January 03, 2020

In C major into 2020 – an analysis of the infamous Top 2000

To start off 2020 in style, we did some fun analysis of the Top 2000: a yearly playlist of the most popular songs in the Netherlands. We were curious to find out what our music preferences were in 2019 in the Netherlands.

What was our favorite key in 2019?

So, first of all we discovered that our favourite key in the Top 2000 playlist was C major. The highest ranked number in the Top 2000 list, Bohemian Rhapsody was in a less popular key; C minor. Number #2, Hotel California was in D major and number #3, the Piano Man was in fact in C major.

The key that we least preferred in 2019 was D# minor, which only had 18 observations in the list consisting of 2000 songs. An example of a song that was in D# minor was In the End from Linkin Park.

Which song had the longest duration?

Moving on, we discovered that most of the songs in the list are about four minutes long. As it can be seen in the plot below, there are some positive and negative outliers. The song with the longest duration in the Top 2000 was Echoes from Pink Floyd, which is almost 24 minutes long. Whereas the shortest song in the Top 2000 is Stayin’ Alive from the Bee Gees, and it’s only 1 minute and 33 seconds long.

Fastest and slowest songs

When zooming in on the beats per minute, i.e. the speed of the songs, we did some other interesting discoveries. First of all, we saw that most songs in the list have a beat per minute of about 120. Interesting fact here is that songs with a beat per minute of 100 (for example Stayin’ Alive) provide the ideal beat to follow while performing chest compressions on a heart attack victim.

Songs that you should most definitely not follow while performing chest compressions are the slowest songs in the Top 2000 such as Still Crazy After All These Years from Paul Simon with a beat per minute of 35, and the fastest song from the Top 2000 Road Trippin’ from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, with a beat per minute of 204.

What was the sentiment of the Top 2000?

Lastly, it’s quite interesting to look at the musical sentiment of the Top 2000 by using the Spotify metrics Valence and Energy. Valence here stands for the musical positiveness of a song. I.e. songs with high valence sound more happy and cheerful, while songs with low valence sound more sad and angry. The metric Energy represents a measure of intensity and activity. Typically, songs with high energy feel fast, loud and noisy. For instance, metal has high energy, while a song of Yann Tiersen scores low on the scale.

What we discovered here is that the happiest songs in the Top 2000 in 2019 were Hey Ya! from Outkast and Glory Days from Prince Bruce Springsteen. The saddest songs in the Top 2000 were Sometimes it Snows in April from Prince, and Private Investigations from the Dire Straits. Songs with the angriest character last year were Angel of Death from Slayer, and No Good from the Prodigy. Lastly, there were only a tiny amount of peaceful songs in the music list last year, out of which Heartbreak Hotel from Elvis Presley was the most calm. So if you want to relax after reading this blog, sit back and enjoy the King.