If you take all the music in the world and throw away every song not related to weddings, and then take those songs left over and throw away the ones that aren’t danceable, you’ll still have a supercomputer’s hard drive worth of music. Just how much music are we talking about? The largest source of music and video metadata on the planet, Gracenote, shows more than 130-million tracks in their database. Fortunately for us, we have Mobile Beat’s annual Top 200 (courtesy of DJ Intelligence) which lists the most requested songs from the past year. These songs, at least, should be in every DJ’s library.
But what about current songs? Modern radio stations don’t leave anything to chance…and mobile DJs shouldn’t either. Music directors depend on music charts based on air play across the nation and around the world to track hits on a weekly basis. According to the CIA World Factbook, there are about 44,000 radio stations worldwide. That’s a lot of data to weed through.
Now assume there are, on average, about 50 albums released every week in the United States and the United Kingdom. And with an average of 12 songs per album, that’s about 600 new songs each week or 7,200 songs a year, and that’s probably a conservative number. Out of those 7,200 songs, less than a dozen will be popular enough to make Mobile Beat’s Top 200 list.
The point of this discussion is that there are just too many songs to keep track of each week. So how do you tell what’s hot right now.? The answer, at least for me, is music charts.
The following is my thought process and my interpretation of the past three months of chart results. Please understand that I don’t claim to be a guru of music hits; this article is just an exercise in attempting to pick hot songs that will appeal to the widest audience possible.
Every year we can expect at least one song to become a monster hit. Last year “Gangnam Style” by PSY became the first YouTube video to receive one billion hits! This year the “Harlem Shake” is trying hard to take its place. Starting with January charts, I noticed that “Gangham Style” was still number one on the YouTube even after 23 weeks on the chart. To my surprise, by March it had only dropped only one point to number two, behind the new number one hit “Harlem Shake.” (It’s interesting to note since January, “Gangham Style” has dropped off the Korean top ten music chart, and PSY is from Korea!) By March, “Gangham Style” had drop to number 29 on the Hot 100 with “Harlem Shake” solidly at number one. What this tells me is that I had better have a copy of “Harlem Shake” in my library because somebody is going to ask for it.
The new rap song “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (about shopping for deals) has stayed solidly in the top five since January when it was number two on the Hot 100 chart. Three months later (March 30th) it reached number one on Mainstream Top 40, number one on the Hot Breakout 100 and number two on the Hot 100 chart. Needless to say it’s a hot song
Other noteworthy recent hits include the return to the charts of Justin Timberlake, with his January 13 release of “Suit and Tie.” Joining Timberlake return to the charts after a long hiatus was Destiny’s Child, with “Nuclear,” which hasn’t held up as well. “Suit and Tie” is holding firm in the top five songs on the international charts as well.
Britney Spears’ successful lists of hits continues with “Scream & Shout,” currently sitting at number eight on both the Hot 100 and Breakout Hot 100 and internationally in the top 10.
Also hovering around the top 10 songs on numerous US charts is the former alternative hit song “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers, which is number one on Hot Rock, number four on Adult Top 40 and doing even better internationally.
Other charts worth a glance include Hot Latin songs, especially if you DJ in the western states. Holding firm at number one is “Limbo” by Daddy Yankee. And in Latin Air Play “Zumba” by Don Omar has been sitting at the number one spot for four weeks. If you play country music, Blake Shelton’s “Sure Would Be Cool If You Did” has held the number one County spot for six weeks.
By the end of March “Daylight” by Maroon 5 is shinning brightly at number one on the Adult Top 40, number two on Mainstream Top 40 and number four on Hot 100 Airplay.
Bon Jovi is holding strong with the number one album “What About Now” and the title track is charting well outside the US.
After studying the past three months of weekly music charts from around the world I would feel confident playing the following songs:
- “Harlem Shake” – Baauer
- “Thrift Shop” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
- “Gangnam Style” – PSY
- “Suit and Tie” – Justin Timberlake
- “Scream & Shout” – Britney Spears and Will I. Am
- “Stay” – Rihanna
- “Ho Hey” – The Lumineers
- “Daylight” – Maroon 5
- “Catch My Breath” – Kelly Clarkson
It goes without saying that it doesn’t matter what songs we DJs personally like, it’s what our guests like that really matters and paying attention to charts is a great way to keep current with today’s hits and can give us an edge up over the competition.
Mike Ryan started out writing for news radio, and has been a SoCal DJ on KGB and KSDS. He mobiles as Mike on the Mike. He is also the inventor/owner of Frankenstand Powered Speaker Stands. He is currently the president of the San Diego Chapter of the ADJA.
Filed Under: Business, Issue #149, Music
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