A History of Pop Music, Year-by-Year
Get your countdown on! Each music/talk episode of the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show is a deep dive into a year in Pop music and culture through the prism of the top 10 hits of the year according to our exclusive rankings based on Billboard’s weekly charts. But unlike Billboard’s own year-end rankings from years past, ours “correct the record” by counting every song’s full chart run and using the same consistent method to rank every year, 1940 to the present.
This Week on Pacifica Radio: 1959
Note: if you play from the embed, you’ll just hear the commentary, not the songs. Click the link to open in Spotify—and while you’re there, hit “follow!”
It’s the eve of the ’60s and polished Teen Idol Pop, Folk and “story songs” are surging on the airwaves and charts as Congress takes aim at Rock ‘n Roll radio and DJs in the Payola hearings. A plane crash in Iowa claims three of Rock’s most promising stars, and two of the year’s top ten hits are about murderers!
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- Chartcrush 1959 Is Live
Teen Idols and Folk surge as Congress takes aim at Rock ‘n Roll DJs and Payola, and a plane crash in Iowa claims three major stars on “the day the music died.” Learn more on Chartcrush 1959!
- Chartcrush 2007 Is Live
Online piracy tanks CD sales and the last big box music chain goes under, but Ringtones, ad deals, iTunes and Myspace are lifelines for the flailing music biz. Learn more on Chartcrush 2007!
- Chartcrush 1965 Is Live
It’s the “Eve of Destruction” and young Boomers “(Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” as Vietnam widens the generation gap and Motown hits become Civil Rights anthems. Learn more on Chartcrush 1965!
- Chartcrush 1971 Is Live
The Beatles have split and Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin are dead, but Singer-Songwriters soothe frayed nerves as militant activism and protest go mainstream. Learn more on Chartcrush 1971!
- Chartcrush 1997 Is Live
Lilith Fair galvanizes women in music while the late ’90s Pop boom begins, two shocking deaths inspire massive tribute singles and Rock newcomers conquer radio. Learn more on Chartcrush 1997!
- Chartcrush 1986 Is Live
Whitney Houston blitzes the charts as Hip-Hop, Glam Metal and The Bangles score big and music’s benefit streak peaks with a #1 charity single for AIDS research. Learn more on Chartcrush 1986!
- Chartcrush 2013 Is Live
Billboard adds YouTube to the Hot100 and bloggers recoil at “incorrect” fan-propelled hits, but JT is back, Folk booms, Katy Roars and Miley gets her twerk on! Learn more on Chartcrush 2013!
- Chartcrush 1951 Is Live
It’s Crooners unleashed as ethnic sounds score, Mitch Miller starts a genre gold rush mining Country for Pop hits, and the year’s #1 record taps deep anxieties. Learn more on Chartcrush 2004!
- Chartcrush 2004 Is Live
Atlanta and Crunk ‘n B rule the year every #1 song is by a Black artist, Usher Confesses and scores big, and everyone’s shaking it like a Polaroid picture. Learn more on Chartcrush 2004!
- Chartcrush 1989 Is Live
Euro-Disco and Paula Abdul arrive as the Cold War ends, Teen Pop peaks, Milli Vanilli lip-syncs and some of Boomerdom’s top acts score their final big hits. Learn more on Chartcrush 1989!
- Chartcrush 1960 Is Live
The payola scandal chills Rock on the radio and adult genres surge with LPs outselling singles, but Elvis is out of the Army and everyone’s doing “The Twist!” Learn more on Chartcrush 1960!
- Chartcrush 2016 Is Live
Trump v. Hillary politicizes Pop like never before as streaming reverses the music biz’s 15-year free-fall from filesharing and Dancehall/Trophouse sounds rule. Learn more on Chartcrush 2016!
- Chartcrush 1947 Is Live
Big Band Swing is all but extinct, but the record biz prospers as nostalgia sweeps the nation, makes Al Jolson cool again, and lifts a record from 1933 to #1. Learn more on Chartcrush 1947!
