This morning I came across a list of the #1 singles so far for 2006. Out of 13 songs, I only definitely recognize two, James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful and Beyonce’s Check On It. Maybe I’d recognize some of the others if I heard them. Regardless, I find myself growing increasing nostalgic for a shared national musical experience.
When I was a teenager, it seemed like everybody in the country knew the hit songs of the day. Even my grandmother knew Funkytown and 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and Kiss And Say Goodbye. But with the demise of that glorious mash-up of all musical styles called Top 40 radio, we lost that shared musical experience as a culture. Now we’re all narrow-casted and niche-marketed into our little perfect pigeon-holed world of hearing only what we already know we like. It’s a loss to all of us, this ironic lack of exposure to new things that the opportunity to hear all things has given us. Of course, I’m guilty of cloistering myself in a self-created time capsule of disco-oldies radio stations, new wave reunion concerts, and classic country iPod playlists.
Twenty years ago, maybe even ten years ago, if you sang the #1 pop single to everybody you knew, almost all of them would be able to sing along. Today, I suspect that not very many would, unless you happen to only know teenagers. What was the last hit single that you’d say definitely was known by the entire country? I miss the Top 40.