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Monmouth University Polling Institute

The Garden State’s Jukebox

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Poll reveals New Jerseyans’ musical preferences, favorite native artist, state song choice

New Jersey has produced some of the world's best known and most successful musicians, but which of their Garden State neighbors would residents want with them if they were stranded on a desert island?  The Monmouth University/New Jersey Monthly Poll  set out to answer this and other weighty questions about the state's musical tastes.

Of seven musicians with strong ties to New Jersey asked about in the poll, no clear winner emerges as the must-have desert island disc.  Hoboken's Frank Sinatra, who passed away nine years ago, edges into the top spot at 21%, but is closely followed by Bon Jovi (16%), Bruce Springsteen (16%), and Whitney Houston (15%).  Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (10%), Lauryn Hill (7%), and Count Basie (7%) round out the list of home state favorites New Jerseyans would want to have with them on a desert island.


NJ Adults  

Age 18-34  

Age 35-54  

Age 55+  

Frank Sinatra (21%)

Bon Jovi (23%)  

Springsteen (18%)  

Sinatra (30%)  

Bon Jovi (16%)

Houston (20%)  

Sinatra (18%)  

Valli (17%)  

Bruce Springsteen (16%)

Hill (18%)  

Bon Jovi (17%)  

Springsteen (15%)  

Whitney Houston (15%)

Springsteen (16%)  

Houston (16%)  

Basie (10%)  

Frankie Valli/4 Seasons (10%)

Sinatra (12%)  

Valli (9%)  

Bon Jovi (8%)  

Lauryn Hill (7%)

Valli (2%)  

Basie (8%)  

Houston (8%)  

Count Basie (7%)

Basie (2%)  

Hill (4%)  

Hill (<1%)  

These musical choices come in a slightly different order when looking at the preferences of different age groups.  Among 18 to 34 years olds, Bon Jovi (23%) is the most popular desert island preference, with Houston (20%), Hill (18%), and Springsteen (16%) hot on their heels.  For those age 35 to 54, Springsteen (18%) and Sinatra (18%) tie for the top spot by just barely edging out Bon Jovi (17%) and Houston (16%).  Among those age 55 and older, however, it is no contest.  Ol' Blue Eyes is the clear favorite, taking 30% of this age cohort's vote, followed distantly by Valli (17%), Springsteen (15%), and Basie (10%).

"The fact that each of these artists, who are from such different styles and eras, garners a respectable amount of popularity in the poll says much about the wealth of talent produced by New Jersey as well as the diversity of our state's population," observed Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The poll also asked New Jerseyans about their general musical preferences.  Most residents name rock (23%) as the type of music they like the best, followed by oldies (16%), classical (11%), country (9%), pop (8%), jazz (8%), rap or hip-hop (7%), R & B (3%) and Christian or gospel music (2%).  Among young adults under age 35, rock (30%) is tops, followed by rap or hip-hop (21%) and pop (11%).  Among those age 35 to 54, rock (29%) leads the list with oldies (17%) in second place and a variety of other styles vying for third (pop-9%, jazz-9%, country-9%, classical-8%).  For the more senior set of 55 years and over, golden oldies (29%) hold the top spot, with classical (20%) at number two and country (14%) in third.

In terms of racial diversity, white New Jerseyans prefer rock music (29%), followed by oldies (16%), country (14%), and classical (12%).  Black and Hispanic state residents' top choice is rap or hip-hop (17%), followed by oldies (14%), rock (13%), jazz (11%), and R & B (9%).

While there is no single style of music that typifies New Jersey's taste, residents tend to share a consensus view on what type of music they definitely do not  like.  More than half of the state says that rap or hip-hop (53%) is their least favorite type of music.  Fewer mention country (16%), rock (12%), or other genres.  As with most musical tastes, this is more of an age-related preference.  Among those age 35 and older, a clear majority say they do not like rap or hip-hop.  However, among adults age 18 to 34, country music (36%) edges out rap or hip-hop (30%) as the type of music they most dislike.

- New Jersey State Song -  

About half (49%) of Garden State residents feel that their home state should have an official song.  Another 37% feel that designating a state song is not necessary and 15% have no opinion on this issue.

Two songs in particular are being touted as potential nominees for the state anthem. New Jersey is currently using Bon Jovi's sentimental "Who Says You Can't Go Home" in its tourism campaign, while Springsteen's "Born to Run" - which ironically is about escape - has been a perennial contender for the honor.  Supporters of the state song movement were asked if either of these two songs should be made the official New Jersey anthem.  And the answer is: neither.  While 26% of state song supporters would choose the Bon Jovi number and 18% prefer the Springsteen piece, 40% say the state should select a different song entirely and 16% have no strong opinion on the song choice.

Among the handful of respondents who named specific alternatives to the two options offered in the poll, most weighed in with a Sinatra number such as "My Way."  One respondent nominated "I'm From New Jersey" (found at ), a ditty by Phillipsburg native Red Mascara, who has spent decades lobbying the legislature to adopt it as the official state song.  But perhaps the most telling suggestion was one respondent's idea for an as-yet-to-be-written piece titled "Lower My Taxes, Big Boy."

This poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute by telephone with 801 New Jersey adults September 27-30, 2007.  The sample has a margin of error of ±  3.5 percent.  This poll was conducted in conjunction with the December 2007 music issue of New Jersey Monthly  magazine 

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

1.     What type of music do you like BEST – rock, pop, rap or hip-hop, country, classical, jazz, oldies, or something else?

2.     What type of music do you like the LEAST?

3.     If you were stuck on a desert island, which of the following New Jersey native’s music would you want to have with you: Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston?  [Names were rotated]

4.     Should New Jersey have an official state song, or not?

5.     [IF “YES” TO STATE SONG:] Should it be “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” by Bon Jovi, “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen, or some other song?


The Monmouth University/New Jersey Monthly Poll was designed and analyzed by the Monmouth University Polling Institute research staff.  The telephone interviews were conducted by Braun Research on September 27-30, 2007 with a statewide random sample of 801 adult residents.  For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.  

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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