Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What We Like, as told in #1 Songs

There is a lot you can tell about a person through his or her taste in music.  As an experiment, I was curious to see what our musical taste as a society said about us.  I looked at the Top Billboard Song every year for the past 37 years (from 1980 – 2016), separated them into a few categories that I thought would be interesting – Gender, Race of the artist, Themes; and tried to see if there were any trends.  Interestingly enough, there were.

Overall, judging by our preference in songs, we’ve gotten more male, less white, less invested in love, and more focused on having fun. 

That’s the topline.  But if you want to dive a little deeper, read forth at your own risk:

We have gotten increasingly more male over the years, looking at the #1 songs over the last 37 years:
Past 37 years (1980 -2016): 62% Male
Past 20 years (1997-2016): 65% Male
Past 10 years (2007-2016): 70% Male

·      The 80s and 90s were the MOST female decade, where 50% of the top songs were sung by female artists
·      The oughts had 3 female artists (Faith Hill, Mariah Carey, Beyonce), and everything post 2010 dropped – only 2 female artists – Kesha and Adele.  The Black Eyed Peas had Fergie, and they had the top song in 2009 with Boom Boom Pow, so I guess that kind of counts

Post 2011 – the year Adele reigned with “Rolling in the Deep”, things went on a very interesting, if not rocky, trajectory for female artists:
·      2012 saw an abundance of close calls and trade offs with male artists, with half of the top 10 songs coming from females:
o   Carly Rae Jepsen at #2 with Call Me Maybe, Ellie Goulding with Lights at #5, Kelly Clarkson at #7, Rihanna at #8, Nicki Minaj at #9
·      2013 had an allergic reaction to 2012, and swung very male in the top 10:
o   Thrift Shop – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis was #1
o   Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke was #2
o   Radioactive – Imagine Dragons was #3
o   Harlem Shake – Baauer was #4
o   Katy Perry was the only girl on the list, barely cracking the top 10 with Roar
o   Pink’s Just Give me a reason was #7 (but she sang it with Nate Ruess)
o   For some other gals, they picked up the latter parts of the charts, as Taylor Swift, Lorde, and Miley were in the teens.
·      2014 was a little better with female representation, but these girls had help:
o   Pharell took the top spot with Happy
o   Katy Perry paired up with Juicy J for Dark Horse, at #2
o   Girl powers Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX had Fancy at #4
o   The single gals rounded out the top - Meghan Trainor at #8, Ariana Grande at #9.
·      2015 yo-yo’ed back to more males: There were no female artists in the top until Taylor Swift with Blank Space at #7.  She was much loved - having three songs in the top 20 (Bad Blood, Shake it Off).
o   She was also only one of three females in the top 20 (Ellie Goulding at #13, and Rachel Platten at #20).  Although, Ellie Goulding’s song, Love Me Like You Do, was greatly helped by being featured in the widely loved Fifty Shades of Grey - hugely successful at the box office – the 17th highest grossing film of that year, taking in over $166 Million.
·      2016 continued the trend with a more male-dominated top chart, with Rihanna taking over as 2015’s Taylor, having 3 songs in the top 20, but two of them were collaborations with men:
o   Rihanna//Drake’s Work was #4 (#13 – Needed Me and #17 – This is What You Came For with Calvin Harris)
o   Adele had Hello at #7
o   Fifth Harmony was #16 with Work From Home, but this featured a male artist - Ty Dolla $ign.
o   The only other true “Female” artist, with no collaborations, was Pink at #33 with Just Like Fire, and then Ariana Grande at #36 with Dangerous Woman.

We’ve started to become more diverse, as the top song each year has been represented more and more by multicultural artists:

Past 37 years (1980 -2016): 73% White
Past 20 years (1997-2016): 55% White
Past 10 years (2007-2016): 40% White

·      The 80s only had two black artists – Prince and Dionne Warwick.
·      The 90s was the most diverse – 50% of the top songs were helmed by MC singers, with Los Del Rio capturing the love of America with Macarena in 1996 (There is hope for Despacito!).
·      The aughts were just as diverse – 50% of the top songs were from black artists (50 Cent, Usher, Lil Jon, Ludacris, Beyonce, Flo Rida, T-Pain, Black Eyed Peas).
·      The 2010’s were a bit more Caucasian – we’ve had two non-white artists – Pharell and Bruno Mars, in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

To quote one of our chart toppers, Olivia Newton-John, we like to love and let live: love is the most sang-about topic in the past 37 years: 20 out of 37 songs.  As far as the rest goes - 10 are about fun/partying, and 8 are just random.

