Falling Off The Charts? A Blogger Crunches The Top 10′s Numbers

Jul 19th, 2007 // Comment

Taking music writing from a series of shots in the dark to potential dialogue is one of the best things about the Web. So if you’re a Project X fan you might be interested in this post from The Wisdom of the Illterati, the blog of frequent Idolator commenter Robert Myers, in which he offers chart-geek brain food about the state of turnover on the Billboard Top 10:

Recently . . . someone complained about the seemingly glacial pace of the top ten this year. He seemed to think that this was either something new, or that “Girlfriend” was a particularly egregious example of how slowly things were moving. It is true that summertime, when the labels take a deep breath and try to relax before the fall onslaught, is a slow season for the pop charts. But not only is this summer no slower than previous years, it’s considerably faster . . .

So far this year, 43 records have made the top ten, 33 of which have finished their chart run . . . The average amount of time any record spent on the chart [in 2007] is around five and a half weeks . . . on average, it takes about six weeks for the charts to turn over completely.

That seems like a long time, but it’s nothing compared to previous years. In fact, the average length of time records stay in the top ten has been dropping every year since 2004.

According to Myers’ research, 2004 yielded an average of nine-and-a-half-weeks in the Top 10 per hit, 2005 fewer than nine weeks per hit, and last year less than eight weeks. Whether this means that pop fans are growing impatient with what they’re hearing, despite the appearance of songs that seem to never go away, is difficult to say–but it’s probably too early to call, though Myers sees signs of change:

More records on the charts means more opportunities for new artists, but buying habits change slowly, and changes in cultural taste can take even longer. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months, when the majors roll out their big guns: Usher, Mariah Carey, 50 Cent, Kanye West. It’s doubtful that any of them will rule the charts the way they did in the past–and I’ll go out on a limb and predict that both 50 Cent and Usher will essentially tank; that is, big first week album sales, no truly big hits, and a sudden plummet–but even if they do, they’ll be the freaks in the pack, the established artists who still benefit from name recognition and the old, atrophied distribution system. Meanwhile, a couple of dozen others will be thrashing around in the lower reaches of the charts, waiting for a chance to cut the big guys off at the knees. It’s only a matter of time before they do.

lies, damn lies, and… [The Wisdom of the Illterati]

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