Hello it is my birthday tomorrow. I will be 23 years old. I thought about writing an emotional post about, I don’t know, growing up or like… listening to PUP and that’s it as it relates to needing comfort in a time which is the worst for me every year (the month of August).
But instead, we will be looking at a load of data I gathered earlier this year while spiraling in my parents’ house.
I love Jon Bois. He is dedicated to the art of telling sports stories through data at SB Nation. He is amazing. If you’ve never watched a Jon bois video, it doesn’t really matter for this post. I think you should but that’s just my opinion and I've only just learned who Ken Griffey Jr. is. Really what matters is that Jon Bois, best video creator of our time, has inspired me to look at data. My data is not about the most inspiring people ever to exist in the great unifier that is sports. But my data does talk about Drake and a Billboard chart record handed to The Four Seasons only thanks to a European DJ.
In an effort to bring some internet attention to myself, I asked my followers what their favorite song with a month in the title is. The people answered with all kinds of garbage. Some good, some bad. some emo, some obvious. So, while I sat, drunk at my parents’ house, I got to thinking.. What month has the most songs about it? And, furthermore, what month reigns supreme on the charts? Does it matter? Not even a little bit. But let’s find out.
Here we have all the songs I’ve gathered with titles that mention a month. Obviously it could never be all of them, it’s just a lot of them. How did you find this data, I hear you yelling? Well first I went to the american copyright office site and tried to search but common sense says there’s more than like 300 songs about January so I left and went to the other collection of songs I’ve relied upon for the last five years: the ascap and bmi repertories.
Ascap and BMI are performance rights organizations. There are four in America while there’s only one most other countries. In the US you’ve got ASCAP and BMI which are free and public. If you want to register with them, you can. Then there’s SESAC which is an invite only version. The fourth is called GMR. GMR was started by Irving Azoff and is pretty much only for like ultra successful and established artists. The John Lennons and Bruno Marses of the world. Despite only having like nine people they represent, GMR won a cool lawsuit against the radio music licensing committee and their undercutting of rates which is cool (unless I misunderstood it and it isn’t cool, but it seems cool idk). Broadcasting is, historically, the enemy of music and our American broadcasting industry is why artists don’t get paid when their songs are played on the radio. But Irving Azoff was also behind the merger of Ticketmaster and Livenation so fuck you Irving you monopolistic asshole bitch you’re still ruining music even if you did fight against the broadcasters.
Anyway, songwriters register their songs and the PRO pays out performance royalties which include playing live or having songs played on the radio or TV or what have you. But this isn’t a video about their function for musicians.
All of the American PROS, including GMR, and SOCAN in Canada have public databases where you can search a song and find information for all the writers on each song or search a writer and see every song they’re credited on. It’s pretty cool as a resource. In England and Australia, these aren’t public or super easy to access because, ostensibly, these databases are for people who want to license a song and need contact info for each writer. But today, it’s just for fun and research so we’re focusing on songs with at least one north american anglophone writer.
So I pull this data from a combination of the four American PROs and SOCAN in Canada. If it’s been registered with a major PRO and was made by an american or canadian writer, it’s here. I also fully eliminated march and may as options. Those are just regular words and fucked up the data. So we’re left here.
So now this data is a little bit inaccurate because it doesn’t take into account the overlaps between the different PRO data I looked at. Most songs have more than one writer. So then I cross referenced it between the five sources to eliminate any repeats where, say, two writers on a song were registered with ASCAP and one was on BMI.
This took a long time so really I only looked at a few months. The trend line stays the same and I don’t get paid to do this shit so I simply looked at a few months. In January there was 123 overlaps, 403 for April, 250 for September, 227 for October. I really don’t think it matters too much, the line stays the same. Months with more representation had more overlap. Whatever. Let’s look at April.
There are four thousand three hundred and twenty three songs that mention the April in the title. Two of them have made appearances on the billboard hot 100. You’ve gotta wonder. Why? Why are there so many unsuccessful songs named after the month of april? Surely some will be about April the name of a person but even then, the discrepancy is huge. And June is even worse. There is not a single charting song that mentions the month of june despite a figure in the mid three thousands. How is that possible? This newsletter will not answer these questions and they’re not particularly important or interesting questions but the data is staring us in the face. That’s a lot of songs and frankly a crap showing on the charts. Of course, not charting doesn’t mean a song is bad. But good and bad are subjective. Charting vs not charting is not. So what does it matter? Most songs aren’t written about months. What does it matter if April and June and October don’t have songs mentioning them on the Billboard hot 100?