Love as a topic is pretty timeless – through the last 37 years, it was consistently the most sung-about topic throughout each decade – averaging 4-5 spots each decade.  Although, the 80s was the most lovey dovey just by a smidge – 1 more song than the 90s or the oughts.  Everything post-2010 focused on fun and were less about love – we’ve only had 3 songs about love since then, but we’ve got 3 more years left so there is hope yet.  Although, the #1 song this year so far has been Despacito, continuing with the fun streak.

However – when breaking it down to the actual sentiments about love, most of these love songs are pretty sad.  Only 6 out of the 20 songs were definitively happy:
·      Call Me – Blondie (1980)
·      Every Breath You Take – The Police (1983)
·      Everything I Do, I Do It For You – Bryan Adams (1991)
·      I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston (1993)
·      Breathe – Faith Hill (2000)
·      Hanging by a Moment – Lifehouse (2001)

5 were mixed or bittersweet:
·      When Doves Cry – Prince (1984)
·      Faith – George Michael (1988)
·      End of the Road – Boys II Men (1992)
·      Irreplaceable – Beyonce (2007)
·      Love Yourself – Justin Bieber (2016)

…and the rest -45%- of all love songs were complicated feelings, most often expressing sadness, disappointment, anger, or regret:
·      Careless Whisper – Wham! (1985)
·      Look Away – Chicago (1989)
·      Foolish Games – Jewel (1997) *this was technically the second most popular song of 1997, the #1 that year was Candle in the Wind, its popularity was mostly driven by its association to the loss of Princess Diana, which was an outlier that rocked the purposes of this analysis, therefore I’ve taken that data point out.
·      Believe – Cher (1999)
·      How You Remind Me – Nickleback (2002)
·      We Belong Together – Mariah Carey (2005)
·      Rolling in the Deep – Adele (2011)
·      Somebody that I Used to Know – Gotye ft. Kimbra (2012)

The 80s and 90s mostly oscillated between happy love songs and sad love songs – 36% were happy or supportive, 27% were mixed, and 27% were very sad.  1997, especially, saw a lot of heartbreak, with the deaths of beloved cultural icons Biggie and Princess Diana, tribute songs ended up on the top 10 list – at #1 was Candle in the Wind for Princess Diana, and #3 was Diddy’s I'll Be Missing You for Biggie.  Mother Teresa also passed that year, although arguably no tribute song would be able to contain sentiments the world felt for her.  As for the rest of the list – it was littered with more sad songs – #4 was Unbreak my Heart, #9 was How do I Live, and #11 was Quit Playing Games with My Heart.

Since then, we seem to have lost hope in love, “Hanging by a Moment” by Lifehouse was the last happy love song, in 2001.  Since then, there has been a string of pain and regret – How You Remind Me in 2002, We Belong Together by Mariah Carey (2005), Irreplaceable by Queen Bey (2007), Back to back sentiments of “what ifs” and disappointment followed a few years later (Adele’s Rolling in the Deep in 2011, Somebody that I Used to Know in 2012), and most recently, Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself in 2016.  All in all, in the last 15 years, no one has found many good things to say about love.

Not all is lost though, we have perhaps transferred that energy from loving to partying.  Since 2000, we have seen the most songs on the top chart spot about having a good time, this topic was 50% of all top songs in 2000’s:
·      In Da Club – 50 Cent (2003)
·      Yeah! – Usher/Lil Jon/Ludacris (2004)
·      Low – Flo Rida/T-Pain (2008)
·      Boom Boom Pow – Black Eyed Peas (2009)
·      Tik Tok – Kesha (2010)

…judging by the titles of these songs, we also seem to correlate simple or non-word-sounding-words with Fun as well.

