Judy Garland singing "Over the Rainbow" and Bing Crosby dreaming of a "White Christmas" are among the top songs of their decade in a list of the 365 "Songs of the Century" announced Wednesday by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America.
The list is designed as a way for schools to teach the appreciation of how music is developed, they said in a joint statement. An NEA official said the songs could also open a window on social and economic conditions of the times when they appeared. They are almost all American popular songs.
‘Entertainer’ And West Side Story
The results are split into lists of the favorite songs of each decade. They're not ranked in any particular order, except to note which tune received the most votes in its time period. For the 1930s, it's "Over the Rainbow," quite a contrast from the 1990s topper, Nirvana's angst anthem "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
The full list covers a wide variety of compositions. Among them are "Mack the Knife" from Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera, Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer," the entire score of Leonard Bernstein's musical West Side Story and John Philip Sousa's march "The Stars and Stripes Forever," played by his band.
"American music has touched everyone's lives throughout its short history," said Hilary Rosen, president of the recording group. "It's the perfect educational tool."
Scholastic Inc., a publisher of textbooks, will furnish teaching material to be ready in the autumn for free distribution to teachers.
"This project demonstrates that the recording industry takes seriously its role as a caretaker of our nation's cultural heritage," said NEA Chairman Bill Ivey.