No matter what is going on in the world, there is music playing somewhere. But in our fine country, The Great Melting Pot and The Home of the Internet, it’s hard to say what exactly that music is. We’re pretty much all in our own bubbles, listening to weird trap remixes and unearthed YouTube rarities, and we’re not necessarily aware of the other music that transcends bubbles and works as pop. Identifying the biggest song in the country can be a complex issue—not least because there a million sources of potentially relevant data, and most of them didn’t exist a couple years ago.
Since it would take away from all the time you spend looking up dope music on Noisey.com to spend too much time figuring out what is actually popular, this is a new series dedicated to answering that pressing question: What is the biggest song in the country right now? We’ll use a variety of highly scientific methods and plenty of unscientific ones to get you the answer you deserve and make sure that you know exactly what it is that everyone else is paying attention to so you can pay attention, too.
The Biggest Song in the Country is “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor
“All About That Bass” is a song by Meghan Trainor, an artist signed to Epic Records. It is the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 and the top streaming song on Spotify. Other than the fact that the song is incredibly dull, it’s in no way surprising that it’s the top song in the country. It fits all the criteria for virality: It’s a white girl singing about body positivity and being yourself while co-opting classic R&B and a touch of hip-hop slang. If there is one thing people will share the shit out of on Facebook, it’s stories that boil down to “don’t worry about your size/she said boys like a little more booty to hold at night/you know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll.” And if there’s one thing white people love, it’s having stuff that black people have loved for a while sold to them by other white people.
People will share this song just because it has a "good message." And then their friends have to agree and say that it’s pretty good because who wants to be out here promoting unreasonable beauty standards? Parents will let their kids listen to it because it has a “good message” and because it gives them a good platform to complain about all those rappers who aren’t making music with this message (even though the booty is literally the topic of like a third of rap songs and there is currently a very popular rap song that is way better and delivers a similar message in a way more fun way). It sounds like doo-wop, which is a type of music from the 50s that offends literally no one. This, my friends, is a song you can “like” on Facebook! This is obviously the most popular song in the country.
The Biggest Song in the Country is “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift
“Shake It Off” is currently the top single on the iTunes Store. It is also a song about making white girls feel cool for being themselves, and it is by Taylor Swift, so it is obviously enormously popular.
The Biggest Song in the Country is “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke
But Kyle, you may be thinking, “Blurred Lines” was the biggest song in the country around this time last year, when it was still on the radio and stuff! True. But “Blurred Lines” was also so big that Marvin Gaye’s family filed a lawsuit claiming that it copied his song “Got to Give It Up.” The deposition from that lawsuit leaked this week, and it is insane—among the revelations is the fact that Robin Thicke was high out of his mind for the whole recording process. Naturally, all kinds of outlets covered the news. You may not have heard “Blurred Lines” this week, but chances are good that if you get your music news from anywhere approaching a mainstream source you heard about it, making it the biggest song in the country.
The Biggest Song in the Country is “Hot N—a” by Bobby Shmurda
As far as rap singles with accompanying dances go, Bobby Shmurda’s song is pretty much the only game in town right now. Rihanna’s into it, as is everyone else. But more importantly, as far as I can tell, it’s retained its two-month reign as the song of choice for memes, comedy sketches, and joke Vines right now—it’s even filtered down to these children, and if that isn’t a sign of ubiquity I don’t know what is:
The Biggest Song in the Country is “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith
While it’s no longer quite at the level of chart success it was a few weeks ago, “Stay With Me” continues to chug along as the song that other artists with slightly less popular songs cover. It’s just hip enough (Sam Smith was on the cover of Fader!) that liking it shows the singer has good taste, it’s just blank enough that other talented performers can put their own unique twist on it, and it’s just well-known enough that moms who are browsing Facebook will stop and watch a cover of it. Ed Sheeran, Madison Beer, FKA Twigs, Charli XCX, and a bunch of random singer-songwriters (not to mention Sam Smith himself, with Mary J. Blige) have all churned out covers in recent weeks, and they have all been bloggable as shit. Have you seen FKA Twigs cover it? It is stunning. As long as artists keep covering this track in new and unbelievable ways, it will continue to be the song for artists to cover in new and unbelievable ways and therefore the biggest song in the country.
The Biggest Song in the Country is “Steal My Girl” by One Direction
This week, One Direction announced they are releasing a new song called “Steal My Girl.” Technically it isn’t out yet, but it’s already the biggest song in the country because it’s One Direction, and they are the biggest musical performance enterprise in the world. The eventual release of “Steal My Girl” on September 29 will probably shut down the Internet. This tweet alone got nearly 200,000 retweets!
There were probably more news stories written about it than all the writing about your favorite band’s last album combined. By comparison, Taylor Swift’s first tweet of “Shake It Off,” which, as previously mentioned, was huge, got just over 22,000 retweets. Plus, the mere idea of One Direction releasing a song called “Steal My Girl” is so impeccable there’s no way it can fail. More like Steal Your Girl. More like Steal Any Girl.
Kyle Kramer is a Big Data Thought Leader. He's on Twitter - @KyleKramer