Discovering and visualizing songs with similar trends on the British Top 40 Charts from 1990 to 2014

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I often wondered what is an average lifetime of a pop song on the charts. If one follows music, it becomes intuitively apparent that there are in fact several types of hits. Some stay on the charts for many weeks, and others barely make it, then immediately slip out.

So I set about discovering groups of songs with similar trends, as they moved on weekly British Top 40 Chart from 1990 to 2014. A total of 1284 different songs appeared on the charts in that period. After a series of experiments, 100 groups were arbitrarily decided on. Position data for each song was collected across the weeks, then the songs were grouped using k-means clustering.

The result is part interactive, part static visualization, consisting of an exploratory chart and 100 small charts showing each separate group.

Check it out here! Or click the image below.Song trends over time in a typical group

Song trends over time in a typical group


To group the songs, the data was first scraped from, then arranged in format suitable for k-means clustering. The visualization was constructed with d3.

And here are some of the small multiples.

Some of the 100 different groups. Click image for more.
Some of the 100 different groups. Click image for more.

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