Top 3 songs from 1959, 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999, 2009

April 14, 2009

It occurred to me to look back at the top selling singles from the past 60 years in increments of 10 years. I’ll bring this to my class and use these songs for analysis and discussion. Questions: why do you think this song was so popular? What is unique about this song? What is the song structure? Is there anything harmonically or melodically unusual or eccentric in this song? Can you dance to it? Could it be Muzak? How are these three songs different than the songs from 10 years ago? [rankings from Billboard and other sources]

Top Songs of 1959

Johnny Horton – “The Battle Of New Orleans
Bobby Darin – “Mack The Knife
Dave Brubeck Quartet – “Take Five

Top Songs of 1969

The Archies – “Sugar, Sugar
The Fifth Dimension – “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In
The Beatles – “Something

Top Songs of 1979

The Knack – “My Sharona
Gloria Gaynor – “I Will Survive
The Clash – “London Calling

Top Songs of 1989

Madonna – “Like A Prayer
The Cure – “Love Song
The B-52′s – “Love Shack

Top Songs of 1999

Cher – “Believe
Backstreet Boys – “I Want It That Way
Eminem – “My Name Is

Top Songs of 2009

Kelly Clarkson “My Life would Suck without You
Black Eyed Peas “Boom Boom Pow
The All American Rejects “Gives You Hell

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

speakingmusic April 30, 2009 at 11:32 am

Very interesting… As a classical composer who is interesting in the “trends” of music, I find your list particularly interesting in the style shifts over the decades.

I think there is something to be said about marketing a song in terms of its popularity, but surely in this list it wouldn’t be in the top 3 if it didn’t have something else going for it.

– something I’m going to have to come back and review again and again.

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