50 Years of Pop Songs

October 21st, 2014 Comments Off on 50 Years of Pop Songs

Like many, I was deeply immersed in pop when I was growing up (for me, the 80s). I then abandoned it for more esoteric stuff for a while, spending the 90s mostly listening to industrial, techno, and electronica. In the last ten years or so, I’ve returned to pop with a new appreciation for the genius of a perfectly crafted pop song.

When I came back to pop, I formed a couple of crotchety-old-man theories about how contemporary pop differs from its forebears. I’m a cautious person though, so before ranting about the kids today, I decided to collect some data and test my theories. The result is an exploration of the last 50 years of pop songs. As it happens, I haven’t yet finished my original driving question about pop song meaning; my explorations of “popularity” are linked below.

First of all, why 50 years? Aside from being a round number, I think 1964 marks somewhat of a transition to more modern pop/rock. In particular, it’s the first year that the Beatles appeared on the year-end hot 100. And, while most of the songs from 1963 strike me as “oldies”, there are a number from 1964 that are still a part of the “classic rock” landscape. I explore this a little further in the digressions.

Second, where’d the data come from? I’m mostly using weekly top ten charts from Billboard, with some Billboard year-end charts. These sources are easily crawled and cleaned.

Posts on 50 Years of Pop Songs

Introduction

Who is the king of pop?

King of pop digressions

What is the biggest one-hit wonder of all time?

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