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ASK BILLBOARD: HOME CHARTS EDITION
Since Aug. 1, 1981 (the date that MTV also launched), I have been documenting my musical tastes on my personal pop chart.
I used to collect WLS radio charts from record stores in the Chicago area. The week that Billy Squier's "The Stroke" pushed Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes" out of No. 1 I was so p***ed because I felt that "Eyes" should have led for at least one more week. It was then that I got the idea that I should be compiling my own charts.
So I did, starting with a top 12, expanding to 20 a few years later, 40 after that and, currently, 100. (I am missing a few years' worth of charts from 1992-'93, '98-2004; not sure what happened to them ...)
I post my chart on my website. Here is the current top 10:
This Week-Last Week, Title, Artist
1-13, "Don't Turn Out the Lights," NKOTBSB
2-9, "The Silence (New Single Mix)," Alexandra Burke
3-7, "Changes," Dirty Vegas
4-6, "I'll Try," Jesse McCartney
5-8, "A Different Corner (Live)," George Michael
6-10, "3 Words," Elliott Yamin
7-11, "I Got Love If You Want It," Steve Miller Band
8-16, "Judas," Lady Gaga
9-12, "Have You Ever Seen the Rain ("American Idol" Performance)," Casey Abrams
10-14, "Can I Trust You With My Heart ("American Idol" Performance)," Scotty McCreery
My personal charts have been my diary. I look through them and actually remember where I was at the time, how my life was going.
And, while it's too bad that personal charts don't figure into Billboard's, at least mine show what I think the pop music scene should look like!
Thanks, and always set your life to music!
Thanks David, and George,
You said it best in describing personal charts as a diary. Music is so associated with one's memories that it makes perfect sense that a scan over past charts would bring back perhaps long-forgotten emotions.
Of course, looking at old Billboard charts - or, say, watching old TV shows - could do that, too. So, what is it about personal charts that make dedicated chart fans create them?
David, you noted a major reason. Part of the fun of following Billboard's tallies is feeling frustration when a favorite song peaks lower than you would have liked it to. By creating your own list, you can eliminate such potential disappointment.
For you, it was "Bette Davis Eyes." For me, it was liking Thirty-Eight Special's "Second Chance" so much and thinking it deserved to be a Hot 100 No. 1 that, for the week ending March 18, 1989, the "GT Hot 20," an ode in name to the Hot 100, was born. (With nine weeks at No. 1, "Chance" held the mark for most time at the top until I Nine's "Seven Days of Lonely" spent 12 weeks at No. 1 in 2007).
I began writing down my chart week-by-week in notebooks handed out in (and intended for) my ninth-grade French class. They were perfectly suited for the job, since they ran 21 lines deep - one for a dateline and 20 for each song. (Mrs. Driscoll must have thought I was quite studious when I asked for extras).
I, too, enjoy the memories that stir when looking at past personal charts (moreso than listening to, and cringing just a bit at, old airchecks from when, for four years, I counted them down on WTBU, Boston University's student-run radio station, and home of Howard Stern's first on-air job).
Showing just how much time has gone by, remakes of past "Hot 20" hits have become fairly common in recent years. Richard Marx even notched the chart's first No. 1 debut with "Hold on to the Nights 2007," a remake of his own chart leader from 19 years earlier.
I thought it was interesting that on both of the top 10s posted above, veteran acts are plentiful. Perhaps that's to be expected; if you're dedicated enough to create weekly charts over decades, you're likely faithful in your musical tastes, as well.
And, I'm wondering if such a hobby is geared heavily to pop fans, as opposed to other genres. As on your charts, Aimee Mann, Lightning Seeds, George Michael, Mariah Carey and "American Idol" acts have long been staples on mine (with Carey having scored the most "Hot 20" No. 1s, 26).
Before receiving your e-mails, I knew of some chart fans who've authored their own rankings, including a former Billboard co-worker (a pure pop fan, as well).
I even became friends with current WKBU (Bayou 95.7)/New Orleans DJ Harmon Dash when we worked at WBMX/Boston once we realized a shared passion for following Billboard charts and revealed, to our great surprise, that the other each compiled his own survey.
(When walking to the station one night, Harmon's bag was snatched. "The worst thing, Gary," he rued, "is that they got my chart!" We found humor, at least, in the image of some very perplexed thieves wondering what they were looking at. And, whether they agreed that Jon Secada's "Mental Picture" should have charted as high as it did).
Nowadays, it's perhaps less surprising that someone might maintain such a hobby as charting one's favorite songs. Twitter and Facebook have revealed every user's quirky interests, while websites like these allow music fans to make public their weekly rankings.
The internet/social media age has shed light on - and furthered the growth of - such similar pastimes as participating in fantasy sports leagues or writing fan fiction. Crafting homemade charts is simply the music-centric version of personalizing a treasured passion.
If any readers would like to pass along their weekly lists to email@example.com, I'll be happy to publish samples, as time and space permit, in "Ask Billboard."
As you say, David, fans' charts don't contribute to Billboard's, but perhaps including them in this space on Billboard.com would make for an acceptable compromise.