National Recording Registry’s new additions: Queen Latifah and Super Mario

Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and John Lennon’s “Imagine” are among the 25 recordings that will be added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.

It’s a year of firsts for the list of recordings picked for preservation. Songs are chosen “based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance in the nation’s recorded sound heritage,” according to the library. The additions, which were announced Wednesday, include Queen Latifah’s “All Hail the Queen” album from 1989, making her the first female rapper to join the ranks.

Likewise, the 1985 “Super Mario Bros.” theme from composer Koji Kondo became the first video game soundtrack to make the collection. The selection is especially timely given that the new “Super Mario Bros. Movie” has been shattering box office records.

“The amount of data that we could use for music and sound effects was extremely small, so I really had to be very innovative and make full use of the musical and programming ingenuity that we had at the time,” Kondo said through an interpreter in an interview with the Library of Congress.

“Having this music preserved alongside so many other classic songs is such a great honor,” he added. “It’s actually a little bit difficult to believe.”

The latest inductees bring the list of titles on the registry to 625. The library’s entire sound collection includes more than 4 million items. To make the list, recordings must be at least a decade old, and a copy of them must exist.

“The National Recording Registry preserves our history through recorded sound and reflects our nation’s diverse culture,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

For 2023, the library highlighted female artists, including Mariah Carey for her 1994 holiday hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and Jackie DeShannon for her 1965 classic folk song, “What the World Needs Now Is Love.”

“I’m most proud of the arrangements, the background vocal arrangements,” Carey said, according to a release from the Library of Congress. “‘All I Want for Christmas’ is sort of in its own little category, and I’m very thankful for it.”

Other popular tunes for the 2023 list include “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver and “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett.

“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.’”

The sound collection often includes musical recordings and historical broadcasts. This year, the registry included Carl Sagan’s reading from his book “Pale Blue Dot.”

“The national library is proud to help ensure these recordings are preserved for generations to come, and we welcome the public’s input on what songs, speeches, podcasts or recorded sounds we should preserve next,” Hayden said.

Recordings selected for the 2023 National Recording Registry (listed chronologically)

1. “The Very First Mariachi Recordings” — Cuarteto Coculense (1907-1909) (album)

2. “St. Louis Blues” — Handy’s Memphis Blues Band (1922) (single)

3. “Sugar Foot Stomp” — Fletcher Henderson (1925)

4. Dorothy Thompson: Commentary and analysis of the European situation for NBC Radio (1939)

5. “Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around” — The Fairfield Four (1947) (single)

6. “Sherry” ­­— The Four Seasons (1962) (single)

7. “What the World Needs Now Is Love” — Jackie DeShannon (1965) (single)

8. “Wang Dang Doodle” — Koko Taylor (1966) (single)

9. “Ode to Billie Joe” — Bobbie Gentry (1967) (single)

10. “Déjà Vu” — Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (1970) (album)

11. “Imagine” — John Lennon (1971) (single)

12. “Stairway to Heaven” — Led Zeppelin (1971) (single)

13. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” — John Denver (1971) (single)

14. “Margaritaville”— Jimmy Buffett (1977) (single)

15. “Flashdance…What a Feeling” — Irene Cara (1983) (single)

16. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” — Eurythmics (1983) (single)

17. “Synchronicity” — The Police (1983) (album)

18. “Like a Virgin” — Madonna (1984) (album)

19. “Black Codes (From the Underground)” — Wynton Marsalis (1985) (album)

20. “Super Mario Bros.” theme — Koji Kondo, composer (1985)

21. “All Hail the Queen” — Queen Latifah (1989) (album)

22. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” — Mariah Carey (1994) (single)

23. “Pale Blue Dot” — Carl Sagan (1994)

24. “Gasolina” — Daddy Yankee (2004) (single)

25. Northwest Chamber Orchestra: Concerto for Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra — Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, composer (2012)

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