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140 songs and pieces of music every child should recognise

We have compiled a list of 140 songs and pieces of music that we believe children should recognise by the time they leave primary school.  The music ranges from classical to jazz and blues to modern pop and dance music and hopefully everything in between.  The music has been chosen to ensure that children recognise a range of musical styles and genres as well as recognising some of the significant cultural aspects of music.  For example ‘Strange Fruit’ by Billie Holliday may not be the most lovely piece of music but it is highly significant in its cultural references and description of the oppression of Black people in the South of America in the 1960s (not suggested listening for younger children).  Contrast this with Gnarles Berkley ft Ceelo Green and ‘Crazy’ which was the first song to reach number 1 in the charts through downloads alone or with ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the BeeGees which defined the disco era or ‘Skyfall’ by Adele, the first Bond song to win an Oscar.  Placing these songs alongside classical music like Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ or ‘Toccata and Fugue in D Minor’ by J.S. Bach or ‘The dance of the knights’ by Prokofiev (the theme tune to ‘The Apprentice’) which children will probably recognise but not know who wrote them or the time period that they are were written in.


Our aim is that by the end of primary school children have experienced a rich range of music and understand how music has progressed over centuries. In this way we hope that they will build an appreciation of music and a love of an eclectic mix of sounds and melodies.


Clicking on the hyperlinks will take you to YouTube and a version of the song or piece of music.  How many do you think you know?  How many can your child recognise?

