The "Songs of the Century" list was put together as an music education tool by the Recording Industry of America Association (RIAA), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Scholastic Inc. and AOL@School.
The stated goal behind the extensive list of songs is to "promote a better understanding of America's musical and cultural heritage" in American schools.
The way the songs were picked is a little bit fuzzy, but each was voted in by people in the music industry, the media, teachers, elected officials and students. Each person with a vote was asked to consider "historical significance" when making their selections.
The complete list includes the top 365 songs of the twentieth century as selected by this process.
Unfortunately, the methods used to select the voters has not been revealed and anything with the mark of the RIAA tends to be met with disdain by many. Sure, there are plenty of songs I would have picked over some of these, and the Beatles not appearing in the top 25 seems like a pretty massive blunder (they first appear at #28). But at the end of the day this is a good list.
I have included the top 25 "Songs of the Century" in this playlist.
The Top 25 Songs of The Century