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Five seconds of every No. 1 song from about 1956 to 1993
February 22, 2011 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Five seconds of every No. 1 song from about 1956 to 1993.
posted by Cool Papa Bell (42 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Somebody make that Sporcle quiz, stat!

(Actually there probably already are a bunch along those lines.)
posted by kmz at 12:22 PM on February 22, 2011


Which five? What's this trying to show? Is it a comparison of the first five seconds of every song? Is it the five best or "most canonical" seconds from each song? Does it show a clear trend of some sort? Or is it just a thing to stick in my ears during [number] of minutes when I'm not sticking other things in my ears?
posted by Eideteker at 12:22 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some details from the Ubu page:
The concept and term "Chartsweep" both originated in the late 60s with a syndicated radio show called "The History of Rock 'n' Roll." I listened to it on WOR-FM in New York and recorded portions of it on an old Wollensack reel-to-reel tape recorder. As you know, the 'sweep presented segments of every Billboard #1 single starting with "Memories Are Made of This" (Jan 1956). I don't recall where it stopped, but it was around 1968/69. Six years later I began teaching an American Studies course at the University of Maryland called "Popular Music in American Society." To provide a setting for each class I dusted off the concept, took it back to January 1950, added a number of songs based on Joel Whitburn's re-definition of #1 songs, and continued where the original had stopped. I added each new #1 until fall, 1991 when I stopped teaching the course. "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" was the 900th. At the start of each class I played a portion of the 'sweep that corresponded to the years we were covering that night. To accompany the tape I made 35mm slides of either the original sheet music, 45 rpm record sleeve or something similar, so that students could see as well as hear the pop music history. Copies of each night's tape went to the undergraduate library. I assume that an enterprising student or two made their own copies and it is a copy of a copy of a copy that remains in circulation. That's the story in a nutshell.

posted by theodolite at 12:22 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's like a Time-Life collection for ADHDers!
posted by The Whelk at 12:23 PM on February 22, 2011 [13 favorites]


It's like one massive radio interstitial. Do they run a station identification at the end?
posted by Iridic at 12:24 PM on February 22, 2011


My girlfriend downloaded a chartsweep mp3 in maybe 2003 so it's been around awhile. We managed to compile a mostly complete chartsweep playlist, which is fun.
posted by ghharr at 12:24 PM on February 22, 2011


I liked it; it had a lot of good beats and I could dance to it.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:25 PM on February 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Next: the RIAA demands royalty payments for each included song.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:29 PM on February 22, 2011


It's the Reader's Digest Edition of the Dick Clark Show.
posted by lobstah at 12:29 PM on February 22, 2011


Thanks, theodolite. I came not to threadshit, but to criticize. I appreciate some more background than was in the FPP or on the linked page.
posted by Eideteker at 12:31 PM on February 22, 2011


I used to have this on my MP3 and the result of listening to it was usually that there were suddenly fifty records I hadn't heard in a while that I wanted to listen to again. It's similar to seeing a really good montage of great film scenes and suddenly my NetFlix queue gets bigger.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:31 PM on February 22, 2011


hardest. powerhour. ever.
posted by jermsplan at 12:33 PM on February 22, 2011


Best Rickroll set-up ever!!!
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:36 PM on February 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


it had a lot of good beats and I could dance to it

If nothing else, it's an interesting way to document the evolution of drum recording.

Like that red-becoming-blue post that got axed earlier today: At what exact point do we lose the soft drum sounds of the 70s and get Phil Collins?
posted by Joe Beese at 12:38 PM on February 22, 2011


Even though the internet is a perfect platform for long form media, the likes of which would never work on broadcast television or radio, it constantly trends towards shorter and shorter means of self-expression. The internet is a huge immeasurable vastness of knowledge and experience, most of which is presented in underdone, unedited snippets by amateurs. Take a look behind the curtain of Wikipedia to see what I mean. This project is emblematic of the dialectic of hyperactive self-segmentation and unending boundless flow that makes up the stuff of the web.

The cherry on top here is that the entirety of the materia here is not the internet, but the end result 100% is.

"New Rap Song Samples 'Billy Jean' In Its Entirety, Adds Nothing". Borges was born a century too early.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:44 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


"New Rap Song Samples 'Billy Jean' In Its Entirety, Adds Nothing". Borges was born a century too early.

P. Diddy, on the other hand, arrived right on time.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:45 PM on February 22, 2011


IS THAT FREEDOM R-
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:45 PM on February 22, 2011


Things That Are Totally Obvious In Retrospect After Listening To This And Then Checking Wikipedia For Dates And My Own Pop-music pickled brain:

0. The domination of Mega Stars, even from the start. Some people are such hit machines.
1: How similar #1 songs are. Makes sense I guess, ballads really overwhelm the mix. But just things like BPM and rhythm. I'm sure this stuff has been researched to death by vast and cool intelligences already. Looking up the dates, dance stuff seems to get popular in roughly 7 year bursts.

