Landslide – Fleetwood Mac
Widely considered as one of the standout tracks on Fleetwood Mac’s 1975 self-titled album, Landslide is the song that appears most frequently in people’s own curated Desert Island Discs playlists. The delicate melody and beautifully written and performed lyrics provide plenty of emotional connection opportunities for listeners; its introspective themes of aging, change, uncertainty and reflection have made it incredibly popular in Desert Island Discs playlists. The song has an enduring quality, appealing to generation after generation, currently sitting at over 540 million plays on Spotify.
Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
The powerful lyrics of Fast Car, combined with Chapman’s unique voice and guitar style make Fast Car one of the world’s most popular songs (it has over 672 million plays on Spotify alone). It’s an iconic song of the 1980’s but has continued to resonate with subsequent generations thanks to its universal message of escaping hardship to search for a better life. Whether people find solace in the song’s message, or it simply reminds them of a particular time in their life, Fast Car is the second most popular track to appear in people’s personal Desert Island Discs curations.
The Chain – Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac make a second appearance in the top three most common Desert Island Discs playlist tracks - fitting as the band truly dominates these rankings with five of their songs ranking in the top 30 (see appendix below). The Chain’s lyrics feature themes of love, commitment and the interconnectedness of people’s lives, set against intricate guitar work and a propulsive rhythm. The Chain has appeared in numerous films, TV shows and adverts over the years, helping cement it as a song that connects people to an important stage of their life. It has over 300 million more Spotify plays than Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide on Spotify, but isn’t featured quite as much in Desert Island Discs as the 1975 track.
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
The stunning mix of piano with acoustic and electric guitar sets Wish You Were Here apart as one of Pink Floyd’s most highly regarded songs. The lyrics handle themes of loss, isolation and the search for meaning in an overwhelming world. Written at a time of social and political upheaval in the 1970’s, the song captures the mood of a particular place in time, but still has massive universal appeal that has lasted for five decades. There have been 766 million combined Spotify plays of the original and remastered version of the song, and it comes fourth in the most frequently seen songs in personal Desert Island Discs playlists.
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free – Nina Simone
Nina Simone’s enduring hit of positive empowerment is the fifth most seen song in people’s Desert Island Playlists. It has clocked over 90 million plays on Spotify, with listeners enjoying the gospel-inspired melody performed on piano, organ and percussion perfectly balancing Simone’s passionate and soulful vocals. The song has become an anthem in the struggle for freedom and equality, resonating with people on many levels - from social justice advocacy and civil rights movements through to people’s private and personal journeys of liberation.
This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody) – Talking Heads
Widely regarded as Talking Heads’ most iconic song, the engaging musical rhythm of This Must Be the Place is super-catchy with synths and percussion working together to create an uplifting track that is great for dancing to, as well as enjoying in a more introspective manner. It’s an innovative track, blending the worlds of early 80’s pop, rock and world music. It appears very often in Desert Island Discs playlists (being the sixth most popular) and the 2005 remastered version has 222 million plays on Spotify, thanks to its persistent themes of love, belonging and contentment.
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
The haunting and memorable melody of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart makes it an instantly recognisable song, that has cemented itself as an anthem of love, loss and emotional turmoil. Whether people associate it with a breakup, a lost love or just a particular year in their lives, the song frequently appears in Spotify’s Desert Island Discs playlists (it’s the seventh most frequently appearing track) and it has garnered over 335 million plays on the streaming platform.
Romeo And Juliet – Dire Straits
The Desert Island Discs show asks its castaway guests for the eight tracks they would take with them, and the eighth most frequently seen song in people’s personal Desert Island Discs playlists is Romeo And Juliet by the Dire Straits. Mark Knopfler’s distinctive vocal style adds a raw emotional depth to the lyrics and the doomed relationship they describe. The song also showcases Knopfler’s exceptional guitar work and, coupled with the strong emotional resonance of the song, the track displays a timeless quality that has kept it relevant for decades after its release. It has clocked up over 237 million plays on Spotify, with the version covered by The Killers garnering 43 million streams too.