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In 1975, John Sebastian, former member of the beloved '60s pop group the Lovin’ Spoonful, was asked to write and record the theme song for a brand-new ABC television show with the working title Kotter. As any songwriter would, Sebastian first tried working that title into his song, but somehow the rhymes he came up with for “Kotter”—otter, water, daughter, slaughter—didn’t really lend themselves to a show about a middle-aged schoolteacher returning to his scrappy Brooklyn neighborhood to teach remedial students at his own former high school. So Sebastian took a more thoughtful approach to the task at hand and came up with a song about finding your true calling in a life you thought you’d left behind. That song, “Welcome Back,” not only went on to become a #1 pop single on May 8, 1976, but it also led the show’s producers to change its title to Welcome Back, Kotter.
What Sebastian’s sweet, wistful and playfully nostalgic tune did not do, however, was influence the tone and content of the show. To listen to “Welcome Back,” you’d think that Welcome Back, Kotter was a seriocomic slice-of-life program in the mold of, say, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father—another '70s TV show with a theme song by a great '60s songwriter (Harry Nilsson). Instead, Welcome Back, Kotter was little more than a flimsy platform for catchphrase-spouting caricatures, albeit an insanely successful one. Arnold Horshack’s “Oooh, oooh, oooh,” Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington’s “Hi therrre,” Vinnie Barbarino’s “What? What?” and Gabe Kotter’s “Up your nose with a rubber hose” were the pop-cultural coin-of-the-realm in 1975-76, and though they bore little relation in tone or spirit to the song that topped the charts on this day in 1976, the disconnect did nothing to hinder the popularity of all things Kotter-related. Indeed, if you weren’t wearing an Uncle Sam or King Kong T-shirt in the summer of America’s bicentennial year, you were probably wearing one with a picture of “the Sweathogs” and a colorful phrase like “Off my case, toilet face” on it.
“Welcome Back” was the first and only television theme song that John Sebastian ever wrote, but it was far from the only television theme song of the mid-1970s to become a legitimate pop hit. Only weeks earlier in 1976, the instrumental “Theme From S.W.A.T.” had topped the Billboard Hot 100, and the Mike Post-written theme The Rockford Files had made the top 10 the previous summer.
The original version of this song was titled As the caissons go rolling along. The lyrics are different from those in the present official version. 
The United States Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard had adopted official songs, and the Army was eager to find one of its own. They conducted a contest in 1948 to find an official song, but no entry received much popular support.  In 1952, Secretary of the Army Frank Pace asked the music industry to submit songs and received more than 800 submissions. "The Army's Always There" by Sam Stept won,  and an Army band performed it at President Dwight D. Eisenhower's inaugural parade on January 20, 1953.
However, many thought that the tune was too similar to "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts," so the Army decided to keep much of the melody from the U.S. Field Artillery March but with new lyrics. Harold W. Arberg was a music advisor to the Adjutant General he submitted lyrics which were accepted.  Secretary of the Army Wilber Marion Brucker dedicated the music on Veterans Day, November 11, 1956.  The song is played at the conclusion of the most U.S. Army ceremonies, and all soldiers are expected to stand at attention and sing. When more than one service song is played, they are played in the order specified by Department of Defense directive: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. 
The following lyrics are to "The Army Goes Rolling Along." This is the current official version, dating to 1956. As of May 8, 2013, only the first verse, the chorus, and refrain are sung. 
March along, sing our song, with the Army of the free Count the brave, count the true, who have fought to victory We're the Army and proud of our name We're the Army and proudly proclaim
First to fight for the right, And to build the Nation’s might, And The Army Goes Rolling Along Proud of all we have done, Fighting till the battle’s won, And the Army Goes Rolling Along.
Then it's Hi! Hi! Hey! The Army's on its way. Count off the cadence loud and strong For where e’er we go, You will always know That The Army Goes Rolling Along.
