Jul 08

Popular Demographic Survey

FT + Popular131 comments • 2,840 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. 101
    rosie on 9 Nov 2010 #

    Marcello@99: You don’t need a licence to listen to any radio station: the radio-only licence was abolished in 1971. Anyway, may I echo the Turnip’s sentiments in wishing Lena luck in her new job and both of you luck in house-hunting. I suspect you’ll need it in these times.

    No problem for me in lingering with Lindisfarne – a fine band which has sadly fallen into obscurity. (Yes, I do follow Then Play Long especially as you pass through ‘my’ period and specifically ‘my’ album period). Alan Hull was always more than a “good-time” musician, intensely political in action as well as words. His premature passing was a sad loss to the city he never abandoned for fame.

  2. 102
    Mark G on 9 Nov 2010 #

    Update from #5, 2008…

    1) 1961
    2) 1971
    3) [s]Yeah, in general I can still read the top forty and know the majority of the songs there.[/s] Thesedays, I’d have some difficulty.

  3. 103
    Conrad on 9 Nov 2010 #

    MC, did you catch Blackburn presenting Pick of the Pops on saturday? Sensational…

    I do wish they would just play an entire Top 20 though rather than leaving loads of stuff out.

  4. 104
    Billy Smart on 9 Nov 2010 #

    It was a bit of an improvement, wasn’t it? I liked his observation about the drums at the end of ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ waking the rest of the band up! You can imagine TB actually listening to, and enjoying, the discs, rather than just taping his links in 15 minutes.

  5. 105
    punctum on 9 Nov 2010 #

    Yes, it was a remarkable improvement; TB sounds engaged with the music, the choices are better (you just know that Dalebot would have skipped “Tusk” and played the Dooleys) and the listening experience altogether livelier and happier. Still a few factoids to placate the hardcore chartspotters but not remotely missing the “it was their 37th consecutive single to peak at number 37, although it did climb to Number Two” mindset of old. Also – “Winchester Cathedral” to “Video Killed The Radio Star”; the route seems natural and I’d never thought of it that way before (i.e. megaphone as outdated token of usurping Modernism, both in mourning).

    This weekend, two more excellent choices; 1968 and (YES!!!) 1981. Here’s hoping that TB’s liking of Beyonce, Plan B etc. will encourage some movement into noughties charts.

    And yes, one chart as of old was better than two rushed-through charts but hey, you take what you can find! If you do want to hear the great man counting down the same 1979 chart when it was new, however, go here and click on the appropriate file.

  6. 106
    Mike Atkinson on 9 Nov 2010 #

    For those who still like to keep tabs on the UK singles chart, I maintain a Spotify playlist of the current Top 100, which is updated most weeks (if not absolutely every week – I’ll be abroad this weekend, for instance). On average, between 90% and 95% of any given chart are sourceable on Spotify, so it’s not a bad catch-up service. (This week, it’s 95%.)

    Here’s your easily memorable link: http://tinyurl.com/uktop100 – needless to say, you have to have Spotify installed and the service isn’t available outside Europe.

  7. 107
    Steve Mannion on 9 Nov 2010 #

    Nice one Mike. From that I guess it would also be easy to have a playlist of every song to make the top 100 within the year (hint hint!).

  8. 108
    Billy Smart on 9 Nov 2010 #

    Re: 105 “Sensational! And at fifteen, here’s my favourite record in this week’s forty – Here’s SHIK!” :)

  9. 109
    Conrad on 9 Nov 2010 #

    MC, 105 – thanks for the link!

    Agree wholeheartedly, some real verve in TB’s delivery, and a decent choice of tracks, although A.Pedant notes that Charlie Daniels Band was a re-recording. Blaming researcher/producer rather than TB for that one…

  10. 110
    Jimmy the Swede on 9 Nov 2010 #

    Dear God! Unswerving praise for Timmy Bannockburn! Is this the Twilight Zone now?


    Yep, Arnold. I guess it is!!

  11. 111
    Erithian on 9 Nov 2010 #

    I don’t know how common they are, but a pub near us has a jukebox where you can enter any date since 1960 and bring up that week’s Top 40, so for a small outlay you can entertain the pub with your own mini-version of POTP. Choosing at random July 1973, when I was the age my twins are now, I regaled people with Medicine Head, Stealer’s Wheel, Mott the Hoople, the Jackson Five, Paul Simon, 10cc and Slade (cos you have to play the number one). Great fun.

  12. 112
    Billy on 9 Nov 2010 #

    1. September 1988 (am I the current youngest?)
    2. A growing awareness throughout the mid-late 90s, kicking off in Summer 1999.
    3. Every week without fail. Ask me again in ten years though and I imagine the answer will be different.

  13. 113
    vinylscot on 9 Nov 2010 #

    My local, The Bay Horse,in Shawlands, has one of these jukeboxes,and a fair number of elderly (even more elderly than I) customers, and it can be a brilliant night just sitting and lapping up some of the stuff they play.

  14. 114
    will on 9 Nov 2010 #

    I did exactly this at my local a couple of weeks ago! For a quid I got Silver Lady, Black Is Black and From New York to LA and relived October 1977.

  15. 115
    Paulito on 10 Nov 2010 #

    1. November 1978.
    2. I started actively following what was at #1 from early 1987 – though I remember being conscious of current pop hits, and of watching and enjoying TOTP and ‘MT-USA’ (fab video show which graced the Irish TV schedules in the mid-80s), from 1984 onwards.
    3. Not since the final wave of great chart music in 1994-95.

  16. 116
    Jimmy the Swede on 10 Nov 2010 #

    Those chart jukeboxes sound wonderful. I personally would prefer a machine where you pump in a month and year and transform yourself back to school as you are now. Like Erithian, I would also choose July 1973 when I was 12, specifically the Monday morning after Jan Kodes won Wimbledon. As a big Kodes fan, I remember cheerfully discussing his victory with any kid who could give a stuff, as we were about to begin a Geography lesson, before I was silenced by Mr Gee our teacher and even more unnecessarily dismissed from the class, which hadn’t even started. It was an astonishing show of petulant overreaction and I have often wondered what fuelled it. A lost tenner on Roger Taylor, whom Kodes knocked out in the semi, would be my guess. Whatever it was, the incident has not been forgiven and thus I would go back in the transformer with a boxing glove adorning my southpaw left hand and punch Mr Gee right on the fucking bugle.

  17. 117
    tonya on 10 Nov 2010 #

    1. 1965
    2. 1975, I received a transistor radio for Christmas 1974. My parents didn’t listen to pop music at all when we were kids.
    3. Yes, I’m still 14 in my head.

  18. 118
    Eli on 20 Dec 2010 #

    1. When were you born? 1987
    2. What was the year you were first regularly interested in what was at #1? 1998
    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)? No – my interest began to evaporate in 2002.

  19. 119
    seekenee on 18 Mar 2011 #

    1. 1971
    2. 1978
    3. 2003

  20. 120
    ashley on 10 May 2011 #

    3. In a weird way, where im fully aware of the top 40 and often really like songs in it but it doesnt seem like a thing anymore, as a real reflection of tastes, which is why this blog is so interesting to me.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 124
    lmm on 23 Jan 2014 #

    1. 1987
    2. 2001
    3. 2005

  25. 125
    Justified Ancient on 18 Sep 2014 #

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

  26. 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

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

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