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Most-streamed track of the day by country (worldspotify.com)
159 points by sebastien-lbn 4 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 200 comments

Something to keep in mind: the top track in the world right now is ROCKSTAR, with about 5 million streams per day. The song lasts about 3 minutes, which means the song was streamed for 250k hours around the world. Spotify streams an average of 234 million hours per day, though, which means the number one song represents about 0.1% of the total. We have an unprecedented level of access to all sorts of different genres of music, so the number one song is barely relevant in determining this generation's taste in music. Consider this idea: if 99.9% of the population is listening to classical music, but are all listening to different pieces it's possible that none of the songs they are listening to would show up as number one, since there are many thousands of classical pieces. The number one song is determined by a small percentage of people (maybe even a fraction of a percent) that care about listening to whatever is most popular at the moment. The rest of the population just listens to music from any generation they like.

I heard this being refered to as the Muhammad Effect.

Tabloids love to write articles about most popular name for newborn kids in each country. And in countries with non-negligible Muslim minorities that name is often Muhammad (or some variation of it), because Muslims names have higher peak.

So there might be 50 times as much kids with non-Muslim names, but they have roughly even spread between names and don't show up in that statistic.

Then people freak out they are taken over by imigrants :)

I like this. It's concise, and captures something I've been saying about pop statistics for a while.

Statistics are such a big part of information these days (eg covid), and the poor intuitions people have about statistics are getting to be impactful.

Similarly, in the Western world, the most popular name seems to be some form of John.

Yes, though proportionally I think there are far more Mohammed's. Wikipedia says:

> It is thought to be the most popular name in the world, being given to an estimated 150 million men and boys.

One of my teammates recently gave birth to a boy, she talked a little about figuring out whether to name the kid Mohammed or not, with the major downside being that yeah, it's insanely common, especially among her nationality.

> with the major downside being that yeah, it's insanely common, especially among her nationality.

What's even the upside?

When people name their kids things like John or Mohammed, I just think of this comic: https://webcomicname.com/post/617835911135330304

From this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5O2Yjn3OXRk

Actually it seems to have started as Yohanan, Yo coming from Yahweh (god in Hebrew), and hanan (gracious).

Interesting took me a bit to get what you were trying to say but of course it makes sense. Basically, 99% of people are listening to “anything besides ROCKSTAR”, it’s just that that “anything else” doesn’t overlap with too many others “anything else”

I've referred to this as hyperfragmentation, you see it everywhere. You can find your match on anything -- if you like green boots displayed in a slightly warm light under a palm tree, you can find other people who do.

And very different from terrestrial radio where the top song was probably multiple percentage points of the total music airtime.

The rise of the internet in the 90's gave us "long tail" access to increasingly personal choices, and people thought it was great. Now, it's ALL long tail.

I'm finding that even major movie studios have a hard time generating buzz and leveraging their assets to get a prominent spot in media. There are a lot of movies with A-list actors that are falling completely under the radar on release, only to show up on Netflix months later. It takes everything a studio or record label can do to push a release into the mainstream consciousness now, because we all have so many different ways we're ingesting culture now.

This is exactly the discussion that occurs every general election in the UK. ie First pass the post vs proportional representation.


Interesting points, but I don't think the conclusion follows.

In your example, if the number one song is classical and made up 0.1% of listening time, would you conclude that classical music is not popular?

It's like saying water isn't a popular drink because only 0.1% of people buy water in the form of 20 fl oz Dasani bottles.

What I'm trying to say is that the number one song doesn't convey a lot of information. The genre of the number one song may be the most popular genre or one of the least popular genres; you can't know if you only look at the number one song. With your example, it could be possible that 0.1% of the population LOVES Beethoven's 5th symphony and exclusively plays it on repeat while the other 99.9% of the population hates classical music. Just to be clear, I'm not making any claims about what's popular or not, I'm just presenting an alternate hypothesis that would also result in the number one song not being representative of the overall population's preferences.

By definition, a popular thing will appeal to the lowest common denominator. I don't mean this in a derogatory way; not "to the average dumb person" but "to something we all share". I think as a consequence of that, popular music will be simple, easily consumable, have very little impact on an individual, and be easily forgotten / make room for the next one.

David Foster Wallace makes the same observation in his article "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction," which I read in the excellent "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" collection of some of his essays.

I think if I look at this any longer I might slip, fall down and break a hip!

Embarrassing how old I am when pretty much ALL of these songs sound like absolute trash to me. Repetitive auto-tuned, formulaic, mysoginistic, materialistic, mundane, simple-minded steam pile of fermenting dog poo.

I have a theory about this. I think the song format is conforming to the needs of advertisers.

That’s why every top song is just a person talking over a beat, usually with the same kind of vocal style, usually the same kind of beat.

It’s really hard to sing the word “Lamborghini” and have that fit into the lyrics and be heard clearly and have the brand image positioned correctly.

It’s also a waste of advertising space to have any duration of a song not include clearly spoken lyrics.

Taking this example, DaBaby’s “Rockstar” sounds basically identical to hundreds of other recent songs that follow the same format of a person talking repetitively over a simple beat (every Drake song for example). Five possible instances of integrated advertising in the lyrics: Lamborghini, Chevrolet Suburban, Maybach, Glock, and Apple FaceTime. 2 of them in the chorus.

So what kind of music will people accept, that maximizes spoken word duration, speaks those words clearly, provides brand image maneuverability within the lyrics, doesn’t distract from the lyrics, and won’t have a fatal loss of integrity as a result of obvious product placements?

That list of requirements leaves us with basically one style of one genre, and it’s this style of rap / hip hop. To any extent that a song deviates, it becomes less effective as a channel for advertising.

I think the most convincing piece of evidence in support of this is this lack of differentiation among artists, even in terms of vocal style. In ‘90s hip hop every artist had a completely unique style, all present-day hip hop fans love all of those legendary artists... and yet, every modern artist is just mimicking the exact same cadence as Drake or Kendrick Lamar.

None of this can be reconciled with the notion that songs becomes popular purely because people like them.

I think it comes down to the allure of spoken accents. Since the times of at least John Lennon's apologetically English elocution in the '60s, or perhaps Sinatra's brutish crooning decades earlier, popular music has been dominated by artists who affect a peculiar accent. This sets the artist apart as distinct while sounding new and exotic to the listener.

In hip hop, we have a genre which strips away almost everything except the vocalist's accent. What you really have is an audio sample of the interesting way a person pronounces words.

I believe the benefits of this are two-fold. First, I believe listeners from the same region subconsciously identify with certain key signifiers in the vocalist's pronouncation, providing a core fanbase. Second, I think other listeners who are high in openness are intrigued by the new way of talking.

I think this model works for both hip hop and country music. Other types of pop and indie music also seem to feature bizarre forms of singing. For instance, that dance monkey song that was #1 for a while. Contemporary indie-rock and new-folk musics seem to focus on sounding like an alien.

I dont think advertising plays a role even slightly. Nor do I think that rapper's fans are an important target market for lamboughini.

Run DMC never got paid for my adidas.

Advertising isn’t just about getting the audience to purchase the product. Convincing young people that a product confers high status will increase the perceived value of that product for every potential buyer whether they listen to rap or not.

