The "Songs of the Century" list is part of an education project by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the National Endowment for the Arts, and Scholastic Inc. that aims to "promote a better understanding of America's musical and cultural heritage" in American schools. Hundreds of voters, who included elected officials, people from the music industry and from the media, teachers, and students, were asked in 2001 by the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) to choose the top 365 songs (not necessarily by Americans) of the 20th century with historical significance in mind. RIAA selected the voters, and about 15% (200) of the 1,300 selected voters responded.
The list of the top 25 songs, in the order of votes received. Each song is followed by the name of the artist who made the most notable recording of the song.
B. George, director of the ARChive of Contemporary Music, said pop music genres such as electronic dance music, punk rock, and rap were given short shrift. An informal survey of CBS News producers indicated surprise at some of the choices on the list. NPR's Talk of the Nation highlighted songs that were excluded from the RIAA list but were on a similar list produced by NPR the same year. One song that was highlighted was George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue".
- Whitaker, Dave (March 7, 2001). "Dave's Music Database: The RIAA/NEA's Top 365 Songs of the 20th Century". Davesmusicdatabase.blogspot.com.
- "Best Songs Of The Century?". Cbsnews.com. CBS News. February 11, 2009. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
- "New song list puts 'Rainbow' way up high". CNN. March 7, 2001. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
- "RIAA, NEA Announce Songs of the Century" (Press release). Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). March 2001. Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2013.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
- "Songs of the Century". CNN. March 7, 2001. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
- .Williams, Juan (March 14, 2001). "20th Century's Best Songs". NPR. Talk of the Nation. Retrieved March 9, 2013.