Each week (most of the time — sometimes I fall behind), I rank my Top 50 favorite songs, which are songs that at their time of debut are either releasing shortly to radio, or were released within the past year of the current chart week. I also periodically chart album cuts that were released as music videos, or (a new rule as of December 2012) songs released as “digital singles”.
How do songs become favorites to me, however? Well, sound and lyrics are a factor, of course. However, likely unusual for a charting scheme, lyrics are generally twice as important to me as sound is. Sound may initially attract me to a song (most of the time), but usually, only lyrics keep me interested. Other factors can influence songs’ rankings on my chart, too, such as radio airplay. Generally, songs I hear more often (whether on radio or on my computer), will rank higher than those I don’t hear as often. But in the uncommon occasion that I start hearing a song too much, then I can start tiring of it, which can prompt it to start falling.
Now, what is it about lyrics that draw me to a song? The overall strength of the words is a factor, as is their meaning and relevance. To elaborate, I have questions that I answer to myself, as I listen to songs, and I use my answers to judge if and where I rank the songs. The questions include
- Are the words original, or just rehashes of tired truths?
- Do they bring me closer to God, or Him closer to me?
- Do they remind me of something about myself, or some circumstances I am or have been going through?
- Do they encourage me, bolster me, inspire me?
When I can answer most or all those questions positively about a song, the song will tend to chart for a long time, even well after it has faded from radio. However, of those questions, I think that last one is quite important. Circumstances in and around my life, and even people I’m close to, can influence the charting songs. Such songs that bolster me, or have bolstered me, spiritually in times of trial will tend to rank high. One classic example is Casting Crowns’ Praise You In This Storm, which spent two consecutive years in my Top 5, because I think it’s an awesome song all around, and because it really strengthened me in late 2005 and 2006. Please see my 2006 archive page , as well as my Christian background, for more details, if you’re interested.
Finally, songs that lead me to think of someone, or that remind me of something about her or him, will tend to rank high too, and for a long time at that. A couple classic examples are Matthew West’s You Know Where To Find Me and StorySide:B’s Be Still, which reminded me of once close friends, and have reminded me of how I love being a friend to anyone. I can also interpret the Matthew West song as God speaking, saying that I know where to find Him. I love songs that can be interpreted in more than one way.
Now, with all that said pertaining to lyrics, what about songs without lyrics? I do enjoy a lot of instrumental music, and some of it has spoken deeply to me, even without having words. Despite that, however, wordless pieces have only slowly gained traction on my charts, mostly on my other chart for songs ineligible on my Top 50, my Top 20 Lifesongs. This began in 2011 with Yanni’s long-running Top 5 classic, Adagio In C Minor. Other favorites by Fariborz Lachini, Paul Cardall, and George Winston followed, and then, 2012 saw even more entries by John Tesh, David Nevue, Kings Chamber Orchestra, David Arkenstone, Norm Hastings, and finally, Ryan Stewart, who scored the first instrumental #1 with Autumn. From here on, instrumental music will likely only grow in popularity on my charts. In fact, it finally broke onto my main Top 50 at the end of 2012, when violinist and YouTube sensation Lindsey Stirling scored the first instrumental debut there (at #1 too!) with her beautiful take on Christmas carol What Child Is This. 2013 could well be her year on my chart, and the year for instrumental music in general.
Well, I hope I’ve said enough now to clarify how I develop my charts, and I hope you enjoy your time here. Thanks for visiting!