- Chartcrush 1992 Is Live
Crossover becomes the norm as Billboard takes the charts digital, but Michael Jackson finds Pop’s new sweet spot and Boyz II Men set a new bar for weeks at #1. Learn more on Chartcrush 1992!
- Chartcrush 1975 Is Live
Elton John can do no wrong but big chart acts move in bold directions and Disco dancing emerges as a preferred escape from economic hardship and ’70s “malaise.” Learn more on Chartcrush 1975!
- Chartcrush 1956 Is Live
Elvis Presley rules the charts and personifies Rock ‘n Roll as teens buy millions of 45s, top-40 radio explodes and Seeburg launches the 200-selection jukebox. Learn more on Chartcrush 1956!
- Chartcrush 2000 Is Live
Boy Bands, Britney v. Christina and Latin Pop carry over into the new millennium, but Rock is back, Destiny’s Child redefines R&B, and Country scores big. Learn more on Chartcrush 2000!
- Chartcrush 1982 Is Live
The Walkman fuels a fitness craze but dooms music on AM as Top 40 moves to FM. MTV subs triple and launch a “Second British Invasion” of New Wave and Synthpop. Learn more on Chartcrush 1982!
- Chartcrush 1967 Is Live
It’s Flower Power and Hippies in California; urban riots everywhere else as Sgt. Pepper’s launches Album Rock and The Monkees take over TV and the Pop charts. Learn more on Chartcrush 1967!
- Chartcrush 2019 Is Live
Edgy, genre-bending Pop marks Gen-Z’s arrival via TikTok and streaming hits 50% of music biz revenue as BigCulture™ #resistance to Trump/MAGA enters beast mode. Learn more on Chartcrush 2019!
- Chartcrush 1996 Is Live
It’s Divas, domestic terrorism, Netscape vs. Microsoft, and Alanismania the year Tupac is killed, the Internet takes off and everyone is doing “The Macarena.” Learn more on Chartcrush 1996!
- Chartcrush 1972 Is Live
The Red/Blue political divide arrives and the tension manifests in Glam Rock, nostalgia and escapism. Black artists rule the top ten in the lead-up to Wattstax. Learn more on Chartcrush 1972!
- Chartcrush 1945 Is Live
The Petrillo ban lifts in time for Pop to celebrate victory in WW2 with a final burst of Big Bands, new girl singers and Crooners, and a heroic theme by Chopin. Learn more on Chartcrush 1945!
- Chartcrush 2008 Is Live
Hip-Hop helps elect a President in its last dominant year til the late ’10s, also a year of big female debuts as Lil Wayne & T.I. face jail on weapons charges. Learn more on Chartcrush 2008!
- Chartcrush 1990 Is Live
The Cold War ends, but The Gulf War energizes the charts, yellow ribbons trend and postmodern irony, serial shock and taste inversion enflame the Culture War. Learn more on Chartcrush 1990!
- Chartcrush 1952 Is Live
New and established Crooners and Pop Singers are on top as Ike is elected, Elizabeth II is coronated, the Cold War becomes the new normal and “the ’50s” begin. Learn more on Chartcrush 1952!
- Chartcrush 1978 Is Live
Peak Disco with The Bee Gees and Andy Gibb dominating, two blockbuster movie soundtracks, Lionel Richie’s first #1 Pop-Soul-AC crossover hit and Yacht Rock! Learn more on Chartcrush 1978!
- Chartcrush 2014 Is Live
Social media eclipses TV as the top driver of pop culture in The Year of the Booty, Indie-Folk spreads and underground Hip-Hop styles vie for chart dominance. Learn more on Chartcrush 2014!
- Chartcrush 1984 Is Live
The “visual sizzle” of music video defines the look and sound of the ’80s, soundtracks yield multiple hits, veteran acts relaunch and Prince floods the zone. Learn more on Chartcrush 1984!
- Chartcrush 2002 Is Live
The ’00s take shape after 9/11 as Emo and Bling Rap conquer the charts, Avril and Nelly emerge, Eminem goes mainstream and the ’00s biggest Rock bands debut. Learn more on Chartcrush 2002!