“Over the Rainbow” tops list of 20th-century songs

Reuters reports that “Over the Rainbow,” a gay anthem first sung by Judy Garland in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, topped a survey of 365 Songs of the Century compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. The list featured a selection of pop, rock, jazz, country, and patriotic favorites, with songs from the 1950s and ’60s elbowing out more recent works. “These are songs a lot of people would recognize if they were white, middle-class, and old,” said Bob George, director of New York’s Archive of Contemporary Music. “It’s a great list for people who go to baseball games.” (The highest-ranking rap song, for instance, is the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” at number 162.) Rounding out the top five are Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” and Don McLean’s “American Pie.” The list was compiled from 200 ballots submitted by musicians, critics, industry professionals, elected officials, and amateur music fans. Both the RIAA and the NEA have developed a music-history education curriculum based on the list, which will be introduced to 10,000 fifth-grade teachers next fall.

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