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Reflecting on WYEP’s 2023 Countdown to Fall

Now that the 2023 WYEP Countdown to Fall has been revealed, let’s take a brief look at how it all played out. Six of the songs in the top 10 are returning from last year’s top 10:

Perhaps the most notable recurrence in the top 10 is “The Weight” by The Band, topping the countdown for the second year in a row. Obviously a classic, the song was also doubtless a sentimental favorite for many listeners due to the passing of the group’s Robbie Robertson in August, during the countdown’s voting period. The song has grown in the collective esteem of WYEP’s listeners over the years. Back in 2009, it ranked #24. It elevated to #13 in 2012 and then glided into the top 10 in 2016 at #9. The song took a tumble in our 2019 list, only making #16.

The biggest gainer is Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” which skyrocketed from #87 last year to #7 — which makes sense, since Luke Combs’ country-music cover from earlier this year has brought renewed attention to the song and reminded everyone why Chapman’s original is so special.

Similarly, “Closer to Fine” by Indigo Girls is having another cultural moment. Its repeated — and very memorable — usage in the movie Barbie has made it top-of-mind for many. WYEP listeners have long had a fondness for the song, as it topped the list for our 2009 countdown.

Speaking of past #1 songs in WYEP countdowns, Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” popped up six slots from last year’s countdown. That track led the list in 2016 voting by WYEP listeners.

Zooming out to look at the entire countdown list, The Beatles had the most appearances by a specific artist, with 28 songs included. Paul McCartney and John Lennon tied with 30 total appearances on the countdown — both tacked on two post-Beatles songs to the 28 with the Fab Four.

Bob Dylan was next biggest in countdown representation, with 22 total songs. Most of them were solo songs, but he also appeared once as a member of the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys.

Here are the bands and artists that turned up on WYEP’s 2023 Countdown to Fall the most times:

  • Paul McCartney: 30 appearances (28 Beatles, 2 solo)
  • John Lennon: 30 (28 Beatles, 2 solo)
  • The Beatles: 28
  • Bob Dylan: 22 (21 solo, one with Traveling Wilburys)
  • David Bowie: 19 (18 solo, plus “Under Pressure” with Queen)
  • The Rolling Stones: 18
  • Paul Simon: 17 (9 with Simon & Garfunkel, 8 solo)
  • U2: 14
  • Neil Young: 14 (10 solo, 3 with CSN&Y, 1 with Buffalo Springfield)
  • Joni Mitchell: 13
  • Bruce Springsteen: 12
  • R.E.M.: 12
  • Stevie Nicks: 12 (11 with Fleetwood Mac, 1 solo)

Thanks to everyone who voted and to all our listeners! This year’s countdown was a blast, and we look forward to doing this again next year.

Mike Sauter started at WYEP in 2004 and held various positions, including Midday Mix host, music director, program director, and station manager.