But is it really?

Babe Ruth made baseball history when, on September 30, 1927, he hit his sixtieth home run of the season. It was the 151st game of a 154 game season.

That record was not tied until September 26, 1961, and broken five days later by another New York Yankee, Roger Maris.

Roger Maris hits number 61 — Photo: Sports Illustrated

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, for Maris, the major league schedule expanded to 162 games that season to accommodate the new expansion teams that started that year. Maris tied Ruth’s record in game in game 159 — five games after the 1927 season would have ended. Maris broke the record in the last game of the season — game 162. Commissioner of Baseball Ford Frick decreed that there should be two sets of records, one for the 154 game seasons and another for the 162 game seasons. As a result, Maris’s record was always shown with an asterisk (*) until it was officially removed in 1991.

A record of another sort was made in the Billboard Hot 100 chart of April 4, 1964. The Beatles held the top five positions:

1: Can’t Buy Me Love (Capitol)

2: Twist and Shout( Tollie)

3: She Loves You (Swan)

4: I Want To Hold Your Hand (Capitol)

5: Please Please Me (Vee Jay)

Source: Billboard Hot 100 Chart for April 4, 1964

Recently, much has been made about how this record has been shattered by current artist Taylor Swift. However, I would suggest that there is more of a difference between the Beatles and Swift records than between the Ruth and Maris records.

I have a couple of them — Photo: My Collection

I don’t have anything against Taylor Swift, although I personally am too busy chasing kids off my lawn to listen to her music. However, one can’t deny that how the Billboard charts are done now is much different than how they were done sixty years ago. In 1964, to be high on the charts, enough people had to to the store and pay 98 cents (or whatever) to buy a round piece of plastic measuring seven inches across. I Want To Hold Your Hand was number 4 on April 4. It had previously had been number 1. You know what did not count toward the song’s position on the chart?: the (US) album Meet The Beatles.

Look what the first song is on side 1 — Photo: My Collection

That album hit the number 1 spot on a Billboard chart on February 1, 1964 where it stayed for 11 weeks — or until two weeks after the Hot 100 chart of April 4. I Saw Her Standing There was the B side to I Want To Hold Your Hand and may have been considered as part of the single’s sales, but no other song on the album was given a position on the Hot 100 based upon sales of the album.

Things are done differently in 2024. While there are several factors that affect a song’s position on the chart, the biggest factor is downloads or streaming from paid sites such as Spotify. Free streaming sites such as YouTube are way down the list of significance.

What does this mean? Here is a post I found on Redit:

Merle Haggard – Mama Tried – Down Every Road 1962-1994 – 46,216,442

Merle Haggard – Mama Tried – Best Of The Best – 46,216,442

Merle Haggard – Mama Tried – Mama Tried – 46,216,442

A different version on a different album

Merle Haggard – Mama Tried – The Essential Hits Collection – 170,725

Redit post by Fuzzy_Mic from three years ago

Downloads from different albums of the same version of Mama Tried by Merle Haggard were added together. One album had a different version of the song and shows a different song count.

Taylor Swift is very popular. Many people want to download or stream Taylor Swift’s latest album. However, the way the system currently works counts an album download as a sale of each individual song. If things worked that way in 1964, George Harrison would have had his first big hit in in 1964 with Don’t Bother Me.

Congratulations to Taylor Swift for her success, but holding the top 14 slots on the Billboard chart under the current methodology is not the same as the Beatles holding the top five slots in 1964.

1 thought on “But is it really?”

  1. You are certainly right! In my old age I have found that using today’s methodology for yesterday’s achievements always produces an incorrect conclusion. Always.

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