Videos: Twenty best state songs according to Ranker, and where Colorado's lands
Back in March, we posted about the eleven state flags that are supposed to be better than Colorado's, based on a listing from Ranker. That crowd-sourced website also features a roster of the best state songs, and Colorado does very well. But does it deserve to? And are any of the tunes that wind up before or after it actually any good?
Judge for yourself by counting down the top twenty, complete with videos from (almost) every selection and our takes as to whether the word "best" actually applies.
Number 20: Maryland -- "Maryland, Oh Maryland"
Our take: The song is sung to the melody of "O Tannenbaum." Nice originality, Maryland.
Number 19: Maine -- "The Maine Song"
Our take: Kinda rousing in a rooting-for-a-football-team-in-1920 way.
Number 18: Louisiana -- "Give Me Louisiana"
Our take: This tune has lyrics, but we couldn't find a single version on YouTube with anyone singing them; the clip above is an instrumental. For a state that's given us as much amazing music as Louisiana, that's pretty sad.
Number 17: Kentucky -- "My Old Kentucky Home"
Our take: Stephen Foster's ditty has a rightful place among the greatest American tunes. Only number seventeen, Ranker Nation? Really?
Our take: At first blush, this seems like Kansas trying to take possession of an American classic. But it turns out the words to the song are from "My Western Home," an 1870s-era poem written by Dr. Brewster M. Higley in Smith County, Kansas. Possession granted.
Number 15: Iowa -- "The Song of Iowa"
Our take: Another state song sung to the tune of "O Tannenbaum"? What the hell?
Number 14: Indiana -- "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away"
Our take: Sweet. Sentimental. A terrific sleep aid.
Number 13: Illinois -- "Illinois"
Our take: Another ancient tune that hasn't aged especially well. But it gets points for this couplet: "Abraham Lincoln's name appears/Grant and Logan, and our tears."
Our take: The past century hasn't been too kind to this ode, with music from 1915 and lyrics from two years later that probably seemed sorta cheesy even then. As the B-52's might say, "Get out of that state you're in!"
Number 11: Hawaii -- "Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī""
As noted on the Wikipedia page devoted to it, "Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī"" resembles "God Save the Queen" from a melodic standpoint -- zzzzzz. But the official lyrics are in Hawaiian -- and for most of us, they'll be infinitely improved by not understanding them.
Number 10: Georgia "Georgia on My Mind"
Our take: How is this not number one? We demand a recount.
Number 9: Florida -- "Old Folks at Home"
Our take: You can't go wrong with Stephen Foster, as the folks in Kentucky realize. Still, "Old Folks at Home" seems a little too on-the-nose for Florida, don't you think?
Our take: Another state song that almost no one bothers singing anymore, from a 1906 poem that salutes each of Delaware's three counties with lines like, "Where the wheat fields break and billow/In the peaceful land of Kent/Where the toiler seeks his pillow/With the blessings of content." No, we're not making that up.
Number 7: Connecticut -- "Yankee Doodle"
Our take: In contrast to "Our Delaware," "Yankee Doodle" is actually fun to sing centuries after it was composed. As a bonus, it'll make you hungry for macaroni and pudding, whether it's hasty or not.
Number 6: Colorado -- "Where the Columbines Grow"
Our take: We love Colorado as much as anyone. But truth be told, "Where the Columbines Grow" isn't exactly a state-song standout. Not great. Not horrible. Somewhere in the middle of the pack. Its number six ranking says more about people's fondness for Colorado than their affection for this tune.
Number 5: California -- "I Love You, California"
Our take: Pleasantly dopey, especially as rendered here by Manny Harmon.
Our take: Arkansas has three state songs, but this is the original -- and the worst of the bunch. So how can it be the fourth best state song in the entire country? Answer: It can't be.
Number 3: Arizona -- "Arizona March Song"
If there's a version of 1915's "Arizona March Song" on YouTube, we couldn't find it. But there are multiple renditions of "Arizona" by Rex Allen Jr., which was adopted as a second Arizona state song in 1981 -- probably because no one gave a crap about the other one, this ranking notwithstanding.
Number 2: Alaska -- "Alaska's Flag"
Our take: Talk about truth in advertising: This song describes Alaska's flag in twelve lines and that's pretty much it. Second best state song? Doubt it -- but at least it's utilitarian.
Number 1: Alabama -- "Alabama"
Our take: Written to be sung by children, and it is, at each year's Alabama All-State Festival. Still, we've got to guess it placed so high because people thought they were voting for Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Lists & Weirdness archive: "Photos: The eleven state flags that are supposed to be better than Colorado's."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.