In the last 5 years, we kept the party going with Happy in 2014 and Uptown Funk in 2015.  As mentioned above, we took a break with “Love Yourself” in 2016, but are right back on track with Despacito so far this year.

Let’s also throw in some honorable mentions about how random we all are.  Humans are unpredictable, so when songs like “Walk Like An Egyptian” (1987) ends up on the this list, I throw up my hands.  Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s Thrift Shop also captured everyone’s attention in 2013, who knew a song about visiting an old smelly shop could be so relatable.  Keep America weird!

Despite our strangeness, our love of Jack, Johnnie, Captain Morgan, and our propensity to put it all out there for love – and then regret and bristle afterwards, we are, at the core of it, still human, defined by our unique ability to empathize.  Over the past 37 years, there were a few shining stars about supporting friends, or selflessly helping each other out: “That’s What Friends Are For”, “Hold On” (Wilson Phillips), and “Bad Day”, wholly focused on the other person, felt the love of America in 1986, 1990, and 2006.  We are multi-faceted, we are deeply layered, we are different, we are the same, we love and we hate and we dance.  Music is the transcendent string that runs through all of us, it defines and binds us, giving all of us a reason to connect and emote, the one true catharsis in life.

Source: Billboard Music

Call Me
Bette Davis Eyes
Kim Carnes
Olivia Newton John
Every Breath You Take
The Police
When Doves Cry
Careless Whisper
That's What Friends Are For
Dionne and Friends
Walk Like An Egyptian
George Michael
Look Away
Hold On
Wilson Phillips
Everything I Do, I Do It For You
Bryan Adams
End of the Road
Boys II Men
I Will Always Love You
Whitney Houston
The Sign
Ace of Base
Gangsta's Paradise
Los Del Rio
Candle in the Wind
Elton John
Foolish Games
Too Close
Faith Hill
Hanging by a Moment
How You Remind Me
In Da Club
50 Cent
Usher/Lil Jon/Ludacris
We Belong Together
Mariah Carey
Bad Day
Daniel Powter
Flo Rida/Tpain
Boom Boom Pow
Black Eyed Peas
Tik Tok
Rolling in the Deep
Somebody That I Used to Know
Gotye ft. Kimbra
Thrift Shop
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Pharell Williams
Uptown Funk
Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars
Love Yourself
Justin Bieber

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

BLiTZ content//ADvertising

Content advertising.  
The phrase is the very definition of saying a lot while saying nothing at all. For the next few minutes, dive into a rabbit hole with me. Open up your biases and assume the fourth dimension, let’s take the red pill together.
Imagine a world where there is no difference between advertising and content; where original productions and brand messaging dance together in a harmonious tango, choreographed by data. Imagine a world where content is advertising, and advertising is content. Sounds utopic, no? This actually isn’t too far from our reality. Through the recent industry-wide embrace of native ads, we are slowly laying down the foundations for this world.
A recent study in the UK highlighted that six out of ten millennials will engage with native ads when content appeals. In another US study, 32% of those surveyed would share a native ad with a friend or family member. These topline stats show that generally, we are okay with the notion of advertising as long as the content is valuable. Through the years, ads have gotten a bad rap – the “spammy” nature so often associated with commercials, banners, and unwanted direct mail represent an interruption to someone’s life. Content advertising flips that concept on its head – instead of an interruption, it’s an accessory.
Don’t get me wrong, there will always be the option for pre-rolls and adlets. However, as we get more sophisticated with our communication platforms, the content that will gain traction are those that are responsible and creative.
Marketers do not need to “trick” people into engaging with their content, people will seek out this information if they need it; as much as 70% of individuals want to learn about products through content rather than traditional ads.
If research shows that people seek out product information voluntarily through content, and furthermore, a majority of them are willing to engage with “native/content advertising”; then it follows that brands can successfully have an impact through embedding themselves directly with content. As a marketer, how do we even push this further? By eliminating the idea of advertising altogether. Because when we really examine it, what is the philosophical difference between ads and content? Both stem from an essential need to communicate, both are created by our fellow man, with the intention to distribute information. They are just presented in different formats; and my proposal is that we take off that dirty label “ads”, and start treating “ads” as important, relevant pieces of content.
Traditionally, ads have been completely untargeted – not to the fault of any marketer, but the platforms have never allowed customizability. Consumers are bombarded without the option to turn away – a study in 2007 found that we are likely to see up to 5,000 brand messages per day. All TV programming had commercial breaks; every magazine had inserts; billboards littered highways and side streets. There was no way for anyone to interact with these ads, or for marketers to gauge true interest. Until the dawn of the Internet Age, media channels have always blasted out ads with no recourse. This has unintentionally contributed to a separation of the way we view ads and content – again ads are seen as interruptions. However, what if we are able to seamlessly stitch together these two so that brands are integral to the narrative itself? What if, when we are watching an episode of The Blacklist, we’re not taken out of that story to be force-fed a commercial about the latest IBM technology, but we see it in action when its unique capabilities enable our hero to escape from a sticky situation? This goes beyond awkward product placement – the alignment of brand needs to feel organic and natural, and through these touchpoints, brands will be able to become an essential part of the tale, instead of simply a footnote. At that stage, there is no advertising, there is only storytelling, and there is no difference between the Aston Martin and the Bond girl.
Humans have always shown a thirst for knowledge and a need for improving upon current conditions – we were born to run. We took this planet from a precipitously decorated habitation to a technologically advanced paradise; and we did all this through data collection, interpretation, and evolution. We invented words, then we invented copywriting. We invented radio, then we invented jingles. We invented TV, then we invented IPG banners. We invented the world wide web, which gave birth to endless innovations. We have never shown a willingness to stick to the status quo, we have always pushed further. So stick with me here, as this current model of advertising evolves, one Buzzfeed listicle at a time.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Dark Tebow Rises

