Billboard Hot 100

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The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on airplay and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday; while the airplay tracking-week runs from Wednesday to Tuesday. A new chart is compiled and officially released to the public by Billboard on Thursday. Each chart is dated with the "week-ending" date of the following Saturday.

Example:
Monday, January 1 – sales tracking-week begins
Wednesday, January 3 — airplay tracking-week begins
Sunday, January 7 – sales tracking-week ends
Tuesday, January 9 – airplay tracking-week ends
Thursday, January 11 – new chart released, with issue date of Saturday, January 20.

The first number one song of the Hot 100 era was "Poor Little Fool" by Ricky Nelson on August 4, 1958. As of the issue dated December 9 2006, the Hot 100 has had 935 number one hits. Its current number one is "I Wanna Love You" by Akon featuring Snoop Dogg.

Contents

[edit] History

What is now the Hot 100 existed for nearly fifteen years as numerous charts, tracking and ranking the most popular singles of the day in several areas.

During the 1940s and 1950s, popular singles were ranked in three significant charts:

  • Best Sellers In Stores — ranked the biggest selling singles in retail stores, as reported by merchants surveyed throughout the country (20 to 50 positions).
  • Most Played By Jockeys — ranked the most played songs on United States radio stations, as reported by radio disc jockeys and radio stations (20 to 25 positions).
  • Most Played In Jukeboxes — ranked the most played songs in jukeboxes across the United States (20 positions). This was one of the main outlets of measuring song popularity with the younger generation of music listeners, as many radio stations resisted adding rock ‘n’ roll music to their playlists for many years.

Although officially all three charts had equal "weight" in terms of their importance, many chart historians refer to the Best Sellers In Stores chart when referencing a song’s performance prior to the creation of the Hot 100.

Billboard eventually created a fourth singles popularity chart that combined all aspects of a single’s performance (sales, airplay and jukebox activity), based on a point system that typically gave sales (purchases) more weight than radio airplay. On the week ending November 12, 1955, Billboard published The Top 100 for the first time. The Best Sellers In Stores, Most Played By Jockeys and Most Played In Jukeboxes charts continued to be published concurrently with the new Top 100 chart.

On June 17, 1957, Billboard discontinued the Most Played In Jukeboxes chart, as the popularity of jukeboxes waned and radio stations incorporated more and more rock-oriented music into their playlists. The week ending July 28 1958 was the final publication of the Most Played By Jockeys and Top 100 charts.

On August 4, 1958, Billboard premiered one main all-genre singles chart: the Hot 100. Although similar to the Top 100, the first Hot 100 chart reset all songs’ "weeks on chart" status to "1". The Hot 100 quickly became the industry standard and Billboard discontinued the Best Sellers In Stores chart on October 13, 1958.

Billboard produces the Hot 100 to this day and it is still the standard by which a song’s popularity is measured in the United States. The Hot 100 is still compiled by combining a song’s radio airplay points and sales points (both at retail and digitally).

There are several component charts that contribute to the overall calculation of the Hot 100. The most significant ones are shown below.

  • Hot 100 Airplay(per Billboard) approximately 1,000 stations, "composed of adult contemporary, R&B, hip-hop, country, rock, gospel, Latin and Christian formats, digitally monitored twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Charts are ranked by number of gross audience impressions, computed by cross-referencing exact times of radio airplay with Arbitron listener data."
  • Hot 100 Singles Sales(per Billboard) "the top selling singles compiled from a national sample of retail store, mass merchant and internet sales reports collected, compiled, and provided by Nielsen SoundScan."
  • Hot Digital Songs — Digital sales are tracked by Nielsen SoundScan and are included as part of a title's sales points.

[edit] Hot 100 policy changes

The methods and policies by which this data is obtained and compiled have changed many times throughout the chart’s history.

As the advent of a singles music chart spawned chart historians and chart-watchers and greatly affected pop culture and produced countless bits of trivia, the main purpose of the Hot 100 is to aid those within the music industry – to reflect the popularity of the "product" (the singles, the albums, etc.) and to track the trends of the buying public. Billboard has (many times) changed its methodology and policies to give the most precise and accurate reflection of what is popular. A very basic example of this would be the ratio given to sales and airplay. During the Hot 100’s early history, singles were the leading way by which people bought music. At times when singles sales were robust, more weight was given to a song’s retail points than to its radio airplay.