Title Artist Date Genre Subgenre Year Group
Symphony number 5 in C Minor Beethoven 1808 Classical Classical 1
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik Mozart 1827 Classical Classical 1
The ride of the Valkyerie Wagner 1914 Classical 20th Century 1
One more time Daft Punk 1998 Dance 1
Le Freak Chic 1978 Disco 1
The toreadore’s song Bizet 1875 Opera 1
Suspicious Minds Elvis Presley 1969 Pop 1
All I want for Christmas is you Mariah Carey 1994 Pop 1
Good Vibrations The Beach Boys 1966 Pop 1
Satisfaction The rolling stones 1965 Rock 1
Good Golly Miss Molly Little Richard 1958 Rock and Roll 1
Hedwig’s theme John Williams 2001 Film/TV 1
God Save the King Henry Carey 1825 Traditional 1
Baby Justin Bieber 2010 Pop 1
I love rock and roll Joan Jett and the Blackhearts 1982 Rock 1
I was made for lovin’ you Kiss 1979 Rock Disco 1
Unchained Melody The righteous brothers 1965 Pop 1
Evergreen Will Young 2002 Pop 1
What a wonderful world Louis Armstrong 1967 Blues 2
Nocturne No. 2 in E Flat Chopin 1830 Classical Romantic 2
The Flower Duet Delibes 1883 Classical Romantic 2
The Blue Danube Johann Strauss 1867 Classical Romantic 2
Swan Lake Tchaikovsky 1877 Classical Romantic 2
Crazy Patsy Cline 1961 Country 2
Stayin’ Alive Bee Gees 1978 Disco 2
Like a rolling stone Bob Dylan 1965 Folk 2
L’amour est un oisseau rebelle Bizet 1875 Opera 2
Your song  Elton John 1970 Pop 2
All Shook Up  Elvis Presley 1957 Pop 2
Chasing Cars Snow Patrol 2006 Pop 2
I will always love you Whitney Houston 1992 Pop 2
Sweet Child of Mine  Guns and Roses 1988 Rock 2
Bohemian Rhapsody  Queen 1975 Rock 2
Respect Aretha Franklin 1967 Soul 2
Star Wars theme John Williams 1977 Film/TV 2
Gangnam Style Psy 2012 Pop Kpop 2
Love is all around Wet Wet Wet 1994 Pop Soundtrack 2
Piano man Billy Joel 1973 Pop 2
In the Hall of the Mountain King Grieg 1875 Classical Romantic 3
Piano sonata No. 11 Mozart 1784 Classical Classical 3
The Hallelujah Chorus Handel 1741 Classical Baroque 3
Air on a G String JS Bach 1871 Classical Romantic 3
9 to 5 Dolly Parton 1980 Country 3
I will Survive Gloria Gaynor 1978 Disco 3
Feeling good Nina Simone 1964 Jazz 3
Nessun Dorma Puccini 1926 Opera 3
Skyfall Adele 2012 Pop 3
Do they know it’s Christmas? Band Aid 1984 Pop 3
Imagine John Lennon 1971 Pop 3
Sweet Caroline  Neil Diamond 1969 Pop 3
Wannabe The spice girls 1996 Pop 3
Single Ladies (put a ring on it) Beyonce 2008 RnB 3
It’s a man’s, man’s, man’s world James Brown 1966 Soul 3
My Way Frank Sinatra 1969 Swing 3
Yesterday The Beatles 1965 Rock 3
Everything I do (I do it for you) Bryan Adams 1998 Pop Soundtrack 3
String quartet No.1 in D Major Tchaikovsky 1871 Classical Romantic 3
Light my Fire The Doors 1967 Rock Psycedelic Rock 3
Revolting Children Tim Minchin 2011 Musical Theatre 3
Mr. Blue Sky Electric Light Orchestra 1977 Rock Progressive rock 3
Wonderwall Oasis 1995 Pop 4
The Marriage of Figaro (overture)  Mozart 1786 Classical Classical 4
The Four Seasons Vivaldi 1725 Classical Baroque 4
Cannon in D  Pachabel Unknown between 1680-1706 Classical Baroque 4
Jolene Dolly Parton 1974 Country 4
Superstition Stevie Wonder 1972 Funk 4
Ain’t got No/I got life Nina Simone 1968 Jazz 4
One Day More Les Miserables 1980 Musical Theatre 4
Heroes  David Bowie 1977 Pop 4
American Pie Don Mclean 1971 Pop 4
Candle in the Wind 1997 Elton John 1997 Pop 4
Running up that hill (deal with God) Kate Bush 1985 Pop 4
Billie Jean Michael Jackson 1983 Pop 4
Purple Rain Prince 1984 Pop 4
Let it Be  The Beatles 1970 Pop 4
Video Killed the radio star The Buggles 1979 Pop 4
Baby on more time Britney Spears 1999 Pop 4
Gansta’s paradise Coolio 1995 Rap 4
Three Little Birds Bob Marley 1980 Reggae 4
A Change is gonna come Sam Cooke 1963 Soul 4
Miserere Gregorio Allegri 1514 Classical Renaissance 4
A million love songs Take That 1992 Pop Boy bands 4
My Generation The Who 1965 Rock 4
Smooth Santana & Rob Thomas 1999 Rock Latin Rock 4
Whiter shade of Pale Procol Harum 1967 Rock 4
Rhapsody in Blue George Gershwin 1924 Classical 20th Century 5
Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini Rhachmaninoff 1934 Classical 20th Century 5
1812 overture Tchaikovsky 1880 Classical Romantic 5
Danse Macbre Saint-Sens 1538 Classical Renaissance 5
Bolero Ravel 1928 Classical 20th Century 5
Folsom Prison Blues Johnny Cash 1955 Country 5
Children  Robert Miles 1995 Dance 5
Blowin’ in the wind Bob Dylan 1962 Folk 5
Bui Doi Miss Saigon 1989 Musical Theatre 5
Starman  David Bowie 1972 Pop 5
Like a Prayer Madonna 1989 Pop 5
Hotel California The Eagles 1976 Rock 5
Back to Black Amy Whinehouse 2007 R&B 5
Redemption Song Bob Marley 1980 Reggae 5
Purple Haze Jimi Hendrix 1967 Rock 5
Amazing Grace John Newton 1779 Traditional 5
Pray Take That 1993 Pop Boy bands 5
Where is the love? The Black-eyed peas 2003 RnB 5
Fortunate son Creedence Clearwater Revival 1969 Rock 5
We found love Rhianna & Calvin Harris 2011 Pop 5
Strange Fruit Billie Holliday 1965 Blues 6
The dance of the Knights (Romeo and Juliet Prokofiev 1935 Classical 20th Century 6
O Fortuna Orff 1935 Classical 20th Century 6
The Gambler Kenny Rogers 1978 Country 6
Sweet Home Alabama Lynyrd Skynyrd 1974 Country 6
Doo Wop (That thing) Lauren Hill 1998 Doo Wop 6
Hallelujah Jeff Buckley 1984 Folk 6
I put a spell on you  Nina Simone 1956 Jazz 6
Guns and Ships  Hamilton 2015 Musical Theatre 6
Sapce Oddity David Bowie 1969 Pop 6
In the Ghetto Elvis Presley 1969 Pop 6
Get Back The Beatles 1969 Pop 6
Lose Yourself Eminem 2002 Rap 6
Rapper’s Delight Sugarhill Gang 1979 Rap 6
Smells like teen spirit Nirvana 1991 Rock 6
Jerusalem William Blake 1916 Traditional 6
Crazy Gnarles Barkley ft. Ceelo Green 2006 Pop 6
Mack the knife Bobby Darrin 1959 Swing 6
As it was Harry Styles 2022 Pop 6
Moonlight Sonata Beethoven 1801 Classical Classical R
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor J.S. Bach 1703 Classical Baroque R
The Dance of the Sugar Plum fairy Tchaikovsky 1882 Classical Romantic R
Flight of the Bumblebee Korsikov 1899 Classical Romantic R
Apprentice Sorcerer (The sorcerer’s apprentice) Dukas 1897 Classical Romantic R
Titanium David Guetta 2011 Dance R
Memory  Cats 1982 Musical Theatre R
Waterloo  ABBA 1974 Pop R
Can’t help falling in love  Elvis Presley 1961 Pop R
I want to hold your hand The Beatles 1963 Pop R
Seven Nation Army The White Stripes 2003 Rock R
Johnny Be Goode Chuck Berry 1958 Rock and Roll R
Let it Go Indina Menzel 2013 Film/TV R
The Bare Necessities Phil Harris 1967 Film/TV R
Three Lions Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds 1996 Pop R
Take on Me A-ha 1985 Pop R


The music is also available as a public playlist on Deezer.