Thursday, July 07, 2011

Whatever Happened To Instrumental Songs (Part 2)?

Yesterday we looked at Instrumental Songs, and trends through the years. While I thought the trend was pretty clear, there was a limitation in the data set. Looking at Artists defined as “Instrumental” adds some vocal songs by instrumental acts (example: “This Boy’s In Love With You” by Herb Alpert). It also overlooks instrumental songs by vocal acts (example: “Frankenstein” by Edgar Winter Group).  It also includes everything in the Hot 100, which is a rather broad sample.

So, how about another angle on the data?  With only moderate effort, I was able to tabulate the number of Instrumental songs to make the Top 10, by decade. And once again, the trend is crystal clear:

complied from data from:

Instrumentals were a solid part of the music scene in the 50’s and 60’s, with 55 songs per year as significant hits (Top 10). The 70’s saw that number drop (almost) in half, to 28. By the 80’s the number had dropped almost 90% (to 6). Only 1 instrumental made the Top 10 in the 90’s, and none in the00’s. Doesn’t get much clearer than that.  What was once a significant part of the popular music scene is now missing.

So why?? Why no “Tequila”? No “Telstar”, or “Grazing In The Grass”? No “Frankenstein” or “Pick Up The Pieces”? Not even a “Chariots Of Fire” or “Miami Vice”. All those songs were not only Top 10’s, but chart Toppers.

I think it's a shame.  But them I'm just a grumpy old man.

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