Jul 08

Popular Demographic Survey

FT + Popular136 comments • 3,407 views

Since there isn’t a great deal more to say about the last entry, time to scratch an itch I’ve had for a while about who exactly is reading this. I’ve kept the questions vague so as to avoid spoilers for records we’ve not covered yet.

Basically, I’d like you to answer these questions in the comments:

1. When were you born?
2. What was the year you were first regularly interested in what was at #1?
3. Do you still listen to music in the Top 40 on a regular basis (and if the answer’s “no”, when did you stop)?

There is no ‘right’ answer to #3 – I’m just intrigued as to the ‘demographics’ of the blog.

Lurkers very welcome! Come and say hello!


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  1. 121
    Brendan on 24 Sep 2012 #

    As I’m in the process of adding my reviews I’ve pretty much answered 1) and 2) already: born 1972; began noticing the charts 1977. As for when I gave up – I was losing interest as early as 1986 with its string of mediocre number 1s (I guess I can name names without incurring SB’s wrath as Tom has long since covered them all but I’ll keep my powder dry till I get there) and knowing that all the best bands that I’d discovered by then were clearly never going to have a sniff of that accolade. Though I did at least have cursory glances into the 21st century but the interest died along with Top of the Tops but there was a brief revival a few years ago when I got Freeview including the 2 music channels, though that too has now waned.

  2. 122
    Lazarus on 24 Sep 2012 #

    1. 1963
    2. 1974 (approx)
    3. 1998-99, as the Britpop era fizzled out – last time I was really ‘into’ new music I suppose.

  3. 123
    Auntie Beryl on 9 Mar 2013 #

    1. 1973.
    2. 1980, although I know I was parked in front of Top Of The Pops as early as 1978.
    3. Impossible to say as the professional and personal overlap here. I suppose this is a Yes although without enthusiasm.

  4. 124
    lmm on 23 Jan 2014 #

    1. 1987
    2. 2001
    3. 2005

  5. 125
    Justified Ancient on 18 Sep 2014 #

    1. 1972
    2. 1980
    3. mid-nineties, gradually.

  6. 126
    Larry on 16 Nov 2014 #

    Born- 1957 (same year as Mark E Smith, Sid Vicious, Siouxsie, and Nick Cave)
    First interested in #1 – 1964 (I Want to Hold Your Hand/ She Loves You)
    Still listen to Top 40? Occasionally I listen to Z-100 (NY’s CHR station) and the countdown with Ryan Seacrest, but haven’t been immersed in it since 1986 or so

  7. 127
    Adam on 22 Mar 2015 #

    1. 1985
    2. 2015 ;)
    3. Definitely enjoyed looking at historical charts when younger but have overall been interested in what xgau calls “semipopular” music… going through your writings to broaden my knowledge/taste/enjoyment.

  8. 128
    Tommy Mack on 22 Mar 2015 #

    1) 1981 – Calvin Harris has remit-fulfilling love for me but secretly feels aggrieved that I’ve snuck in on a technicality, like a bloke with a sore hand demanding a disabled parking badge.
    2) 1992 – I’d listened to contemporary chart music for a couple of years before but without knowing or caring what position songs were at. The first in the charts single I bought was Meatloaf’s I’d Do Anything For Love… (7″ from Woolies) during it’s tenure at the top spot. I was not a cool kid.
    3) Yes. More so now than at any time since my teens. Thanks to Spotify, YouTube etc making it easy and free to check out new stuff and also feeling a bit played out on the vintage “semipopular” sounds I’ve always favoured.

  9. 129
    Inanimate Carbon God on 22 Mar 2015 #

    1. “Worst year for pop (allegedly)” 1985
    2. “Best year for pop (allegedly)” 1994 (but I do remember a November 1993 TOTP and my dad saying “Meatloaf’s number 1? Oh no. I can’t stand him!” I disagree – but in many ways my dad is a lot cooler than me.)
    3. Oh yes, sometimes it’s a bit of an endurance test, but I survey the entire top 100 every week.

  10. 130
    mrdiscopop on 10 May 2015 #

    1. When were you born?

    October 1974. I’m reading through Popular in reverse chronological order, though, so I haven’t reached “my” number one yet.

    2. What was the year you were first regularly interested in what was at #1?

    Family folklore is that my first record (ie one I specifically asked to buy) was Dancing Queen – which is 1976. But my first memory of a song actually being number one was probably The Tide Is High – I thought TOTP had placed the animated number one in the video after it reached the top.