Valley Forge, Custer's ranks, San Juan Hill and Patton's tanks, And the Army went rolling along Minutemen, from the start, Always fighting from the heart, And the Army keeps rolling along. (Refrain)
Men in rags, men who froze, Still that Army met its foes, And the Army went rolling along. Faith in God, then we're right, And we'll fight with all our might, As the Army keeps rolling along. (Refrain)
Suicide Is Painless
The song was written specifically for Ken Prymus, the actor playing Private Seidman, who sang it during the faux-suicide of Walter "Painless Pole" Waldowski (John Schuck) in the film's "Last Supper" scene.   Director Robert Altman had two stipulations about the song for Mandel: it had to be called "Suicide Is Painless" and it had to be the "stupidest song ever written".  Altman attempted to write the lyric himself, but, upon finding it too difficult for his 45-year-old brain to write "stupid enough",  he gave the task to his 14-year-old-son Michael, who wrote the lyric in five minutes.   
Altman later decided that the song worked so well he would use it as the film's main theme despite Mandel's initial objections.  This version was sung by uncredited session singers John Bahler, Tom Bahler, Ron Hicklin, and Ian Freebairn-Smith, and the single was attributed to "The Mash". Robert Altman said that, while he only made $70,000 for having directed the movie, his son had earned more than $1 million for having co-written the song. 
Several instrumental versions of the song were used as the theme for the TV series. It became a number-one hit in the UK Singles Chart in May 1980.  The song was ranked #66 on AFI's 100 Years. 100 Songs.
The theme song from Welcome Back, Kotter is the #1 song in America - May 08, 1976 - HISTORY.comTSgt Joe C.
In 1975, John Sebastian, former member of the beloved 60s pop group the Lovin’ Spoonful, was asked to write and record the theme song for a brand-new ABC television show with the working title Kotter. As any songwriter would, Sebastian first tried working that title into his song, but somehow the rhymes he came up with for “Kotter”—otter, water, daughter, slaughter—didn’t really lend themselves to a show about a middle-aged schoolteacher returning to his scrappy Brooklyn neighborhood to teach remedial students at his own former high school. So Sebastian took a more thoughtful approach to the task at hand and came up with a song about finding your true calling in a life you thought you’d left behind. That song, “Welcome Back,” not only went on to become a #1 pop single on this day in 1976, but it also led the show’s producers to change its title to Welcome Back, Kotter.
What Sebastian’s sweet, wistful and playfully nostalgic tune did not do, however, was influence the tone and content of the show. To listen to “Welcome Back,” you’d think that Welcome Back, Kotter was a seriocomic slice-of-life program in the mold of, say, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father—another 70s TV show with a theme song by a great 60s songwriter (Harry Nilsson). Instead, Welcome Back, Kotter was little more than a flimsy platform for catchphrase-spouting caricatures, albeit an insanely successful one. Arnold Horshack’s “Oooh, oooh, oooh,” Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington’s “Hi therrre,” Vinnie Barbarino’s “What? What?” and Gabe Kotter’s “Up your nose with a rubber hose” were the pop-cultural coin-of-the-realm in 1975-76, and though they bore little relation in tone or spirit to the song that topped the charts on this day in 1976, the disconnect did nothing to hinder the popularity of all things Kotter-related. Indeed, if you weren’t wearing an Uncle Sam or King Kong T-shirt in the summer of America’s bicentennial year, you were probably wearing one with a picture of “the Sweathogs” and a colorful phrase like “Off my case, toilet face” on it.
The 10 Richest Songs Of All Time
If you want to make a ton of money in the music industry, you need to learn how to write a song. Actually it's not enough to write just any song, you need to write a HIT song. Earlier this week we wrote an article about whether or not it's possible to retire off the royalties from one song like Hugh Grant's character in the movie "About A Boy". We concluded that not only was it possible, but if you manage to write a song that has longevity, you can retire with a bloody fortune. In that same article, we listed the 10 "richest" songs of all time. These songs have produced enough money through royalties, endorsements and other streams of income to make the song writers (and their heirs) extremely wealthy. The list was so interesting that we decided it deserved it's own article with more details.
If you're interested in making a lot of money off songwriting, remember these three tricks:
1) Write a Christmas song.
2) Write a timeless love song.
3) Get your song featured in a movie.
