|LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" and "Sexy and I Know It"|
were two of the most upbeat hits of 2011.
The year 2011 is the most uptempo year for pop music since 1984. In a study of the beats per minute of the biggest hits of each of the past 42 years, I discovered that 1983 and 1984 were the most uptempo years since 1970. But the year 2011 took pop music back to a level of tempo it has not achieved in the past 27 years.
My original theory was that the disco era would prove to be more uptempo, though not as uptempo as 2011. I had guessed that 1979 would come in second to this year. But some of the grooviest beats of that year, such as Chic’s “Le Freak” and the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.,” were not exceedingly fast. It was, instead, the synthesized beats of the mid-1980s that were the tempo champions.
The fastest big hit of the year 2011 was “You Make Me Feel …” by Cobra Starship, at 132 BPM. The average tempo of the 40 biggest hits of this year was just shy of 112 BPM. Other fast hits this year included “Till the World Ends” and “I Wanna Go” by Britney Spears, “Party Rock Anthem” and “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO, and “On the Floor” by Jennifer Lopez. While the fastest hits this year were not as fast as the champions in the 1980s, we saw a uniform trend this year in which many big hits fell into the 124-132 BPM range.
|"Let's Go Crazy": 196 beats per minute!|
In 1984, the 40 biggest hits averaged 114 BPM. The fastest hits of all were “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!, “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins, “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club, and at a breakneck 196 beats per minute, “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince & the Revolution.
One year earlier, the style of music was markedly mellower, but that year proved to be the fastest of all, with its forty biggest hits averaging 117 BPM. Among its biggest hits you’ll find “Mickey” by Toni Basil, “Maniac” by Michael Sembello, “Steppin’ Out” by Joe Jackson, “Love Is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar, and that year’s fastest big hit, “Tell Her About It” by Billy Joel.
If we factor in not only speed but also texture and intensity, I think it’s safe to say that 2011 is the reigning champion. So if you figure out how to compute this “feeling” scientifically, please let me know.
What was the slowest year? I didn’t dig deeply to find this out, only calculating BPM on the 10 biggest hits of each of the years that were not clear contenders for the fastest. But based on that data, the slowest year was 1998, with an average of only 84.89 BPM. Many of the year’s biggest hits were ballads, including “How Do I Live” by LeAnn Rimes, “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden, “You’re Still the One” by Shania Twain, and “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls. Even the dance hits, like “Too Close” by Next, were only midtempo.
What were the fastest and slowest hits I measured? The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” (1987) was the speediest, at a whopping 206 BPM. The slowest was “Separate Lives” by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin (1985). At only 50 BPM, it did its part to drag down that year’s average.
Check out my main website to look up the #1 song on any day in history.