And these aren’t impulse purchases. Nobody buys a Lamborghini the same week that they’re playing with Hot Wheels, but many will a few decades later.

There’s also indirect demand through rentals. Anyone with a credit card can rent a Lamborghini for a weekend. Most of the luxury cars you see on the roads in Miami are rentals, for example.

Pretty sure you'd say that about songs from whatever decade you grew up in, if those could be sorted by "most listened to" as well.

Top40 is already pablum, but it still has some tiny amount of curation (and therefore elitist dictation of taste) driving it. This chart, meanwhile, represents pure populist sentiment—it's "what the people want to hear." And populist sentiment has always been pretty much all of those things you said.

I don't think it's fair to say it's pure populist though. A _huge_ portion of Spotify users don't actively select their music, they just select an autogenerated (or even manually curated) playlist to go in the background. So the most streamed will inevitably be songs from whichever record company has bought algorithmic favour from Spotify.

Do you have sources to back up these claims?

I beg to differ, at least for the genres I have some attachment.

Kids that are into hip-hop still listen to 90s hip-hop, now called golden era.

On the other side 90s electronic music has great stuff, but the field has much advanced in quality and depth.

You are correct, but keep in mind that the music that survives a certain era is only a subset of what was actually played during that ear. Its often the more sophisticated songs that survive.

Yeah, and people twenty years from now will listen to some subset of the popular music being produced today. They just won't listen to the mediocre parts, just like people don't listen to mediocre 90's hip hop.

Everyone remembers "I'm Blue," an electronic music classic, but everyone tries to forget the music video.


Never seen the video. Was watching and waiting for a Crazy Frog (aka The Annoying Thing) to pop all of a sudden with its ringdingding. Thanks for posting.

Also, just because it's popular doesn't mean that people actually prefer that lifestyle.

It reminds me of the opening scene in Office Space where a white man listens to rap during traffic on his way to a typical 9-to-5.

Michael Bolton (Office Space character) listens to that music by choice--he knows all the words, it goes with his self-identity as a badass--see also the SEAL poster in his cube.

Its not just the lyrical content though (which is objectionable and sad enough), but everything else as well.

Universally auto-tuned and synthesized, short, overly repetitive, mumbling/distorted, and whatever backing track they do have could barely be called musical by any objective standard (i.e. a measure of complexity/interrelated instruments/harmonies/themes/tracks). It doesn't matter whether its an african-american mumbling about being a gansta or a breathy-autotuned tween girl, its the same issue.

Listening around the world, it seems to be universal with slight variations here and there.

It's genuinely depressing...

I knew the hipster-elitists on Hacker News would declare popular music as beneath them.

Many of these comments are ridiculous, it's hilarious. Feeling "depressed" that popular music doesn't fit your taste? Asserting that these artists have no talent? Let people enjoy what they enjoy, rather than criticize the subjective!

I really like the website. It is interesting how popular music in the US appeared in other countries, for instance Bulgaria, and how other countries most popular song I'd never even heard of the artist.

Some rap songs have very interesting lyrics but the whole environment attached to this genre makes it complete trash: all that hood style, bling bling, idiotic oversized cars,money,drugs,etc. Oh,and visible underware too.

I for one agree with you. There are some hip-hop artists, some of whose tunes seem interesting and deep. But I am turned off by the braggadocio, weed shoutouts, and the tendency to simply rap about rapping found in these artists' work and across the genre in general.

In searching for hip-hop without braggadocio etc., I have repeatedly been told by hip-hop aficionados that these tropes are inherent to the genre and it would be unreasonable to seek hip-hop without them, just like oldies rock was inherently about dancing or sweethearts, and country music about personal woes and drink.

It is a shame, because the genre seems to have the potential for more lyrically. Hip hop is now a global phenomenon with innumerable performers. Is there really no hip-hop out there with a more abstract lyrical approach, like for example Climate of Hunter-era Scott Walker?

To add some more context, he's listening to Scarface, one of the members of the Geto Boys. Geto Boys also had two other tracks on the Office Space soundtrack, Still (from that scene where they beat the hell out of the printer) and Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta.

Not on that soundtrack, but Mind Playing Tricks On Me is another a really good song by them and not at all formulaic, misogynistic, etc. Not saying that anyone attacked the Geto Boys.

From a quick spot check of this:


I’d say the quality of “most listened to” music peaked in the 80’s, with each decade that followed being the worst ever.

Most of my favorite artists are from the 90’s-2010’s, with a few exceptions scattered in the 40’s, 70’s and 80’s.

It could be that music got more diverse in the 90’s, and the billboard chart stopped being broadly relevant.

My point was that top40 (“most broadcast” + “most purchased”), and Spotify’s “most played” (i.e. “most listened to”) are distinct concepts. For the past, we only have access to the former, not the latter, because nobody can know exactly what songs people were listening to the most (e.g. which records/wax cylinders were purchased and then played more times in total; or, even further back, which pieces of chamber music were performed more times; or, even further back, which folk songs or hymns were sung more, rather than transcribed more.)

To focus on only the recent past: we only know about radio plays (determined by cronyist industry dealings) and about record/8track/cassette/CD/iTunes sales (where a record sale could represent a purchase due to virality—i.e. a purchase for status-signalling/watercooler-conversation/joining-a-subculture reasons, but where nobody actually listens to their purchase more than a few times; or it could represent a song everyone loves and puts on repeat all day every day. And a purchase could represent a fad that fizzles out; or a classic in the making.)

We can talk about what the top40 billboard charts were doing back then, but what people were “most listening to” is very likely a wholly different list with little intersection to the billboard chart. Just like this Spotify most-played list is actually an almost-entirely-distinct list from the current radio top40!

Intrigued that you mentioned the 1940s. Glenn Miller?

And all the other stuff that was going on in Jazz in the 30's and 40's

Good point, and yet I'm wary of anyone declaring that every time before now has always looked like now. Because first of all that's what everyone from now would naturally tend to think, since they don't truly know anything else. And secondly because it's just too Huxleyan or maybe it's Orwellian.

Yes but:

1) Chart toppers from previous eras are still listenable. Almost nothing on the charts today will be listenable in 2 years. Out-of-touch grandparents in the 1960s could have been convinced to listen to the Beatles. Nobody of a certain age will put up with Top 40 today.

2) It's not quite as democratic as you'd imagine. There are promotions, placements, trends, people sucking kids into clicks in big herds.

A major issue is that today music is more global, and there is a much wider, much lower common denominator.

It used to be 200M Americans, now it's 4B global listeners, Americans are a tiny fraction of that.

Plenty of Top 40 is still generic easy listening for anyone. Ed Sheeran - Perfect is the 8th most streamed song on Spotify and could have been released in basically any era. Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk is the 6th most viewed video on Youtube and sounds straight out to the 70s to me.

Absolutely - if Ed and Bruno were more prevalent, no doubt. But look at the actual Hot100. It's just not that, it's very dominated by unlistenable stuff.

Ēd Sheeran was so prevalent at one point that they had to change the rules for the Top40 (in the UK), limiting it to 3 from the same artist [0].

16 out of the top 20 songs were from Ed when he released his 2017 album ÷.