And if you really want to hit the jackpot, write a Christmas love song that gets featured in a movie! So without further delay, let's take a look at the 10 richest songs of all time:
The 10 Richest Songs Of All Time:
10. Mel Torme – "The Christmas Song" (1944). Estimated earnings: $19 million.
You probably know this song by its opening line "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire". Ironically, Torme is Jewish and wrote the music and the song in under 45 minutes during a blistering hot Chicago summer. He was just 19 years old. The song has since been covered by hundreds of huge artists including Michael Buble, Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, NSYNC and many more. Despite having written more than 250 songs during his career, "The Christmas Song" was by far Mel's biggest financial success. He often referred to it as "my annuity".
9. Roy Orbison & Bill Dees – "Oh Pretty Woman" (1964). Estimated earnings: $19.75 million
As we mentioned above, one of the best ways to make a ton of money off a song is to get it featured in major Hollywood movie. Better yet, get a major Hollywood movie to name itself after your song. That's obviously what happened for Roy Orbison and Bill Dees' 1964 tune "Oh Pretty Woman". The song was a huge hit in its own right 25 years before the Richard Gere/Julia Roberts feature film, but clearly the movie is responsible for much of the songs lasting popularity today. Right before his death in 2012, Bill Dees told a reporter that he was still earning $100-$200 thousand per year in royalties off "Oh Pretty Woman", nearly 50 years later.
8. Sting – "Every Breath You Take" (1983). Estimated earnings: $20.5 million
Sting's classic song about an unhealthy obsession with a lost love, was one of the biggest hits of 1983 having spent eight weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Billboard ranked "Every Breath You Take" at #25 on their list of the top 100 songs of all time. In 1997, the song received a huge re-boot in popularity when Puff Daddy released his cover tribute to the late rapper Notorious BIG "I'll Be Missing You". Diddy's version would go on to win a Grammy and become one of the best selling singles of all time with more 7 million copies sold worldwide. In 2010, Sting's former business manager claimed that this song is responsible for more than 1/4 of all the singer's lifetime publishing income and today still produces $2000 a day ($730,000 per year) in royalties income for Sting.
Songwriting for "Every Breath You Take" is credited 100% to Sting (AKA Gordon Sumner). When Diddy produced his version, he forgot to ask for permission first which allowed Sting to demand and receive an unheard of 100% of the remix's publishing royalties (the standard would have been 25-50%). Interestingly, the only part of the original Police song that Diddy actually sampled was Andy Summer's guitar riff. Neither Sting's vocals nor Stewart Copeland's drum can be heard anywhere on "I'll Be Missing You". Because Sting is listed as the sole composer, Summers did not receive a dime in royalties from P Diddy and was not even consulted for his blessing. In fact, Summers was not even aware of the song until his son heard it on the radio. In a recent interview, Andy Summers called Puff Daddy's song "the major rip-off of all time". Furthermore, he elaborated: "He actually sampled my guitar, and that's what he based his whole track on. Stewart's not on it. Sting's not on it. I'd be walking round Tower Records, and the fucking thing would be playing over and over. It was very bizarre while it lasted."
7. Haven Gillespie & Fred J Coots – "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" (1934). Estimated earnings: $25 million
The second of three Christmas songs on this list. The day after the song debuted, over 100,000 people ordered copies of the sheet music. 400,000 copies had sold within a few months. The song has been covered by a wide range of artists including Justin Bieber, Bruce Springsteen and Mariah Carey.
6. Ben E King, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller – "Stand By Me" (1961). Estimated earnings: $27 million
Similar to song #9 on this list, "Stand By Me" was a huge hit in its own time then topped the charts again 20 years later when the movie by the same name was released in 1986.
5. Alex North & Hy Zaret – "Unchained Melody" (1955). Estimated earnings: $27.5 million
Originally penned as the theme for a little known 1955 prison movie "Unchained", this song would eventually become one of the most covered songs in recorded history. Since 1955, "Unchained Melody" has been covered by more than 650 different artists. The most famous cover is the 1965 version by The Righteous Brothers which, like many songs on this list, received a major boost in popularity when it was used in the 1990 Demi Moore/Patrick Swayze Oscar winning film "Ghost".
