Popular Crystal Ball

9
Jan 18

Popular Crystal Ball: 2017 – Islands In The Stream

New York London Paris Munich/7 comments • 588 views
Tom, enjoying Havana

Tom, enjoying Havana

Its Sheeranmania bookends might fool you into thinking that 2017 was just as bad a year for Number Ones as 2016. It wasn’t. For a start, very little could be. But while last year saw the charts reeling under the impact of streaming, this year they adjusted. New rules: get people in the first 30 seconds or GTFO (aka fail to count as a play, fall off the Spotify playlists, etc.) The emerging formula – with some variations – is to put the chorus first and then, if we’re lucky, fool around with variations and guest spots later. Those stars big enough to ignore this imperative often used their power badly.

Anyway, the Number Ones of 2017, in order. I’m pleasantly surprised at how far down this list I have to go before I get to singles I would turn off rather than hear. I’m also pleasantly surprised that – assuming I ever get my groove back – the future of Popular holds the opportunity to write about Young Thug, Quavo, Daddy Yankee, Chance The Rapper, and more. But I’m disappointed that I don’t really love any of these songs, even my favourite.

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18
Jan 17

Popular Crystal Ball: 2016 – The Year Pop Broke

New York London Paris Munich9 comments • 948 views
Shout Out To My Eggs

Shout Out To My Eggs

Well, that was a year. It’s not what 2016 will be remembered for, but this was the year that streaming broke the charts – or fundamentally changed what they reflect. The structural impact is obvious – TEN records got to number one, meaning we’re back to the 50s as far as turnover goes. The aesthetic impact is more obscure – is the torpor I sense a function of a moody wave in current pop, or the sluggishness of the countdown, or my own elderly disengagement, or all of the above?

Best to worst, as usual. I liked very few of these very much, and even the higher placings don’t reflect much enthusiasm.

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31
Dec 15

Popular Crystal Ball: 2015 – At Least I Can Say That I’ve Tried

FT + New York London Paris Munich17 comments • 1,103 views

I must glumly report that my relationship with contemporary music seems to be broken. Not because I dislike it. The distillate of year-end lists I’ve been playing this week is full of wonders. But the part of me that knew where and how to find those things for myself has vanished. My desire to gatekeep went years before. And often once I do find new music, it’s like parts of a jigsaw where I’ve lost the box and half the pieces. What consequences this will ultimately have for Popular are uncertain. Still, the hits keep coming and they don’t stop coming, and some of them are better than others. Here are the records that reached Number 1 in the second half of 2015, arranged in order, from best to worst.

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5
Jul 15

Popular Crystal Ball: 2015 – What Are You Waiting For?

FT47 comments • 1,619 views

king1985 I’ll let you set the paaaace…. what? Only eight new number ones? Well, we’re not trying that again.

In order, best to worst. The usual caveats apply: don’t expect this to be much of a prediction of final verdicts when I eventually write about them! And obviously it’s a much shorter list than the last two – since the first two months, pretty much, were gobbled up by “Uptown Funk”. The number one position finally starting to match the sclerotic progress of the charts as a whole, then.

What did we get?

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13
Jan 15

Popular Crystal Ball: 2014 – The Arse End

FT38 comments • 1,717 views

brunomars Back in July I had a quick listen and rate of the first half of 2014’s number ones. Here’s the sequel, picking up where that left off. As before, this is based on very few listens, and you can confidently expect my opinions and order to change should I ever get as far as this in Popular. Off we go.

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