Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011



Last week, every one's favorite Pop Star, LADY GAGA, made pop music history. Her most recent single, 'BORN THIS WAY,' hit #1 on the BILLBOARD HOT 100 CHART. While this is the third time she has accomplished this feat, (Just Dance and Poker Face also went to #1) this time it was extra special. 'BORN THIS WAY' just so happens to be the ONE THOUSANDTH song to top the Billboard Charts, thus enshrining LADY GAGA in the sacred halls in the Pop Music Hall of Fame for all eternity! All Hail Lady Gaga!

Confused as to how someone as insignificant as LADY GAGA is now a music legend? Perhaps a little background on the Billboard Charts is needed. (You knew this was coming!) It all started way back in 1894 when some innovative Cincinnati businessmen had an idea. They collected information posted on walls around town for upcoming events. Then they consolidated it and published it an over-sized magazine. It was aptly named BILLBOARD. In the 1890's entertainment listings included circus venues, county fair dates and the most popular events of the time: Vaudeville Shows! The magazine proved popular with the entertainment-starved public as well as the promoters themselves. It soon expanded beyond Ohio to its location for the last century: Manhattan!

As the entertainment industry changed, so did the magazine. In 1909, BILLBOARD debuted its MOTION PICTURE section. In 1920, it devoted a section to RADIO. But the most important addition to the magazine came in 1931 with the Almighty JUKEBOX. It's hard for people living in 2011 to understand just how revolutionary the jukebox was to people in the 1930's. Prior to its arrival, one had to attend a concert to hear music, and no one in the depression had money for that. But...with a jukebox...an entire orchestra, jazz band or country singer could instantly appear at your local establishment. People went crazy and demand for jukeboxes skyrocketed. BILLBOARD magazine followed suit and on January 4, 1936, it debuted the MUSIC HIT PARADE which listed the most popular records being purchased around the country. Now everyone could find out what everyone else was listening to. (In a way, BILLBOARD magazine was a lot like an early version of the Internet!)

Over time, sales of jukebox singles began to decline. Recent advancements in technology meant that both radios and phonographs were now available to the general public. Recent advancements in people's salaries meant they had money for these new luxuries. BILLBOARD responded to these changes and by 1950, it had three separate charts: One chronicled jukebox sales, another charted what tunes radio DJs were actually playing on air and the last listed what records people were buying in stores. But it wasn't until 1958 that BILLBOARD came up with the idea to combine the three charts into one. The magazine debuted the HOT 100 on August 4th. Dominating jukeboxes, shredding the airwaves and conquering music stores on this precise date was none other than the legendary RICKY NELSON. And the song everyone loved? POOR LITTLE FOOL!

No one remembers 'POOR LITTLE FOOL,' just like no one sixty years from now will remember 'BORN THIS WAY.' But the two songs will be forever linked as pop music milestones. And while this weekend's Academy Awards are important, I still believe the most notable achievement in the entertainment world is to hit #1 on the BILLBOARD HOT 100 CHART. Don't believe me? Well, let's ask her royal highness herself, LADY GAGA on what she thinks of this event. A statistical anomaly? Hardly! Quoth the Lady: "It's a tremendous honor. To be the the 1,000th #1 on Billboard...It would be silly not to say this is the greatest honor of my career." You Go, Gaga!

No comments:

Post a Comment