4. John Lennon and Paul McCartney – "Yesterday" (1965). Estimated earnings: $30 million
From the birth of The Beatles, Paul McCartney and John Lennon agreed to share credit for all of their songs 50/50, no matter how little the other person contributed. That meant even though Paul wrote and sang 100% of "Yesterday", it was credited to "Lennon-McCartney". "Yesterday" would go on to be the second most played song in the history of radio and would be covered by over 2200 different musicians. As John's sole heir, Yoko Ono has earned millions in royalties from the song. and despite Paul's repeated pleas, has refused to surrender credit. In 2000, McCartney asked Yoko for permission to could change the credit to "McCartney-Lennon", she refused.
3. Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Phil Specter – "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin" (1964). Estimated earnings: $32 million
Husband and wife songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote this song with legendary producer (and convicted murderer) Phil Specter. Specter insisted, against the couple's wishes, that they add the now famous line "and he is gone, gone, gone, Whoa, whoa, whoa". Similar to the #5 song on this list, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin" became a massive hit after it was covered by The Righteous Brothers. It also received a massive re-boot in popularity as part of the soundtrack to the 1986 Tom Cruise movie "Top Gun". The song would eventually be covered by more than 2200 different artists around the world and become the most played song in radio history.
2. Irving Berlin – "White Christmas" (1940). Estimated earnings: $36 million
No song captures the heart of the holidays like "White Christmas". This is ironic when you consider the fact that it was written by a Jewish immigrant from Russia. Bing Crosby's version is by far the most famous but countless other artists have recorded the song. Crosby's version is one of the best selling pieces of music in history, with over 100 million copies sold worldwide to date.
1.Hill Sisters – "Happy Birthday" (1893). Estimated earnings: $50 million
In 1893, the Hill sisters needed a song for their kindergarten class to sing on birthdays. Fast forward 120 years and "Happy Birthday" is by far the richest and most profitable song of all time. The Ownership of "Happy Birthday" has changed hands a few times in the last 100 years. Music holding company Warner Chappell bought the rights for $15 million in 1990. Today the song brings in $2 million a year in royalties ($5000 per day). It costs $25,000 to use the song in a movie or TV show which explains why you often see actors sing an odd, amalgamated version on screen. This also explains why chain restaurants sing their own custom songs for a guest's birthday. You may not even realize, but it's technically illegal to sing the song in a large group of unrelated people (like an office party) without paying a royalty to the current copyright holder Warner Music Group (which is owned by a private corporate conglomerate called Access Industries). The copyright for "Happy Birthday" expires in 2030 in the United States and 2016 in the European Union, at which point we can all finally sing Happy Birthday without writing a royalty check.
What is the Outlander theme song?
The original song you hear during season 1's opening credits is an adaptation of a classic Scottish folk tune "The Skye Boat Song," created by McCreary.
At the time of the inaugural season's premiere in 2014, McCreary took to his blog to explain how he came up with the song all Outlander fans now know and love. Fittingly, it turns out that "The Skye Boat Song" chronicles Bonnie Prince Charlie's escape at the Battle of Culloden. As we all know, these historical events are exactly what threaten Jamie and Claire's relationship in seasons 1 and 2, so there was definitely a deeper meaning there.
"I&rsquove always adored this piece, and felt its well known lyrical connection to the Jacobite Uprising would make it appropriate for this show. I struggled to connected with the famous lyrics by Sir H. Boulton, however," McCreary wrote.
He went on to explain that singer Raya Yarbrough&mdashthe voice behind the opening credits who also happens to be his wife&mdashsuggested that they change the lyrics to those written by Robert Louis Stevenson. All they had left to do was change the appropriate pronouns, and that is how our favorite television theme song came to be.
I'll Be Seeing You (song)
"I'll Be Seeing You" is a popular song about nostalgia, with music by Sammy Fain and lyrics by Irving Kahal.  Published in 1938, it was inserted into the Broadway musical Right This Way, which closed after fifteen performances.  The title of the 1944 film I'll Be Seeing You was taken from this song at the suggestion of the film's producer, Dore Schary. The song is included in the film's soundtrack.
|"I'll Be Seeing You"|
|Published||1938 by Marlo Music Corporation|
The History Behind Each of America’s National Anthems, Songs, and Marches
When we listen to songs extolling America, these marches, anthems, and tunes about the United States aren’t about expressing some singular ethnic identity or celebrating the grandeur of the monarchy. These songs are about freedom, liberty, and opportunity, about the physical beauty of the country, about the sacrifice our military has made, and the struggle to keep the nation united to ensure that the American experiment endures.
