Lesson Plan: Music Charts

To be honest, I get my weekly dose of mainstream pop music and gossip from a syndicated radio show, Asia Pop 40, hosted by an affable young DJ by the name of Joey Chou.

JOEY CHOU, host of Asia Pop 40

Naturally, the chart is comprised of the most downloaded and streamed songs across the continent, including charts in the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, and beyond.

For this week’s lesson I decided to do an informal side-by-side of the Asia Pop 40 chart and the top 40 songs on Billboard’s Hot 100, the industry standard in North America and provinces. The British charts also have a distinctive flavor, but we’ll leave that discourse to another “lesson.”

Admittedly, the holiday season may not be the most representative week to conduct this experiment; fully half of the Billboard chart is comprised of holiday classics, from Perry Como and Brenda Lee to Ariana Grande and Mariah Carey. Keeping that in mind, let’s look at the songs that are featured on both charts, indicating something that approaches “global” popularity.

By my account, 11 songs appear this week on both the Billboard and Asia Pop 40 charts, roughly 25 percent. The largest discrepancy appears in the Justin Bieber song, “Ghost,” dead last on the Billboard Top 40, rocketing to #2 on the AP40 chart. In contrast, Bieber’s other big hit, “Stay,” with The Kid LAROI, sits comfortably in the Top 3 of both charts.

Additional songs that share Top 10 spots on both charts include “Easy on Me,” by Adele, “Heat Waves,” by Glass Animals, “Shivers,” by Ed Sheeran, and “Industry Baby,” by Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow. Further down the list, “Cold Heart,” the Elton John mashup featuring Dua Lipa,” holds the #19 spot on both charts, joined by “”Smokin’ Out The Window,” by Silk Sonic (a collab between Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak), Sheeran’s infectious “Bad Habits,” and “Kiss Me More,” by Doja Cat, who has several other songs on the both charts, AP40 listing “Woman” at #28, and Billboard listing “Need To Know” at #12, and “You Right” at #33.

Finally, Gayle’s “abcdefu” is Billboard’s #15 song, with the “cleaner” version, “abc,” at #4 in Asia.

Now, let’s look at a couple of notable examples of songs that appear on one chart and not the other. What makes the difference, and are there any “big picture” lessons to be learned?

Billboard lists “Super Gremlin,” by Kodak Black, at #23, with Walker Hayes’ “Fancy Like” at #31. Neither artist shows up on the AP40 list. The AP40 list features MAJOR artists not included on Billboard’s chart (perhaps pushed out by all of those holiday songs), including Taylor Swift, Coldplay, BTS, Shawn Mendes, and Dhruv.

Thailand is represented on the AP40 chart by Blackpink’s Lalisa, whose “Money” is at #10. I took this photo of Lalisa at the pharmacy recently; her cardboard understudy was selling toothpaste.


Published by billpaige

Interested parties are first directed to my memoir, “Everything I Know I Learned From Rock Stars” (Eckhartz Press). While I have taken music therapy classes and read extensively about music’s effect on the brain, I am NOT professionally trained -- just a music lover who recognizes that everyone benefits from music. Giving that gift to special needs youth is highly rewarding, but again, my process is intuitive, not academic. I draw largely on personal experience. I’ve spent most of my 67 years observing a wide world of music, from working as a music critic professionally for 20 years, and holding positions in music companies in the 1970s and 1990s. Since 1990, however, I have focused on learning more about music and improving as a singer, guitarist, and performer, both solo and in ensemble settings.

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