2. How slowly the trends mix in and out, and how some genres just never appear - an the weirdness of a non-pop song hitting #1 where *everything* around it sounds totally different. Although you can trace out mini fads, like the brief burst in Caribbean-flavored pop in the mid 80s.

3. How many of them I instantly recognize despite not having heard them in an active way for years. Top Hits are like aural wallpaper, in so many commercials and played in such deathless repeat and they just always exist everywhere. I mean this thing kinda sounds like an XM radio channel - the only time my ears picked up was when Rick Asley came on cause I forgot ...he *was* a #1 hit and not just an internet meme....

4. it's strange when they come across a song I have never heard.

5. Man the 70s were fucking strange for pop music. It's the decade with the most amount of variety in #1 singles, it seems. Although the appearance of hip hop in the late 80s is the biggest one-off tone shift - although the the late 60s, and the completely vanishing of crooners from the top spot and all the stranger rock/pop/chamber fusions appearing seemingly out of nowhere is a close second.

6. Personal Whack-job theory: The worse the economy, the happier and faster the hits.
posted by The Whelk at 12:46 PM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


ar what exact point do we lose the soft drum sounds of the 70s and get Phil Collins?

Per the link, on exactly February 9, 1981.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:51 PM on February 22, 2011


This reminded me of nothing so much as one of those ads for Super Hits of the Whatever Decade/Genre they used to run on TV all the time. I could almost see the blurry concert footage of Elvis and Chubby Checker with song titles scrolling past them.
posted by Copronymus at 12:55 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


!50 HITS BY THE ORIGINAL ARTISTS

THAT'S WHAT I CALL EVERYTHING!
posted by The Whelk at 12:56 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


5. Man the 70s were fucking strange AWESOME for pop music.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:01 PM on February 22, 2011


Here's another post where linking to the original source would be better. (then put buzzfeed in a via link). We should discourage content farming (imo).

Also, remember: Twice on the pipe if the answer is no.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:07 PM on February 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Even though the internet is a perfect platform for long form media, the likes of which would never work on broadcast television or radio, it constantly trends towards shorter and shorter means of self-expression. The internet is a huge immeasurable vastness of knowledge and experience, most of which is presented in underdone, unedited snippets by amateurs. Take a look behind the curtain of Wikipedia to see what I mean. This project is emblematic of the dialectic of hyperactive self-segmentation and unending boundless flow that makes up the stuff of the web.

The cherry on top here is that the entirety of the materia here is not the internet, but the end result 100% is.


I'm not sure how this project can be "emblematic of the dialectic of hyperactive self-segmentation...of the web" if it's from 1993.
posted by theodolite at 1:07 PM on February 22, 2011


This reminded me of nothing so much as one of those ads for Super Hits of the Whatever Decade/Genre they used to run on TV all the time.

Or Gordon Lightfoot Sings Every Song Ever Written.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:07 PM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


As mentioned upthread, this was first produced for the syndicated radio series The History of Rock and Roll by the Drake-Chenault company. The original version ended with You Light Up My Life, and the re-release a few years later added songs through I Love a Rainy Night. Somebody has added the songs after that.

That PM Dawn song marked a major change in the way the music charts were compiled. "Number one" refers to Billboard magazine's Hot 100, which for many years was compiled through a survey of radio stations for airplay, and music stores for sales of 45 rpm singles. Beginning with Set Adrift on Memory Bliss, they began using SoundScan data, which electronically tracks music sales and airplay.

This, combined with the death of the single, changed the shape of the chart completely. After that, it became very common for superhit songs that sat atop the chart for weeks and weeks at a time and you would almost never see a song hit number one for just a week or two.

If I recall correctly, radio shows like American Top 40 have switched to other charts with other methodologies that try to recapture the variety of music of the old days. Not sure how it's working out.
posted by evilcolonel at 1:34 PM on February 22, 2011


And if you're wondering why Chubby Checker's The Twist got in there twice, it's because the record was released, climbed to number one, dropped off the chart completely... then a year later re-entered and hit number one again.
posted by evilcolonel at 1:45 PM on February 22, 2011


"What a lot of people don't realize is that Bob Dylan actually wrote every popular song in the last thirty five years. Every single one."
posted by Iridic at 1:48 PM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


SWAT!

Sorry. That was awesome. About as awesome as Welcome Back, Kotter.

These were No. 1s? Sweet.
posted by linux at 1:49 PM on February 22, 2011


I just found out the number one song on the day I was born was Funkytown.

I didn't need to know that :(
posted by unigolyn at 1:56 PM on February 22, 2011


I just found out the number one song on the day I was born was Funkytown.

Look up the #1 from 9 months earlier for a really interesting horrible mental image.
posted by empyrean at 2:10 PM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just took my aforementioned advice and now I'll say DO NOT DO THIS. Oh God, I don't know which one is worse.

