It’s a Saturday night in 19th century Bohemia, and you’re going to take your gal out to the fest hall for a night of dancing, drinking, music and revelry.
Well, we know you won’t be line dancing, or square dancing, break dancing or doing the disco. Instead, you’ll be into the latest rage: polka dancing, right in the land when and where the polka originated.
The Czech Republic is the home of the polka, but the dance has remained popular to this day throughout Europe, Latin America, and the United States. This list of polka performers is long, from Polka King Frankie Yankovic to Jimmy Sturr, Myron Floren and Lawrence Welk to Polish crooner Bobby Vinton.
There’s no consensus on what the word actually means, and there are several variations of polka dancing. But of course, to dance the polka, one has to have polka music. There’s no shortage of polka artists and polka songs out there, so grab your accordion, and sing along with our favorites, the Top Ten Best Polka Songs of All Time:
List of Top 10 Best Polka Songs of All Time until in 2017
10. HAPPY HOUR – Myron Floren
The Happy Norwegian was the faithful sidekick to television’s favorite bandleader, Lawrence Welk, for many years. Welk, himself an accomplished accordion player, hired Floren to be in his band, but Floren was also the leader of his own band, the Myron Floren Orchestra, and many regard him as one of the world’s greatest accordion players. Happy Hour is our favorite of 22 tracks from Floren’s 22 Of The Greatest Polkas cd.
9. LIECHTENSTEINER POLKA – Champagne Music Makers
If you attend any Oktoberfest celebration or enter any Fest Hall where beer is being served, sooner or later you’re going to hear this polka classic. Liechtenstein is a European country, but you’re likely to hear this polka hit anywhere there’s a band with an accordion. Of all the versions performed, we like this classic by the Champagne Music Makers.
8. THE CHICKEN DANCE – Craig Duncan Orchestra
If you’re alive, you’ve heard this classic polka song. You’ve heard it at wedding receptions, parties, and baseball games. You’ve heard it….and you’ve seen it! (You’re flapping your arms right now just thinking about it, aren’t you?) Craig Duncan is a multi-talented Nashville fiddler who has appeared on over 90 albums, yet managed to make two albums of Polka music, one which has this well known happy tune on it.
7. THERE IS NO BEER – L’il Wally
In Heaven there is no beer / That’s why we drink it here. Chicago-born Walter “L’il Wally” Jagiello was a self-taught musician who began the band The Happy Harmony Boys, started his own record label, appeared many times on the Lawrence Welk Show, and performed for Pope John Paul II in 1984. Of L’il Wally’s 17 gold and four platinum albums, our favorite song tells us why we drink our beer here: because in heaven there is none, and when we are gone from here / our friends will be drinking all our beer!
6. TICK TOCK POLKA – Bobby Vinton
Did you know Bobby V. could Polka? Since the early 1960’s, the Polish crooner has belted out hits such as Roses Are Red, Blue Velvet and Take Good Care Of My Baby. But along the way, Vinton managed to record some of our favorite Polka classics, such as Beer Barrel Polka, Hoop-Dee-Doo, Pennsylvania Polka, and our favorite Polka hit by Bobby, Tick Tock Polka on his 1981 Polka album.
5. CLARINET POLKA – Jimmy Sturr Orchestra
The popular hit’s author is in question. Written either by Austrian composer A. Hupfat or Polish composer Karol Namysłowski, Clarinet Polka has been performed by many acts, but we like the version by the wonderfully talented Jimmy Sturr Orchestra. In the world of Polka, Jimmy Sturr is somewhat of a phenomenon. Of the 24 Grammy awards given for the genre, Sturr has won 18 of them, more than any act in Polka. Clarinet Polka is an irresistible sample which practically demands you get up and start dancing! This is one of the Top 10 Best Polka Songs of All Time till 2017.
4. OLD LADY POLKA – Six Fat Dutchmen
In 1932, trombone player Harold Loeffelmacher started the Six Fat Dutchmen polka band. Loeffelmacher, a talented musician who could play many instruments, recorded over 800 polka tunes over the next year and a half and traveled extensively with his band across the midwest. He was also featured many times on the Lawrence Welk television show. Old Lady Polka was recorded by the Six Fat Dutchmen for RCA Records, and Loeffelmacher was inducted into the International Polka Association’s Hall of Fame in 1975
3. MOUNTAINEER POLKA – Happy Louie
From His Happy Polkas album, Mountaineer Polka is a cheerful, upbeat introduction for any newcomer to Polka music. Happy Louie, accordion player and leader of the Happy Louie and Julcia’s Polka Band. Mountaineer Polka will get any party started. Grab your stein full of beer and a lovely lass to dance with, and you’re on your way!
2. PENNSYLVANIA POLKA – Frankie Yankovic
No list of Polka favorites would be complete without Frankie Yankovic, otherwise known as The Polka King. Yankovic was a prolific artist, with over 200 recordings in his career. He was the first recipient of the initial Grammy award given in the Best Polka Recording category. From his album Chicken Dance!: The Original Party Music Classic by Polka King Frankie Yankovic, we love this great Polka tune, Pennsylvania Polka.
1. BEER BARREL POLKA – Walter Ostanek And His Band
Perhaps Bobby Vinton had the most commercial success with what is arguably the world’s best known Polka favorite, which has been recorded by other artists from Liberace to Polka King Frankie Yankovic. But we are fond of the version performed by Walter Ostanek And His Band. Ostanek, otherwise known as the Canadian Polka King, is a three-time Grammy award winner, and has recorded over 50 albums. If you have time to listen but to one Polka song, this has to be the one, and no one does it better than the Canadian Polka King!
So, these above are the Top 10 Best Polka Songs of All Time until 2017. Polka music is all about fun. It’s about being festive, drinking decorative steins of beer, and dancing while being serenaded by a bandful of clarinet and accordion players. If the blues gets you down, polka picks you right back up!