The US Billboard song chart
Song chart US Billboard
The Billboard magazine has published various music charts starting (with sheet music) in 1894, the first "Music Hit Parade" was published in 1936, the first "Music Popularity Chart" was calculated in 1940. These charts became less irregular until the weekly "Hot 100" was started in 1958. The current chart combines sales, airplay and downloads.
A music collector that calls himself Bullfrog has been consolidating the complete chart from 1894 to the present day. he has published this information in a comprehenive spreadsheet (which can be obtained at //bullfrogspond.com/).
The Bullfrog data assigns each song a unique identifier, something like "1968_076" (which just happens to be the Bee Gees song "I've Gotta Get A Message To You"). This "Whitburn Number" is provided to match with the books of Joel Whitburn and consists of the year and a ranking within the year. A song that first entered the charts in December and has a long run is listed the following year. This numbering scheme means that songs which are still in the charts cannot be assigned a final id, because their ranking might change. So the definitive listing for a year cannot be final until about April. In our listing we only use songs with finalised IDs, this means that every year we have to wait until last year's entries are finalised before using them.
(Source //bullfrogspond.com/, the original version used here was 20090808 with extra data from:
The 20150328 data was the last one produced before the Billboard company forced the data to be withdrawn. As far as we know there are no more recent data sets available. This pattern of obtaining the data for a particular year in the middle of the following one comes from the way that the Bullfrog project generates the identifier for a song (what they call the "Prefix" in the spreadsheet). Recent entries are identified with keys like "2015-008" while older ones have keys like "2013_177". In the second case the underscore is significant, it indicates that this was the 177th biggest song released in 2013. Now, of course, during the year no one knows where a particular song will rank, so the underscore names can't be assigned until every song from a particular year has dropped out of the charts, so recent records are temporarily assigned a name with a dash. In about May of the following year the rankings are calculated and the final identifiers are assigned. That is why we at the Turret can only grab this data retrospectively.
The original spreadsheet has a number of attributes, we have limited our attention to just a few of them:
There are a wide range of ways to assign scores to artists in order to work out which artists are most significant. You can easily download the spreadsheet and try your own approach. We've included one listing, of the top five artists of each decade within the Billboard chart. This has been calculated using a score that combines the position and the number of weeks in the charts.
Another approach is to assign each song a score based on one divided by the year position (so number 1 is 1.0, 2 is a half and so on). If we then total each artist's songs we get a rough idea of how significant they are. Excluding all songs from before 1936 here are the top 20 artists in the Billboard charts:
Again you can easily download the spreadsheet and do your own analysis. Here we've listed the twenty titles that have spent the most weeks in the Billboard chart with a note of how many versions of each song were Billboard entries:
The peak position that songs reached in the charts should show an smooth curve from number one down to the lowest position. This chart has more songs in the lower peak positions than one would expect. Before 1991 the profile of peak positions was exactly as you would expect, that year Billboard introduced the concept of "Recurrent" tracks, that is they removed any track from the chart which had spent more than twenty weeks in the chart and had fallen to the lower positions.
The month in which a song first entered the Billboard chart.
The effect of the "Recurrent" process, by which tracks are removed if they have spent at least twenty weeks in the chart and have fallen to the lower reaches, can clearly be seen in the strange spike in this attribute. This "adjustment" was intended to promote newer songs and ensure the chart does not become "stale". In fact since it was introduced in 1991 the length of long chart runs has increased, this might reflect the more conscious efforts of record companies to "game" the charts by controlling release times and promotions, or it could be that the decline in chart turnover reflects a reduced public interest in the singles charts.
When we plot the average length of a song's run for songs over the period covered it is clear that the chart has changed in the last 100 years. Except for a short period in the late 1960s and early 1970s the average length of chart run increased steadily from the 1920s to the 1990s.
This contrasts with other charts, such as the UK one where the recent trend has been for runs to get shorter. We have no good idea why this is.
A formula is applied to each entry to assign it a ranking within the year it was released. This allows followers of the Billboard chart to use a combination of the year and position to uniquely identify every entry. This formula takes into account the total success of the song, so it cannot be finally calculated until every song released in a given year has completed it's chart run (which might be well into the following year of course). As a result the final IDs for a particular year cannot be assigned until the end of the following year. This is one of the reasons why this site does not hold much information for the current year.
Many of the songs in this chart have been timed. This plot shows how the length recorded spans the range from 1:54 (0.0792) to 5:42 (0.2375). The mean song duration is 2:24 (0.1) and the median is 2:54 (0.1160).
The bullfrog chart also provides an estimate of the Beats Per Minute (bpm) of many songs in the chart.
The comments here are from the the MusicID impact site site. This version is not able to accept comments yet
Previous Comments (newest first)
19 Jul 2016
About a week ago I made a post here, as it contained links it is likely is in ther spam folder.
20 Dec 2012
billboard magazines 1964
would you know which issue contained the Bullet Pick top 100 for "The Reactions" songs "That Girl" and "Our Wonderful Love" on The Mutual Record Label? If so, where can I get a copy? Thank You.
The group "The Reactions" did not have any hits in the Billboard Hot 100 (or anywhere else)
2 May 2012
Book of Billboard Music Charts (1900 - 2009)
Is there a book available that documents the Billboard music charts from 1900, on? Billboard itself only sells books charting music from 1955, on. +BUT they used to sell a hard bound volume documenting music from the turn of the last century, up to 1955. +I would very much like to purchase a book that references the first half of the 20th century in its music charts.
Thanks for any direction you can give me. +Jeff Weinstein
Do a search for Joel Whitburn's books
16 Mar 2012
No. 1 song on December 24 1936
Looking for the No. 1 song on the day I was born--December 24, 1936.
The charts didn't really exist in the 1930s, that's why our listing of number one records starts in 1940
25 Sep 2011
Billboard info for songs listed from 1901 - 1929
Hi, again, this is my fifth time sending message to this site...What a spectacular site. Love it!! First, the comprehensive info, then, the nitty-gritty details on every songs. Thirdly (and most importantly) the forever responsive reply. Irregardless its a meaningful questions, corrections or downright simple questions.
Some sites don't reply at all..its annoying.
Anyway, my questions is during the period from 1901 to 1929, has billboard exist yet? Do they have charts and radios doing the counting of the song rotation? I thought billboard only start in the late 50's, wasn't it? I'm a music aficionado, songs and info from the 30's is hard to find, and yet you have the effort to go beyond the 20's.. May i know where in other sites i can search for 20's music info (other than wiki)?
We're glad to see that you enjoy the site. Your comments encourage us to keep putting in the effort.
To answer your question:
Billboard magazine started publishing in 1894. They published their first music "hit parade" in 1936 and their first "Hot 100" in 1958. We understand that from 1936 to 1958 the charts were irregular and didn't have a consistent form. In addition the focus was on "sheet music" sales so while the chart will say, for example, that the song "Sentimental Journey" was a hit in 1945 it won't tell you if the version by the Merry Macs, Hal McIntyre or Les Brown & Doris Day was the most popular.
A US music historian called Joel Whitburn has used the information from the irregular charts, the Billboard magazine contents and other sources to retrospectively calculate the charts from 1890 to 1958. This is published as a spreadsheet by a guy calling himself "Bullfrog" (the source is listed in the chart entry).
That is the listing we base our information on.