24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of songs about America’s national anthems and other patriotic songs. We reviewed sources such as the Library of Congress website, americanliterature.com, and various lists about songs and lyrics to create our list.
As Americans, we learn many of these songs — like “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” — while in grade school, and these songs continue to stir patriotic fervor each time we hear them.
On our list are some of the great American songwriters and composers of all time, including Irving Berlin, George M. Cohan, John Philip Sousa, and Aaron Copland. But you’ll also find more contemporary artists such as Simon & Garfunkel, Lee Greenwood, and Neil Diamond on our list.
Not all of the composers on this list are flag wavers. Folk singer Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” celebrated the physical virtues of the nation and reminded listeners that America belonged to all of us, not just the wealthy.
If there is one theme these songs have in common, it is their message of hope and the belief that America is a place like no other.
Why Is Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” No. 1?
Of course, Spinal Tap manager Ian Faith was saying this about an album with a none-more-black cover, featuring songs with titles like “Hell Hole.” But as history has shown time and again, if you combine death with a hopeful melody, music fans will flock to it in large numbers. Bring that elegiac tune to movie screens, and it’s a commercial juggernaut. (That Ian—he may not have fussed over the difference between inches and feet, but when it came to selling records, the man was a seer.)
Death and cinema are the key reasons “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth is the No. 1 song on Billboard’s flagship Hot 100 chart. In addition to spending a second week on top here in America (a streak it’s likely to extend), “See” is No. 1 in more than a dozen countries worldwide, mirroring the global blockbuster movie that birthed the song, Furious 7. Billion-dollar-generating movies don’t always spawn world-conquering No. 1 hits. (Does anybody remember “I See You (Theme from Avatar)” by Leona Lewis?) But Khalifa’s and Puth’s maudlin piano-and-rap ballad is not just riding the Furious box-office wave. It’s serving as a take-home souvenir of the movie’s poignant farewell to late actor Paul Walker.
Walker, a co-lead in six of the seven Fast and Furious movies, is given a long sendoff at the close of Furious 7. The Lifetime-channel-worthy sequence between Walker and costar Vin Diesel is captured, virtually in toto, in the “See You Again” music video. One doesn’t typically go to a muscle-car movie for a good cry, but a big reason Furious 7 is not just a blockbuster but the biggest movie in the franchise to date is that ending: Diesel has compared the emotional finale, not without reason, to Titanic, and “See You Again” is its “My Heart Will Go On”—a song directly connected to the film’s heartrending denouement that the public, in turn, decides it must own.
That’s certainly how the song became such a smash here in America—Billboard reports that consumers got out ahead of radio programmers. The song started at the Hot 100’s lowest rung in late March, but immediately after Furious 7 hit U.S. screens in early April, “See” made a huge leap into the Top 10, fueled by digital downloads. After the movie had been in theaters more than a week, those sales virtually tripled—“See” shifted nearly a half-million downloads in a week, the highest total for a song since Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” late last year—and the April 6 premiere of the “See” music video generated an eye-popping 25 million weekly YouTube views. Those two data points alone made the song’s rise to the penthouse a foregone conclusion, even as the song was only starting to generate airplay.
“See You Again” is now dominating multiple Billboard charts. None of the prior Fast and Furious movies generated a hit soundtrack album, but last week the Furious 7 soundtrack topped the Billboard 200 album chart, largely because of “See.” Over on the Hot 100, “See” didn’t just motor into the top slot—it car-jumped from No. 10 to the top. With that out-of-nowhere move, Wiz and Puth became giant-killers: “See” ejected “Uptown Funk!” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars after an epic chart-topping run, one that other hits this winter proved unable to overcome—singles by Hozier, Ed Sheeran, and Maroon 5 all stalled at No. 2.
