Open Access Articles- Top Results for Songs of the Century

Songs of the Century

"Song of the Century" redirects here. For the Green Day song, see 21st Century Breakdown.

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 the media, teachers, and students, were asked in 2001 to choose the top 365 songs (not necessarily by Americans) of the 20th century with historical significance in mind. The voters were selected by RIAA, although only about 15% (200) of the 1,300 selected voters responded.[1][2][3]

The list

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" Judy Garland 1939
2 "White Christmas" Bing Crosby 1942
3 "This Land Is Your Land" Woody Guthrie 1940
4 "Respect" Aretha Franklin 1967
5 "American Pie" Don McLean 1972
6 "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" The Andrews Sisters 1941
7 West Side Story (Album) Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim 1957
8 "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" Billy Murray 1908
9 "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" The Righteous Brothers 1964
10 "The Entertainer" Scott Joplin 1902
11 "In the Mood" Glenn Miller Orchestra 1940
12 "Rock Around the Clock" 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" Bobby Darin 1959
16 "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" The Rolling Stones 1965
17 "Take the "A" Train" Duke Ellington Orchestra 1941
18 "Blueberry Hill" Fats Domino 1956
19 "God Bless America " Kate Smith 1938
20 "The Stars and Stripes Forever" Sousa's Band 1897
21 "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" Marvin Gaye 1968
22 "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" Otis Redding 1967
23 "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" Tony Bennett 1962
24 "Good Vibrations" The Beach Boys 1966
25 "Stand by Me" Ben E. King 1961


B. George, director of the ARChive of Contemporary Music, said pop music genres such as electronic dance music, punk rock, and rap were given short shrift. An informal survey of CBS News producers indicated surprise at some of the choices on the list.[1] NPR's Talk of the Nation highlighted songs that were excluded from the RIAA list but were on a similar list produced by NPR the same year. One song that was highlighted was George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue"[5]

The tin-pan alley song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was never sung by Billy Murray. It was instead Edward Meeker, who recorded the famous song in 1908.


  1. ^ a b "Best Songs Of The Century?". CBS News. 11 February 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "New song list puts 'Rainbow' way up high". CNN. 7 March 2001. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "RIAA, NEA Announce Songs of the Century" (Press release). Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). March 2001. Retrieved 3 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "Songs of the Century". CNN. 7 March 2001. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  5. ^ .{{cite web The song "That's All Right Mama", as sung by Elvis Presley in 1954, is considered by most music critcs as the song which ushered in the wildly-successful era of Rock and Roll music. Its omission from the chart is a gross injustice. | title = 20th Century's Best Songs | url = | accessdate = 9 March 2013 | series = Talk of the Nation | author = Williams, Juan | network = NPR | date = 14 March 2001 }}