Songs To Learn and Sing: The First 700

by George_East on June 18, 2013

jukeboxJackie South had the honours this time – the 700th song fell in the middle of our gay themed week to celebrate the landmark passage through the House of Commons of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, with his posting of the iconic Lola by The Kinks.   We’ve since moved on to 708 songs at the time of writing, but this is the review of the first 700.

Previous reviews can be found here for the first 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 and 600 songs.

By the Decade

At the time of the 600 song review the 1970s had for the very first time since Songs To Learn and Sing started back in November 2010 overtaken the 1980s as the most popular decade.  The 100 songs from #601700 have seen it establish a comfortable lead, fitting for, in my view, music’s greatest decade.  The 1970s had 142 songs in the first 700 (an increase of 23 songs since #600).    The 1980s now languishes well behind (though still easily in second place) on 131 songs (+17).

Just about in third place is the 2000s, which has overtaken the 1960s for the first time, with 108 songs (+11).  The 1960s had a relatively poor showing over the course of 600s, adding only 7 songs to its total, bringing it to 106 songs.

The 1990s still has not breached the 100 song barrier, with 97 songs, though this represents an increase of 14 songs and this has resulted in the decade of our 20s narrowing the gap with the 1960s and 2000s.

The current decade is continuing, perhaps unsurprisingly, to increase at a pace, as songs recorded over the last few years make regular appearances, just so we can show how down with the kids we are.  The 2010s now has 73 songs, a whacking increase of 24 songs since #600, making it the fastest growing decade.

Rock n roll’s foundation decade, the 1950s, is stuck at 31, shockingly only adding a paltry 2 songs since #600.  The pre-rock n roll decades have fared even worse, with only 1 song being added from pre: 1950,  the 1941 socialist folk classic, Which Side Are You On?.  The 1920s still has 2 songs, the 1930s, 7 songs and the 1940s is now up to 3 songs.


By the Year

Looking at individual years, there are so far 7 Songs To Learn and Sing Golden Years (years with 20 or more songs):  1967 (28 songs), 1969 (26), 1979 (26), 2011 (25), 2012 (25), 1977 (24) and 1980 (22).   The rest of the top 10 (well 11) is made up of 1978 (19 – since moved on to 20 with Eddie Kaye pleasing, posting of Eruption by Van Halen), 1981 (19), 1994 (17), 2008 (17) and 2009 (17).   The most popular years are around three clusters: the creative outbursts of the late 1960s and the punk/new wave era, and then the last 5 years.  The only exception to this is the key Brit Pop year of 1994.  There are now no years from the 1980s in the top 10 years outside of the punk/new wave era, after a long period when 1988 made a showing.

There are 9 years since 1956 with half a dozen songs or fewer (ie less than 1% each of the total) songs .  These are in order of unpopularity:  1962 (1 song – this, the very least popular year from the beginning has since #700 finally  moved on to 2 songs as a result of the posting of The Tornados’ Telstar),  1957 (3), 1960 (3), 1961 (4), 1958 (5), 2000 (5), 1963 (6), 1973 (6) and 2003 (6).  These are very much focused on the pre-Beatles years.  Those perennial under-achievers, 1976 and 1997 have now moved out of the relegation zone.  The most recent year not to appear at all is 1952.

By Artist

There are now 115 artists with at least 2 songs posted, and 47 with at least 3 songs posted.  An impressive 13 artists have made at least 5 songs:  The Beatles (9), Johnny Cash (7), The Clash (7), David Bowie (7), The Smiths (7), Neil Young (6), The Jam (5), The Rolling Stones (5), Bob Dylan (5), Steve Earle (5), Drive-By Truckers (5), Blur (5) and Billy Bragg (5).

Despite all of these multiple postings, there has still only been a single song from such stand out influential artists as The Beach Boys, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, The Byrds, Bob Marley, Emmylou Harris and Hank Williams.   Now that Nirvana (#2) have finally had a second song posted, with their cover version of David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World, it is Robert Wyatt who has gone the longest on a single song – his version of Shipbuilding having been posted as long ago as #4.   The gorgeousness that are the Fleet Foxes have languished on two songs since #194; The Arctic Monkeys have been on 3 songs since #232: Elvis Presley, extraordinarily, has not had a song posted since his fourth, Hound Dog back at #265.

By Song

We now have four songs that have been posted in two versions. Astronaut  Chris Hadfield’s version of Space Oddity joined the David Bowie original.  The other three are Gloria (Them and Patti Smith), I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor (Arctic Monkeys and Sugababes) and Move On Up (Curtis Mayfield and The Jam).

Theme Weeks

There were three more theme weeks (or at least two more theme weeks and one partial theme week which was still ongoing at #700), bringing the total up to 18 (we have moved on to theme week 19, with instrumental week).  The theme weeks were International Week, a second Covers Week, and Gay Marriage Week.

Missing Artists

Finally it is time for the traditional ten most embarrassing or surprising missing artists.  Mine are:  Son House, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown, Solomon Burke, Love, Fairport Convention, Television, Prince,  Massive Attack and Tom Waits.  Yours?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Killingworth June 19, 2013 at 7:36 am

Music’s greatest decade? The 60s, of course. But then, I’m older than you guys…


Ray_North June 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Still nothing from The Police, Abba, Peter Tosh, CSN (I think) and, of course, Zerny Novorniak.


George_East June 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm

CSN – #428 – Long Time Gone.

Zerny Novorniak – the great lost industrial noise band of the Eastern Bloc. How could we have missed them?


Jackie_South June 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm

My top ten surprising missing artists (for a variety of reasons):

Paul Weller (solo) – I couldn’t quite believe this, so I had to double-check
Jimmy Cliff – ditto
The Mamas and the Papas
Jerry Lee Lewis
Laura Marling
Robert Plant/ Alison Krauss
Kurt Vile (particularly post- Field Day!)
Peter Tosh – not only because Ray mentioned him, but also prompted by the great reggae pre-concert playlist at the Patti Smith gig
Count Five – again, prompted by the Patti gig
Cream (as long as it’s Jack Bruce singing – can’t bear Clapton vocals!)


George_East June 21, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Weller solo is a good spot. Also the Style Council – I know opinions differ on mid/late 80s Weller, but the first Style Council album is a work of absolute genius – Dagenham Trash’s fave ever song in You’re The Best Thing, as I recall.
I suspect if it hadn’t been for the theme weeks Kurt Vile would have appeared by now….


Jackie_South June 22, 2013 at 9:40 am

I hate to be a pedant (OK, not entirely true) but when you say no year in the top ten from the Eighties, surely 1980 and 1981 count?


George_East June 25, 2013 at 10:21 am

I have amended!


George_East June 22, 2013 at 9:43 am

Fair point. What I meant was the 1980s outside of the post punk period (1977-82), which I refer to. Poorly expressed


Leave a Comment

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: