Beatles Boost Music Game Sales To New High

How did I spend my long weekend, plus a(n unhealthy) portion of yesterday?

Analyzing the subject matter of all 1,000 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s, of course!

I wondered if by dissecting the content of each leading song since the Hot 100's launch Aug. 4, 1958, from Ricky Nelson's "Poor Little Fool," the first topper, through Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," the chart's current, and 1,000th No. 1, we might gain rudimentary insight into the minds of American audiences over the past five-plus decades.

(And, I could finally put my psychology minor to use).

From songs about love to hate, self-esteem to world issues, here is a (quite unscientific) look at the most popular subjects that have captured our aural attention via each of the 1,000 No. 1 hits in the Hot 100's history.

The Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s, From 1 to 1,000


CRAZY IN LOVE: Love songs, from those about innocent crushes ("I Want to Hold Your Hand") to more direct proposals ("I'll Make to Love to You"), and every degree of all that is good about love in between.

Five other examples:
"A Big Hunk O' Love," Elvis Presley, 1959
"The Stripper," David Rose and His Orchestra, 1962
"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?," Rod Stewart, 1979
"Love Will Never Do (Without You)," Janet Jackson, 1991
"My Life Would Suck Without You," Kelly Clarkson, 2009

Total: 658 (65.8%)

JUST DANCE: The Hot 100's summit and dance floors have long been synonymous, with songs from Chubby Checker's "The Twist" to Ke$ha's "TiK ToK" and "We R Who We R" celebrating music's uplifting magic.

Five other examples:
"The Hustle," Van McCoy & the Soul City Symphony, 1975
"You Should Be Dancing," Bee Gees, 1976
"Sir Duke," Stevie Wonder, 1977
"Vogue," Madonna, 1990
"In Da Club," 50 Cent, 2003

Total: 71 (7.1%)

LIVE YOUR LIFE: Self-empowerment songs centering largely on one's joy and peace of mind (and as opposed to those with more blatant romantic overtones). Notable examples: Aretha Franklin's "Respect," John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" and the ultimate movie motivation montage soundtrack, Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger."

Five other examples:
"The Greatest Love of All," Whitney Houston, 1986
"True Colors," Cyndi Lauper, 1986
"Man in the Mirror," Michael Jackson, 1988
"Hero," Mariah Carey, 1994
"Firework," Katy Perry, 2010

Total: 69 (6.9%)

BEAT IT: Anti-love songs, from Madonna and Rihanna's kiss-off tracks each entitled "Take a Bow" to Taio Cruz's warning "Break Your Heart."

Five other examples:
"Hit the Road Jack," Ray Charles, 1961
"These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," Nancy Sinatra, 1966
"Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," Steam, 1969
"You Give Love a Bad Name," Bon Jovi, 1986
"Irreplaceable," Beyonce, 2006

Total: 66 (6.6%)

SURF CITY: Long before Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg respectfully disagreed with Jay-Z and Alicia Keys about which coast inspires more dreaming, we've booked reservations at the "Hotel California," blessed the rain down in "Africa" and (twice) moseyed to the "Wild Wild West."

Five other examples:
"Downtown," Petula Clark, 1965
"MacArthur Park," Donna Summer, 1978
"Funkytown," Lipps, Inc., 1980
"Down Under," Men at Work, 1983
"Kokomo," the Beach Boys, 1988

Total: 41 (4.1%)

WAR: The weightier No. 1s, from peace protests (the Rascals' "People Got to Be Free") to songs preaching racial harmony (Michael Jackson's "Black or White").

Five other examples:
"Eve of Destruction," Barry McGuire, 1965
"Billy, Don't Be a Hero," Bo Donaldson, 1974
"We Are the World," USA for Africa, 1985
"The Way It Is," Bruce Hornsby & the Range, 1986
"Another Day in Paradise," Phil Collins, 1989

Total: 21 (2.1%)

AIN'T IT FUNNY: For our all our preoccupation with the more substantial subjects above, sometimes we just want our favorite music to make us smile. (And/or be sung by yuletide-enthused Chipmunks). Have we lost our sense of fun, though? Despite the popularity of such current acts as the Lonely Island, no clear-cut novelty song has ruled the Hot 100 since Rick Dees & His Cast of Idiots' "Disco Duck (Part 1)" in 1976.

Five other examples:
"Mr. Custer," Larry Verne, 1960
"The Monster Mash," Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers, 1962
"If You Wanna Be Happy," Jimmy Soul, 1963
"My Ding-a-Ling," Chuck Berry, 1972
"The Streak," Ray Stevens, 1974

Total: 14 (1.4%)

(And, 60 other songs - including instrumentals - did not fit in any specific category totaling double digits (i.e., less than 1%), accounting for all 1,000 Hot 100 No. 1s to date).

Whew.

Thus, my diagnosis on the human condition from 1958 to 2011?

As Dean Martin taught us in 1963: "Everybody Loves Somebody."

Unsurprisingly, love songs clearly comprise the overwhelming majority of content matter - 65.8% - of the Hot 100's 1,000 No. 1 songs, with no other category closer than a mere 7.1%, as leading titles about music itself take second place.

The words "love," "lovin'/loving" or "amor," in fact, appear in exactly 100 No. 1 titles.

Ultimately, to quote the chart's 189th leader that perhaps best summarizes the American mindset - per 52 years of No. 1 hits - "All You Need Is Love."

When it comes to smash songs, for half a century and counting, simply, we're obsessed with obsession.

(And, maybe suffering from a little "Night Fever," too).

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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