Yes, Ed as an individual is amazingly prevalent, I was aware of that. But overall, that kind of music, is not. Have a look at the Hot100 right now:


clearly the songs are all very “listenable”—they’re the most popular songs in the country and apparently the world right now

> Chart toppers from previous eras are still listenable. Almost nothing on the charts today will be listenable in 2 years. Out-of-touch grandparents in the 1960s could have been convinced to listen to the Beatles. Nobody of a certain age will put up with Top 40 today.

That feels like being quite selective. The Beatles were not the only band existing in the 60s, and a lot of stuff that did top the charts in the 60s was entirely ephemeral.

And... the Beatles were relatively unique in that they had a moderately wide range of style, certainly compared to their most of their contemporaries. Yes, grandparents in the 60s probably would have put up with Yesterday, Michelle, Till There Was You, A Taste of Honey and similar 'ballad/acoustic/soft' songs. They would not have put up with or enjoyed Long Tally Sally or Twist and Shout.

Source: Mother-in-law who was a young parent outside Liverpool in the mid 60s, relaying the reactions of her parents' generation to the Beatles and "beat/rock" music of the 60s.

I wouldn't be as uncharitable about popular music as you are. Like you, I don't enjoy much of it, but you can't deny that most of it is extremely catchy and fun to listen to. Especially in group settings, like parties or clubs.

That said, the amount of actually good music being made in the world right now is unprecedented if you're willing to look a little. No matter what genre you're into, one look at the Bandcamp homepage will reveal something that catches your attention. Then you have music blogs like Pitchfork, YouTube music reviewers, niche (and not so niche) subreddits, RYM, and Spotify's own discovery algorithms.

Most weeks I have far too much good music to listen to, and it's very hard to decide what to put on. If anything, I want an algorithm that can help me pick one out of 10 good albums.

It's so cheap to learn, make, and distribute music these days that there's something for you out there no matter what your tastes. This is truly a golden age.

I believe that a very important aspect of making music for young people is to ensure that old people don't like it.

Consciously or not but agreed that it must necessarily be so

And why won't those kids get off my lawn?!

"No no, the previous generation before me was unreasonable and condescending for no reason, but THIS time the music really does suck! Really!!"

No, it's the same as it ever was: like each generation before you, you're frowning on the darned inexplicable habits of the rising generation.

You're just noticing the mediocre but popular songs of today, while forgetting all the mediocre but then-popular songs of your own heyday that have since faded from memory (because they were mediocre).

I see the same thing sometimes in the gaming community when people try to laud old retro games. There were plenty of awful or completely forgettable games from the NES and SNES era, people just forget about them while remembering the standouts like Mario, Contra, Megaman, etc. Same thing with music, or TV, or movies, or books.

Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crap. In a given year only a handful of truly amazing songs are going to become popular.

And for what's its worth, background listening music doesn't have to be particularly great.

Or in other words, I'm not going to bother curating a collection of Wagner pieces for listening while cooking dinner.

What you describe is actually a very common thing, there's a very intelligent South Park episode on this.

When I hear new music I try to understand what's good about it, in the end if younger people enjoys it there's a reason. Doing so helps me to stay connected with where new trends are going, which is kinda useful.

I think the same thing every time I see a top 40 or whatever. Not only do I not know who any or them are, but when I try to listen to a few to see why it's so popular they all sound like the exact same (terrible) song. It's like looking at trending youtube videos, I have no idea who watches that shit.

That's what happens when you optimise music for sales and maximum listeners, rather than artistic freedom and expression.

Chart music isn't created by individuals or bands, , it's created by an army of creative workers in the background. There's an entire industry that is dedicated to creating bland, mass marketable songs. It's the musical equivalent of McDonalds, technically good (i.e. well produced to a specification), consistent, and popular within the largest demographic possible. It's the lowest common denominator, music for people who don't like music.

It's all formulaic garbage, and it doesn't pretend to be anything but. Most pop songs are written by the same handful of songwriters, Max Martin has written 23 Billboard chart topping songs for other artists. You don't even get bands any more, solo singers are easier to work with, and the backing track can be created entirely with DAW software by a team of professionals, no need to deal with fickle band members and a recording studio, the singer barely even sings, we've got autotune for that. Pop music is created by an army of faceless creatives with the pop star nothing more than a figurehead.

That said, I have nothing against pop music, it fits a purpose and most people enjoy it. Nobody forces me to listen to it, so I don't. Just like I don't criticise McDonalds burgers for being tasteless and bland compared to the non-franchise, locally owned burger bar down the road.

I think the answer is always the same. Children. They seem to love this low quality stuff and play it on repeat.

that's probably what your parents were saying about the music you listened to when you were young, too.

And they were for the most part correct. The 90's and early 2ks were filled with trash music. The only nice thing compared to the pop lists today is that those bands still actually played instruments.

I look back at what I listened to then and maybe a handful of those groups were actually anything good. The rest was appealing to an unrefined 13 year old, which really says a lot about how shitty that music is.

I listen to a lot of stuff from the late 60's and early 70's now, as well as newer stuff full of band names that would never end up in the top 500 lists.

My parents generation of music was undoubtedly more wholesome and serious than my own, and its not even a comparison to now.

If music is supposed to be a reflection of society, it's no wonder as society is such trash now.

I have some spreadsheets* that have every charting hit on the billboard charts. I haven't gone through the general charts that much, but I'd say the ones I have gone through are really surprising. We tend to think we know what the most popular music from the past is, but if you look at the singles that charted the highest throughout modern history you'll find a lot of forgettable crap.

*Technically the data is copyrighted, so sadly I can't share.

Even without a spreadsheet that's obvious if you spend 5 minutes thinking about all the popular songs you know from the past.

We only remember the interesting and original songs, we don't remember the bland and forgettable songs from previous years. People compare the songs we remember with the generic chart topper du jour and complain that all music these days is bland and forgettable.

People remember Michael Jackson's music not just because it was incredibly popular, but because it was unique. People don't remember that during the same time, songs such as Chuck Berry - My Ding-A-Ling [1] also grabbed the number 1 spot.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaEC-lWSlmI

I didn't think tabulated data was copyrightable

Facts are not copyrightable, collections of facts are, thats why you cant copy google maps but you can go outside and write down the same data from your own observations. They have to be significant enough to be covered by copyright. A top 40 is maybe copyrighted.

Collections of facts are also not copyrightable. What's copyrightable is the editorial decision to include or exclude -- or, potentially, arrange -- some facts. This is why phone books weren't copyrightable - there is no creativity involved in choosing what's included ("everything") or the order in which entries appear ("alphabetical").

"Every charting hit" is also a comprehensive list involving no creativity. Order them chronologically and call it a day.

Some phone directories were said to include made up names and numbers that could be used to copyright phone directories. i.e. Company A provides a phone directory with a smattering of nonsense data contained within, Company B copies that wholesale which gives Company A ammunition in a copyright case as they point to the nonsense data and ask Company B to explain why they are included (which they obviously can't without saying, "We copied your directory"). This may just be urban lore.

It is definitely true as to maps; terrestrial maps include streets that don't actually exist. (Nautical maps don't do this.)

I haven't heard of it for phone books, but it could be true.

Extremely serious and wholesome hit from 1960: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yw0bLHTOb0

Edit: by the way, you realise that your grandparents were probably moaning about the music your parents listened to? And their parents ditto, and so on. Nothing new about it.