(Seriously, for those wondering why this is my first “Why Is This Song No. 1?” post since early January, it’s because “Uptown Funk!” wound up sitting in Billboard’s top slot for more than three months. Before “See You Again” came barreling in, there was speculation that “Funk!” might outlast “One Sweet Day,” Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s melisma-rific 1995–96 single that holds the all-time record with 16 weeks at No. 1. Instead, with 14 weeks on top, “Funk!” settles into a seven-way tie for second place in the annals of Hot 100 history. I like “Uptown Funk!” but man—that’s the last time I wish aloud for a song to “blanket every corner of the radio.” Fourteen weeks was a little much, America.)
Given all of the above data points—the movie connection, the box office, the outpouring of emotion over the untimely death of Walker—you might think it doesn’t matter what “See You Again” sounds like. But that sells the song short. What makes “See” a schlock tour de force—not a great or even a very good song, but a showcase of craft—is the savvy way it takes the feeling surrounding a specific pop-culture event and expands it into all-purpose message about loss. With its lyrics about “family,” its unsubtle allusions to an afterlife (“let the light guide your way … I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again”), and the mournful melody from featured performer Puth—an ivory-tinkling, falsetto-singing hybrid of Ben Folds and Adam Levine—“See You Again” fulfills the basic human impulse to turn tragedy and loss into kitsch. It’s the commemorative 9/11 golf ball or black-velvet Elvis painting of 2015 hits.
Hip-hop, in particular, has a decades-long history of mourning the dead, often movingly. As a pour-one-out anthem led by a rapper, “See You Again” has at least two obvious antecedents among prior U.S. chart-toppers, both of them mid-’90s singles: “Tha Crossroads” by Cleveland rap troupe Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and “I’ll Be Missing You” by Sean Combs aka Puff Daddy (as he was known then) with Faith Evans and 112. The former, an eight-week No. 1 in the spring of 1996, commemorated several of the Bones’ fallen street comrades but also NWA rapper Eazy-E, who signed the group to his Ruthless label before dying of AIDS in 1995. The latter, which spent 11 weeks—nearly all of summer 1997—atop the Hot 100, found Puffy riding a sample of the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” to commemorate his mentorship and friendship with the just-deceased Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G.
It’s tempting to connect “See You Again” to these dead-homies chestnuts. What they all have in common is a sweet, almost churchy approach to melody: the Bone Thugs rhyming in “Crossroads” about how they “pray, every day, every day” widow Faith Evans singing mournfully on “Missing,” with a gospel ache, for her former husband the hymn-like piano lines that anchor “See.” But besides the fact that Paul Walker, as a song honoree, makes a strange analog to Eazy-E or Biggie (I’m having a hard time picturing anyone pouring out a 40-oz. for a genre-movie actor), the current hit is also much less hip-hop-centric than its predecessors. “Crossroads” and “Missing” were both unabashedly corny and pop-friendly, but at their core they were about hip-hop’s backstory—its culture, its beefs, its self-destructive impulses. “See You Again” is about death in the abstract, and specifically, it’s about the death of a celebrity. Among mid-to-late ’90s hits (a big period for death on the Hot 100), “See” is much closer to Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997”—Diana, Princess of Wales, remains the ultimate celebrity angel—or the aforementioned 1998 smash “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, the quintessential mourn-you-till-I-join-you pop song.
Another reason “See You Again” feels less tied to the lineage of hip-hop elegies is the cipher-like presence of its nominal lead performer, Wiz Khalifa. Give the man credit: It’s hard in the 2010s for a rapper, any rapper, to top the pop-and-dance-centric Hot 100, and in the last five years Khalifa has done it twice. Wiz first rang the bell with “Black and Yellow,” a celebration of his Pittsburgh hometown that spent a single week at No. 1 in February 2011 thanks to the Steelers reaching Super Bowl XLV. Since then, Khalifa has built a reputation as the go-to stoner rapper and a solid career in hip-hop’s second tier he’s scored a couple more Top 10 hits and, last year, his first No. 1 album, Blacc Hollywood.
