In the early part of the 20th century, the founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, propounded the concept of a "collective unconscious," which is a structure of the psyche which autonomously organizes experiences with an inherent universal synchronicity.
Now, I have no idea what that means… But I'm pretty sure it has to do with songs getting stuck in your head.
You know those songs and tunes that, regardless of age, nationality, location, language, or musical persuasion, everyone knows? From the skyscrapers of New York to the rice paddies of Mayoyao, it's those ditties and melodies that you start to hum and every bum (or peasant) around will know exactly what it is. So when you're trying to learn piano chords, why waste time on obscure, little-known pieces when you can bust out some tunes that get everyone in the room nodding their head in recognition?
Because after all, piano music is an act of creation—creation of coolness. For you. In the eyes of others.
And for that, let us tap into the vast reservoir of the collective unconscious and (re)discover: the Top Ten Songs that Everybody Knows.
10. Celine Dion - My Heart Will Go On
Never let go!
James Cameron's 1997 box office hit left us not only with a timeless movie classic, but also with a song to hauntingly carry through the years. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who isn't familiar with this cultural colossus of a soundtrack. Near, far, wherever you are… chances are you know this song.
And you were there… and you were there… and you were there, too!
Midgets, witches, flying monkeys, and bedazzled shoes—and in color too! The lead song from "The Wizard of Oz" left such a mark on our collective unconscious that even backwater farmers from the remotest plains of Kansas know it! It's the classic story of a girl whose dreams take her far away to a magical land full of… Wait a minute, what am I thinking? You all know it anyway!
Doesn't matter who you are or where you're from, at some point on your life you've rubbed a victory in someone's face with this song (or been on the receiving end.) There's nothing like a triumphant chorus of "We are the champions" to let everyone in the schoolyard, playing field, or office know that you're a winner. And more importantly, that they're losers. Because they lost. And you won. Because you're a winner.
This ragtime hit that so captivated audiences in the early 1900s gained immortality as the delightful melody of the ice cream trucks! Ragtime-era composer Monroe H. Rosenfeld explains the song's popularity on account of its being "a jingling work of a very original character, embracing various strains of a retentive character which set the foot in spontaneous action and leave an indelible imprint on the tympanum."
And now, we arrive at the Disney pieces. Conquering the hearts of people all over the world, few songs are as memorable as those from our animated childhood classics. Among that famed collection is the timeless, priceless, and shirtless Aladdin. This song epitomizes the Disney magic, as it takes us on what may very well have been the best first date ever. A flying carpet ride with a smoking hot princess around the world - what more could a street rat want?
As the single highest-grossing hand-drawn film in history, "The Lion King" truly stood out as a cut above the rest. Breaking new ground and defying all norms, "The Lion King" is remembered for its gripping story, beautiful animation, and one of the most traumatic death scenes to ever scar (no pun intended) the psyche of wide-eyed children everywhere. However, out of the ashes of tragedy blossomed a beautiful love story… and with it, one of the most romantic love songs since time immemorial. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Elton John.
I don't know where or when I first heard this. I'm pretty sure you don't either. But the inescapable fact remains that we all - somehow - know this song. Those opening notes are so firmly planted into our basic conception of "piano", it seems as if our collective unconscious has adopted it as a permanent fixture. As a species, we're born with the ability to feel complex emotions, solve higher-level problems, and to recognize the first notes of Fur Elise.
Ok, so the original is actually a tad bit more complex than the little melody taken for the end of weddings. But that little tune has enjoyed a virtual global monopoly as the "soundtrack of weddings", if you will, at least in the Western world. They even played it in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". And for good reason, too: can you imagine walking down that aisle to the tune of "Who Let the Dogs Out?"
Much more popular than the lesser-known tune, "Tinkerbells."
Doesn't matter if you've never celebrated Christmas, or been on one horse open sleigh, or even seen snow—you know this song. It's funny, because until I posted this, I never knew who it was that actually wrote the tune to "Jingle Bells." I thought it was Jesus.
So there you have it: our Top Ten Songs that Everyone Knows. There are others, to be sure, but these certainly rank amongst the top. Who would've thought that the top four most commonly known songs (so deemed by our panel of industry experts) were classical pieces hundreds of years old? I guess there's a bit of culture in all of us… Or at least in our collective unconscious.
So have a great week, keep practicing, and soon you'll have audiences nodding their heads, tapping their feet, and singing along to these super-famous hits, admiring your savvy hipness the whole way through! We guarantee it!