Organizations team up to improve music appreciation
New song list puts 'Rainbow' way up high
(CNN) -- Judy Garland's rendition of "Over the Rainbow" tops a new list of 20th century American songs.
The theme of the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" is ranked first in the "Songs of the Century" project, created by the Recording Industry of America Association (RIAA), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Scholastic Inc. and AOL@School. AOL is the parent company of CNN.com.
The list was put together for young people to "help further an appreciation for the music development process, including songwriting, musicianship, recording, performing, producing, distributing and the development of distribution and cultural values," according to an RIAA press release.
Rounding out the list's top ten: Bing Crosby's "White Christmas"; Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land"; Aretha Franklin's "Respect"; Don McLean's "American Pie"; The Andrews Sisters' "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"; the original Broadway cast album of "West Side Story"; Billy Murray's "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"; The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' "; and Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer."
The list was picked by hundreds of "music lovers across the country" from "all walks of life," including the music industry, according to the release. The voters picked from 1,100 songs provided by the RIAA and the NEA, though write-in spaces were available on the ballots. The organizations asked voters to make historical signficance a major factor in their decisions.
Clearly, rock 'n' roll has a presence on the list, but some popular songs in the genre were shoved back by the crowd of tunes.
The Rolling Stones, for instance, managed only a No. 16 rank with "Satisfaction," a song that is found at or near the top of most rock song lists. The Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was No. 28, the highest ranking for the Fab Four. Both the Stones and the Beatles hail from Great Britain, but their music had an obvious impact on American charts.
Elvis Presley fared worse. The King's highest rank was 68, for the single "Don't Be Cruel"/"Hound Dog."
Hilary Rosen, president and CEO of the RIAA, said the list was created for educational purposes, and they chose to mark a wide swath in American music over the last 100 years.
"American music has touched everyone's lives throughout its short history," Rosen said in the press release. "It's the perfect educational tool.
"Our list represents many different genres throughout all parts of the 20th century. And our hope is that each song will help tell a very different story," Rosen said.
The announcement of the list is part of a wider effort to bring the songs to school-age children and adolescents, using distribution from Scholastic and AOL.
"This project demonstrates that the recording industry takes seriously its role as a caretaker of our nation's cultural heritage," NEA Chairman Bill Ivey said in the statement. "This partnership is an important example of the industry's willingness to make positive contributions to the lives and education of our country's young citizens."
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