Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Top 100s by Year by Bing

As iPhone music apps go, Top 100s by Year by Bing is pretty damn cool, especially if you’re a pop music fan of certain age. But after combing through some of the year-by-year lists, I have questions about the source of the data.

For the year 1962,  the BillBoard Top 100 list has many songs in common with the Bing list. But focusing on the top ten, there are significant differences…



    1. Green Onions -- Booker T and the MGs

    2. Bring It On Home To Me -- Sam Cooke

    3. You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me -- The Miracles

    4. The Loco-Motion -- Little Eva

    5. Sherry -- Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

    6. I Can’t Stop Loving You -- Ray Charles

    7. Up On The Roof -- The Drifters

    8. Twist and Shout -- The Isley Brothers

    9. These Arms of Mine -- Otis Reading

    10. Do You Love Me -- The Contours

    1. Roses Are Red (My Love) -- Bobby Vinton

    2. I Can't Stop Loving You -- Ray Charles

    3. Let's Twist Again -- Chubby Checker

    4. Stranger On The Shore -- Mr. Acker Bilk

    5. The Stripper -- David Rose

    6. Johnny Angel -- Shelley Fabares

    7. The Loco-Motion -- Little Eva

    8. Breaking Up Is Hard to Do -- Neil Sedaka

    9. Mashed Potato Time -- Dee Dee Sharp

    10. Soldier Boy -- Shirelles

For my money, the Bing list, being heavy on classic R&B, is far more listenable. But what’s the source of the data? And there are other issues that have me very suspicious of the Bing data.

For instance, the Bing app lists The Beatles “Love Me Do” at #15 for 1962. But according to Wikipedia, the Beatles are nowhere men on the ‘62 US charts; that song wasn’t released here until April 1964.  “Love Me Do” did show up on the UK charts in ‘62, but according to Wikipedia, it peaked at #17.

There are other issues. The Bing app lists Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou” at #65 for 1963. According to Wikipedia, that song peaked on the Billboard Pop Singles chart for 1963 at #29.  Another issue is that the Bing app plays a live version of the song that I strongly suspect is from Orbison’s Black and White Night set from 1988. If I’m looking at the chart for ‘63, I want the version of the song that made it to that chart.

Yes, the Bing Top 100s app is free  -- for now, at least. And regardless of the data source it’s very cool to have access, however limited, to this amazing archive of pop hits. But I wish the people behind the app would share information on the source of the charts, and take pains to insure that the version of the song the app plays is the same version that hit the charts.

On the other side of the fence, I’ll take issue with some of the negative comments about the Bing ads that play periodically as you listen to the tunes. The app is free, fer cryin’ out loud,  and while you can’t control the playlist, you get to listen to the entire track for each song, rather than a sample. What’s not to like?

For me, this app takes me back to the days when I first heard these songs, over the radio, on AM not FM, and with commercials. Didn’t bug me then, doesn’t bug me now.

I’ll use this app a lot this summer, with my iPhone or Touch plugged into a set of speakers on my patio, sipping cool adult beverages and thinking back to an era that remains unsurpassed in pop music history.


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