Signature song

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A signature song is the one song (or, in some cases, one of a few songs) that a popular and well-established singer or band is most closely identified with or best known for, even if they have had success with a variety of songs. Signature songs can be the result of spontaneous public identification and/or a marketing tool developed by the music industry to promote artists, sell their recordings, and develop a fan base.[1]

Importance[edit]

A signature song is important for many artists. Bands with a signature song often choose to perform it at every concert appearance.[2] Marketing programs by recording companies and fan expectations for these signature songs sometimes result in the artist's having difficulty performing other kinds of music. Two examples of this phenomenon are Ricky Nelson's ill-treatment by his fans at Madison Square Garden in 1971 (see "Garden Party") and Merle Haggard's public fight with Capitol Records to release his tribute album of Bob Wills dance songs after the success of "Okie from Muskogee" in 1969.

One-hit wonder[edit]

The term signature song is generally not applied to the successful song of a one-hit wonder, an artist who is closely identified with one song because they have had no other successful song recordings.

Shared signature songs[edit]

Some songs are so iconic and popular that many different singers may share that song as their signature song. For example, "I Will Always Love You" was originally written and sung by Dolly Parton; it was then in turn sung by Whitney Houston nearly twenty years later and was a mainstay of hers as well. Other examples of songs that have been identified with more than one singer are "Ol' Man River," which became the signature song of Paul Robeson and William Warfield, and "Goodnight Irene," which became the best-known track for Lead Belly and The Weavers.[3]

Anthems[edit]

Official songs or anthems for dignitaries also perform a similar function of fanfare and/or association: being played when a particular person or group makes their entrance. An example of this is the President of the United States with "Hail to the Chief".

Examples[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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