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May 7, 2012 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Hear how popular music has changed from 1940 to today with the Radio Time Machine. Choose a year and hear samples of songs from the top of the Billboard 100 (or full songs if you're logged in to Rdio).
posted by jocelmeow (19 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Very neat. And makes an excellent counter-argument to claims that pop music has improved or declined measurably.

Also: So much Bryan Adams and Celine Dion. So much. Canada really owes the rest of the world reparations for those acts of unbridled aggression.
posted by frimble at 11:26 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Canada really owes the rest of the world reparations for those acts of unbridled aggression.

I'll accept Leonard Cohen and Arcade Fire.
posted by John Cohen at 11:33 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


And The Be Good Tanyas, and The New Pornographers, and Broken Social Scene, and Tegan and Sara, and Crystal Castles, and Ron Sexsmith...really I think Canada has more then paid back her debt to society here.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:41 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


That shit needs to not autoplay.

But wait, the Billboard 100 didn't really exist until the mid-50s...
posted by rhizome at 11:51 AM on May 7, 2012


Between the New Pornographers and Sloan, I'll take that as repayment. But there's no reparation yet made that makes up for Snow.
posted by Edison Carter at 12:14 PM on May 7, 2012


Kids In The Hall redeem all other ... issues ... Canada and the USA might have with one another.
posted by PapaLobo at 12:25 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


also cool link thanks!
posted by PapaLobo at 12:26 PM on May 7, 2012


Kids In The Hall redeem all other ... issues ... Canada and the USA might have with one another.

Except Snow. Nothing makes up for that nonsense.
posted by Edison Carter at 12:45 PM on May 7, 2012


So, because I'm as narcissistic as the next guy, I always take such time machines back to the year I was born (1974). And before I plugged in my earplugs, I was just skipping through the songs and surprised that the ones I knew weren't as horrible as I always remember the 'top songs of 1974' when I've played such games in the past.

Then as soon as I plugged in my ear phones, up streaked Ray Stevens. I don't know what this means except that some sort of higher power is convinced to remind me that the music of my birth was something to be mocked.

(Don't look, Ethel!)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:16 PM on May 7, 2012


My year too! Hey old guy!
posted by Edison Carter at 1:22 PM on May 7, 2012


True Canadian Story™: I lived in Drumheller, Alberta for a few months and made several day trips to Hanna, Nickelback's hometown. It's about as entertaining as their music.

Ok, Canada-derail aside, it's interesting to me how some of these songs are still quite popular, still well-loved, while others have fallen by the wayside. And I just want to say that 1946 hit (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons by Nat King Cole is like, one of the best songs ever. Hasn't aged a bit.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:24 PM on May 7, 2012


The first thing I did was go back to the 80s and remind myself that it was then legally required to apply a level of reverb to drums so as to make them sound as if they were placed a hundred feet away in an otherwise empty warehouse.

And as for Bryan Adams, I would have killed the man with my bare hands by the end of 1992 because of the then-inescapable "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You." That would have had the benefit of preventing the later-inescapable "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" for which I also would have dispatched him.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:34 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


And as for Bryan Adams, I would have killed the man with my bare hands by the end of 1992 because of the then-inescapable "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You."

Not if I get to him first.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:52 PM on May 7, 2012


This would have been helpful a few weeks ago when when I was asked to "DJ" (in the broadest sense of the word; encueing music in a foobar2000 playlist) at a party of a friend of mine. And because I wanted some challenge I demanded the right "to play music from the last 80 years".

As it turns out I had no problem finding enough material for the 70s (maybe even 60s) and later but the 50s and especially the time before was a huge gaping spot in my already little music knowledge.

I then compiled my playlist as I went, keeping an eye on chronology (current song always had to be newer then the song before) and managed to pull through 75 years of music in merely 7 hours (with the most people going home in the 70s and 80s, for shame!), playing quite some neat tunes I had discovered days and weeks before.

For example, Dinah Shore's Buttons and Bows would play quite nicely set to a contemporary quirk indie movie.
posted by bigendian at 2:09 PM on May 7, 2012


1968 had no idea what it was doing at all, but it was having a lot of fun doing it.

Also, I had no idea it took 10 whole years to make a movie out of Harper Valley PTA. I guess we all just had to think about that one for a while before we pulled the trigger.
posted by mph at 3:22 PM on May 7, 2012


Looking back 15-20 years, the songs aren't that different from those coming out today, except for the occasional DubStep bridge or over-produced effects or chick that really can't sing but sounds like she can.

But put yourself in 1995 or any time before that and look back 15 years and you've got a totally different sound.

I've always said that the day I feel old will be the day that I hear a song from 1990 on an oldies station. So here's hoping that music of today stays as homogeneous as it has become.
posted by thorny at 4:34 PM on May 7, 2012


I've always said that the day I feel old will be the day that I hear a song from 1990 on an oldies station.

One of our area oldies stations has had Love Shack by the B-52s in rotation for a couple of years now, which is pretty close.
posted by gimonca at 6:40 PM on May 7, 2012


This is great. I've recently been thinking about looking for something like this to hear how musical trends have slowly changed. I have general ideas of when certain music was popular, but I've always been interested to see if I can spot out the transitions. I've especially been thinking about this as we've entered a new decade and I'm more conscious about how the 2010s will differ from the 2000s (as artificial as separating musical trends into decades is).

I'm sure it's just my modern ear but so far I'm having a hard time discerning between music made in the early 1940s to music made in the early 1950s.
posted by Defenestrator at 7:44 PM on May 7, 2012


I went to 1969, the year I was born. Not bad. But I'd never even heard of Dizzy and I thought I'd heard almost all the popular songs from that year.

Then I went to 1974. Yikes. I didn't like a lot of it, except for Music is My Life. I Honestly Love You? Blech. So, so corny. Now I see how much of a "one of these things is not like the others" kind of a piece Kraftwerk's Autobahn actually was for the time, for being so popular.
posted by droplet at 8:13 PM on May 7, 2012


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