Sources for Billboard Chart Data

I've been on a huge 80s kick for a while now. When listening to playlists and 80s radio stations, I continually come across songs I liked back in the 80s but haven't heard since then. I wanted a data source for all the songs on the charts in the 80s that I could peruse to create my ultimate playlist and identify forgotten favorites missing from my collection.

Of course, not everyone listens to music on the charts. For example, this method wouldn't work well for my current listening habits since much of the new music I listen to these days doesn't make it to the Hot 100. But back in the 80's it's almost all there on the Billboards. No, Billboard wasn't tracking a Hardcore Punk chart back then, so my interest there requires a different kind of research.

After doing some searching, I was a little surprised not to find the spreadsheet of data I was seeking neatly compiled for me. There are a handful of sites out there with fairly complete datasets published as copy-paste-friendly HTML, though. I've compiled the best sources I found here and will check in periodically to keep this list updated.

Singles Chronology

Website: https://singleschronology.com/

singleschronology.com screen shot

As the name suggests, Singles Chronology lists singles going back to the 50s chronologically by release date with one page per year. Song data includes the artist name, release date, song title, song length and label. I love a site that does one thing and does it well, and this is such a site.

This is the site I ultimately used to build a spreadsheet of every Hot 100 song released from 1980 to 1989. This site has good data and lays out the data in a clear and simple format that allowed for efficient copy/paste into a spreadsheet. Here, by the way, is the Google Sheet resulting from my effort.

Top 40 Weekly

Website: https://top40weekly.com/

Top40Weekly.com screen shot

Created by the same folks behind Singles Chronology, this site formats the data a bit differently, with the Billboard Top 40 for each week, again going back to the 50s. This site is a bit more built out with a forum for enthusiasts to discuss the charts. However, the data format is a little less clean with chart number, previous week chart number, song title (all in caps), artist name, weeks on chart and peak to date crammed together on one line. It is at least done in such a way that a script could separate these values on each line. As a fun visual addition, the No. 1 for each week features the cover image and, for older releases, the 45 label.

Billboard

Website: https://www.billboard.com/archive/charts

billboard.com screen shot

Go to the source, of course. The Billboard site is a great resource, with not only the Hot 100 (overall popularity), but all the charts. Different years have different charts, but the page dedicated to each year has them all. The number of charts Billboard publishes has ballooned from just three in 1958 to more than 80 in 2019!

In addition to the archive format linked above, Billboard offers a weekly chart view of the same data with a dropdown to select the date. Start at this link to pick a chart and then change the date drop down at the top to view historical data: https://www.billboard.com/charts

tsort.info

Website: https://tsort.info

tsort.info screen shot

If you want to go beyond Billboard and the US, this site mashes up chart from all over the world. The format is a bit wonky, but they definitely win the award for completeness of data. Click around this site and imagine the amount of work that must have gone into compiling all this. Amazing.

Chart2000.com

Website: https://chart2000.com/

chart2000.com screen shot

This site does the same thing as tsort.info, but by focusing only on music from 2000 on, they're able to provide much more precise and high quality data on a smaller data set. One unique feature is the ability to drill down to the charts for a specific year, month or day. Best of all, they make their source data files available on the About page!

Bullfrogs Pond

Bullfrogs Pond screen shot

Bullfrogs Pond is currently out of commission per legal demand from "the money hungry whores at a corporation that will remain unnamed" (presumably referencing Billboard). That's too bad, because most of the sites above reference this one as a key source and inspiration. It serves as a reminder that Billboard chart data is not public domain, even though it seems like it should belong to all of us. Obviously, it costs money to collect and publish this data set, so it's not unreasonable for the company investing that money to protect the results. From the message on the site, it sounds like the battle over its content isn't over yet, but the copyright in the footer hasn't been updated since 2011 so it's hard to say how long ago that was written. I'm hesitant to make this public for fear of it being removed, but the whole site (and a 32MB spreadsheet of charts going back to 1890!) can still be found using the Wayback machine. God, I love the Internet.

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