Because of the subjective quality and evolving connotation of the term, which songs are considered standards is nebulous. The term began being applied to musical works as the popularity of rock and roll increased dramatically in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Then, the term was used to describe songs that were not from the rock genre and especially to songs of the AABA form.
Presently, a general character of standards is that they have remained in popular currency for several decades, and that they are performed (or "covered," in the musical vernacular) by several different musicians or bands. Another common (but by no means definitive) use of "standards" is as a synonym for "crossover" - describing a work that "crosses", or is popular in, more than one genres.
The term can be compared to the use of the word "traditional" in folk music literature, though not all standards of folk music are traditional.
Examples of songs described in this wiki as "standards" (regardless of genre) include
- "Big Yellow Taxi"
- "C.C. Rider"
- "Iko Iko"
- "Stagger Lee"
- "The Maid Freed from the Gallows"
- "Feeling Good"
- "Oh No Not My Baby"
- Printed music
- Greatest Rock Standards, published by Hal Leonard ISBN 0-7935-8839-1
- Jazz Standards, published by Hal Leonard ISBN 0-7935-8872-3
- Blues Standards, published by Hal Leonard ISBN 0-634-09260-X
- Latin Standards, published by Hal Leonard ISBN 0-634-06939-X
- Folk Standards, 3 Guitars, arranged by Karl Bruckner. Published by Universal Edition ISBN 3-7024-5953-7
- Country Standards, published by Hal Leonard ISBN 0-634-06906-3
- Pop Standards, published by Hal Leonard ISBN 1-4234-2191-4
- Books on the subject
- Morath, Max. The N.P.R. [i.e. National Public Radio] Curious Listener's Guide to Popular Standards, series Grand Central Press Book[s] and also Perigee Book[s]. First ed. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, cop. 2002. xvi, 235 p. ISBN 0-399-52744-3
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