In this “what makes this song great” list, we briefly talk about what makes three iconic songs worthy of receiving critical acclaim, national recognition, and prestigious awards. We’ve chosen to focus on songs that won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year—arguably the most prestigious award an artist can receive for a single track.
According to the description guide from the 54th Grammy Awards held in 2012, the Song of the Year award is presented “to honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position.”
Let’s dive a little deeper and see what made three award-winning tracks stand out in a heavily saturated industry. In no particular order, we present our list of iconic songs and discuss what makes them great!
2014 Winner: "Get Lucky" - Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers
“Get Lucky” is a legendary collaboration nobody saw coming. The track was the hit single from Daft Punk’s 2013 Random Access Memories album, an amazing album that received incredible hype, as the beloved French house duo hadn’t released a studio album since Human After All in 2005.
The track quickly earned its place among Daft Punk’s most iconic songs due to the undeniably smooth, catchy vocal stylings of Pharrell Williams, as well as the slick guitar work of Nile Rodgers, a quintessential music industry legend who fronted Chic.
Besides the elite status of the song’s contributors, the song itself stands on its own as an absolute banger of a track that seamlessly blends Daft Punk’s unique French house touch with disco, pop, and funk. There was a time when you couldn’t go a day without hearing the song, yet somehow it never gets old, even to this day.
2000 Winner: "Smooth" - Santana featuring Rob Thomas
Another unlikely collaboration, nobody expected a track with the frontman of Matchbox 20 and the soulful fusion guitarist who fronted Santana, a band that rose to prominence in the ‘60s and ‘70s, delivering a blend of Latin American jazz with psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll. This song is on our “what makes this song great” list because it’s such an odd duo, yet somehow it worked flawlessly.
One of the most iconic songs of the Y2K era, “Smooth” remains an instantly recognizable song that transcends generations. It’s hard to decide which is catchier—the enchanting guitar licks or Rob’s vocal delivery. Carlos’ fluid guitar tone and his iconic playing are at their best, yet he never steps on the song, weaving through Rob’s vocals in an almost call-and-response blues manner. Today, the song remains a must-have on nostalgic playlists, but it doesn’t feel dated. Great tunes never go out of style.
1999 Winner: "My Heart Will Go On" (Love Theme From Titanic) - Celine Dion
Next up on our “what makes this song great” list is a song that needs no introduction. A year before “Smooth” took the crown, Celine Dion’s track from Titanic was a shoo-in. While some might argue that the song was only successful because of the film, there’s a reason you can’t think of one without thinking of the other. You might love to hate it, but you can’t deny its infectious melody and gripping emotion.
In contrast to most iconic songs, “My Heart Will Go On” was not a passion project by any stretch of the means. While one might expect every song on this list to be a labor of love, the simple truth is sometimes a song is all about the money. In fact, Celine Dion has even said how her goal was just to “sing the song, then get the heck out of there.” She wasn’t the only one—the director of Titanic, James Cameron, reportedly didn’t want to finish his epic film with the pop song. Now, who could imagine it any other way?
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We hope you enjoyed this brief look at some of the songs that have shaped musical history. This “what makes this song great” list is just one example of the type of content we feature on our music blog, so check back regularly for the latest updates. Do you long to become a Grammy-award-winning artist who crafts the future generation of iconic songs? 1500 Sound Academy can help you on your journey. Check out our program and enroll today!
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