Music Monday: Comparing Top 500 Song Countdowns Across the U.S.A. (and the World)

It’s been a tradition where I grew up, in the Philly suburbs, for a local radio station, WMGK, to play a list of the top 500 songs, as voted by listeners, over the Memorial Day weekend.

This year the station replayed the list for the New Year, and I was surprised to hear that Stairway to Heaven was not number one, like it usually has been over the years. This year, however, it was replaced by Who Are You by The Who.

Here are the top 10 songs for 2019 from radio station WMGK, 102.9, in Philadelphia, PA:

10 Comfortably Numb Pink Floyd
9 Free Bird Lynyrd Skynyrd
8 Jungleland Bruce Springsteen
7 A Day In The Life Beatles
6 Hey Jude Beatles
5 Bohemian Rhapsody Queen
4 Hotel California Eagles
3 Sweet Home Alabama Lynyrd Skynyrd
2 Stairway To Heaven Led Zeppelin
1 Who Are You Who

While listening to the countdown, I wondered how different the list was at radio stations across the country, as well as outside the U.S. So I decided to check it out, and here is what I found, from a variety of stations:

Washington, D.C.  Big 100 (Stairway was not even in the top 10 – came in at number 13):

10 Rush – Tom Sawyer
9 Pink Floyd – The Happiest Days Of Our Lives / Another Brick In The Wall
8 Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
7 Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama
6 Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
5 Eagles – Hotel California
4 Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
3 Led Zeppelin – Black Dog
2 AC/DC – You Shook Me All Night Long
1 Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

106.9, The Fox, Hampton Roads, Virginia:

10 Another Brick In The Wall Pink Floyd
9 Sweet Child Of Mine Guns n Roses
8 Sweet Emotion Aerosmith
7 More Than A Feeling Boston
6. Enter Sandman Metallica
5 You Shook Me All Night LongAC/DC
4 Hotel CaliforniaEagles
3 Free Bird Lynyrd Skynyrd
2 Bohemian Rhapsody Queen
1 Stairway To Heaven Led Zeppelin

Rock 95, Barrie, Ontario

10 Blow At High Dough – Tragically Hip
9 (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – Rolling Stones
8 Sweet Child O Mine – Guns N Roses
7 You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
6 Hotel California – Eagles
5 New Orleans Is Sinking – Tragically Hip
4 Enter Sandman – Metallica
3 Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin
2 Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
1 Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

WDVE 102.5, Pittsburgh, PA:

10 Pink Floyd: Another Brick in the Wall
9. The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again
8 Eagles – Hotel California
7 Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven
6 Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil
5 Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
4 Lynyrd Skynyrd – Freebird
3 Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
2 Led Zeppelin – Black Dog
1 Guns N’ Roses – Welcome To The Jungle”8

Frank 107.5, Maine

10 Guns & Roses Sweet Child O’Mine
9 The Eagles Hotel California
8 Aerosmith Sweet Emotion
7 Lynyrd Skynyrd Sweet Home Alabama
6 Journey Don’t Stop Believin’
5 AC/DC You Shook Me All Night Long
4 Queen Bohemian Rhapsody
3 Lynyrd Skynyrd Free Bird
2 Aerosmith Dream On
1 Led Zeppelin fStairway To Heaven

MAGIC, Auckland, New Zealand: This station actually did a 1,000 song countdown:

10 Build Me Up Buttercup, Foundations
9 Ferry Cross the Mersey, Gerry & the Pacemakers
8 Dancing Queen, Abba
7 Your Song, Elton John
6 Oh, Pretty Women, Roy Orbison
5 All You Need is Love, the Beatles
4 Mamma Mia, Abb
3 The Air That I Breathe, Hollies
2 Suspicious Minds, Elvis Presley
1 Hey Jude the Beatles

Here are the songs that received multiple mentions:

Two Mentions:

Hey Jude
Black Dog
Sweet Emotion
Enter Sandman

Three Mentions:

Freebird
Sweet Home Alabama
Another Brick in the Wall

Four Mentions:

You Shook Me All Night Long

Five Mentions:

Sweet Child O’ Mine
Stairway to Heaven

Six Mentions:

Bohemian Rhapsody
Hotel California

So it seems pretty clear that since these last two songs were on every list, except the one from New Zealand, they would be the best songs of all time.

26 thoughts on “Music Monday: Comparing Top 500 Song Countdowns Across the U.S.A. (and the World)

  1. What is wrong with these Kiwis? It is probably not an accident that the top three are storied lyrics that take the listener on a dramatic journey. Nothings captivates like a well-told saga. It brings to mind the epic songs like, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot, “The Day the Music Died” by Don McLean, or “Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image. Classic tales told in lyric and tune.

  2. Not a bad list. Stairway to Heaven and Hotel California would be near the top of any list that I would generate.

  3. I am an aficionado of obscure music, so I’m inclined to pass by super popular songs. I just get tired of hearing them again and again. That being said, the Pittsburgh list would get close for me. All in all, a very interesting post.

    1. I’m sure your list would be quite unique; maybe some popular artists but not their most well-known work. Funny that GNR was two of the top three in Pittsburgh.

    1. I’m sure the movie brought Queen’s music to a whole new set of fans. And thanks for the info about the comments – not sure why that happened, or why it’s working now! 🙂

  4. Fascinating. I have to say there are far better Who number than ‘Who Are You’ – it mystifies me that it’s anywhere ear the top 10. What about ‘Substitute’, ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ and scores of others? 🙂 And how can anyone miss ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’ from the top of their favourite Floyd tracks? Tsk tsk. There’s a fabulous live version of ‘Hotel California’ on YouTube, by the way… Great post!!

  5. Thanks, Mike! I was also surprised by some of the song choices from certain bands when I think there are better ones. For example, I think there are several better Bruce Springsteen songs than Jungleland, Who knows how these surveys are conducted…

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