Move Over Rock and Rollers! Makes Way For the Adults!
Music Charts to Sooth the Ears…
The music industry was perplexed back in the mid 1950’s as it witnessed not only the emergence of rock and roll, but the ever increasing dominance of teen oriented songs on Billboard’s pop music charts.
In 1961 Billboard decided to do something about the quandary that older music lovers were faced with. On July 17th, 1961 Billboard published the first “Easy Listening” chart – listing 20 song positions.
Brook Benton’s “Boll Weevil Song” would take honors for being the first Number 1 listing for this new adult-oriented chart. Brook probably didn’t need the attention, the “Boll Weevil Song” was listed on the traditional Hot 100 the same week at number 2 – the second week consecutive for the song.
Billboard was founded on November 1st, 1894 in Cincinnati, Ohio by James Hennegan and William Donaldson first called “Billboard Advertising”
Hennegan was bought out by Donaldson in 1900 for five hundred dollars. He quickly revamped the format – opened offices across the U.S. and expanded news coverage. Donaldson hired one of the first black American journalists on any national publication in 1920 bringing James Albert Jackson onto his staff – Jackson exposed racist practices in the music publishing industry.
Billboard evolved constantly to keep up with the rapidly growing music industry focusing on phonograph record players, radios and amusement machines including jukeboxes. Ownership has changed hands through the years it’s editorial and business sections are constantly revamped with the changing times.
It’s one-time major competitor – Cash Box Magazine gave it the old college try – founded in July in 1942 during World War II –
The final printed issue was published on November 16th, 1996. Cash Box does live on today – revived in 2006 was an on-line only publication.
Below is the earliest Cash Box edition I could locate – from August 11th, 1942.
Billboard: ‘Think Adult’
Following is the progression of charts catering to a softer kinder music
July 17th, 1961 – October 27th, 1962 = “Easy Listening”
Initially listing 20 positions each week
November 3rd, 1962 – April 25th, 1964 = “Middle Road Singles”
May 2nd, 1964 – October 17th, 1964 = “Pop Standard Singles”
October 24th, 1964 – May 29th, 1965 = “Middle Road Singles”
A return to “Middle Road” listing anywhere from 15 to 25 positions sometimes less
June 5th, 1965 – June 30th, 1973 = “Easy Listening”
Billboard just couldn’t seem to make up it’s mind on behalf of the adults. During this time period there were generally 50 song positions listed. When the 1970’s came along and ushered in the “singer/songwriter” era – these charts became less ominous – with music moving more toward ‘adult’ dominance on the Hot 100.
June 7th, 1973 – August 7th, 1979 = “Adult Contemporary”
I would love to have attended a Billboard meeting when they were deciding these titles. On October 20th, 1984 the survey went back to 40 positions. and then on September 19th, 1987 back up to 50!
March 16th, 1996 = “Adult Top 40” & “Adult Contemporary”
Both charts were published weekly – Don’t ask me why….
By 2016 the Billboard Charts published weekly were – in a word – staggering – with more than 34 different charts offered up for us. And yes, “Adult Contemporary” was still hanging in there.
Following is near accurate listing of the Billboard Charts in 2016 – Billboard coasts along today – alive and well. Going over the nearly 3-Dozen Charts I scarcely recognize a single artists or group – Time is passing me by – But one good thing for the musicians – If you have a song out – any song – there has just got to be a chart for you – And if you song is not on one of these many charts – then you should find another line of work!
(PS: By the way – “Stuck With U” by Justin Bieber and Arlanda Grande is number one this week! I do know Justin Bieber – Everyone knows Wally Bieber’s little brother!)
- Hot 100
- Artist 100
- Billboard 200
- Top Album Sales
- Heatseekers Albums
- Top Catalog Albums
- Top Tracks
- Emerging Artists
- Social 50
- Mainstream Top 40
- Adult Contemporary
- Adult Top 40
- Hot Country Songs
- Top Country Songs
- Country Airplay
- Hot Rock Songs
- Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs
- Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums
- Top Rap Albums
- Top Rock Albums
- Rock Streaming Songs
- Hot Latin Songs
- Top Latin Albums
- Tropical Airplay
- Hot Christian Songs
- Hot Gospel Songs
- Top Christian Albums
- Top Gospel Albums
- Hot Dance/Electronic Songs
- Top Dance/Electronic Songs
- Dance/Electronic Digital Songs
- Dance Club Songs
- Concert Grossses