T-Pain has proven to be a timeless staple of pop-culture bangers, and not without good reason. (Image via Completeist)
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According to the Billboard chart lists from 2007 and 2017, music hasn’t changed all that much.

After reading a featured Study Breaks article about Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” hitting a 10-year anniversary mark, I began to wonder how this article’s published year, 2018, stacked up against 2008.

Snapping back to reality, I found myself at the beginning of June, so I modified my strategy. I would compare the Billboard chart top 100 lists from 2007 and 2017 and simply write about their statistical overlaps and trend.

There may be a more technologically advanced way to approach this, but I’m in a situation. Instead of figuring out how to code computers and so the “hard” human labor myself, I resorted to physically counting this data.

To start the process, I took all of 2007’s artists and recorded their song count before realizing an easier solution would be to find the artists that reoccur and count their number of tracks — save for artists’ features, collaboration work and the occasional one-hit-wonders. With a box that takes up about a fifth of the size that the 2007 list did, I had another list of reoccurring artists and their charted top 100 hits ten years later.

Taking the total amount of songs from the multi-charting artists — 42 songs for 2007 and 37 songs for 2017 — and dividing that by the amount of multi-charting artists — 19 artists for 2007 and 16 artists for 2017 — the output is an average of how many songs a multi-charted artist can expect to have on the Billboard chart.

In 2007, the average was 2.2, and in 2017, the average was 2.3.

Stunned by the incredible realization that this music was statistically popular, I contemplated over the music industry being akin to an industrial factory. The production will likely scale with the population, so if the increase of demand comes from an increase of listener supply, the change in output would likely be indistinguishable from the last decade’s.

Through my study, I was able to see the thin, era-spun threads between artists of equal output, such as T-Pain and Bruno Mars. They are both well-versed musicians known for their harmonious features and pop potential and had two charting songs in the top 100 in their respected year. The times may be changing, but since specific change is minuscule in comparison to the change that surrounds it, the pop star lives on.

Besides a confusing song with the artist labeled as “R Kelly OR Bow Wow,” these charts were simply just that: time-specific data compilations of popular culture’s listening tendencies. It’s a safe bet that these artists aren’t as irreplaceable as an “or” would imply, but just for the sake of it, in 2007, Ludacris had 3 top-100 charting songs, as did the Migos in 2017, so it’s safe to say they’re sonic equals.

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Remington Jensen

University of Idaho

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