  Extremely serious and wholesome hit from 1960
Wow, I know nothing of Stewart's work before Silly Wizard.

Compared to an autotuned stripper mumbling into a microphone, yes, it is.

They had the same kinds of reaction to Ozzy and his ilk.

It might be helpful to understand your perspective on this, but a quick sampling of the top albums of 1994-1996 shows almost all modern classics. The singles and one-hit wonders, maybe that's a different story.

I hated the popular music when I was young too.

There's part old subjective rant part truth in this; I've listened to countless hours of any genre of music [0] and this generation fails to appeal to any part of my brain most of the time it's flabbergasting. Every time I hear something that makes me feel 'yeah.. finally' turns out it was some old tune I just didn't know about. There's no feel, no harmonic subtlety, no grit .. I think the pop ethos of music died a few years ago, it doesn't represent something sacred for society, it feels like a commodity.

This happens to most: "I'm not getting old, the music is getting worse! Really!!"

Nope, you're just getting older and more out of touch, and your own out of touched-ness stops you from recognizing it as such. It's kind of like the Dunning-Kruger effect that way.

There's a ton of variety and good music out there if you bother to look. If you can't find any, that says something.

I think part of it is that people become more calcified in interests and habits as they get older. For example, when I worked at Costco I noticed how much more stubborn older customers were -- contrary to stereotype, younger customers were generally far nicer and more flexible. In high school, people my age were open to all sorts of things; now that I'm in my 30's, people have more established interests. My own wife has pointed out that I'm fairly particular about friends now sharing similar interests.

Meh, I didn't have to look before to get interesting music. And my interests are more diverse than when I was young. I span the whole music spectrum. From old to new, pop, kitch, complex, simple, classical, thrash, whatever. Today's mainstream is really poor.

to give you a weird example, some girl on youtube decided to cover knight rider's theme with violin's only, you can see how this simple tv show got very interesting harmonics and melodic emotional structure.

I would've thought we'd at least be "over" the auto-tune thing by now, but it's more popular than ever!

I don’t see why it would ever disappear. It’s essentially a device that transforms your vocal chord into an instrument. So you can sing roughly the tone you have in mind. That’s huge. I often think of melodies that I have no ability to reproduce on any instrument — but I can roughly hit the notes with my voice.

Maybe auto-tune is like guitar distortion and we never get over it.

Auto-tune is like special effects in movies, virtually every movie has special effects but they're only noticed when it's badly done.

I like to remind people the brilliant CGI work in Jurassic Park and Toy Story was contemporary to the cheeseball CGI in made for TV movies. People can guess what's made on a computer in Toy Story, but they never knew the well-done stuff trying to be realistic was done in part or in whole on computers.

The late '90s were especially big here because computers and tools were getting so cheap. The same tech that let big space battles happen in Deep Space 9 and Babylon 5 also made stuff that...did not age so well.

Some people are using autotune as a stylistic choice (for instance Travis Scott and T-pain way before that) which I think is kinda cool.

I'm old enough to hate the topsong from almost every country, but I really like Indonesia's: https://open.spotify.com/track/7ksK7gpPDFdY4JLHr1hKfY?si=dgj...

I wonder why that is. Maybe 2020 Indonesian music is similar to the music I heard as a teen?

Try Lithuania, they seem to be stuck in the 80s. For reference: Most streamed song currently is Blinding Lights by The Weeknd.

EDIT: Malaysia (Stuck with U by Ariana Grande) is an option too. Thailand (คิด(แต่ไม่)ถึง by Tilly Birds) also and Japan (夜に駆ける by YOASOBI) never lets you down, of course.

I agree completely, but to my mind this is more a validation that there is a lot more money to be made with things that scale. With respect to taste and quality, it is unfortunate that this means lowest common denominator mass market trash. The race to the top is a race to the bottom.

I thought the same. I've felt this about all pop music after the 90s, though. During the 90s I think there were some genuinely great songs. But since then it's just been recycling the same old crap over and over again.

I have some bad news about all the music you grew up with. A lot of it was bad, too. Some of it was good, and that's what you remember. The rest was unmemorable.

Generally isn't older music more misogynistic?

Maybe in spirit, but it's very explicit now

You can't get any more openly offensive than the current "trap" genre. It's basically kind of its point.

Yeah, I thought Spotify played music? Whatever the most-popular NA track is right now, it's definitely not music.

Don't worry, you're not alone, I have a similar opinion!


I think that level of contempt for most of humanity is a bigger problem than what people are complaining about on this thread.

Hey, it worked for Ed Bernays.

I feel like it takes a different kind of person to be able to go past a top chart or the FTOM artist and discover that there is more to music (or really any other thing) than whatever the rest of a globalized world finds "good".

Perhaps. But if so, I don't think the difference is in any intrinsic quality, but merely in circumstance. Having been exposed to good music or other art is a privilege. So is having the time to search for it. If the people who listen to crappy mainstream music had more spare time and less stress, they might seek out better alternatives. The fact that they don't doesn't entitle us to dehumanize them by comparing them to computer-generated non-player characters in a game. Instead, we should decry the system that feeds these people crap when they just want some kind of relief from their already crappy lives.

For anyone else who is unfamiliar with this usage of "NPC", here is the definition from Urban Dictionary:

> NPC - Modern (2018): A term now used to describe a 'Social Justice Warrior' or SJW, as their behavior mirrors that of traditional in game NPCs, in that their thoughts and actions are limited to their programming (programming being mainstream media in this case) and lacking any critical and independent thought process.

I think that's wrong. An SJW's life revolves around politics and they have extreme opinions. An NPC doesn't really care about politics. Their involvement is restricted to repeating slogans they heard someone else say. Like game NPC's they all say the same thing, and if you probe further there is no depth. Of course if you change the subject to something non-political that all changes.

Many years ago, before the word NPC had even been invented and when the political battle lines were drawn differently I passed by a small demonstration. I walked up to them and asked what they were demonstrating about and got a short reply. I asked a natural follow up question and got the response that I "should talk with that guy over there, he's the one in the know".

I feel that everyone gets the point backwards.

If we were in a videogame, you would be an NPC: you don't have a person controlling you and don't know anything about the world outside the world.

Ah so its one of those "invented" memes from 4chan the Far/Alt right use.

Ironically exactly the people who would be considered "squares"

Also, NPC stands for "Non-Player Character", those that you can talk to in computer games but can't play as.

Actually that's from RPG's I am pretty sure Gygax et al invented the term though it might even come from early Wargaming Campaigns.

Thank you friend! Should have provided some context ;)

I felt exactly the same way when I listened. Makes me sad.

That was my first reaction, too. Generic, computer-generated mush. It doesn't take a skilled musician anymore to be a star.

Then I recalled my youth. I was an angry teenager in the early to mid 1990s. My parents hated the grunge and punk music I listened to. Now to be fair, that music has held up pretty good. But if you look at the top 40 music from that era... not so much. Trashy euro-pop dominated the charts.

I guess we'll have to wait for a decade or two to see what holds up and what don't.

You're not old. Or maybe a little.

Music on the charts is absolutely getting worse due to globalization, attention span, production, competitive marketing, margins, video/image/brand before song, definitely removal of the 'gatekeepers', lower barriers to entry, mass-market/direct audience.