Now, with “See You Again,” Wiz is the first rapper to front a Hot 100 chart-topper since Eminem did it with “The Monster” in late 2013 and the first rapper of color to do so since Flo Rida scored a No. 1 with “Whistle” in summer 2012. The latter MC makes for a particularly apt comparison—in much of his oeuvre but especially on “See,” Khalifa more closely resembles radio-rappers like Flo Rida (whom Jody Rosen memorably called “a huge hitmaker with no discernable charisma”) or the pop-centric B.o.B. than, say, Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole. Khalifa’s biggest hits tend to do better on the Hot 100 than on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. And both of his two pop chart-toppers have been propelled by massive cultural X-factors—the Super Bowl with “Black and Yellow,” a smash movie with “See.” He may not want to be called a “stoner rapper” anymore, but Khalifa may have to settle for the title of “event rapper.”
Still from the video for “See You Again”
Khalifa does get a few of the song’s most memorable lines, including the refrain, “How could we not talk about family when family’s all that we got?” and the movie-recalling “… now you gonna be with me for the last ride.” But Charlie Puth’s piano-and-vocal segments are given a more central showcase in the mix—his high-pitched “Oo-oo-OOH-oo-OOH” is arguably the song’s most memorable hook—and serve as the core of the its chart-conquering prowess. Indeed, there’s already a rap-free mix of “See You Again” that focuses on Puth’s segments and excises Khalifa, not unlike the popular radio edit of 2013’s “Holy Grail” that centered on guest singer Justin Timberlake instead of Jay Z. Given recent radio tendencies, don’t be surprised if the all-Puth version of “See” is the one you hear months from now on adult-contemporary stations—more than six years after Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind” was a hit, I’m still hearing the Alicia Keys–only mix in the bread aisle.
This brings up the question of how long a shadow “See You Again” will have after 2015, when the public’s warm fuzzies over Paul Walker fade and the first Walker-less movie—Fast 8, or Ocho Furious, or whatever it’s called—is in theaters. The song may well spend months atop the Hot 100 this year, but that doesn’t guarantee we’ll be hearing this on the radio in 2019.
In and of themselves, death-related blockbuster songs have modest lifespans. “Tha Crossroads” receives scant recurrent radio play, and “I’ll Be Missing You,” despite spending more weeks at No. 1 than “Every Breath You Take,” certainly hasn’t had the latter’s gargantuan footprint. Even Elton’s Diana tribute—reportedly one of the two biggest-selling singles of all time, after “White Christmas”—receives few spins today. On the other hand, we are still living in a “My Heart Will Go On” world within three notes of that opening tin whistle, if you’re not running screaming from the room, you are probably swooning with memories of Jack and Rose.
So what is “See You Again,” legacy-wise—a death song or a movie song? Five years from now, if the sound of Charlie Puth’s falsetto makes you picture two cars diverging, Robert Frost–style, we’ll have to refine Ian Faith’s theory: Death sells … but movie death is immortal.
Down in the valley
Valley so low
Hang your head over
Hear the wind blow
Hear the wind blow, love
Hear the wind blow
Hang your head over
Hear the wind blow
If you don't love me
Love whom you please
But throw your arms round me
Give my heart ease
Give my heart ease, dear
Give my heart ease
Throw your arms round me
Give my heart ease
Down in the valley
Telling our story
Here's what it sings
Here's what it sings, dear
Here's what it sings
Telling our story
Here's what it sings
Roses love sunshine
Violets love dew
Angels in heaven
Know I love you
Know I love you, dear
Know I love you
Angels in heaven know I love you
Build me a castle
Forty feet high
So I can see her
As she goes by
As she goes by, dear
As she goes by
So I can see her
As she goes by
Bird in a cage, love
Bird in a cage
Dying for freedom
Ever a slave
Ever a slave, dear
Ever a slave
Dying for freedom
Ever a slave
Write me a letter
Sent it by mail
And back it in care of
The Birmingham jail
Birmingham jail, love
And back it in care of
The Birmingham jail
1.Glory – Common ft. John Legend
‘Glory’ is a collaborative track by John Legend along with rapper Common from the soundtrack of the 2014 film Selma.The song contains powerful and meaningful lyrics, such as, “Freedom is like religion to us, justice is juxtaposition in us.”
