I personally have always found the 'NPR top 100 American Musical Works of the 20th Century'
list to be incredibly off the mark and one of the silliest, most convoluted, and generally most ignorant
attempts to arrive at a 'best of' anything.
It seems to me this list must have been assembled by a very specific group of kitsch-loving, martini-swilling fifties-philes. We are to believe that fully 12 of the top 100 American musical works of the 20th century were showtunes? That 23 of them were from the 50s? That a mere 9 or so could even loosely be considered to be from the genre of rock, and that the lion's share of those are from before 1967? C'mon!
Why must they take great care to include selections by every single one of the figures of bee-bop style jazz, yet include only one selection from the entire genre of rap? And why should it be Rapper's Delight just because it was the first commercially released single, and not something with a little more teeth and effect like The Message or even Straight Outta Compton?
While I laud the fact that Bob Dylan seems to get recognition in the list, the inclusion of Like a Rolling Stone, presumably for the 'Dylan goes electric' milestone, falls resoundingly flat if hardly any of the guitar driven rock it supposedly legitmated is included. Also, while I think they were on the right track in attempting to recognize 'roots' country and folk, the inclusion of soooo many selections from the cheesy 50s through 70s pop version of country and 'rock-a-billy (Crazy, Great Balls of Fire, Peggy Sue, Stand By Your Man etc…) is ridiculous. They might as well go ahead and put My Boyfriend's Back in there if they want to dip that deep into the 60s pop cauldron.
Yes, this list, in my opinion, is an unfortunate and misguided effort.