What do ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” the Beastie Boys’ “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)” and John McCormick’s cut of “Star-Spangled Banner” have in common? They’ve been selected as the “Songs of the Century” as part of a fifth-grade music-education project backed by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America.
In an effort to promote a better understanding of America’s musical heritage, the NEA and the RIAA released the list of 365 “Songs of the Century” on Wednesday, including recordings like the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” and Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew.” The list is intended to form the core of a music-based curriculum for fifth-graders. It is also designed to further an appreciation for the music-development process, including songwriting, musicianship, recording, performing, producing, distributing and the development of cultural values, said the NEA and RIAA in their joint press release.
While the list officially runs to 365, there are more songs than that because some of the recordings are entire albums, soundtracks to musicals or two-sided singles. The list also covers more than a century because the oldest recording was made in 1894 and the latest is from 2000. The selections are also particular sound recordings, rather than the songs themselves.