For something light...Jockey put up a new Tebow picture on Monday. Methinks it looks like they used Bane for inspiration:

Monday, August 8, 2011

facebook ridiculousness, part deux

and so it continues. I got this gem today:

all i can say is. W.T.F.. that does not look like english to me, and I am decidedly not japanese.  The only part of that that i understood gets cut off with ellipses!)  The suspense is killing me! the pokemon what? Why is pikachu leaping? This is a cruel joke, when they tease you like that, i just HAD to click on the ad..

and i landed here: http://www.pokemon.co.jp/corporate/

I can only surmise that this is the pokemon company, based in japan. everything is half english and half japanese, everything i click on leads me to even more undecipherable web pages and some pictures of cute imaginary creatures.

My eggs are worth $8K and I like pikachu. Is this Facebook, or is this South Park?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Facebook thinks I'm an Asian Egg Donor

I just got this ad targeted to me on facebook:


Where to begin?? Let's start with the copy:

"Asian Egg Donors Earn $8K"

I get that they're trying to customize this ad somewhat to my ethnicity by putting "Asian" on there. But, 1. does this mean if I were of another race, that I would earn more or less? Does my ethnicity equate my monetary potential in this market of egg donors?

Let's move on to the image:

Decidedly "Asian"?? I think not. Asians don't all look like that - there are over a billion people in India who don't look like that picture. If I were Indian and I saw that ad, that would be of no relevance for me whatsoever. Now you can argue that the company is using a less inclusive term of "Asian", which I guess includes women who share similar features as that model in the picture. Which now presents a problem with the egg donation clinic's ethnic categorization - did the company inadvertently admit that they don't think Indians are Asians?

Now let's talk about the targeting. I'm assuming this company went about facebook targeting the same way a lot of us do - select from Facebook's menu of options and then add some keywords. They probably entered some common Chinese/Japanese/whatever they think is "Asian" names - and I guess my last name (which is a pretty popular Asian name) fit into the category they are targeting. However, I wonder if they considered the fact that I may be adopted, or that I may be half Asian, or I married an Asian guy. But I guess this sort of crass targeting fits into their overall way of thinking, as demonstrated by their equally crass definition of "Asian".

Well done, egg donation clinic. I hope you are paying on a cost per click basis.

What We Like, as told in #1 Songs

There is a lot you can tell about a person through his or her taste in music.   As an experiment, I was curious to see...