Okay, then, the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts (lord what a huge- assed name) has decided to name the Songs of the Century. (The link is below, BTW) But there is a few problems with this list.
The first of these problems is the simple fact that we are not told (okay, not told in this article) wexactly what makes a Song of the Century a SOng of the Century. Is it Importance? then why the Hell are “No Scrubs” (TLC) and “Fight For your Right” (Beastie Boys) there? these songs aren’t squat, as most Beasties fansattempt to forget that song existed, and most people are just now remembering what “No Scrubs” sounds like.
Is it popularity? maybe. That fits for most of this, but there are a few songs (like “No Scrubs”) that simply do not have much hope of sticking around like… hmmm (picks almost at random form the list) “Tutti Fruitti” (Little Richard) so again, I am confused.
There is the interesting detail of certain albums being mentioned (not songs, dude. Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” is essentially several movements of one piece, but Oklahoma? I do believe I know none of these songs, nor do I want to.) Anyway, of the 18 albums included on the list, One is country (I think. “Zodica Suite” by Mary Lou Williams?) one rock (Sgt. Pepper’s of course), and 5 are jazz, leaving the other 11 to be from musicals. The only one of which fits, in my mind, is Showboat, since every last song from it has become a jazz standard.
So we are seeing a lopsided tendency towrds older songs. Fair enough. It takes a few years to see the true long- term value of a song after all, many of the songs that we treasure most from the 60’s and whatnot were not hits back then, and many of the hits would be difficult to name now. But then you notice that the 50’s are the main source for these tunes. I
hardly think that the majority of the important musical works in this last century came from 1/10th of the century itself.
So let’s then look at other things… The artist named, for instance. Many of these songs have been covered, so what determines the artist named? Why Roberta Flack for “Killing Me Softly?” She didn’t write it. She wasn’t the first to record it as I understand things, either. SO Why not the Fugees? They’re version seems a bit better to me. WHy “Summertime” by Sidney Bichet? Why not Miles Davis’ version? Why is it here at all, since it’s from Showboat in the first place, and therefore already on the list? And if “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos is the same song Eric Clapton made famous, then why isn’t HIS name there, since nobody’s heard of Derek and the Dominos?
Next we get to the utterly baffling selections. I’m remotely familiar with the fact that a song called “Boogie Woggie Bugle Boy” exists, but why it is HERE? “God Bless America” and Stars and Stripes Forever” have no meaning or importance to anybody who’s not American (okay, it’s an american group that assembled this, but still). I’d say that The Doors ad Led Zepplin have made songs more worthy than “Light my Fire” and “Stairway to Heaven”, same with the aforementioned Beastie Boys. “The Star Spangled Banner”? sorry just noticed this. Isn’t that the natioinal anthem? I thought it was too old to qualify, but then I’m also not american and don’t feel it has any more place here than God Save the Queen. Unless we’re discussing the Sex Pistols who are conspicuous by their absence. “On the Good Ship Lollipop?” Excuse me??? this was merely a cute song to be sung by a cute little girl who was meant to look cute while singing the song. It is a bad song, and not one that anyone has had any great desire to record again. Although I CAN see a house version coming soon. Just as soon as someone reads this. Ahhh… “I Love Rock N Roll” “Achy Breaky Heart” “U Can’t Touch This” I think these songs are on the wrong list. They should be on the Songs We Wish Were Never Written list. How “Ice Ice Baby” didn’t land in this fine company is beyond me. And there are others.
But let’s look at genre shall we? ROck is pretty well represented. Country, too. Hip Hop could be argued as under- represented, but those that are there (aside from Will Smith’s “Men in Black”) actually have an identifiable reason for being there. But what of Heavy Metal? Where’s Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” or “NIB”? Where’s also, is Brian Eno’s “Music for Airports” or Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europe Express” I mean, these two songs ARE ONLY credited with starting entire GENRES in music. No importance there. Certainly not as much as “Bette Davis Eyes” (a song I needed to be reminded even EXISTED. I mean, it’s on no 80’s comps or anything. Tell me again why it’s here?)
I’m pretty sure I can be persuaded to accept 2/3 of this list. Maybe more, but as it’s got 365 songs on it, that still leaves over a hundred songs that have no business being there at all. I wish that, instead of just listing songs, they explained WHY they were included. But oh well. Have a look for yourself. Just try not to laugh at some of it.
For more information go to: http://www.cnn.com/2001/SHOWBIZ/Music/03/07/list.top.365.songs/index.html