AT40’s Top 100 of 1979

As 1979 came to a close, the staff at American Top 40 assembled two special year-end shows. On 12/29/79, Casey told us all about the Top 50 of 1979, while on 1/5/80, he counted down the Top 50 Songs of the 1970s. I certainly understand the desire, maybe even the need, to survey the greatest hits of the decade, but I imagine I would have enjoyed hearing a whole Top 100 for 1979 to match what had been presented the previous three years..

Wishes sometimes come true. Last weekend Premiere Networks broadcast a fabricated show of songs #100-#51 from the year the disco backlash began. It was created by Ken Martin, programming director at WTOJ in Watertown, NY, who painstakingly pieced together bits of Kasem’s patter. Much of the time, he used stories Casey had told at some point during the chart year to introduce a tune; in other cases, Martin made him say things he had never actually verbalized (such as “the #98 song of 1979”). It was thoroughly enjoyable to listen in this past New Year’s Day.

But I didn’t stop there, intuiting an opportunity to make one more chart. Perhaps inspired by the Topps Heritage collections (which these days feature current players on cardboard in the style of the cards I collected in the 1970s), I wrote up last weekend’s show as if it really had been broadcast at the end of 1979. Fortunately, I was able to locate a small cache of unused, five-ring wide-ruled loose leaf paper–slightly yellowed, even–in my office to match what I’d used originally (just get in touch if you find yourself in need of supplies that might have been in vogue at some point over the past thirty years).

1979 was the year of cursive writing in making my charts, so I went back to refresh myself on 15-year-old WRH’s handwriting. Not surprisingly, it’s changed over the years–my style is more a hybrid cursive/print these days–but before long I could come close to making capital F, S, and T and lower-case r (plus 2, 4, and 5) like I used to. It’s far from a perfect match, but I’m pleased enough. Without further ado, two sheets of paper, drawn up forty-two years apart:

I looked back through the year’s charts to duplicate the slightly idiosyncratic capitalization rules I followed then. My assumption, not wholly correct, was that the chart year went from 11/4/78 to 10/27/79; I did not use the frozen chart of 12/30/78 for calculating stats or chart points when forming predictions. Alas, either the work used to generate predictions is buried somewhere separate from all of my other chart stuff or it got tossed out years ago. Whatever I did looks pretty solid, and makes me want to reverse-engineer and determine what I had predicted for #51-100 back then–no doubt it was very similar to the process I’d used for 1978 year-end predictions. That may be a summer project…

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