Predicting the Future: Which Tunes Will Last?

September 18, 2015 by Jay Maxwell

CrystalBall-reflectSome sounds are unmistakable. One distinctive sound that I miss is the hiss and soft crackle made during the few brief moments when the turntable’s needle first hits the vinyl record before it reaches the first note of the song. Although considered by most to be noise, for me this sound indicated that the magic of the needle traveling along the groove was about to produce music from my favorite artist as I imagined the band performing right in my living room. It was always a spectacular experience to hear the transition from the popping noise to the ecstasy delivered to the ears upon hearing the first guitar riff or bass beat. At one time in my life, there was no greater joy than buying a new album, holding it in my hands to enjoy the intricacies of the 12”x12” cover art, gently removing the thin plastic wrapping and then carefully sliding the record out of its sleeve to lay it on the player for its first spin.

If someone had told me when I first started DJing there would come a day when music companies would not sell vinyl, I would have found it hard to believe. It came as quite a surprise to me when stores started selling music on a compact disc format. Gone was the hiss and pop at the beginning of a song; in return was the clear sound of the music regardless of how many times you played the song. Predicting the future is difficult. Certainly, I could not imagine many years ago that a future music format would not allow you to hold it. I would have thought the craziest idea in the world was to “own” music that you could not touch. Now, my iPad holds nearly 8,000 songs. I cannot touch any of the songs, yet at a touch of a virtual button, my virtual turntable will spin the same songs I bought 40 years ago. You can completely cover the iPad with just one album cover, yet the amount of music that it contains is immense compared to the ten typical tracks found on a record.

Equally difficult to predict are what songs will still be requested in the future to get people dancing on the dance floor. Forty years ago, it would have been impossible to convince me that “Play that Funky Music” (Wild Cherry) or “Boogie Shoes” (K.C. and the Sunshine Band) would still be two of the most-requested songs at any party in 2015. In my past, when I placed the album on the turntable, I would try to predict which songs would become radio hits. Often, my predictions were wrong. Now when a new song hits the charts and I start playing it at an event, I try to predict the tune’s staying power. Will the song be a hit like “Harlem Shake” (Baauer) that smokes the dance floor for a season, and then relegated to novelty status, returning only for reunion parties? On the other hand, will it be a song like the “Wobble” (V.I.C.) having the staying power of the “Twist” (Chubby Checker)?

This issue’s list consists of the hottest dance floor songs for the past two years that I predict will still be getting people on the dance floor five, ten, perhaps even 40 years from now. I imagine “Uptown Funk” played as often as “Yeah” (Usher) or “Celebration” (Kool & the Gang) decades from today. To think that “At Last” (Etta James) is still a wedding first dance standard after nearly 60 years is incredible. Will John Legend’s “All of Me” have the same effect on couples half a century from now? My prediction is that “Shut Up and Dance” will become as popular as “Love Shack” (B-52s), that Maroon 5’s “Sugar” will become a cake-cutting song of choice, and that “Summer” (Calvin Harris) gets played at every pool party for the next several years. Of course, whether my predictions come true will only be known in due time. That is why I am promising to write this same article again in 40 years—when I am 96 years old—to see which of these songs are still capable of getting people on the dance floor when they yell, “Play Something We Can Dance To!”

 

JAY’S STAYING-POWER PREDICITONS, 2015

SONG TITLE

ARTIST

CATEGORY

YEAR

BPM

1

UPTOWN FUNK

MARS, BRUNO/MARK RANSON

PARTY

2014

115

2

HAPPY

WILLIAMS, PHARRELL

PARTY

2014

80

3

SHAKE IT OFF

SWIFT, TAYLOR

PARTY

2014

80

4

BLURRED LINES

THICKE,ROBIN / PHARRELL

PARTY

2013

60

5

ALL OF ME

LEGEND, JOHN

LIFETIMELOVE

2014

63

6

TURN DOWN FOR WHAT

DJ SNAKE / LIL JON

PARTY

2014

100

7

ALL ABOUT THAT BASS

TRAINOR, MEGHAN

PARTY

2014

67

8

THINKING OUT LOUD

SHEERAN, ED

Wedding

2015

79

9

WATCH ME (WHIP / NAE NAE)

SILENTO

PARTY

2015

140

10

FIREBALL

PITBULL

PARTY

2014

123

11

TIMBER

PITBULL / KE$HA

PARTY

2013

130

12

SCREAM & SHOUT

Will.I.Am / BRITNEY SPEARS

PARTY

2013

130

13

SHUT UP AND DANCE

WALK THE MOON

PARTY

2015

128

14

THRIFT SHOP

MACKLEMORE

PARTY

2013

95

15

SUIT & TIE

TIMBERLAKE, JUSTIN

PARTY

2013

102

16

FANCY

AZALEA, IGGY

HIPHOPfresh

2014

95

17

SUGAR

MAROON 5

HOT HITS

2015

120

18

GDFR (GOIN’ DOWN FOR REAL)

FLO RIDA

HOT HITS

2015

146

19

PROBLEM

GRANDE, ARIANA

HOT HITS

2014

103

20

TREASURE

MARS, BRUNO

PARTY

2013

116

For the rest of Jay’s list, check out the September issue of Mobile Beat (#165)!

Print
Jay Maxwell Jay Maxwell (29 Posts)

Mobile Beat’s resident musicologist since 1992 (issue #11), Jay Maxwell runs the multi-talent entertainment company, Jay Maxwell’s Music by Request, LLC, in Charleston, South Carolina. He is also a professor of Business at Charleston Southern University. His passion for detail and continuous research of clients’ requests can be found not only in this column, but also in his annually updated music guide, Play Something We Can Dance To.


Filed Under: Issue, Issue #165, Music