This is a weird one.
A thought popped in my head this evening I couldn’t shake. What would a music critic from the first year the Billboard Hot 100 launched think of the progression of pop music since? We live in the age where all the information you could want is at your finger tips so I decided to try and find out. Here’s what I did:
- I went to Billboard’s website and got a list the #1 song from each year since its founding in 1958
- I loaded up Audacity and configured it to capture audio from my computer
- I searched Youtube for every single song on the list in chronological order and played a random short sample from each song, recording directly to an MP3
- I saved that file, uploaded it here and is now available for your listening enjoyment (62 years of music in 16 minutes)
If you’re going to consume this silly experiment the way it was intended, I recommend putting on a pair of headphones, closing your eyes and pretending you are a music critic from the late 1950s. You’ve been told you will hear #1 hits from the future and you must attempt to find the throughline of themes and melodies for the next 60 years of music. Listening to this all at once proved to be an enlightening experience as the individual threads that make up the progress of modern pop music became ever more visible.
A few notes of trivia:
- From 1958 to 2020 only one artist has has a #1 hit more than once. Can you guess who? Yep. The Beatles
- Elton John gets an honorable mention though as he had a second bonus number one in 1997 for his tribute to Princess Diana
- A few of the song clips go a little longer than others. That wasn’t intentional but rather I realized I was vibing to the music. I opted to leave those slightly longer clips in
The full list of songs is below:Continue reading