Billboard’s Hot 100 Turns 60

I rarely look at Billboard’s Hot 100. There’s really no reason beyond curiosity about the Hot 100 itself seeing as my music choices rarely, if ever, make the cut.

Billboard’s choices are based on popularity so it makes perfect sense that the metrics they use to create the list have changed over time, phasing out jukebox plays, adding streaming plays, etc. But the most significant change occurred in 1998 when Billboard abandoned the silly outdated-since-the-’60s rule that only songs which appeared as a retail single were eligible for inclusion. Yea, that left out just about everything.

As NPR’s Rachel Martin and Slate’s Chris Molanphy discussed on NPR’s Morning Edition, flipping off that 45 switch has had another important consequence when coupled with streaming behavior—when a new record is released these days, streaming people tend to listen the entire album (yay!). Not just the single(s).

The outcome is you can have a massive takeover of the Hot 100 by a single artist which recently happened with Drake’s Scorpion, which saw seven tracks sitting pretty on the list, knocking off the 54-year-old Beatles record of five (April 4, 1964).

While I am fan of lists, I prefer the human generated kind curated by people who pick things they love, even if they’re not popular.