Looking Back on the 2023 Greatest Songs By Women Countdown - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

The feedback from this year’s Countdown was phenomenal. And during this last week of 2023, when we look back at the “Best Of” the past year, we thought we’d take one last look at the Countdown.

For eight glorious days in December, we counted down the 885 Greatest Songs by Women. It ran from Tuesday, December 5th, when XPN Morning Show host Kristen Kurtis pressed play on song #885 “Nowhere To Run” by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, to Tuesday, December 21st, when XPN host Dan Reed brought the countdown to an exciting finish with your number one song, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin.

We are still in awe of what a beautiful collective moment it was for our XPN community. The feedback from the countdown was incredible.

It’s Your Countdown

Here are just a few comments from our social media channels:

Angie Maximo Harvey said: “Thanks, WXPN! We’ve been listening to the countdown with our teen daughters, and it’s been such an incredible gift. My favorite comment from our 16-year-old: “Carole King SLAPS!””

Mark Denaro reflected: “This has just been great radio.”

Kathy Anderson recalled: “It’s been such a great pleasure. Thank you so much! Please keep celebrating women artists every single day. They deserve it. You are the best, WXPN”

Hearing this feedback means the world to us. All of our 885 countdowns are about you! Your votes, Your Music. Your Countdown. Thank you for voting. Thank you for listening. Thank you for joining the #XPNCountdown conversation on social media. 

We thought we’d unpack some numbers and fun facts about the countdown as we look to the New Year.

10 Observations About The Countdown

  1. The 90s had the best decade showing, particularly the year 1995. Every year in that decade had significant representation. Kristen Kurtis’ reaction to this news: “I’m not surprised the 90s were the top decade of the countdown. For the genres we play, especially rock music, women didn’t really start getting a significant amount of airplay until then. Then there’s the “timeless” argument — like, have the songs from 2000+ been around long enough to stand the test of time? While some folks say yes, I suspect most others don’t think so. That’s probably why 6 of the top 10 years featured in the countdown were from the 90s.”
  2. There are 315 unique artists with songs in the countdown. Joni Mitchell had the most songs with 30, followed by the Pretenders with 18 songs. Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, Fleetwood Mac, and Lucinda Williams each had 14 songs in the countdown.
  3. No one album in its entirety made it. Two came close: Carole King’s Tapestry (9 out of 12) and Joni Mitchell’s Blue (8 out of 10).
  4. 17 of the same songs were presented by at least two artists. There were three different versions of “Summertime,” written by George Gershwin (music) and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward (lyrics) and originally from the opera Porgy and Bess.
    1) A Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin/Carole King
    2) Because The Night – Patti Smith/10,000 Maniacs
    3) Both Sides Now – Joni Mitchell/Judy Collins
    4) I Say A Little Prayer – Aretha Franklin/Dionne Warwick
    5) Killing Me Softly – Fugees/Roberta Flack
    6) Love Has No Pride – Bonnie Raitt/Linda Ronstadt
    7) Maybe – The Chantels/Janis Joplin
    8) Over The Rainbow – Eva Cassidy/Judy Garland
    9) Passionate Kisses – Lucinda Williams/Mary Chapin Carpenter
    10) Someone To Lay Down Beside Me – Linda Ronstadt/Karla Bonoff
    11) Songbird – Eva Cassidy/Fleetwood Mac
    12) Stoney End – Laura Nyro/Barbara Streisand
    13) Strange Fruit – Nina Simone/Billie Holiday
    14) Summertime – Billie Holiday/Ella Fitzgerald/Janis Joplin
    15) Up On The Roof – Carole King/Laura Nyro
    16) Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – Carole King/The Shirelles
    17) Who Knows Where The Time Goes – Fairport Convention/Judy Collins
  5. There were seven sets of songs with the same song title, but were different songs.
    1) Beautiful – Carole King/Christina Aquilera
    2) Dreams – Fleetwood Mac/Brandi Carlile/The Cranberries
    3) Hold On – Alabama Shakes/Sarah McLachlan/Wilson Phillips
    4) On The Radio – Donna Summer/Regina Spektor
    5) Sweet Dreams – Patsy Cline/Eurythmics
    6) Thankyou/Thank U – Alanis Morissette/Dido
    7) We Belong Together – Mariah Carey/Rickie Lee Jones
  6. Double Shots? We had those, also. Eleven times during the countdown, two songs from the same artist were played back-to-back. (Thank you Drew Sudell for the stats)1) Joni Mitchell: Blue Motel Room, Hissing Of Summer Lawns
    2) The Supremes: Someday We’ll Be Together, Where Did Our Love Go?
    3) Linda Ronstadt: Heart Like A Wheel, Lose Again
    4) Alanis Morissette: Uninvited, Thank U
    5) Lucinda Williams: Right In Time, Joy
    6) Nina Simone: I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, Strange Fruit
    7) The Pretenders: Message Of Love, I’ll Stand by You
    8) Joni Mitchell: Free Man In Paris, Urge For Going
    9) Joni Mitchell: The Circle Game, Blue
    10) Fleetwood Mac: Rhiannon, Dreams
    11) Carole King: So Far Away, I Feel The Earth Move
  7. Hip-hop, R&B, and Soul were well represented: Shout outs for multiple songs by Beyonce, Dionne Warwick, Donna Summer, Etta James, Janet Jackson, Missy Elliott, Diana Ross, The Supremes, Queen Latifah, Tina Turner, The Pointer Sisters, Roberta Flack, Lizzo, Lauryn Hill, Gladys Knight, and others.
  8. We Got The Jazz: Hello to Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Lena Horne.
  9. Multigenerational Magic: More so than many of our previous countdowns, this year’s list had multiple generations of musicians represented.
  10. Taylor Swift. Right now, there’s no doubt as to T-Swift’s incredible influence on multiple generations of music fans. While Tay-Tay gets the occasional airplay on XPN, it was great to see her showing in the countdown, as she’s an excellent songwriter and there are clearly those of you in our audience who love her music. You voted ten of Taylor’s songs into the countdown, the highest, “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” coming in at song number 39.

The Countdown Stats

WXPN Big Countdown Infographic

Graphics by @MSJONESNYC

Countdown Stat Details

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