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Let’s Analyze the Playlist from the First Week of Apple’s Beats 1

Beats 1, Apple’s “global, always-on radio station,” made its big debut on June 30. From the start, it stated that its format was “good music” and “an eclectic mix of the latest and best in music,” free of any specific genres and formats. Is that true? Billboard did an analysis of the station’s first week of broadcasting. Here are the most-played songs–which we can interpret as Apple’s view of what global music should sound like.

(For reference, I should point out that a typical Top 40 radio station will play its most popular songs–usually 3 to 5 of them–upwards of 100 times over a 168 hour week. A station that focuses on alt-rock will set spins of their best songs–5 to 7 of them–50-ish times over that same span of time.)

1. Pharrell Williams, “Freedom” (29 plays)
2. The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face” (27)
3. Royal Blood, “Little Monster” (23)
4. D.R.A.M., “Cha Cha” (21)
4. Disclosure, “Holding On” (feat. Gregory Porter) (21)
4. Selena Gomez, “Good For You” (feat. A$AP Rocky) (21)
7. Alabama Shakes, “Don’t Wanna Fight” (19)
7. Beck, “Dreams” (19)
7. James Bay, “Let It Go” (19)
10. David Zowie, “House Every Weekend” (18)
10. Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen (18)
10. Kendrick Lamar, “Alright” (18)
13. Leon Bridges, “Better Man” (17)
13. Skrillex & Diplo, “Where Are Ü Now” (with Justin Bieber) (17)
13. Spring King, “City” (17)
13. Taylor Swift, “Bad Blood” (feat. Kendrick Lamar) (17)
13. Vic Mensa, “U Mad” (feat. Kanye West) (17)
18. Alessia Cara, “Here” (16)
18. Bonkaz, “We Run The Block” (16)
18. Courtney Barnett, “Pedestrian at Best” (16)
18. Jack Garratt, “Weathered” (16)
18. Julio Bashmore, “Holding On” (feat. Sam Dew) (16)
18. Skepta, “Shutdown” (16)
24. Bryson Tiller, “Don’t” (15)
24. Drake, “Know Yourself” (15)
24. Florence + The Machine, “Ship To Wreck” (15)
27. A$AP Rocky, “Everyday” (feat. Rod Stewart, Miguel & Mark Ronson) (14)
27. Major Lazer, “Powerful” (feat. Ellie Goulding & Tarrus Riley) (14)
27. Mumford & Sons, “The Wolf” (14)
27. Wolf Alice, “Bros” (14)
31. Boogie, “Oh My” (13)
31. Bully, “Trying” (13)
31. Fono, “Real Joy” (13)
31. Statik Selektah, “Beautiful Life” (feat Action Bronson & Joey Bada$$) (13)
35. MS MR, “Painted” (12)
35. Rachel Platten, “Fight Song” (12)
35. Seinabo Sey, “Hard Time” (12)
35. Silento, “Watch Me” (Whip / Nae Nae) (12)
39. Grace, “You Don’t Own Me” (feat. G-Eazy) (11)
39. Lianne La Havas, “What You Don’t Do” (11)
39. Major Lazer, “Lean On” (feat. MØ & DJ Snake) (11)
39. Omi, “Cheerleader” (Felix Jaehn Remix Radio Edit) (11)
39. Shamir, “On the Regular” (Radio Version) (11)
44. Disclosure, “Bang That” (10)
44. Nao, “Zillionaire” (10)
44. Rich Homie Quan, “Flex” (Ooh, Ooh, Ooh) (10)
44. Stromae, “Papaoutai” (10)
48. Foals, “What Went Down” (9)
48. Gallant, “Weight In Gold” (9)
48. Gavin James , “Bitter Pill” (9)
48. Glass Animals, “Black Mambo” (9)
48. Muse, “Reapers” (9)
48. Tinie Tempah, “Not Letting Go” (feat. Jess Glynne) (9)
48. Years & Years , “Desire” (9)

From Billboard:

So far, Beats 1’s playlist has skewed heavily toward new music and recent hits: 83 percent of its 54 most-played songs were released in 2015, with the rest in 2013 and 2014. The resulting tracklisting departs significantly from a typical mainstream top 40 playlist, however; only seven of the current top 25 songs on Billboard’s Radio Songs chart appear, bearing more of a resemblance to the BBC’s Radio 1 rotation. Unsurprising given the three headquarters, American and English groups led Beats 1’s heaviest rotation as well, with 44 percent and 39 percent representation, respectively. Alternative and indie rock made up almost 30 percent of its genre distribution, followed by 22 percent airplay for hip-hop and rap artists.

More analysis can be found here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38111 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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