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Songs of the Century

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The "Songs of the Century" list is part of an education project by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the National Endowment for the Arts, and Scholastic Inc. that aims to "promote a better understanding of America's musical and cultural heritage" in American schools. Hundreds of voters, who included elected officials, people from the music industry and from the media, teachers, and students, were asked in 2001 by the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) to choose the top 365 songs (not necessarily by Americans) of the 20th century with historical significance in mind. RIAA selected the voters, and about 15% (200) of the 1,300 selected voters responded.[1][2][3]

The list[edit]

The list of the top 25 songs, in the order of votes received. Each song is followed by the name of the artist who made the most notable recording of the song.[4]

Rank Title Artist Year
1 "Over the Rainbow" (Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg) Judy Garland 1939
2 "White Christmas" (Irving Berlin) Bing Crosby 1942
3 "This Land Is Your Land" (Woody Guthrie) Woody Guthrie 1940
4 "Respect" (Otis Redding) Aretha Franklin 1967
5 "American Pie" (Don McLean) Don McLean 1972
6 "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" (Don Raye, Hughie Prince) The Andrews Sisters 1941
7 West Side Story (album) Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim 1957
8 "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (Jack Norworth, Albert Von Tilzer) Billy Murray 1908
9 "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (Phil Spector, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil) The Righteous Brothers 1964
10 "The Entertainer" (Scott Joplin) Scott Joplin 1902
11 "In the Mood" (Wingy Manone, Andy Razaf, Joe Garland) Glenn Miller Orchestra 1940
12 "Rock Around the Clock" (Max C. Freedman, James E. Myers) Bill Haley & His Comets 1954
13 "When the Saints Go Marching In" Louis Armstrong 1938
14 "You Are My Sunshine" Jimmie Davis 1939
15 "Mack the Knife" (Kurt Weill, Bertholt Brecht) Bobby Darin 1959
16 "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) The Rolling Stones 1965
17 "Take the 'A' Train" (Billy Strayhorn, Joya Sherrill) Duke Ellington Orchestra 1941
18 "Blueberry Hill" (Larry Stock, Al Lewis) Fats Domino 1956
19 "God Bless America" (Irving Berlin) Kate Smith 1938
20 "The Stars and Stripes Forever" (John Philip Sousa) Sousa's Band 1897
21 "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong) Marvin Gaye 1968
22 "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" (Redding, Steve Cropper) Otis Redding 1967
23 "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" (George C. Cory Jr., (Douglass Cross) Tony Bennett 1962
24 "Good Vibrations" (Brian Wilson, Mike Love) The Beach Boys 1966
25 "Stand by Me" (Ben E. King, Leiber and Stoller) Ben E. King 1961


  1. ^ "Best Songs Of The Century?". Cbsnews.com. CBS News. February 11, 2009. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  2. ^ "New song list puts 'Rainbow' way up high". CNN. March 7, 2001. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  3. ^ "RIAA, NEA Announce Songs of the Century" (Press release). Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). March 2001. Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2013.{{cite press release}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ "Songs of the Century". CNN. March 7, 2001. Retrieved March 9, 2013.