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Adult Contemporary Redux (2010)
Here is a chartsweep of all 848 #1 hits on Billboard's easy listening charts in reverse chronological order from 2010 to 1961 - see the entire charts here
A chartsweep is a cut-up of a large (and usually chronologically organized) library of pop songs. A history professor, Hugo Keesing, made today's definitive chartsweep using all #1 hits from 1950-1991, also available with a great interview on Ubuweb here. But Keesing's own chartsweep was a "dusting off" of the late '60s radio show The History of Rock N Roll. Casey Kasem's American Top 40 show often used chartsweep montages. The technique is ubiquitous among late nite TV ads for comps with titles like "Super Soul Hits of the 70s". Another apparently anonymous example of audio chartsweep covering 1970-1972 takes a less structured, more musical approach. DJ Polymorphic turned chartsweep into a karaoke nightmare with his Song Of Songs. I expand chartsweep into a general form of fast-paced collage improvisation every week on WFMU. Adult Contemporary Redux was originally made available for WFMU's 2011 fundraising marathon and was composed in late 2010.
Hugo Keesing's undertaking was Herculean - he had to purchase all of the 45s for every song and edit them down on analog tape. With decent quality streaming audio available for all top-40 songs on Grooveshark and Youtube (there were only two songs on the entire charts that are not available for download on the internet) and efficient editing software, I was able to make the longest chartsweep ever in under 200 hours. All the same, the task of making chartsweeps is mundane and beneath human dignity. So after finishing Adult Contemporary Redux, I've been working on automating the compilation process with Pure Data and creating interactive visual scores of cut-up audio libraries. We are faced with a glut of aesthetic information every day. Constantly experiencing a multitude of automatically produced chartsweeps could be a very powerful tool for life. My thanks go out to the people at Billboard, Nielsen and Arbitron for compiling airplay and sales data - you are the Ptolemys of the pop-stars and the Atlases of consumerism.