Signature song

Signature song

A signature song is the one song (or, in some cases, one of a few songs) that a popular and well-established singer or band, is most closely identified with, even if they have had success with a variety of songs. Signature songs are a marketing tool developed by the music industry to promote artists, sell their recordings, and develop a fan base. [Umphlett, Wiley Lee. "The Visual Focus of American Media Culture in the Twentieth Century: The Modern Era, 1893-1945". Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (2004), "p". 157: "This practice soon began equating performers with signature songs as a way to promote and sell recordings and sheet music as well as establish a cult of fans to market these songs to."]


A signature song is a "must" in many artists' repertoire, and one which they may choose to perform at every concert appearance. [Prescott, John. "A Career in Show Business: Variety Entertainer". Institute for Research (2000), "p". 8: "And if there's a phrase ... or you have a signature song ... then your audience will probably be disappointed if you don't repeat yourself."] Marketing programs by recording companies and fan expectations for these signature songs sometimes result in the artist's difficulty to perform other kinds of music. Two well-known examples of this phenomenon are Ricky Nelson's ill treatment by his fans at Madison Square Garden in 1971 (see "Garden Party") and Merle Haggard's public fight with Capitol Records to release his tribute album of Bob Wills dance songs after the success of "Okie from Muskogee" in 1969.

The difference from a one-hit wonder

The term signature song is generally "not" applied to the successful song of a so-called "one-hit wonder" — an artist who is closely identified with one song because they have had no other successful songs.

hared signature songs

Some songs are so iconic and popular that many different singers may share that song as their signature song. A well-known example is "Over the Rainbow" (which is considered by many to be the most popular song of the twentieth century), but which is most identified as Judy Garland's signature song.See each article page for detailed source references.]

Another song that has been identified with more than one singer is "Ol' Man River", which became the signature song of both Paul Robeson and William Warfield.

Artists may have different signature songs in different parts of the world depending on where they are praised; or they have more than one, even in one area of the world. In the cases in which an artist or band has more than one signature song, the songs are often from one particular album that was considered their best work. In some cases, there may be a divergence between the artist's most commercially successful song and the song most commonly associated with that artist by the media, resulting in each song receiving references to being the artist's "signature song."

The song "Goodnight Irene" became the best-known track for two different artists: Leadbelly and The Weavers. [ [ NPR: (Goodnight) Irene ] ]


Official songs or anthems for dignitaries also perform a similar function of fanfare and/or association: being played when a particular person or group makes their entrance. An example of this is the President of the United States with "Hail to the Chief".

Examples of artists and their signature songs

The following are artists with documented signature songs:
*The Proclaimers - "I'm Gonna Be"


See also

*Theme music

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