Yes, yes, a lot of pop music has always been crap, but 'this time it's different'. Truly. It's more derivative, fewer chords, lyrics that don't make sense or inspire, overproduced, repetitive.

'Popular Music' is dead - it's just memes.

Think of these artists as just people 'wanting to be famous' and doing image, memes, publicity, fake celeb fights, TV show appearances - it's all the same thing. Some of it might have a song.

You know the 'processed food magicians' who manipulate ingredients to find the 'sweet spot' of sweetness/bitterness whatever ... that drives a lot of food to taste bland? Same thing. You have mega producers behind most artists' hits. The artist is a brand, the label does the marketing. That's it.

There is quite a bit of good stuff but it just doesn't get much publicity.

Also - one big difference - most 'good music' today is not very 'up' or 'hit' oriented.

Think of Van Halen 'Jump' - big, loud, stadium 'rock' sound, but also very accessible. Huge energy. Alpha chords! Most good music these days is much more subtle, it doesn't 'grab you' - which is totally fine, but it means maybe it's not as radio playable.

There's a lot of really interesting and weird artifacts of pop culture music, but most of it is totally unlistenable.

Tons of kids these days don't listen to Hot 100 either.

> Also - one big difference - most 'good music' today is not very 'up' or 'hit' oriented.

+1. Pop music is just a genre. There is plenty of other new stuff out there. Just gotta put in the effort to find it and enjoy it.

Maybe the comparison to food is apt: sadly there are alarming rising rates of obesity. And the culprit is most likely cheap, sugary-salty (addictive) industrial food.

No idea why you’re getting dv’ed

Some assorted notes / points of fascination:

- With the sole exceptions of Brazil and Argentina literally all of the "green" countries in Latin America have top songs with the Same. Exact. Beat. "One and-Three Four, One and-Three Four..." all throughout. And interestingly Spain, Italy, France, and Turkey have a very similar feel, albeit with some deviation. Not that I mind that beat (it's perfect for the club), but it's still interesting how little deviation there is.

- On that note, Brazil's top song is delightfully weird. Not a single drum except for a ludicrously-overdriven kick. I hate it but love it at the same time.

- Literally every predominantly-English-speaking country has the same exact top song. I would expect at least some variety, but nope, America's got their musical tastes by the balls, apparently.

- A surprisingly large amount of Europe has generally embraced American-style rap, though there are some exceptions (e.g. Spain, Italy, France, most of Eastern Europe).

- Poland's, on that note, has got a neat vaporwave/seapunk vibe to it that's pretty cool. Probably my favorite of the bunch.

- Japan's top song is exactly what I would expect Japan's top song to sound like, lol

- Indonesia's top song fuckin' slaps. Very close second-favorite.

- India managed to introduce me to Melanie Martinez, and I gotta say I'm a fan; very similar in theme, style, and catchiness to Lily Allen's "Not Fair", which is another favorite of mine.

Brazil never fails to surprise me. I thought I was going to catch up with some new song and talk with friends.

But turns out it was a funk. And the title "Na raba toma tapão" in Portuguese is hilarious, something like "Slap that arse"?

Nothing like the old style funk, but a style that mixes other styles and very popular in the outskirts of Rio and Sao Paulo, and also in the favelas - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funk_carioca

How many beats do you expect there to be?

I mean, most popular music is in 4/4 time, some of it is in 3/4 time. You have some oddball songs like "Solsbury Hill" is 7/4 time.

Reggae is an interesting one: it's four beats to a bar like 4/4 time but often they don't play the one beat at all. It comes out like: _ 2 3' 4 _2 3' 4

This is called the one drop rhythm. I'm glad most of reggae is one drop, it gives it a laid back 'cut time' sort of feel.

When I hear the songs from Central Europe I think more "German style rap" than "American style rap".

I guess your biases depend on what you base yourself on.

I love complaining about 'kids these days' & their music tastes as much as the next guy, but don't lose sight of the fact that we now have more access to amazing music than ever before. You just have to find it. I thought I would share some cool links that help me find music.

NPR Tiny Desk concerts are one of my favourite ways to discover new music. Their audio team is so great the recording often sound better than the studio versions:

Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals:


Snarky Puppy:


KEXP has an amazing YouTube channel where they post full performances of an amazingly diverse array of artists. Discovered my currently favourite artist ADHD via them:



Public Service Broadcasting:


Paste Magazine also has some really great sets:

Kate Tempest:


Avishai Cohen:


There is so much going on that doesn't involve Spotify at all, for example funk band Vulfpeck sold out Madison Square Garden without any charting songs, manager or big label, just by having a passionate internet fandom. They recorded it on like a gimballed iphone, It's glorious: https://youtu.be/rv4wf7bzfFE?t=591

Spotify is one of those services that it never occurred to me wasn't already truly-global (i.e. penetration into all markets.) But so many of the countries on this map are dark. (And aren't available in the raw chart data, either.)

Is there some other more-popular music-streaming service in these other markets, that's keeping Spotify out? What do they use in China? In Russia?

Or is music-streaming as a whole, just not popular in some markets? (I guess that could make sense for sub-Saharan Africa, given low Internet connectivity; but it's surprising that it also holds for the northern parts.)

>In Russia?

Yandex seems to provide every service a Russian needs, from email, finding apartments, to taxis. Yandex Music seems to be the preferred streaming app.

According to Yandex Music chart (https://music.yandex.ru/chart), currently the most listened track in Russia is "Плачу на техно" by Cream Soda, Хлеб. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1Snj1Pt-Hs Surprisingly, it's not rap.

Spotify is available in many countries that appear dark on the map, such as 13 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.


Yeah, I visit South Korea often, a lot of koreans use Youtube music surprisingly. It makes sense since they also watch a lot of clips of shows.

Spotify is available in Hong Kong, so not sure why it's not reflected on the map. As others have said there is QQ music (Tencent/Spotify) in the mainland.

Tencent Music is a JV between Tencent/Spotify and is the dominant platform in China.

Clicked on four countries in Western Europe and then the United States and they were all the same pop song... not sure what I was expecting I guess

Rockstar is a top song on Tiktok — maybe that's the reason?

I was expecting them to be unable to report on Europe due to gdpr

Brazil’s song could be translated as “Get fucked in the ass with a huge slap”. As a Brazilian, I don’t know what I was expecting.

Same here. For one second I thought I was going to listen to some local rock, or MPB. But forgot it could be a funk, sertanejo, etc. Really funny (funnier in Portuguese) title tho.

As a human, I can’t say I’m surprised.

Cool page!

As of the top songs, I checked the top songs of Japan, Sweden and English speaking countries. And I see a funny pattern: Both English speaking and Sweden have black/ghetto song as top song, while Japan top song sounds like something I would hear while walking in a shop in Shibuya. (J-Pop for youngsters)

I've had Spotify since closed beta, and in Sweden it was "the cheap option for young folks" (instead of just pirating it), and I assume it was marketed the same in the English countries (since I got my closed beta ticket through a UK site, using VPN)

Now, Spotify is not that popular yet in Japan. It's quite new here but the marketing is heavily focused on young people, meaning places such as Shibuya and Harajuku are filled with ads and commercial for it. Hell, the Japanese commercial about Spotify on spotify is about a young couple trying to have sex and the mood being ruined by surrounding noise (mom downstairs).