As the decades passed, the recording industry concentrated more on album sales than singles sales. Musicians eventually expressed their creative output in the form of full-length albums rather than singles, and by the 1990s many record companies stopped releasing singles altogether (see Album Cuts, below). Eventually a song’s airplay points were weighted more so than its sales. Billboard has adjusted the sales/airplay ratio many times to more accurately reflect the true popularity of songs.

[edit] Double-sided singles

Billboard has also changed its Hot 100 policy regarding “two-sided singles” several times. During periods in which singles sales were strong, the Hot 100 allowed both sides of a single (A-side and B-side) to chart together (occupying the same position), provided that both sides were receiving significant radio airplay. Pre-Hot 100 charts listed A-and-B-sides together, most notably Elvis Presley’s "Don’t Be Cruel" / "Hound Dog". During the Presley single’s chart run, top billing was switched back and forth between the two sides several times, as Billboard typically listed the song earning the most radio airplay points first.

With the initiation of the Hot 100 in 1958, A-and-B-sides charted separately, although this rule was altered in the late 1960s and again in the 1980s and 1990s. More complex issues began to arise as the typical A-and-B-side format of singles gave way to 12 inch singles and maxi-singles, many of which contained more than one B-side. Further problems arose when, in several cases, a B-side would eventually overtake the A-side in popularity, thus prompting record labels to release a new single, featuring the former B-side as the A-side, along with a "new" B-side.

The inclusion of album cuts on the Hot 100 put the double-sided hit issues to rest permanently.

[edit] Album Cuts

As many Hot 100 chart policies have been modified over the years, one rule always remained constant: songs were not eligible to enter the Hot 100 unless they were available to purchase as a single. During the 1990s, a growing trend in the music industry was to promote songs to radio without ever releasing them as singles. It was feared by major record labels that singles were cannibalizing album sales, so they were slowly phased out. During this period, accusations began to fly of chart manipulation as labels would hold off on releasing a single until airplay was at its absolute peak, thus prompting a top ten or, in some cases, a number one debut. In many cases, a label would delete a single from its catalog after only one week, thus allowing the song to enter the Hot 100, make a high debut and then slowly decline in position as the one-time production of the retail single sold out.

It was during this period that several extremely popular mainstream hits never charted on the Hot 100, as they were not released as singles and thus ineligible to chart. Many of these songs dominated the Hot 100 Airplay chart for extended periods of time:

  • 1995 The Rembrandts – "I’ll Be There For You" (number one for eight weeks)
  • 1996 No Doubt – "Don’t Speak" (number one for sixteen weeks)
  • 1997 Sugar Ray – "Fly" (number one for six weeks)
  • 1997 The Cardigans – "Lovefool" (number two for eight weeks)
  • 1998 Natalie Imbruglia – "Torn" (number one for eleven weeks)
  • 1998 Goo Goo Dolls – "Iris" (number one for eighteen weeks)

As debate and conflicts occurred more and more often, Billboard finally answered the requests of music industry artists and insiders by including airplay-only singles (or "album cuts") in the Hot 100. A song that does not have a retail component is allowed to enter the Hot 100 provided it ranks above position 75 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart.

On December 5 1998 the Hot 100 changed from being a "singles" chart to a "songs" chart.

[edit] EPs

Extended play (EP) releases were listed by Billboard on the Hot 100 and in pre-Hot 100 charts (Top 100) until the mid-to-late 1960s. With the growing popularity of albums, it was decided to move EPs (which typically contain four to six tracks) from the Hot 100 to the Billboard 200, where they are included to this day.

[edit] Paid digital downloads

The Billboard Hot 100 now tracks paid digital downloads from such internet services as iTunes, Napster, Musicmatch, Rhapsody, etc. With paid digital downloads added to the airplay/sales formula of the Hot 100, many songs benefited on the charts from the change. Billboard initially started tracking downloads in 2003 with the Hot Digital Tracks chart. However, these downloads did not count towards the Hot 100 and that chart (as opposed to Hot Digital Songs) counted each version of a song separately (the chart still exists today along with Hot Digital Songs). This is the first major overhaul of the Hot 100's chart formula since December 1998.

The change in formula has shaken up the chart considerably, with some songs debuting on the chart strictly with robust online sales and others making drastic leaps. In recent months, some songs have made 80-plus position jumps in a single week, including a record-setting leap by R&B singer Akon in October of 2006.