2. Freedom – Various Artists
This 90s classic, featuring top music stars across several genres, including TLC, SWV, En Vogue, Queen Latifah, Patra, Michelle Ndegeocello, Aaliyah, and Vanessa Williams, was a major girl-power moment during the time. It is included on the soundtrack for “Panther” a 1995 Mario Van Peebles film about the controversial political group.
3. Harder Than You Think – Public Enemy
‘Harder Than You Think’ is the first single off of Public Enemy’s 20th anniversary album, which was released in 2007. The song was also selected by NBC to debut on their Super Bowl XLIX commercial. Public Enemy’s ‘Say It Like It Is’ is the backdrop for the Selma trailer. This song is definitely empowering.
4. One Love – Elle Varner
“I know it’s crazy to think of this daily imagine no one needing guns, only once impossible maybe…” These lyrics are the opening words to this song, which revolves around the idea that one day we can change and have a peaceful world.
5. Black Rage – Lauryn Hill
This song was dedicated by the artist to Ferguson, to help promote peace and support those fighting for racial equality in Mississippi. There are sounds of children in the background of the song, and shares the factors she believes that inspires “black rage.”
6. Don’t Shoot – The Game ft. Various Artists
This song is also a tribute to Michael Brown. Purchases on iTunes go directly to the Michael Brown Charity. The heartfelt song brings together all your favorite rappers for an unforgettable hit.
7. We Gotta Pray – Alicia Keys
This song is inspiring for anybody, where the superstar sings, “Sirens everywhere, singing that street song. Violence everywhere, barely holding on…” The song was produced immediately after the grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer involved in the death of Eric Garner. The three-minute long song begs for strength and peaceful protests. At the end of the video, Eric Garner’s face is shown.
8. We Shall Overcome
This song was made as a protest song, and became a staple song during the Civil Rights Movement. The song derived from a previous gospel song by Charles Albert Tindley. ‘We Will Overcome’ was published in 1948. Joan Baez performed the song live at the White House for President Obama.
9. Lift Every Voice and Sing- James Weldon Johnson
Also known as the “Black American National Anthemâ€, the song was first performed as part of a poem in 1900 in a segregated school in Jacksonville, Fla. Principal of the Stanton School, James Johnson, wrote the poem to honor guest speaker Booker T. Washington. The song has been redone by various artists including Ray Charles (his rendition below), Bebe Winans, Maya Angelou and Melba Moore.Â When Rene Marie was asked to perform the national anthem in 2008 at a civic event in Colorado, she caused massive controversy by swapping the words for the lyrics of Lift Every Voice and Sing. The Rev. Joseph Lowery also used lyrics from the song at President Obama’s inauguration ceremony in 2009.
10. Pride (In the Name of Love) – U2
A major hit for international sensations U2, this song become an anthem for peace, freedom and human rights. It was inspired by the civil rights movement and celebrates the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
11. Say it Loud, I’m Black and Proud – James Brown
The lyrics of this song focus on prejudice blacks in America have faced. It was released in two separate singles but both held the No. 1 spot on the R&B singles chart for six weeks. It also peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song quickly became a black power anthem.
12. I’ll Take You There – The Staple Singers
‘I’ll Take You There’ was on the Hot 100 for 15 straight weeks, and eventually reached the number one spot. The song is also looked at as a “call-and-response” type of song. While it was released in 1972, it still remains one of the most recognized and successful songs of the century.
13. When the Revolution Comes- The Last Poets
Released in 1970, right in the heart of the civil rights movement, after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. The song was extremely fitting, and definitely caused a frenzy.
14. Get Up, Stand Up- Bob Marley and Peter Tosh
Marley created this song during his Haitian tour, after seeing the poverty stricken country. The song is symbolic for standing against oppression, and is a international Bob Marley legendary hit.
15. The Times They Are A’ Changin – Bob Dylan
In 1964, Bob Dylan produced the album: The Times They Are A’ Changin, and the first song had the same title. The album consists of songs that address racism, poverty, and plead for social reform and positive change. One of his most famous songs is this one, and Dylan says it was a song with purpose.
Don’t see one of your favorite empowering songs on this list? Let us know a few more in the comment box below or give a shout out to and follow @BlackEnterprise on Twitter or Instagram.)
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on February 1, 2019