Regarding general change in music in the US over time, this study looked at ~50 years of US pop songs and found changes. I wonder about the rate of other countries pop song subject change is?

See link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/03057356177482...

"As in 1960, the predominant topic of pop music remains romantic and sexual relationships. However, whereas the proportion of lyrics referring to relationships in romantic terms remained stable, the proportion including reference to sex-related aspects of relationships increased sharply.

"References to lifestyle issues such as dancing, alcohol and drugs, and status/wealth increased substantially, particularly in the 2000s. Other themes were far less frequent: Social/political issues, religion/God, race/ethnicity, personal identity, family, friends showed a modest occurrence in top-40 music throughout the studied period and showed no dramatic changes.

"Violence and death occurred in a small number of songs, and both increased, particularly since the 1990s. References to hate/hostility, suicide, and occult matters were very rare. Results are examined in the context of cultural changes in the social position of adolescents, and more specifically in light of the increased popularity of rap/hip-hop music, which may explain the increases in references to sex, partying, dancing, drug use, and wealth.

Wow that's some surprisingly bad taste in music, world-wide! Interesting and depressing map.

i found most of it horrible. norway's didn't make me feel too sick.

I clicked around a bit and I've not heard any of these songs. I guess I'm out of the loop on what's popular since I stopped watching TV or listening to radio.

All I'm getting now are items curated by my own tastes (and to some degree the whims of spotify), and I'm happier for it. I still discover new bands and keep track of new releases, but it's all within my own favourite genres.

The democratization of music. Seems like this is what you get when the marketing departments don't determine what's listened to.

This is kind of interesting to see because, for today, pretty much 90% of the most-streamed tracks seem to be hip-hop/rap. I guess it's really the most popular genre right now, rock's time has passed by. I'm sure bands like Imagine Dragons or some other radio-friendly arena rock could get the top spot for a week or two, but rap seems to be dominating. Wonder how long this will keep up?

Stream count is super low for India. I don’t think Spotify is used there. From my limited experience, YouTube and local apps seem to be way more popular.

to many competitors for spotify Gaana, Saavn, Youtube, Apple, Amazon, hungama, Jio, Wynk, but it only launched a yearish ago and nearly has all local music + excellent algorithm to find songs, so will not take time to catch up.

To branch out, I tend to pop into the Viral 50 charts to see what's a bit less conventional that's rising in regions.


The Top 50 lists at Spotify all suffer from what I assume are cross-cultural advertising campaigns.

The mere exposure effect means that merely being exposed to something cause us to prefer it almost automatically.

So if you hear "Rockstar" a bit more than the other songs, then you start to prefer it. It's like the olds saying in radio: If they don't like a song now, just keep playing it till they love it.

This has really amazing music that I just don't get exposed to.

Could you add past history too (e.g. charts from days/weeks/months ago)? I'm happy to help build a quick CRUD API if you need to store the data. (myusername@gmail.com)

The data is entirely available from https://spotifycharts.com/regional including daily CSV download links since 2017-01-01.

The OP submission just renders it on a map.

Wow ! Also integrates the browser back button a history of the countries I select

Privacy Badger has replaced this Spotify Player button.

That is probably because you have been on another site that emmbeds Spotify. I have had internal services blocked by Privacy Badger because it was included in two different internal test-sites.

How do you click on Singapore? This makes small countries with lots of people miss out on being able to see their countries ...

Got the same problem with Lichtenstein

I am surprised the volumes of the most streamed song is that low. My favorite YouTube channels get millions of views.

There's a huge long tail to music, especially these days with radio stations no longer dictating taste to any great extent. Youtube, probably not so much; the almighty suggestion algorithm takes care of that.

The map is nice, but usability is a bit lacking since it's very hard to pick out some of the smaller countries.

I found that I could zoom in and pick them out pretty easily. If you're on a phone maybe not.

ROCKSTAR is not only crap, it's #1 in like every English-speaking country... JFC /opinion

Anyone know how to find all songs between certain number of streams? Say 10 million and 100million?

Another comment mentioned the CSV data sources

It's sort of political game but Sporify is blocked by Spotify itself in many countries.

Probably a distribution rights / local laws thing. International media distribution is complicated and a lot of authoritarian regimes control it tightly.

The India one is definitely not what a majority of Indians would listen.

Interesting how many Puerto Rican artists are trending in many countries.

Well, summer is comming. Got to have some latin grooves for that beach feeing.

I cant click singapore.

Super cool! Nice work!

They all suck lol

Somewhat saddening to see countries as diverse as Ireland, the UK, Netherlands, South Africa and Australia all promoting American rap over the output of their own people.

On the flip side, it's fantastic to see so many countries not doing so.

> countries as diverse as Ireland, the UK, Netherlands, South Africa and Australia

These countries are in a common cultural and linguistic sphere.

Yeah. He/she probably has a point if Japan or India has the same song as Top 1.

Funny enough, I used to be saddened by the fact most of my country's people basically only listen to local music instead of "good stuff" from the world (to be fair, the language/culture barrier is higher in my case).

South Africa does have it's own music scene, particular house music which is HUGE here, and Gqom which is becoming big globally.

Why is that saddening? I'm glad to see that American hip hop is as popular as it is in those countries. Makes me even happier when it's an African American hip hop artist.

It's sad because we would expect/hope that the diversity of human cultures would be lead to very different songs being popular in different parts of the world.

It's also sad because the three most common word of the song in question ( Dababy - Rockstar ) are: "Yeah" (21 occurences), "Woo" (15 occurences) and "nigga" (13 occurences). The next one in line are "cop", "pull" and "glock" (6 each). This is probably not the culture the US hopes to export.

Just because at the moment there is an American song leading the charts doesn't mean that is always the case. You look at those lyrics on their own and they are just words that don't may not make sense. But if you look at the song as a whole, it's an artist's expression. And it seems to resonate with a lot of people around the world. Criticizing the song contradicts your value for "diversity of human cultures".

Nevertheless, my answer explains why some people find a bit sad that today, people in most countries all seem to resonate with the exact same artistic expression. And that this expression which resonates with so many people involve lyrics like :

"My daughter a G, she saw me kill a nigga in front of her before the age of two"

Which to me don't really sound so happy. So if that is really what moves most of the world today, yeah I am a bit sad.

Things don't have to be happy to be moving.

It doesn’t move the rest of the world. Most people don’t have taste. People listen to music like that for the same reason people watch The Big Bang Theory: because everyone else does.

This was a major hit in 1980, in basically all anglophone countries. You maybe... don't want to listen too closely to the lyrics. To be honest I'm kind of surprised radio stations are still willing to play it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_Stand_So_Close_to_Me

Makes the lyric you quote seem fairly innocent, really.

if you are that uncomfortable with depictions of violence in song, you will need to reckon with the entire long history of popular music, because it has been a subject in demand since long before now.

Just the steamroller of American mass-market pop culture crushing any diversity where it can find a footing.

It's the cultural equivalent of a species making it into a new biome and wiping every species with the same niche.

Americans find it flattering and even positive (because how couldn't be positive it the rest of the world becomes more like yourself ?) but it's really quite dramatic.

I mean, I guess it's cool that a large swath of the world seems to like listening to my country's music, but I was really hoping for something distinctly Australian or Irish or English or Icelandic or South African or what have you, and yet in all those cases it was the exact same song.

I do wonder if expanding the site to show, say, the top 5 instead of just the absolute top song would be a better indicator; as it stands, it feels like Rammstein was right: "We're all living in Amerika".

The anglophone charts are pretty global; if the chart-topper is American this week in the US it will probably be the same in other anglophone countries. If it's English, ditto (including in the US).


Come to Spain and you'll listen to sweaty Latino rubbish all day long.

What's wrong with Latino music? Spaniards seem to like the music from their former colonies.

Music from the former colonies is okay; I love Cuban music for instance. This is some bullcrap from Puerto Rico that thugs with sagging pants and gang tattoos listen to.

If you look beyond position 1 though, in the current global 25 most streamed you have 24 unique artists, of which 15 are from the US, 4 Canadian, 2 English, 1 Scottish, 1 Australian and 1 New Zealander.

The collect musical taste of the world is garbage. At least everything I played today was written in the 19th century. I’m pretty sure it’s been going down hill since then.

Agree with many comments. If music were the way to describe society everything went to the hell. The problem is not only the computers usage in the music, is that in terms of composition, lyrics, emotions, everything sucks. Any of these songs are crap that someone with the most basic knowledge on a DAW could make. "Roses" which is the less shity song sounds like a crap version of "Moonlight" from Gaullin. It would be awesome to have a complete musical review something like genres, rhythms, duration, "instruments" you know even if those are drum loops and synths, etc.

I’m reminded of when Jazz became a thing and practically everywhere said “it’s not classical, it has no soul, etc. and therefore sucks”. It’s pop music because... well... it’s popular. You may not like it, but a lot of people do. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Adam Neely had a really good video showcasing newspapers and editorials denouncing the Jazz genre when it appeared. It seems to have been taken down, unfortunately.

Basically, as you get older, selection bias regarding music becomes more prevalent, and you forget the bad music you liked and end up only remembering “the classics”. Just because a song charts doesn’t mean it’ll last.

Jazz was IMO the finest American art form, and it was objectively instrumental in desegregating the US. It gave America a ton of black heroes like Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. It left a permanent stamp on music and paved the way for rock'n'roll. It pushed the technical boundaries of many modern instruments.

I get what you're saying about becoming older and selection bias, but many of the contemporary criticisms of jazz were rooted in racism.

I agree that is some selection bias at play when we think of popular music now vs. popluar music in the 80's. But jazz exists in a whole different dimension from Top 40 music from the last 50 years.

Nobody with any sense could look at Jazz musician and say they didn't have talent. Just the opposite: most musicians watching Jazz would just be floored at what's going on, that it's even possible. So while they may or may not like it, it's basically impossible not to respect.

You’re ignoring the point. The point is that, at that time, people hated it. Nowadays, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hates jazz; they’ll recognize it as instrumental, but they won’t like it.

The hatred towards modern pop is the same thing. It’s just a fad. In 20 or so years, the younger people who like it will hate the pop of the 2040s or 2050s.

"The hatred towards modern pop is the same thing."

No, this is not true at all.

"People hated Jazz" - agreed.

"People hate pop music now" - agreed.

'Change is generational thing', ok, yes.

But what you're missing is that 2020 pop music doesn't require any skill, at all.

Jazz - to any musical observer - requires an immense amount of skill.

However much anyone 'hated Jazz' - if they understood music in the slightest, they had to respect it. This is a big difference.

The proof is the fact that Jazz is still alive and thriving.

Whatever is on the Hot100 right now will be dead next year and never heard from again.

Edit: I should be more specific - pop music doesn't require a lot of skill, because most acts aren't doing anything, they're generally not even behind their music - the producers are behind it. That said - it's definitely hard to be famous. Being a trend on YouTube is a kind of a skill, it just may not be musical.

> But what you're missing is that 2020 pop music doesn't require any skill, at all.

I keep hearing this, but I never see any of its arguers actually attempt to make a pop song. If it’s so easy, why do only some people have the knack for pulling it off (not the artist/singer; the composer (the person you never hear of))

> Jazz - to any musical observer - requires an immense amount of skill.

I really wish I could show you the video as Neely argues it better than I could, but basically, at the time, the features of Jazz were what was hated, not the genre.

According to Wikipedia, Jazz is characterized by a heavy emphasis on improvisation. In the 1920s (when Jazz became a thing), the detractors argued that (I’m paraphrasing) improv “lacked musical talent” and that “anyone could throw notes together to make music”. I’m not making this up. Those are really the arguments they made. People would argue that the absence of counterpoint meant it was an abomination.

Sure, racism played a part, but for the most part, Jazz was hated for the same reason people hate pop today: “it’s easy to make”. Which is just not true.

"I keep hearing this, but I never see any of its arguers actually attempt to make a pop song. If it’s so easy, why do only some people have the knack for pulling it off (not the artist/singer; the composer (the person you never hear of))"

Because it is so easy to make, they are making massive numbers of garbage tracks - and it just so happens that some garbage tracks are popular. You need 'garage band' and possibly microphone - that's it. Have a look at how 'Chief Keef' had his music produced by 'Little Chop'. Most top tracks are of course somewhat professional produced.

But consider that 'music' is not the name of the game, it's 'video' (i.e. video killed the radio start), Instagram, twitter, Tumblr and highly visual content. You can see this with Lady Gaga (talented) and SixNine (well, creative, but garbage) - they're at least as visual as they are audial, as are most artists these days.

It's about the brand/image/meme. Someone in their basement, with very little skill, can make a loop, mumble over it, and this 'meme' can catch on. With a very little bit of production effort by a nominally professional engineer, it can sound 'produced'. At least as much of their effort goes into the look, the brand, the relationships, the Instagram, the video etc..

And it's worth adding, the 'talent' that is sometimes evident in this kind of production, may have little to do with the music, and more to do with anything else.

I actually respect the 'marketing' ability, if you want to call it that, of many of these acts. Post Malone has somehow worked his way into having his own festival with his 'Posties' followers. Genius marketing.

When P. Diddy started his label, he would ask his talent scouts "How did they look" - not "How did they sound". Somewhat cynically, P. Diddy was smart enough to know that pop acts are a lot (and ever more) about appearance. A pop artist is like a living brand.

Another feature of 'how modern music is made' is that the producer is now in the creative/driver seat - not the artists. Consider 'TheWeeknd' - his big hit, 'Can't feel my face' was by Max Martin, famous songmaker for Britney Spears and so many others. Without that hit, TheWeeknd would be nobody - we'd have never heard of him. But once his meme/brand was established, he has a 'following' and can churn out a lot of mediocre stuff.

This has always been the case to some extent: Michael Jackson was backed by Quincey Jones - who was Frank Sinatra's arranger. But Michael Jackson is a genius entertainer and true 'pop artists', and of course Quincey Jones is an off-the-hook musical genius producer.

This evident in 'live' music. I've been to countless shows where their music is just some canned track, the artist comes out and mumbles over it? Seriously? In most cases, this is not impressive.

