You can learn what my favorite songs are this week and also learn more about what I liked 1, 10, 15, 20, 25 years ago and more. If you want to know more, you can check out the year-end charts of more than 40 years. You can use the links above to access the current and old charts. See which songs you love — and which ones you hate!
Like Al Pacino’s character observed in (the otherwise forgettable) “Godfather III,” every time I try to get out, they pull me back in …
Personal music charting is something I’ve done on and off since 1975, not long after the first time I heard an “American Top 40” broadcast on what was then known as WDHF-FM in Chicago.
When I first created my own Web page in the mid-1990s, I started to put my weekly look at my favorite songs online. Early on, I realized how many individuals enjoyed making personal charts of their favorite music. It’s a hobby that I didn’t often discuss (I guess because it was so introverted that I feared others might think it weird). But with entire Web sites (such as Top Hits Online) devoted to the phenomenon, I became far more confident in “coming out” as a personal chart keeper!
My fascination with music and with music charts started the way it does with many chart keepers (at least those who have been writing Fred Bronson at Billboard Online): A cousin of mine showed me a printed Top 45 weekly countdown from WLS-AM in Chicago (*the* big Chicago Top-40 station in the mid-’70s); she had picked up a copy at an area record store. From then on, whenever I could, I’d pick up one and track what was popular in my hometown. About the same time, a grade-school classmate clued me in to Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40.” I caught it on WDHF-FM (number one that week was Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting”), and that did it — I was hooked on Top 40 music *and* weekly music charts.
I was in sixth grade at the time, with a lot of time on my hands, so charting then was a lot less methodical and a lot crazier. My siblings, my friends and I would constantly compare our favorite songs and even create our own, which we would chart. Even daily charts weren’t unusual. At the same time, we wore down my mother until she bought a year’s subscription to Billboard, home of the Hot 100 and the basis for “American Top 40’s” weekly countdown (at least back then … that stopped — sigh — in the early ’90s). Even 30-some years ago, an annual subscription to Billboard was pretty hefty for an individual. (Thanks, Mom!)
By the time I was in high school, I was involved in the school newspaper, yearbook and other activities, so the mania of music and personal charting calmed down quite a bit. From 1978 to 1995, I would still do the occasional additional chart (if you’ve ever looked at my year-end charts and figured out that there were more than 52 weeks of No. 1 songs, now you know why!). When I put the charts online in ’96, the weekly format settled for good.
A few years back, the sad state of contemporary hit radio led me to suspend regular weekly charting, although I continued to wrap up the year with a top 100 (top 50 in 2005). But with iTunes and the iPod, my fondness for selecting my favorite music came back — and I’m glad to see an easy way of focusing on and purchasing individual songs legally. So, even though I don’t listen to my market’s Top 40 station, my iPod allows me to program my own, as well as the best songs from the past. (Gotta love technology.)
Unfortunately, I don’t have any weekly charts from 1975 (when I started making them) through 1980. Somehow, I had the presence of mind to keep the Top 30 of 1978 (later expanded to a Top 100) and the Top 100s of 1979 and ’80, and a list of the songs that made it to No. 1 those three years, along with the number of (real-time) weeks. In addition, while working to program my iPod, I went back in time to determine my favorite songs for each year starting with the year I was born, 1963. (Hence, the Web site title.)