Well, it doesn’t. Of course it doesn’t. But making a quality judgement is not why it’s interesting those months have such poor chart performances.
It’s because of this:
Songs about September have spent 142 weeks on the hot 100. Songs about december only follow slightly at 124. How is this possible? Why is this happening? There has been zero incredibly popular songs titled after October?! How! Perhaps it’s because we write songs about fall or maybe Halloween, not October, but December seems like it should be the same. Also, November sucks dude.
When we look into the data on what songs actually chart, the last third of the year just dominates! Now I’d like to pivot to what the songs that did chart look like, here’s a list of every Billboard Hot 100 charting song with a month in the title ordered by how long they spent on the chart. Knowing the week data is important but what does the breakdown of actual different songs look like? Is it consistent? We find out now.
This time I filtered out songs like Johnny and June by Heidi Newfield which spent 15 weeks on the chart but is clearly referring to June as a name. I also was able to weed through the Marches and Mays and list them because the data allowed for it.
Okay so of these 28 songs what is the breakdown:
January - 1
February - 0
March - 1
April - 2
May - 2
June - 0
July - 4
August - 0
September - 10 (well, 9, but 10 different appearances — we’ll get into THAT in a minute)
October - 0
November - 4
December - 4
Okay so now that we’ve sorted this out we can see that for the most part it tracks— September leads, December and November follow up but are also tied with July who trails dreadfully in the week data. We can also see that December 1963 by The Four Seasons is pulling WAY more than its fair share of work. It’s a good song so maybe it deserves it but in this list there is much to dissect.
What put these songs on the chart? How did they stay there? What factors went into this? Well, lets start at the bottom.
March 14th by Drake spent a singular week on the Billboard Hot 100 then immediately dropped off. This is, of course, the song about his kid that is a maybe response to Pusha T. Genius gives a bunch of potential reasons for why this song could be called March 14th. Things like it being the date Drake flew to Wyoming to record on Kanye West’s album Ye. Some more intuitive, “according to this timeline of Drake’s interactions with Sophie Brussaux, March 14 could also be the date Drake found out that Sophie was pregnant with his child.”
Also my favorite fun fact, “Coincidentally March 14th was also the day where Drake played the rising pop culture icon Fortnite with pro gamer and streamer Ninja”
Anyway, I think it’s interesting the implication of Drake spending one week on the Hot 100 for this song. March 14th is the last track on Scorpion, an album clocking in at an hour and a half. The song itself is over 5 minutes long and is just explaining his feelings about his kid and responding to rumors and stuff about it. It’s not exactly a banger, in my own personal opinion. But I’m willing to bet everybody listened to it one time and showed their friends and talked about it nonstop.
For one week.
And that’s why it got to #57 then dropped off immediately. Once most people knew what he said and his response to Pusha T’s high profile track, they didn’t care to pop it on a playlist or relisten over the next several weeks.
I think that’s sick.
Onto one of the other songs that stands out, See You In September is on this list twice. Originally recorded by The Tempos in 1959 and a cover by The Happenings in 1966. Now, to me this is very normal 1960s stuff. Covers by different artists becoming incredibly popular this way is very normal. In fact, The Happenings’ version peaked higher (#3 vs The Tempos’ paltry #23).
I just love that they both charted for exactly the same amount of time. 14 weeks. I think that’s charming and I will count them as different songs because it is a cover which implies entirely different instrumentation and personnel. See, this is important because on this list there is the cousin of the cover: the remix. Billboard does not consider remixes as different songs.
Ah, the delightful December 1963 (Oh What A Night) by The Four Seasons. 54 weeks on the chart! Wow!
In 1976 (well, December 1975), upon release, it spent 27 weeks on the chart. A certified success. But then, in 1988, a Dutch DJ remixed it which caused it to be rereleased in 1993 and then the song spent another EXACTLY 27 weeks on the charts. A remix is, of course, not a cover so they got to be combined to reach that 54 week mark.
I think there is something charmingly 90s about a Dutch DJ remix of a song from the mid-70s charting for as long as the original song.
Anyway, why did I write this? What is the implication of any of this?
There is no why and there is no reasoning. I just thought it was well interesting and already did the research. Make your own conclusions. I just hope one day someone writes a more popular song about April.
Miranda Reinert is a zine maker and law student newly based in Philadelphia. She is looking for friends. Follow me on Twitter for more on music and other things like polling the emo community on where good pizza in Philly is: @mirandareinert. Thanks for reading!
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