly simper that removes any danger in a way that wouldn’t make the parents nervous. For a less than two-minute song, “Teddy Bear” is fine but nothing special and listening to it feels like a clear sign of where Elvis would be going into the ‘60s. It was going to be more stuff like this.
BONUS BEATS: Here’s the bit from a 1990 Full House episode where Jesse, Joey, and Danny sing “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” to Michelle:
And here’s John Stamos, Dave Coulier, and the late Bob Saget reprising the scene on a 2014 episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon where the trio comforts Jimmy on his upcoming move to The Tonight Show:
(Jimmy Fallon’s highest-charting single, the 2014 will.i.am collab “EW!,” peaked at #26.)