A Musical History

  • The history of Universal Music Publishing Group is best told through our songs.

    From the standards of Jerome Kern to the sixties pop of the Beach Boys and heartfelt soul of Otis Redding; from the folk rock of the Mamas & the Papas to singer-songwriter Paul Simon; from the classic rock and pop of Elton John, Neil Diamond and Billy Joel to the alternative rock of R.E.M. and Pearl Jam; from the new wave of The Cars and INXS to the urban pop of Mariah Carey and Justin Timberlake; from the hip-hop of 2Pac and Eminem to the dance pop of Justin Bieber. Universal Music Publishing Group's iconic songs represent the soundtrack to our lives.


    Scroll through and click to either watch the video or play a song clip.



  • 1933

    Bessie Smith - Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of BeerBessie Smith - Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer

    Nicknamed the "Empress of the Blues," Bessie Smith popularized this Blues standard written by Wesley Wilson.

    Bessie Smith - Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer

  • 1936

    Fred Astaire - The Way You Look TonightFred Astaire - The Way You Look Tonight

    Fred Astaire had the first hit version, a number one, of this co-written Jerome Kern 'Great American Songbook' standard. 

  • 1941

    Andrews Sisters - Boogie Woogie Bugle BoyAndrews Sisters - Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

    The Andrews Sisters were one of the most popular artists of the 1940's. Don Raye co-wrote this hit for the group which went on to become one of greatest songs of the 20th century.


    The Andrews Sisters - Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

  • 1944

    Louis Jordan - Is You Is or Is You Ain't My BabyLouis Jordan - Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby

    Louis Jordan combined Blues and Jazz laying the path to R&B.

    Louis Jordan - Is You Or Is You Ain't My Baby

  • 1958

    The Platters - Smoke Gets In Your EyesThe Platters - Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

    The most famous version of the classic written Jerome Kern song came from American doo-wop group the Platters, and was a number one hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

    The Platters - Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

  • 1964

    The Beach Boys first US Billboard Hot 100 number one single and a classic of their Surf Rock Pop sound.
  • 1965

    The Mamas & The Papas - California Dreamin'The Mamas & The Papas - California Dreamin'

    A Folk Rock benchmark and a defining song of the 60’s capturing the allure of the California lifestyle.

    The Mamas and The Papas - California Dreamin'

  • 1966

    One of Diamond's early hits and the start of a recording and hit making career that is still going strong.
  • 1967

    Written by Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin's signature song, and one of the defining hits of the soul era has gone on to become a powerful statement anthem.

  • 1967

    A Psychedelic Rock classic taken from Hendrix's first album 'Are You Experienced'.
  • 1968

    Recorded just a few days before passing in 1967, this was the first ever posthumous number one single to enter the UK and US charts, and went on to become the most successful release of his career. 

  • 1970

    A defining song and number one hit taken from the duo's last studio album.
  • 1971

    Isaac Hayes - Theme From ShaftIsaac Hayes - Theme From Shaft

    Hayes had a number one crossover hit with this signature song.


    Isaac Hayes - Theme From Shaft

  • 1972

    Elton John and Bernie Taupin's atmospheric pop ballad, documenting the lonely life of an astronaut, appeared on Elton's fifth studio album 'Honky Château'. 



  • 1973

    The first, and one of the most famous, of Billy Joel's many hit singles.
  • 1974

    One of Classic Rock's most iconic songs from perhaps the most well-known Southern Rock band.
  • 1976

    This Disco flavored Euro Pop classic was a worldwide hit right as "Abbamania" reached its peak.
  • 1977

    One of the standout out songs from the film soundtrack that helped bring disco into the mainstream - helped along by John Travolta's legendary strut through the streets of New York for the 'Saturday Night Fever' opening credits. 

  • 1978

    Written by Frederick Perren and Dino Fekaris this big hit of the Disco era has gone on to become an empowerment anthem.

  • 1979

    The Clash's powerful political anthem was a response to social problems in Britain at the end of the 1970s, and regarded by many as one of their finest pieces of work. 

  • 1983

    Arguably one of the most memorable electronic introductions to any track, Annie Lennox and David Stewart's hit single continues to ignite dancefloors today. 

  • 1984

    American rock band the Cars are the epitome of the classic New Wave sound that shook the music scene from the late 70's into the 80's.
  • 1985

    Gloria Estefan's breakthrough chart success and the beginning of a hit laden career.
  • 1987

    A memorable riff kicks off INXS's biggest worldwide hit taken from the equally successful 'Kick' album.
  • 1991

    R.E.M.'s biggest chart success marks the moment Alternative Rock crossed-over into the mainstream.
  • 1992

    Pearl Jam's debut hit album 'Ten' showcased a number of their now classic songs, along with "Jeremy" others include "Alive" and "Even Flow".
  • 1992

    The breakthrough hit for the Red Hot Chili Peppers showcasing their melodic ballad side.
  • 1993

    The breakthrough crossover hit from one of Hip Hop's most iconic artists.
  • 1996

    Mariah Carey holds the record for the most amount of number one hits by a female artist in the Rock Era, this being one of them.
  • 1997

    Recorded by Celine Dion, UMPG writer Will Jennings co-wrote this world wide hit that was the theme song to one of the biggest grossing films of all time, 'Titanic.'

  • 2002

    Built around an unforgettable piano riff, 'Clocks' won the band the prestigious 'Record of the Year' Grammy award.

  • 2006

    Justin Timberlake brought "SexyBack" on his second solo album FutureSex/LoveSounds.
  • 2010

    The debut single from Adele's second album was a worldwide hit becoming her first US Hot 100 number one.
  • 2010

    This powerful Rap and R&B ballad by Eminem and Rihanna reached number one on various charts across the world.
  • 2011

    Adam Levine had everyone doing their best Mick Jagger impression across the dance floor on this worldwide hit.
  • 2012

    Singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen’s breakthrough Pop song became her first number one single on US Hot 100.
  • 2013

    Imagine Dragons are one of today’s most successful Alternative-Rock bands, this loud rock anthem was the second single from their debut album 'Night Visions.’
  • 2014

    Sam Smith's "Stay With Me," co-written by UMPG's Jimmy Napes and William Phillips, became the biggest hit from his critically acclaimed debut album 'In the Lonely Hour.'

  • 2015

    The debut single from Justin Bieber's fourth album was his first number one single on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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