What's top of the
For as long as music has been marketed, the music
industry has kept tabulations on which music sells the
most. The origins of today’s “top pop singles” charts
can be traced back to the popularity of sheet music in
the period after the Civil War, when a new kind of
printing, the stereotype process, allowed publishers to
issue increasingly larger numbers of sheet music. This
rise of “parlour music,” so-called because many of the
middle class boasted a piano in their parlour, prompted
advertisers to begin to market their products on the
otherwise blank pages of music, establishing a
relationship between music and marketing that has only
strengthened with time.
Fed up of buying a full year's car insurance when
you only need a few days, weeks or months? Check here
term insurance cover,
temporary car insurance cover or
temp insurance. Need a cheap quote for carinsurance?
Compare low cost quotations at
www.cheapquoteforcarinsurance.co.uk for a very cheap
In the early twentieth century, the phonograph replaced
the piano for family entertainment. In 1918, Hobart C.
Niblack invented a machine that automatically changed
records – the first jukebox. Advancements in
coin-operated jukeboxes, which were popular in local
nightclubs and bars, continued until standard machines
of the era held 40 singles. Counters recorded the number
of times each record played, so that jukebox owners
could ascertain which songs were popular. It is
generally assumed this marks the origin of the phrase,
Beginning in the mid-1920s, radio began to replace the
phonograph as the centre for family entertainment. In
the early days of radio, programming was mixed. Thirty
minutes of news might be followed by an hour of music.
Soap operas were a favorite fare. Radio stations
typically purchased content from production studios. In
the early 1950s, disc jockeys appeared on the scene,
spinning the turntables themselves with popular music.
Listeners often called in live, requesting favorite
songs. Soon an all-music, “Top 40” format had spread
across the nation. Radio stations kept listeners tuned
in by counting down the top 40 records. Once again,
marketing reinforced this sea change, providing jingles
to promote their top 40 programs.
During this period, songs were primarily ranked on three
charts. The “Best Sellers in Stores” ranked songs by the
numbers reported by retail stores. The “Most Played by
Jockeys” relied on radio stations to report which songs
were played most often. The “Most Played in Jukeboxes”
counted the top singles played on jukeboxes. In 1957,
this last list was discontinued. In the early 1950s, the
jukebox list had most accurately reflected the tastes of
the younger, “rock and roll” generation, but as that
generation moved from jukeboxes to radio, the jukebox
list lost its relevancy. The end of the disc jockey list
followed soon after, as stations consolidated
tabulations of the most popular songs into one list.
In 1958, Billboard debuted its all-genre “Hot 100” list
and quickly became the industry standard. This list
served as the basis for the “American Top 40” radio
program. Hosted by Casey Kasem, the show became the most
popular of all the countdown shows and by the 1980s had
been picked up by over 500 stations. The relationship
between Billboard’s Hot 100 and the American Top 40 was
severed in 1991, as radio stations began to fragment
into specific musical formats. The era of radio stations
presenting a wide array of genres was over.
The top pop charts continue to evolve. When the music
industry first began to track a song’s popularity,
single records were the norm. Early controversies about
the charts were centred around “two-sided singles,” and
the difficulties of accurately tracking “A” and “B”
sides. The development of 12-inch singles complicated
the matter. More significantly, “album cuts,” songs that
were not released as singles, yet had gained popularity,
were excluded from the list until 1998. From this point
forward, charts would rank songs rather than singles.
Recently, digital downloads have revived the concept of
“single sales.” While the top pop charts have never been
completely accurate, they endure as a written record of
the world’s favourite songs over the last half century.
Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved