The Top Ten Project is an ambitious undertaking, with an ultimate goal of no
less than bringing together the entire world of recorded music under a single
roof. As the name of this project implies, the fundamental framework for the
project is the vast array of popular music charts from around the globe.
The power of popular music charts has been well demonstrated, and "Hit
Parades," in various forms, have offered a variety of benefits over the years.
The record industry has used them to monitor and guide its own activities as
well as to promote itself to the record-buying public. Music fans have been
consulting charts for decades, using them as an entertaining window on the world
of music as well as a convenient map for exploring unfamiliar waters.
Researchers, librarians and archivists have referenced popular charts in order
to examine the history and development of music as well as to build collections
for their patrons. The Top Ten Project promises to address all three of these
My initial goal is to build a database of chart data that is as wide-ranging
as can be imagined, collecting information from across the musical spectrum,
spanning as many genres, time periods and geographical regions as possible. The
Project currently is tracking more than thirty music styles and formats within
the United States in addition to following charts in over ninety countries and
regions around the world. (A few selected samples appear below.) I see this as
only the beginning. While collecting and organising this data on a weekly basis
is a primary, and substantial, undertaking, there are three directions in which
it needs to be expanded.
1) Locating New Charts. The vast majority of my research is done online, and new resources become available all the time, (while, sadly, valuable ones occasionally disappear completely). A regular activity is conducting searches in order to fill gaps which still exist. While North America and Western Europe are well accounted for, with substantial redundancy in some cases, other areas, especially Africa and Asia, are only sparsely accounted for at this time. Locating sources for this missing data is a high priority.
I also keep an eye open for new formats within the United States and other
musically diverse countries. I already follow Canadian rock, German alternative
and Australian country music, as some examples, but there are so many
additional, valuable musical subcultures around the world, as well as in this
2) Researching Older Charts. Many charts were published well before the Top
Ten Project commenced, and as resources permit I work to gather and track them
through those earlier periods as well. A few sources have valuable archives
online, which is helpful, but many archives exist only in hard copy form. I have
spent much time in various libraries, including the Library of Congress,
collecting and transcribing historical charts which are otherwise unavailable.
This approach becomes more problematic when the data in question resides outside
the U.S., but it is an attainable goal.
3) Chart Recreation: This is the most ambitious, most daunting, and in some ways the most exciting facet of the project. In their book "Pop Memories 1890-1954," Steve Sullivan and Joel Whitburn demonstrated the feasibility of constructing charts as they would have appeared. While Billboard published the first independent, record-specific music chart in their issue date July 20, 1940, this book presents "chart" data going back a further half century.
They are not alone. Hot 100 Br@sil has reconstructed not weekly charts, but lists of the top Brazilian records by year, back to 1902, well before any recognised charts were published in that country.
There are numerous exciting prospects for this type of research around the world, but the U.S. is a prime candidate, and has much important, valuable information to offer up. Charts introduced in Billboard which very realistically could be recreated during the periods preceding their initial publications include: Rhythm and Blues (1920-1942); Country (1922/3-1943); Album Rock (1967-1981); Modern Rock (1977-1988). I also see possibilities for album charts such as Jazz, New Age and World-Beat, and countries from Britain, France and Germany to Turkey, South Africa and India may provide opportunities for exploring their musical pasts in concrete detail.
These projects, once completed, will prove invaluable to other researchers
and historians, but they will also be much appreciated by music fans and will,
as such, prove valuable to the recording industry as well, by stimulating
interest and providing something of a "handle" on their catalogue product.
A further goal of the project is to use the chart data assembled as the core basis for building an archival and reference library of music recordings. While there are many libraries in existence which document specific musics in great depth, my goal is to create one unprecedented in breadth without neglecting reasonable depth in any area.
This seems a good place to mention that I recognise the pitfalls and
limitations of relying strictly on charts. Some of the most important,
influential and worthwhile recordings ever made would slip through the cracks,
even if every conceivable popular chart, real or virtual, were consulted. I
consider the charts to be a crucial core, a central framework on which to build,
but not the final word.
In myself, this project already has a highly motivated and experienced researcher, (more about my background below). What it needs at this time is some form of funding or sponsorship in order to maintain and expand its activities.
I should think the benefits to such a benefactor, in prestige and philanthropy alone, would be sufficient motivation, but there are substantial, more concrete benefits which may prove valuable to certain individuals or institutions. Access to the accumulated research, tailored to whichever specific needs are at hand, is the most obvious. The project effectively would be a consultant, providing information and recommendations for record labels, radio producers, historical researchers, movie or television studios, or private individuals.
Some of the reconstructive projects will provide financial returns directly
one day, when they are completed sufficiently for commercial publication. Many
music collections have been released in recent years which reference chart data
from the Pop Memories publication, or which were compiled based directly on
ABOUT THE AUTHOR/RESEARCHER
My involvement in music goes back as far as I can remember, but I discovered music charts in my local newspaper in 1981. At the tender age of fourteen, I was hooked. My interest in charts, along with my taste in music, has only expanded from that humble beginning. By the time I graduated highschool, in 1984, I had a subscription to Billboard and a collection of 45s which numbered in the thousands.
I spent much of the summer following my graduation poring over microfilm at the local California State University. I owned a couple of Joel Whitburn's research books, including a forerunner of Pop Memories, a crude, red paperback covering the sales charts from 1940 to 1954, but was interested in what went on before that time period. During that summer I reconstructed charts covering most of the period from 1936 through 1940, for my own use, two years before Pop Memories was published.
My interest in earlier music and my growing CD collection got me involved with radio during the mid-'90s, when I hosted public radio shows devoted to classical, jazz and big band music. I have done radio work off-and-on since then.
In 2001, I began in earnest the activities which have evolved into The Top Ten Project, discovering on the Internet a wealth of previously unheard-of resources, learning about the actual popular music of countries such as India, Turkey and Brazil. It was a modest start, but expanded quickly.
The following year, I began compiling and publishing the College Air chart myself. I have a special fondness for the adventurous music played on college radio, and was frustrated by the lack of a chart which ranked the individual songs. Working from online radio station charts and playlists, I produced a weekly top 10, which, as the depth of my resources expanded enough to warrant, was expanded to 30 positions over the following three years. I discontinued College Air only when Media Guide began gathering college radio data digitally and compiling an even more accurate chart. I have continued to use the Internet, along with hard-copy sources, to gather data in order to create college radio charts as they would have existed before the first College Air chart.
My fondness for older popular recordings, many of which are still impossible
to find on CD, has led me to collect 78s and cylinder records as well. While I
have yet to transfer any cylinder recordings, I have successfully transferred a number of 78s
into the digital medium in order to add them to my library. I am a big fan of
the work of Glenn Sage and the Archeophone label in their preservation and
distribution of long unavailable recordings. Thanks to Pop Memories, I also have
become a big fan of Bert Williams, (that's my biography of him, under a pen
name, at AllMusic.com).
I look forward to hearing from someone who recognises and appreciates the
value of what I am attempting to do.
97 Vista Ct.
El Paso de Robles, CA 93446
eMail: freddy @ toptenproject . com
All chart data appears in the following format, where "date" designates when
an entry first appeared on a chart, "weeks;" the number of weeks a song or album
appeared on a chart, "peak/" the highest position the entry achieved on any weekly
chart, and "annual" is the overall ranking of the entry for the entire year of its primary activity. Not all entries contain
|date||Song Title, or Album Title||weeks;||peak/||annual|
Guided by Voices
|7/08/02||Everywhere With Helicopter||8;||3/||33|
|7/29/02||Back to the Lake||2;||20/||179|
|9/01/03||My Kind of Soldier||9;||5/|
|9/15/03||The Best of Jill Hives||5;||17/|
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
|6/02/03||Date With the Night||11;||2/|
Hank Williams III
|1/---/02||Broke, Lovesick & Driftin'||14;||1(x7)/|
|3/06/06||Straight to Hell||15;||1(x4)/|
Eric Tingstad & Nancy Rumbel
|2/01/06||A Moment's Peace||15;||6/|
|10/29/04||Algo Está Cambiando||11;||5/|
|11/26/04||El Listón de Tu Pelo||7;||5/|
David Calzado & Charanga Habanera
|6/29/05||Esta Es Mi Charanga||25;||1(x2)/|
|6/14/06||El Ciclón de la Habana||17;||1(x7)/|
|7/10/05||In This Together||8;||2(x7)/|
|6/19/06||Love to Blame||6;||3/|
Tarkan (with rough translations where available)
|8/21/99||Bu Gece ("Tonight")||19/|
|6/15/01||Kuzu Kuzu ("Like a Lamb")||10;||1(x4)/|
|- 5/17/02||Milli Takim ("National Team")||11;||1(x6)/|
|7/05/03||Dudu ("Old Woman")||6;||1(x4)/|
|8/16/03||Gülümse Kaderîne ("Smiling at Fate")||11;||1(x1)/|
|12/13/03||Sorma Kalbim ("Don't Ask")||8;||2/|
|6/19/04||Uzu Înce (RMX)||6;||2/|
|6/03/05||Ayrilik Zor ("Troubles Between")||7;||1(x1)/|
South Africa Urban
South Africa Top 40
|11/10/00||To de Point||23;||2(x5)/|
|12/01/01||Give It to Them||17;||5/|
|3/14/03||Thank You Mamma||21;||4/|
|6/13/03||Just One of Those Days||13;||1(x5)/|
|12/17/04||I'm With the Girls||1;||10/|
|3/25/05||Run Out Pon Dem||14;||1(x2)/|
|6/23/06||Haffi Get It||11;||3/|
|from "Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahora":|
|8/22/04||Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahora||4;||9/|
|10/03/04||Yeh Taara Who Taara||8;||3/|
|11/28/04||Yum Hi Chala Chal||6;||3/|
|12/19/04||Hai Is Pal Yahan||8;||1(x4)/|
|2/13/05||Woh Kisna Hai||11;||2/|
|from "Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose":|