    3. Do you still listen to music in the Top 40 on a regular basis (and if the answer’s “no”, when did you stop)?

    Yes. I don’t listen to the countdown any more, but I still pore over the charts every week (I write entertainment stories for the BBC News Website, so that’s partly a work thing). But I buy almost 200 singles a year – and they’re not all dadrock 6 Music nostalgiafests.

    What has changed significantly since I was younger is that I don’t care where singles land in the Top 100. I’m confident enough in my own tastes that I don’t need them validated by the masses – but as a kid it really devastated me if my favourite bands missed the top 10.

  11. 131
    Ciaran (the other one) on 12 May 2015 #

    1. When were you born?
    November 1977. ABBA’s The Name Of The Game was number one on the day I was born; which pleases me for some odd, quasi-superstitious reason.

    2. What was the year you were first regularly interested in what was number one?
    I don’t have a clear answer to this one, but I’m guessing 1984 or 1985. I do remember being disappointed that number ones of this period were sometimes more boring than they ought to be (to my 7 year old ears). Jaded even as a child!

    3. Do you still listen to music in the top 40 on a regular basis (and if the answer’s ‘no’ when did you stop)?
    Yes I do, and it’s usually in a spirit of trying to figure out what the charts might mean to a child or adolescent in 2015. All I can say is I find today’s charts depressingly same and worthy, either pop music has become increasingly risk-averse, or the effect of streaming has been to flatten out pop music into a fairly undifferentiated mass. Having two versions of a Sam Smith single in the Top 20 at the same time cannot be healthy.

  12. 132
    stealthscott on 18 Oct 2019 #

    1) 1961

    2) 1978, i was late to discovering music and then i became obsessed

    3) Around 1987 I stopped listening to to 40 radio. After I got out of the Army and returned to the US, I couldn’t bear so much of what was played on the radio like Michael Bolton, Kenny G and Whitney Houston. To this day, I’m not completely out of touch with it though, I still listen to some current top 40 artists.

  13. 133
    benson_79 on 13 Jul 2020 #

    1. 1979
    2. 1986. Spitting Image’s seminal “Chicken Song” was all over the playground, which made me start watching TOTP as I realised I didn’t have a clue about the charts or music in general (in my defense I was a shy kid with no older siblings and my parents were no bloody use whatsoever).

    3. I met my now-wife in 2011 with mortgage, kids etc coming soon after; keeping even vaguely up to date with new music was one of the many idle pleasures which fell by the wayside.

    By the way I stumbled upon Popular when Googling for more info about Hale and Pace’s “Stonk” and have been working my way through from the start. It makes for ideal lockdown reading fodder.

  14. 134
    Ben Wainless on 14 Jul 2020 #

    1. Late 1972 (stork boy comment on David Cassidy’s ‘How Can I Be Sure?’)
    2. 1979. Around my 7th birthday I started listening to the top 40 on Sundays and writing it down in my exercise book at infants’ school, until my teachers told me to stop. Was obsessed with Buggles’ Video Killed The Radio Star. I missed its only week at no.1 on TOTP because I was in the bath, remember being upset and hating Lena Martell because of it. First single I bought was Another Brick In The Wall (Pt.2) in January 1980.
    3. No. I stuck it out until 2014, a few months after streaming data ruined both the chart and the meaning of “all-time sales”. I am also permanently disillusioned by the chart positions of some of my favourite singles of the last 5 years, e.g. most of Beyonce’s Lemonade singles and Janelle Monae’s ‘Make Me Feel’. Even ‘Juice’ by Lizzo felt massive but only made no.38.

  15. 135
    The Duke of Stratosphear on 29 Aug 2020 #

    1. 1971. Rod Stewart was #1 in the singles and LP charts at the time in both the UK and US. Make of that what you will.
    2. Probably 1978? I was brought up in a music-loving household – if the record player wasn’t on, the radio almost certainly was – and was very much aware of the Top 40’s existence, but I think ’78 was the year I discovered the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles. Things got a little out of hand from there.
    3. No. I started paying considerably less attention to the 40 after leaving music retail, which was late 1999.

  16. 136
    Hum Dono on 2 Sep 2020 #

    1. 1961
    2. 1971
    3. No. Actively gave up in 1990 which is when I last worked for a record company and I no longer had to care about how “we” were doing in the charts. Subliminally more like 1998 when my youngest daughter stopped primarily listening to pop radio and started buying Kerrang.

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