Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Top 1000 Is Born!

It's hard to imagine a world without popular music. Conceived around the 18th and 19th century's via sheet music, it has become an important influence on almost every lifestyle in almost every corner of the world.

Popular music is simply music for the masses, displaying wide appeal that provides a living for those who excel. And what a living it has turned out to be. Wealth, fame, power. The glory of the industry is something we all fantasise about. Who hasn't mimed in front of the mirror or picked up a karaoke microphone with delusions that we too can be part of the dream.

The publishing and printing of sheet music in the late 18th century allowed popular music to be available for public purchase, making way for what could have been the first pop charts. But it wasn't until the 1900's that the tabulation of music sales properly came into effect. The American Billboard charts published its first hit parade on January 4, 1936 with a Music Popularity Chart calculated in July 1940. It was 18 years later in 1958 when an official Hot 100 was released, a form which continues to this day. Billboard has since exploded into over 100 different genres of singles and album charts including Pop, R&B, Adult Contemporary, Hip Hop, Christian, Latin, Country, Rock, Dance and Jazz. There are charts highlighting songs that just missed the Top 100, and even a tabulation of songs available on ringtone - but that's quite a few years away from where we are now.

The Australian Charts found an official beginning via the Melbourne publication, Go-Set. The weekly "pop music bible" was released on February 2, 1966 and within a year, featured a National Top 40 singles chart highlighting the musical trends of major radio stations in all capital cities of Australia. The demise of Go-Set came just as the Kent Music Report found its footing. Compiled by David Kent, the report became the new National Chart until it was bought up by ARIA, which continued to publish under the banner, Australian Music Report, until 1988. David Kent's reputation allowed him to delve into past playlists from those major radio stations to backtrack a National Chart going back to 1940. It's with the these Kent Charts that we begin our journey today.

The Australian Charts Top 1000 has formed from years and years (and years) of chart tracking by myself, forming my own calculation to come up with a definitive list of the biggest singles, albums and artists on the Australian charts. It's a mammoth task! I have tried (and failed) presenting this sort of thing before, but new interest in the Albums charts has opened another can of worms that stalled my initial progress. I've been fortunate enough to dig out all charting singles and albums information from the Kent Charts, Go-Set National Top 40, Australian Music Report and ARIA via subscription, internet, and some very generous chart-lovers themselves. With this, the Top 1000 Biggest Singles, Albums and Artists will be counted down - and a warning - it WILL take years.

But it's not complete yet. A long way off, in fact. This list has to be properly born, so a year by year analysis of the charts will pave the way and build the excitement of this giant project. So it's with this that I welcome you to enjoy the voyage to the top.


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