February 22, 2011

Something Wonderful: 5 Seconds Of Every #1 Song Ever (1955-1992)


One hour and 14 minutes of hit magic. Fascinating. Good background for cruising the net. Click and listen to the decades rock and roll on by.

It's amazing to me that I have actually heard every single one of these on or about the day they were released. That's right. I come in at "Memories Are Made of This." Where do you come in?

Five Seconds Of Every #1 Pop Single Part 1 by mjs538

Five Seconds Of Every #1 Pop Single Part 2 by mjs538

Called "Chartsweep" the work was created by Hugo Keesing, a

teacher and pop music archivist. The origins of the work were discussed with Keesing @Some Assembly Required: Hugo Keesing

The concept and term "Chartsweep" both originated in the late 60s with a syndicated radio show called "The History of Rock 'n' Roll." I listened to it on WOR-FM in New York and recorded portions of it on an old Wollensack reel-to-reel tape recorder. As you know, the 'sweep presented segments of every Billboard #1 single starting with "Memories Are Made of This" (Jan 1956). I don't recall where it stopped, but it was around 1968/69. Six years later I began teaching an American Studies course at the University of Maryland called "Popular Music in American Society." To provide a setting for each class I dusted off the concept, took it back to January 1950, added a number of songs based on Joel Whitburn's re-definition of #1 songs, and continued where the original had stopped. I added each new #1 until fall, 1991 when I stopped teaching the course. "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" was the 900th. At the start of each class I played a portion of the 'sweep that corresponded to the years we were covering that night. To accompany the tape I made 35mm slides of either the original sheet music, 45 rpm record sleeve or something similar, so that students could see as well as hear the pop music history. Copies of each night's tape went to the undergraduate library. I assume that an enterprising student or two made their own copies and it is a copy of a copy of a copy that remains in circulation. That's the story in a nutshell.

Hugo Keesing

Posted by Vanderleun at February 22, 2011 4:55 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

The Skorpion ambled into this life the week that "I Want to Be Wanted" by Brenda Lee topped the U.S. charts.

Posted by: Skorpion at February 22, 2011 5:37 PM

Got my first boy kiss with "The Great Pretender" playing in the background. I think you had to be a "Hit Parade" watcher for a couple of the earliest songs, but I remember all so far. It is still playing in the background. Haven't thought of some of the songs for years and a few took me right back to exactly how I was feeling in 7th, 8th, 9th grade when boys became the most interesting subject in my life to study.

Posted by: Sara (Pal2Pal) at February 22, 2011 6:02 PM

I've been alive through all of these (born in '53) and remember most of up them (except for a few in the early 70s when I was down in Central America) until we hit the end of the 70s. At that point I apparently started listing to the radio a lot less, because my recognition rate drops steadily through 1992 (when the 2nd MP3 ends).

Thanks for posting these; they're great. I've linked her on Facebook as well as sent a link to here out to quite a few friends via e-mail.

Posted by: bfwebster at February 22, 2011 7:24 PM

I still haven't hit the 1970s yet, 'cause it's still hit-or-miss . . .

Posted by: Joy McCann/Miss Attila at February 22, 2011 8:13 PM

My car stereo has a feature like this when the iPod is hooked up. You hit ZAP and it plays a five second grab from a random song on the iPod. If you like the song, hit a button and the song starts from the beginning, if not, it just plays another snippet. Sometimes I just let it keep zapping.

Posted by: Mumblix Grumph at February 22, 2011 11:34 PM

Born sixty years and three days ago. Grew up in the Golden Age of Rock n'Roll.

My ENTIRE LIFE in an hour and a quarter!

Long live Sirius Radio Channels 5 and 6!

Posted by: Murphy(AZ) at February 23, 2011 11:35 AM

Where do you come in?

Same place as you, Gerard. I was 11 years old in January of 1956... and I remember all of these, as well.

Posted by: Buck at February 23, 2011 5:00 PM

Every parent's nightmare is finding out that he's paying through the ass so that his kid can take the equivalent of "an American Studies course at the University of Maryland called 'Popular Music in American Society.'"

Posted by: Voton at February 24, 2011 10:15 AM

I'm with you on this. I graduated from high school in 1955. Wonderful times. (No matter what the nay sayers preach.)

Posted by: DonaldS at February 24, 2011 1:12 PM

Dang! This is sa-weet!

I should have done this with my Motown Review. Would have saved a boatload of bandwidth.

Posted by: MOTUS at February 25, 2011 9:36 AM

There are one or two that I missed. No big loss - I have more memories of music to replay inside my head whenever I want I graduated high school in 1954. There were more interesting songs before the Hit Parade and the teen-age culture was invented.

Posted by: Jerry Miller at February 26, 2011 2:25 PM