Anecdote: I went to a show recently, bulleted as Brasilian/French/American rap thing in Montreal, I was so excited. The 'warmup' DJ played ... then the 'act DJ' played, a guy with huge fuzzy hair came out, jumped around like a hype man say 'boyeah' 'oi' and whatever into the mike, getting everyone excited ... we were ... anticipating the main act. But that was it!!! No kidding. Some idiot with a microphone, saying a word or two like 'yeah' 'oh yea' 'go go go' into the microphone not rapping or anything. He was passing himself off as an act! The crowd seemed to appreciate it. I thought I was in the Twilight Zone, it was absurd. To me, it signaled literally the end of music: loud, barely audible weird sounds coming out of a speaker, with a fuzzy-haired Brazillian dude sputtering occasional nonsense into a microphone and waving his hands. It's not even Kareoke. It was just noise and hand-waving. This to me is he audial version of the 'pet rock' or the $1M painting that's just a black dot - people can be induced to like anything.

So there are obviously talented pop artists. Ed Sheerhan, a legit musician who purposely writes for the radio. Bruno Mars & Co, are total geniuses. Lady Gaga. Kenrdick Lamar. Ariana Grande has wicked chops, she's obviously a talented singer/dancer/entertainer. Obviously many others, but the charts are otherwise polluted with irrelevant, unlistenable tracks.

Surely some people thought Jazz was easy to make, but I suspect that many were just jealous because they obviously knew they couldn't do it. Jazz is objectively not easy to make. Literally anyone who has tried knows how hard it is. Also, FYI, there's no counterpoint ... but the chord combinations, the speed of the changes, the variety ... is far more than in most forms of classical music.

Most pop music is very easy to make, and there are mountains of gibberish there for anyone to sort through. Fewer and fewer gems.

Is the quality of music determined by the skill of the performer? Or how much it pleases the listener?


> But what you're missing is that 2020 pop music doesn't require any skill, at all.

I think it's much harder to write a hit pop song than you are making it sound. I don't think that I could do it. Do you think that you could?

"I don't think that I could do it. Do you think that you could?"

This is a misunderstanding.

'Hit songs' are like 'viral videos'.

Could you create a video, that by accident, went viral? Possibly. If you set your mind to it, there would be a better chance, but still no guaranteed.

Nobody writes what they think will be guaranteed to be a hit song except for Max Martin. People 'make songs' and then hustle and market - some go viral, some require more support.

The 'barrier to making a song' is considerably lower than it was 20 years ago, and much lower than 40 years ago.

Making an album in 1985:

- Spend years learning to play an instrument - Learn to write music, lyrics that are least on some level passable. - Find other musicians - Practice for a while - Rent a major studio, producers, engineers - Master - Market etc..

The barrier to entry was high, the people pulling the strings generally wanted to see 'talent' in some form: entertainment, musicianship, popularity.

Many acts were manufactured, but that process still had to be followed:

Making music in 2020:

- Some music (Ariana Grande) is made roughly the same way (though with more people, different release cycles, margins etc) but it's comparable.

- A lot of music is made in tiny little studios. Mac Miller was always a tiny production, he made and produced stuff often in his basement, due to the power of tech and simplicity ultimately of what he was making.

Mac, and many other small artists are talented, so in some ways the 'low barrier' is good - but - for every Mac Miller there are 1000x fools.

>>>> It is as easy to make a song as it is to make a little video animation. Some of those video animations will go viral and get big.

- This 'basic approach' can be made by people with big creative talent, I guess Drake would be an example. Drake doesn't make his music or write his lyrics. Think of Drake as the 'head of a fashion label' but this label is not clothes, it's music. What Drake obviously has is 'really good taste'. Drake, is the 'art Director' of Drake Inc.. What is required to make a Drake track is very minimal, but there's creative talent ... much like making a marketing video.

- In the middle, and even with some of the more 'respectable pop artist names' like Ariana Grande, Dua Lipo ... you still have quite a lot of production and commodification, which turns out really generic, boring, derivative, music.

'Jazz', however popular, nor not, or controversial it was - is going to be around for hundreds of years, because there's an intense amount of creative legitimacy in it. Jazz musicians love Jazz for the sake of Jazz, they are amazing. It's very pure in that sense.

The origins of Hip Hop are really authentic, which helped it rise to the fore. Some aspects of HipHop are going to be around for a while.

The flavour of 2020 will not be around in 2 years.

I think that music production and composition is more important when it comes to making a hit song than musical talent (singing, playing an instrument) - and it's been that way for decades. And I think that production is absolutely a craft that some people have a talent for and hone over time, and it's something that I have a lot of respect for.

Some other people might get lucky and manage to write a song that millions of people listen to without really knowing what they are doing. I think this is actually relatively rare, and even if it does happen I certainly don't begrudge their success. They still set out with the intention to write a song and by luck or intuition or whatever other means managed to produce something that millions of people enjoyed.

> 'Jazz', however popular, nor not, or controversial it was - is going to be around for hundreds of years, because there's an intense amount of creative legitimacy in it. Jazz musicians love Jazz for the sake of Jazz, they are amazing. It's very pure in that sense.

> The flavour of 2020 will not be around in 2 years.

I think it's unfair to compare the entire genre of "jazz" which has spanned more than 100 years now to a particular flavor of hip hop in 2020. Jazz has changed a lot over the years - just as much if not more than "pop" music has. There are jazz musicians who were commercially successful in decades past who I am sure nobody listens to any more. And not all jazz musicians are amazing... jazz musicians are just as capable of being derivative and uninspiring as any other type of music.

And it's hard to predict what musical trends will endure. A lot of people had written off 80s music as being fake and cheesy. But recently there has been a resurgence of classic synth sounds in popular music, and songs like Toto's "Africa" have found widespread appeal with new audiences.

> Jazz - to any musical observer - requires an immense amount of skill.

But people, by and large, didn't like it because it was mechanically difficult to make.

If music were the way to describe society - I'd say it shows that we are connected globally but also have a diverse range of tastes. A top hit song can quickly go viral globally now, yet the global number one song on Spotify usually only has around 5 million streams/day. Considering Spotify has ~300 million users, clearly people are listening to a wide range of stuff beyond the charts. Pop songs have had a simple beat, simple chord progression and simple lyrics since the dawn of recorded music. Anyone with the "most basic knowledge" of music could have made an early Beatles number one has well.

Wow... just let people enjoy things.

Or let people know what they are missing?

I've always hoped https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wm-oBpLZ0WY was genuine, someone listening to Led Zeppelin for the first time. There is a lot of good music out there, including current releases, but Spotify doesn't seem to be how to learn about it. So many with their tastes still set on 'default'.

I think that most popular music is trash for most of the reasons you provided, but that's not because it's easy to recreate in Ableton or your DAW of choice.

The skill required to recreate a song have no relevance to the quality of the song, and as a corollary the ability to play an instrument is orthogonal to compositional ability. Anyone with the most basic guitar knowledge can play Wonderwall, yet it's still an iconic song, and just because a pianist can play Chopin doesn't necessarily mean they can compose a work as great as Chopin's.

Would you be equally upset to review the list of top-selling paperbacks? Would the answers support the idea that all new literature is trash?

Pop music has always been bad. But it’s also catchy and prints money. What were you expecting to find?

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