[edit] Remixes

Billboard has also answered the call of music industry insiders who raised an issue regarding song remixes. A growing trend in the early 2000s was to issue a song as a "remix" that was so drastically different in structure and lyrical content from its original version that it was essentially a whole new song. Under normal circumstances, airplay points from a song’s album version, "radio" mix and/or dance music remix, etc. were all combined and factored into the song’s performance on the Hot 100, as the structure, lyrics and melody remained intact. Criticisms began when songs were being completely re-recorded to the point that they no longer resembled the original recording. The first such example of this scenario is Jennifer Lopez’s "I'm Real". Originally entering the Hot 100 in its album version, a "remix" was issued in the midst of its chart run that featured rapper Ja Rule. This new version proved to be far more popular than the album version and the track was propelled to number one.

To address this issue, Billboard now separates airplay points from a song’s original version and its remix, if the remix is determined to be a "new song". Since administering this new chart rule, several songs have charted twice, normally credited as "Part 1" and "Part 2". The remix rule is still in place.

[edit] Recurrents

Billboard, in an effort to allow the chart to remain as current as possible and to give proper representation to new and developing artists and tracks, has (since 1991) removed titles from the Hot 100 that have reached certain criteria regarding its current rank and number of weeks on the chart. Recurrent criteria have been modified several times and currently (as of 2006), a song is permanently moved to "recurrent status" if it has spent twenty weeks on the Hot 100 and fallen below position number fifty. Exceptions are made to re-releases and sudden resurgence in popularity of tracks that have taken a very long time to gain mainstream success. These rare cases are handled on a case-by-case basis and ultimately determined by Billboard’s chart managers and staff.

The most notable exception to the recurrent entry policy applies to holiday-themed releases. After its initial chart run, a holiday entry cannot re-enter the Hot 100 in subsequent years.

[edit] Year-end charts

Billboard’s "chart year" runs from the first week of December to the final week in November. This altered calendar allows for Billboard to calculate year-end charts and release them in time for its final print issue on the last week of December. Prior to Nielsen SoundScan, year-end charts were calculated by an inverse-point system based solely on a song’s performance on the Hot 100 (for example, a song would be given one point for a week spent at position 100, two points for a week spent at position ninety-nine… up to 100 points for each week spent at number one). Other factors including the total weeks a song spent on the chart and at its peak position were calculated into its year-end total.

After Billboard began obtaining sales and airplay information from Nielsen SoundScan, the year-end charts are now calculated by a very straightforward cumulative total of yearlong sales and airplay points. This gives a more accurate picture of any given year’s most popular tracks, as a song that hypothetically spent nine weeks at number one in March could possibly have earned less cumulative points than a song spending six weeks at number three in January. Interestingly, songs at the peak of their popularity at the time of the November/December chart-year cutoff many times end up ranked lower than one would expect on a year-end tally, yet are ranked on the following year's chart as well, as their cumulative points are split between the two chart-years.

[edit] Limitations

The limitations of the Hot 100 have increased in importance over time. Since the Hot 100 is based on singles sales, as singles have themselves become a less common form of song release, the Hot 100's data has represented a narrowing segment of sales.

Further, the history of popular music shows nearly as many remarkable failures to chart as it does important charting positions. Certain artists (such as Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin) had tremendous album sales while being oblivious to the weekly singles charts. Meanwhile, numerous artists took deliberate steps to maximize their chart positions by such tactics as timing a single's debut to face the weakest possible competition, or massively discounting the price of singles to the point where each individual sale represented a financial loss. Because of such countervailing strategies, it cannot be said that a Hot 100 chart necessarily lists the country's 100 most popular or successful songs.

Some critics have argued that the emphasis on a limited number of singles has distorted record industry development efforts, and there are nearly as many critics of the Hot 100 as there are supporters. Many of these recent criticisms, however, are becoming less and less frequent as digital downloads have revitalized the concept of “singles sales.”

[edit] Additional information

  • The Hot 100 served for many years as the data source for the weekly radio countdown show American Top 40. This relationship ended in 1995, though from November 30 1991 American Top 40 utilized only the airplay-side of the Hot 100 (to include songs that, at the time, were ineligible for the Hot 100 because of the lack of a commercial single). Because of the extreme narrowing of major radio playlists, few so-called "Top 40" stations in recent decades would play the full array of pop, rock, R&B and country (and other genres) depicted in a typical week’s Hot 100 top forty.
  • A new chart, the Pop 100, has been created by Billboard to answer criticism that the Hot 100 was biased in favor of rhythmic songs, as throughout most of its existence, the Hot 100 was seen predominantly as a pop chart.

[edit] See also

[edit] Sources

[edit] External links

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Billboard Hot 100

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