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Mariah, Madonna & Super Mario: What is the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress?

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” joins the prestigious honor roll of historic songs alongside Queen Latifah, Daddy Yankee, the Super Mario Bros. theme, and more.

The National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress revealed the new songs joining its ranks Wednesday, including “Like a Virgin” by Madonna, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey, and Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina.” Congress Librarian Carla Hayden announced that in all, 25 songs would be included in 2023 due to their historic cultural or aesthetic value.

“The National Recording Registry preserves our history through recorded sound and reflects our nation’s diverse culture,” Hayden said. “The national library is proud to help ensure these recordings are preserved for generations to come. We welcome the public’s input on what songs, speeches, podcasts, or recorded sounds we should preserve next. We received over 1,100 public nominations this year for recordings to add to the registry.”

What Is The National Recording Registry?

In 2002, the National Recording Preservation Board began nominating recordings to the registry. In weighing nominations, which are now additionally contributed by the public, the panel considers aspects like a recording’s sonic richness as such, as well as its enduring importance over the years and potential to remain relevant into the future.

The National Recording Registry is a curated list of both songs and recorded sound viewed as especially significant to society by the Library of Congress. The selected recordings are not those that the national library necessarily considers the “best,” but rather that made a notable impact in some relevant form or fashion.

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How Are Songs and Recordings Selected to the Registry?

The Librarian of Congress supervises the annual selections to the Registry after its experts listen to hundreds of nominated titles, most of which are now publicly submitted. The Library decides among its curators and National Recording Preservation Board members as to which ones make the cut.

The newest selections range from 1908 to 2012, bringing the number of titles in the registry up to 626; the national library’s overall sound collection beyond simply the Registry contains almost four million sounds. This year’s picks include Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” The Police’s “Synchronicity,” The Four Seasons’ “Sherry,” Queen Latifah’s “All Hail the Queen,” Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. theme music by Koji Kondo, and Cuarteto Coculense’s “The Very First Mariachi Recordings” from more than 110 years ago.

This year, the registry also includes radio journalism up to the era of World War ll and the audiobook “Pale Blue Dot” by Carl Sagan, inspired by the 1990 “Pale Blue Dot” photograph of the earth by NASA’s Voyager 1 space probe.

What’s Historic About This Year’s Songs?

Amid the search for the songs and albums that are labeled culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant in the past 10 years some major sounds made the list.

Queen Latifah notably becomes the first female rapper to make the list, adding to a long list of additional accomplishments that includes Grammy, Emmy, and Golden Globe awards as a musician and actor. Mariah Carey‘s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” released in 1994, returns to the Billboard charts every year thanks to enduringly strong streaming, radio play, and digital sales.

On the heels of the release of the game franchise’s animated movie adaptation, The Super Mario Bros. theme similarly made history in becoming the first time a recording from a video game entered the Registry. Right on cue, the The Super Mario Bros. Movie is already breaking records of its own, earning the No. 1 largest global opening for an animated movie all-time.

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