November 26 – December 2 1978 Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond - You Don't Bring Me Flowers 2 (1)
December 3 – 9 1978 Chic - Le Freak 5 (1)
December 10 – 16 1978 Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond - You Don't Bring Me Flowers 2 (1)
December 17 – 30 1978 Chic - Le Freak 5 (2)

posted by empyrean at 2:14 PM on February 22, 2011


It's like the longest Mystery Hunt puzzle ever.

Excuse me, I need to start a spreadsheet...
posted by maryr at 2:17 PM on February 22, 2011


"Look up the #1 from 9 months earlier for a really interesting horrible mental image."

My Sharona. I can live with that.
posted by unigolyn at 2:18 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Born in the U.S.A
posted by The Whelk at 2:22 PM on February 22, 2011


Just glad it didn't cut off at exactly 5 seconds (or it would have been almost unlistenable) but included all of the most identifiable 'hook' of each song (thus the mercifully short clip of "Strangers in the Night", but I would have picked the "Doobie doobie doo" line myself).

5. Man the 70s were fucking strange/AWESOME for pop music.

It was a great era to be doing a college radio station's "Dr. Demento clone" show, with such batguano insanity as "Candyman", "My Ding A Ling", "Hooked on a Feeling (Ooga Chukka)", "The Streak", "Kung Fu Fighting", "Convoy", "Disco Duck" and "Car Wash" briefly hitting #1 (the pattern for novelty records was a meteroric rise over 4-5 weeks, two weeks at the top and an equally meteoric drop) and such oddballs as "Junk Food Junkie" and "Dead Skunk" just falling short. And with the passage of time, so much of the borderline weird songs have fallen over onto the WTF side. Then a BeeGees/TSOP/KC-led Disco Domination of the charts did the impossible and made dance music boring. Donna Summer's earnestly absurd version of "MacArthur Park" put a small crack of irony in that wall of bad sound, then "My Sharona" provided an early ripple of the 'New Wave' (and inspired Weird Al's first memorable parody).

Look up the #1 from 9 months earlier for a really interesting horrible mental image.

I was born to the tune of "Yellow Rose of Texas" by Mitch Miller (but dammit, I was born in OHIO), and conceived to "Mr. Sandman" by the Chordettes (#1 the day my parents married and for 8 weeks after... I was born 10 months after their wedding - it's obvious they had trouble staying awake... but one 'cycle' earlier, I could've been born to Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock"... okay, TMI)
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:27 PM on February 22, 2011


Whoever wrote that soundtrack needs to win an award of some kind. To all the many many wonderful, under-appreciated people who perform it: thanks for all the best, you've all changed my life for the better.
posted by Twang at 3:24 PM on February 22, 2011


I remember listening to and recording this "Time Sweep" on New Year's Eve 1980. The last song played was Eddie Rabbit's "I Love a Rainy Night." I played and replayed this time sweep so many times that listening to Part One of this post I not only knew each song in order, I also mentally inserted the original commentary ("The Staple Singers winding up this portion...."). Thanks to the OP for posting this post-1981 Time Sweep.

I used to regularly listen to Casey Kasem's American Top 40 until the early 1990s, and I noticed a trend that started about the time of Saturday Night Fever - around that era, any time the Bee Gees belched, it became a number one hit. The trend continued with Hall and Oates, Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, and Madonna. Whomever was the flavor of the day was guaranteed a number one no matter how bleah the tune was. I stopped paying attention to the singles chart around 1994, so I don't know whether or not this trend continued.
posted by Oriole Adams at 3:32 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look up the #1 from 9 months earlier for a really interesting horrible mental image.

"Ghostbusters." Yes. The theme from "Ghostbusters." Fucking kill me.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:43 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just glad it didn't cut off at exactly 5 seconds (or it would have been almost unlistenable) but included all of the most identifiable 'hook' of each song

True. However, I do find myself wishing for a pro-rated version in which the length played is proportortional to the length the song was at #1.
posted by HeroZero at 5:04 PM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


GEMINI. Mercury is ascending in Pisces. Protecting your interests is likely to be high on your agenda. You will listen to a chartsweep. The bits from the years where you first noticed the opposite sex through to when you started uni will be awesome, but everything else will suck.

CANCER. The moon is in conjunction with Jupiter in Virgo. Silver and 'moon' colours together with gem-stones might have a special role to play. You will listen to a chartsweep. The bits from the years where you first noticed the opposite sex through to when you started uni will be awesome, but everything else will suck.

LEO. Pluto is transiting the band of the Milky Way. You might feel you need to tackle a task that someone you're very fond of finds daunting. You will listen to a chartsweep. The bits from the years where you first noticed the opposite sex through to when you started uni will be awesome, but everything else will suck.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:35 PM on February 22, 2011


I do find myself wishing for a pro-rated version in which the length played is proportortional to the length the song was at #1.

You'd get ten minutes of "And IIIIIII-EE-IIIIII-EE-IIIIIII WILL ALLLWAYYYYYYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUU." No one ever said the Billboard charts accounted for taste. See example one, Chuck Berry's only number one song. (One week, October 1972)
posted by evilcolonel at 8:10 PM on February 22, 2011


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