The Library of Congress has preserved 475 recordings since 2002
NWA's "Straight Outta Compton" album is among this year's selections
The Library of Congress will preserve the recordings of 25 additional artists and personalities in the National Recording Registry, including hip-hop group NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton” album, Judy Garland’s single, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” David Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” album and Barbra Streisand’s 1964 single, “People.”
“The Registry additions each year are always an eclectic mix, which is appropriate given that it should mirror our richly diverse and ever-changing recorded sound heritage,” Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden told CNN Wednesday, following the release of the 2016 list. “These works stand the test of time and reflect the many accomplishments, struggles and values comprising the American puzzle.”
The Library of Congress began the registry in 2002, and since then, 475 titles – single songs or entire albums – were named to the list. While most of the list is made up of music recordings, it also includes notable recordings of popular moments in history.
Here’s a look at the latest 25 titles that will be preserved by the library:
1. “Straight Outta Compton,” (album) N.W.A. (1988)
While hip-hop artists have been recognized by the library in the past, the induction of NWA is particularly notable considering the monumental pushback levied against the group in the late 1980s by activists and politicians who were outraged when the now-legendary rappers broke into the American mainstream.
“NWA helped create a new type of music that reflected the experiences of the artists who produced it, whose voices had been less heard in the world of hip-hop but especially in the broader context of America at that time,” Hayden said. “So it changed the whole genre of hip-hop and people’s perception of it. All of the items on the registry reflect their times in some way, and this is no exception.”
NWA – which was made up of Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Arabian Prince, DJ Yella, Dr. Dre and MC Ren –released its debut album, “Straight Outta Compton” in 1988, sparking outrage from many, most notably the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), whose campaign against the group and rock stars sparked a nationwide debate about the use of profanity.
“Straight Outta Compton” is a bold critique of American society that chronicles the struggles of inner-city life and includes songs like “Straight Outta Compton,” “Gangsta Gangsta” and “F*** the Police,” which shone an early spotlight on police brutality.
Other hip-hop titles recognized by the registry in the past include Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s “The Message,” Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet,” Tupac Shakur’s “Dear Mama,” De La Soul’s “3 Feet High & Rising, Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” and Lauryn Hill for her 1997 album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”
2. “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” David Bowie, (1972)
The concept album from the British pop icon tells the story of fictitious pop star Ziggy Stardust, Bowie’s alter ego. At the time of its release, Rolling Stone called the album his “most thematically ambitious, musically coherent album.” Since then, internet users have posited the idea that Bowie’s album predicted the rise of rapper Kanye West several decades later. Bowie died in 2016 at 69.
3. “Over the Rainbow” (single), Judy Garland (1939)
Garland’s rendition of “Over the Rainbow” in the film adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” stood as the one splash of color in a Kansas setting devoid of Technicolor.
Garland’s career spanned decades in Hollywood, but “Over the Rainbow” is still one of her most famous performances.
4. “People” (single), Barbra Streisand (1964)
Streisand won Album of the Year in 1964 for “The Barbra Streisand Album.” She is one of 17 people to have received an Emmy, an Oscar, a Tony and a Grammy – also known as the EGOT. She joins fellow EGOT winner Mel Brooks in the Recording Registry.
5. “Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975),” Eagles (1976)
Fun fact: It’s just Eagles. Not The Eagles. Not to be confused with the Philadelphia Eagles or the US national emblem.
6. “Hound Dog” (single), Big Mama Thornton (1953)
Move over, Elvis. The King may have made the most famous version of “Hound Dog,” but Big Mama made it cry first.
7. “We Are Family” (single), Sister Sledge (1979)
They really are family. They mean it literally. Sister Sledge is composed of sisters Debbie, Joni and Kim Sledge. At the time of this recording, sister Kathy Sledge was part of the group, too.
8. “Remain in Light,” Talking Heads (1980)
Rolling Stone named the album the fourth best album of the 1980s, even though the album art was incredibly unpopular.
9. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” (single), Harry Richman (1929)
The Ritz. It’s a hotel. It’s a cracker. It’s an iconic song made famous by Harry Richman and made hilarious by Gene Wilder.
10. The 1888 London cylinder recordings of Col. George Gouraud (1888)
These recordings were made the same year Thomas Edison his first wax cylinder recording. Clearly they have longevity on their own, but being recognized for permanent posterity is one more feather in the Colonel’s cap.
11. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (singles), Manhattan Harmony Four (1923); Melba Moore and Friends (1990)
Melba Moore made Broadway history when she became the first African-American woman to perform the role of Fantine in Les Misérables.
12. “I’ll Fly Away” (single), The Chuck Wagon Gang (1948)
Anyone who has seen the film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” might recognize this tune – a recording was featured on the soundtrack.
13. “Wanted: Live in Concert,” Richard Pryor (1978)
Richard Pryor is remembered most for his stand-up comedy, but he also had more than 40 acting credits to his name.
14. “American Pie” (single), Don McLean (1971)
Notice that Madonna’s 2000 cover of this single still has not rooted itself as a piece of Americana.
15. “Amazing Grace” (single), Judy Collins (1970)
This is possibly the second most famous rendition of the song, only more famously sung in recent memory by President Barack Obama.
16. The Brooklyn Dodgers vs. the New York Giants, announced by Vin Scully on September 8, 1957
Scully, who retired from sportscasting in 2016, was so good at his job, legend has it that some fans watching the Los Angeles Dodgers in person would bring radios with them just to hear his take.
17. The first broadcast on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” May 3, 1971
It’s hard to believe that the staple of NPR program hasn’t always been around, but now the Library of Congress will forever enshrine the its first episode.
18. “Saxophone Colossus,” Sonny Rollins (1956)
Legendary jazz musician Rollins, whose full name is Theodore Walter Rollins, was born on September 7, 1930, in New York City and grew up in Harlem. He recorded “Saxophone Colossus” on June 22, 1956.
Obama awarded Rollins the National Medal of Arts on March 2, 2011.
19. “Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs,” Marty Robbins (1959)
Country singer Marty Robbins was born in Glendale, Arizona, in 1925 and rose to become one of the most iconic country and western singers before his death in 1982. “Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs” includes some of his most famous songs like “El Paso,” which won a Grammy Award for best country recording.
20. “The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery,” Wes Montgomery (1960)
John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery is one of the most prominent jazz guitarists in the world. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1923 and died at the young age of 45.
21. “In the Midnight Hour” (single), Wilson Pickett (1965)
R&B artist Pickett made his mark on the genre over more than 50 years in the music industry. Wilson is from Alabama and was 65 years old when he died in 2006.
22. “The Wiz,” original cast album (1975)
“The Wiz” opened on Broadway in October 1974 and famously retold L. Frank Baum’s classic novel, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” from the point of view of modern African-American culture.
The musical won seven Tony awards in 1975, including Best Musical.
23. “Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha,” Gunter Schuller, arranged in 1976
“Treemonisha” is a folk opera written by Joplin, an African-American composer and pianist who was born circa 1867-1868, according to the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation.
“The story is an allegory of how Joplin viewed the problems of the African-American community of his time, proposing the view that racial equality would come with education,” according to the foundation’s website.
24. “Rachmaninoff’s Vespers (All-Night Vigil),” Robert Shaw Festival Singers (1990)
Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff is a Russian composer. The Robert Shaw Festival Singers recorded the composer’s “Vespers (All-Night Vigil)” in 1990.
25. “Signatures,” Renée Fleming (1997)
Fleming is a soprano opera singer, who won a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo. Obama awarded Fleming the National Medal of Arts that year.
“When you think about sharing a baseball game, or reacting to a news broadcast, or listening to a popular song – these are all moments shared by many, many Americans,” Hayden said.
Last year’s list included John Coltrane’s 1964 album, “A Love Supreme,” Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 single, “I Will Survive,” Merle Haggard’s 1968 single, “Mama Tried,” and Metallica’s 1986 album, “Master of Puppets.”