During a recent commute, the wonderful song “Soulful Strut” came up on my iPod. Soulful Strut is, of course, the instrumental hit (#3) from 1968, for Young Holt Unlimited. A really great song. Which got me thinking about instrumentals. My perception was that instrumentals were a significant part of the pop-music landscape in my youth, certainly from the mid 60’s through the last 70’s. And I don’t perceive that they’re very common these days (as hits, at least).
SO… an opportunity to do some research!! YAY!! My favorite resource for such stuff is song-database.com, which is not free, but is cheap. Looking at their data:
Instrumentals were indeed a notable part of the music scene in my youth. From 1960 through 1976, there were 88 instrumental songs to make the Top 10. That’s 4.5% of the Top 10 songs with no words. The percentage is about the same if you look at songs that made the Top 20. At least 1 song in the Top 20 every year from 1960 through 1976. (1970 was worst with only 1. Five years had over 10).
Compare with the last 12 years (1998 through 2009): Number of Instrumental songs in the Top 10?? That would be zero. As in none… nada, not-a-one. Number of instrumental songs in the Top 20? One.
Well, I guess 1 is better than none, which was what I expected.
I think I need to make a playlist, Top 40 instrumentals through the years…