Top 10 Recordings in the National Recording Registry's Class of 2023

The National Recording Registry is an esteemed institution established by the United States Library of Congress in 2000, dedicated to the preservation and celebration of culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant audio recordings. Each year, the Registry meticulously selects a diverse range of 25 sound recordings, spanning various genres, including music, spoken word, and broadcast events, which have made a profound impact on American life. These recordings are carefully archived to ensure their longevity and accessibility for future generations, allowing them to gain insights into the rich tapestry of America's sonic history.
The Top Ten
1 The Very First Mariachi Recordings - Cuarteto Coculense Mariachi music, a symbol of Mexican identity, started as a rural music style in Jalisco. The first recordings of this genre were made in 1908 by a group from Cocula, Jalisco, even though they didn't have the iconic trumpet sound we know today. The group's work was rediscovered and reissued in 1998, helping to bring attention to an important part of mariachi history.
2 St. Louis Blues - Handy’s Memphis Blues Band W.C. Handy, often called the "Father of the Blues," played a big role in popularizing the genre across America's racial and cultural lines. With songs like St. Louis Blues, which became a hit and was later covered by many legends, he not only showcased his talent in composition and performance, but also helped educate others about the artistry of blues music through his detailed written analyses.
3 Dorothy Thompson's Commentary and Analysis of the European Situation for NBC Radio Dorothy Thompson was a journalist who spent the '20s and '30s in Europe, interviewing big names like Freud and Hitler. She wrote a column called "On The Record" and became a radio star. In August 1939, when war was about to break out, she did daily broadcasts on NBC, giving a one-of-a-kind take on what was happening during the last days of peace and the start of war in Europe.
4 What the World Needs Now is Love - Jackie DeShannon Burt Bacharach and Hal David's timeless 1965 hit, written during the Vietnam War, has a deeper message than its light tune suggests. Although Dionne Warwick first turned it down, Jackie DeShannon made it her signature hit, winning a Grammy for her performance. The song has since become a classic, covered by famous artists like Barbra Streisand, Sergio Mendes, Barry Manilow, and eventually, even Dionne Warwick.
5 Imagine - John Lennon Imagine by John Lennon, co-written with Yoko Ono, is more than just a pretty tune; it's a call for peace and unity that's become a global anthem in tough times. Played at major events like the Olympics and New Year's Eve in NYC, and covered by big names like Elton John and Lady Gaga, this powerful song has only grown more poignant since Lennon's tragic death in 1980.
6 Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven is more than just a familiar tune; it's a carefully crafted masterpiece by Led Zeppelin. The song starts slow and gradually picks up speed, adding instruments one by one until it turns into a full-on electric hard-rock experience. With Jimmy Page's iconic guitar solo, John Paul Jones' medieval recorder melody, and Robert Plant's unique vocals and lyrics, it's no wonder this song has been loved and interpreted in so many different ways.
7 Super Mario Bros. Theme - Koji Kondo You know that super catchy tune from the 1985 Super Mario Bros. game? Koji Kondo's iconic theme totally blew everyone away with its complexity, especially considering it was made using the five-channel NES sound chip. Not only did it set the stage for tons of chiptune music, but orchestras worldwide still play it today, showing just how much people love it even after all these years.
8 Like a Virgin (Album) - Madonna Madonna's rise to fame started with her self-titled debut album in 1983, but it was her second album, Like a Virgin, that really showed off her unique pop style and iconic image. Working with the legendary Nile Rodgers, she created multiple top hits, selling 21 million copies, and her catchy, controversial, and playful style continues to influence the world of pop music.
9 All Hail the Queen (Album) - Queen Latifah Queen Latifah's 1989 debut album All Hail the Queen showed the world that rap could be female, Afrocentric, and blend genres like reggae, hip-hop, house, and jazz. At just 19, she tackled race, gender, and social issues in her lyrics, and her collabs with other female rappers, like Monie Love, opened up conversations about gender in rap. This album not only built on her earlier success but also helped launch her career in other areas of media.
10 Pale Blue Dot - Carl Sagan Carl Sagan was a genius when it came to astronomy, and he had this amazing way of making us feel connected to the universe. In 1990, he asked NASA to snap a pic of Earth from Voyager 1, and that turned into his book Pale Blue Dot. Hearing Sagan's own voice on the recording really hits you with how huge the universe is and reminds us to be nice to each other and take care of our little blue home.

To be honest, I didn't know that the National Recording Registry wasn't just for music, but that's really cool.

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