Music Week: 7 Classics To Listen To

“When I was your age, the songs were so much better...” I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase over and over again. And, even if you don’t really agree with this affirmation, I know that you have already been curious to know these tracks which your parents speak so much of. Well, I have some news for you: you have already listened to many of them and - sorry but it’s true - love them… 

Although we can’t say that these old hits are, specifically, better than our current hits (exactly because what we hear nowadays were freely inspired by all the artists that came before in music history), we need to agree that some songs from past decades are simply icons! And, mostly, many of them have lyrics that are still super pertinent in our current society. To celebrate this music week, Her Campus Casper Libero prepared a list of 7 classics that you NEED to listen to and sing out loud with your friends. Check them out below!

  1. 1. “Bohemian Rhapsody” - Queen (1975)

    No matter in what year you were born, it’s almost unanimous that, when talking about classics, it’s the acapella introduction of that song that comes to your head first. Freddie Mercury really composed a musical icon! “Bohemian Rhapsody” was written in 1975 and shocked the critics and the audience at that time, for its originality and irreverence. The song mixes elements of rock with opera and an instrumental that ranges from ballad to heavy metal!

    Once released, the track caused controversy for many reasons: for the sudden changes from one musical style to another, for not having a chorus and, mainly, for being more than 6 minutes long. Critics claimed that such a long song could never succeed in the radio business. Fortunately, Queen proved the opposite to those people: the track became a commercial success, topping the UK Singles Charts for nine weeks and selling over a million copies in less than one year.

  2. 2. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” - Cyndi Lauper (1983)

    A girl power anthem can’t be less than immortal, right? “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was the first single released by the American singer Cyndi Lauper and gained a lot of recognition, reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100 (where it stayed for two weeks). Its colorful, dancing and contagious music video was a huge success in the 80s and even won a Grammy!

    But what many people don’t know is that this track was, actually, composed in 1979 by Robert Hazard and originally written from men's point of view. Four years later, Cyndi modified the lyrics, added an empowered beat and synthesized it as a hymn about the feminine role in society. Even nowadays, this song is considered a classic of the feminist era!

  3. 3. “Stand By Me” - Ben E. King (1961)

    This is one of those songs that the entire world can sing together if it starts to play! “Stand By Me” is a composition by Ben E. King in partnership with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, which was released in 1961. According to King, the single was inspired by a gospel praise song written by Sam Cooke and J. W. Alexander. The track became a worldwide hit and since the debut, it was recorded over and performed 400 times and by many artists - including Sir Elton John!

    But, instead of being a iconic love song, “Stand By Me” has a more profound meaning. The track exploded on the charts in a moment of rising civil rights movements in the USA and, because of its inspiring and powerful lyrics, it was used as a scream for solidarity and struggle for the black community. In 2015, King’s original version was introduced in the National Recording Registry, as “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant”.

  4. 4. “Respect” - Aretha Franklin (1967)

    Another feminist iconic hymn which you need to hear right now! This song was first launched as a single in 1965, by Otis Redding. However, it only became a classic thanks to the interpretation of the R&B diva Aretha Franklin. And while Otis used the lyrics to ask a hypothetical woman to respect him, in her version Aretha reverses roles and calls for more respect for all the female community!

    In 2004, the Rolling Stone magazine elected “Respect” as the fifth best song of all time. Aretha’s version ended up becoming more famous than the original, staying for two weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 list and reaching the Top 10 in many countries, such as Italy, United Kingdom and Canada. Even Otis himself was impressed with Franklin’s performance and, during the Monterey Pop Festival, he claimed that “Respect” was “that song that a girl stole from me”. It is no wonder that this soul diva’s cover became the theme track of women’s struggle around the world… Girl power: check!

  5. 5. “Tutti-Frutti” - Little Richard

    "Womp-bomp-a-loom-op-a-womp-bam-boom". Yes, we know that you read this following the melody of the song… This verse, which became extremely famous in the whole world, is part of "Tutti Frutti", a song composed and recorded by Little Richard in 1955. It was later performed by Elvis Presley and gained even more recognition. 

    With a contagious opening and energetic lyrics, the track is known as "the sound that marked the rise of rock'n'roll". Powerful or not? In 2010, "Tutti Frutti" was included in the archives of Library of Congress, being described as a model of "unique vocalization and irresistible beat which announced a new era in music".

  6. 6. “Strawberry Fields Forever” - The Beatles (1967)

    Did you think you would find “Help”, “Let It Be” or “Yesterday” in this list? Well, you thought it wrong! The time has come to acclaim this wronged classic! “Strawberry Fields Forever” is not usually the most easily remembered song of the band, but you should know that this song has a very interesting story. 

    John Lennon wrote these lyrics inspired by his childhood memories: as a kid, he used to play in the garden of Strawberry Field, an orphanage of Salvation Army, which was closed to his house. Cute and cozy, right? The song reached the eighth position in USA top charts and many critics described it as a key to the definition of psychedelic rock. Let’s agree, this icon deserves to enter our playlists, right?!

  7. 7. “Don’t Stop Believin’” - Journey (1981)

    Can I hear the Gleeks’ anthem up here?! This one made history, especially after becoming the theme song of the American TV series “Glee”, written by Brad Falchuck and Ryan Murphy. The track was originally released in 1981, as the second single from the seventh album of the American rock band Journey. It entered the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Single Charts right after its launch. 

    However, nothing compares to the explosion of success that came in 2009, with Glee’s cover. This version exceeded the number of downloads of the original recording, reaching the range of one million sold copies. Allied with the series’ message of hope and self-belief, “Don’t Stop Believin’” returned to the public mouth and the charts, and became a hymn for all the “losers”.

Did you already know these classics? All of these songs marked history and spanned generations, remaining as timeless hymns with timeless messages. And once more, music proves its magic: old songs are also able to update playlists - and, even, minds!

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The article above was edited by Isabella Gemignani.

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