Madonna’s Like a Virgin, Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina,” and Mariah Carey’s unbeatable holiday classic “All I Want for Christmas Is You” are among the recordings selected for preservation in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry this year.
The 2023 class of recordings includes a mix of pop hits, classic gems, and even a few left-field choices, like Carl Sagan’s audiobook of Pale Blue Dot and Koji Kondo’s original Super Mario Bros. theme song (marking the first time video game music has been added to the National Recording Registry). Recordings added to the National Recording Registry have been deemed “worthy of preservation for all time based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance in the nation’s recorded sound heritage.”
While the majority of the 2023 class is comprised of singles, a few albums were given the honor, such as Like a Virgin, Queen Latifah’s 1989 debut, All Hail the Queen, the Police’s 1983 LP Synchronicity, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s 1970 classic Déjà Vu. The oldest addition to the Registry this year is also an album, The Very First Mariachi Recordings 1908-1909, which boasts recordings by four Mexican musicians from Jalisco made in Mexico City just after the turn-of-the-century (the album was reissued in 1998).
As for the individual songs in this year’s class, there are a few entries that surprisingly haven’t been added already, like John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Imagine” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Two iconic 1983 singles also made the cut, Irene Cara’s “Flashdance… What a Feeling” and the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”
The Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox said of their entry in a statement, “It’s a mantra, almost like a Haiku poem, a coded message, a commentary about the human condition. You can use it as a happy birthday song or a celebratory song… it could be anything. Looking back, I love the way people have identified with it.”
Another supremely fun addition to the registry this year is the song that not only captured a way of life, but launched a whole damn hospitality and merchandise empire: Jimmy Buffett’s 1977 smash, “Margaritaville.”
“You’re lucky enough at some point to put your thumb on the pulse of something that people can connect with,” Buffett said. “It’s an amazing and lucky thing to happen to you, and that happened with ‘Margaritaville.’”
Also included on this year’s list, Bobbie Gentry’s still-chilling ballad, “Ode to Billie Joe,” the Four Seasons’ “Sherry,” Jackie DeShannon’s rendition of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “What the World Needs Now,” and John Denver’s perennial gem, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
Denver’s family said, “Dad has been gone 25 years, and this song continues to be sung at concerts and events around the world, which we’re sure Dad, Bill, and Taffy never imagined when they wrote it so many years ago. Thanks to the Library of Congress for this recognition.”
Ultimately, Kondo’s Super Mario Bros. theme is maybe the most intriguing addition as it helps expand the National Recording Registry’s purview to include video games for the first time. Kondo, who still works for Nintendo, recalled pulling from “all sorts of genres” to match “what was happening on the screen,” as he told the Library of Congress in a recent interview.
“We had jingles to encourage players to try again after getting a ‘game over,’ fanfares to congratulate them for reaching goals, and pieces that sped up when the time remaining grew short.” He added, “Having this music preserved alongside so many other classic songs is such a great honor. It’s actually a little bit difficult to believe.”