Music Charts

Music charts are surveys measuring the success or popularity of specific recordings, based on retail sales, radio airplay or some combination of both.

Music charts are surveys measuring the success or popularity of specific recordings, based on retail sales, radio airplay or some combination of both.

Canadian charts

Charts based on airplay and listener requests have been compiled by individual radio stations and distributed in record stores or published in local newspapers as a form of program advertising. The 'CHUM Chart,' prepared 1957-83 by CHUM-AM, Toronto, is the most famous of these in Canada. Trade journals, on the other hand, draw on statistics provided by a national sampling of radio stations and/or retail outlets and organize this information by format (singles or 'hit tracks,' albums, 12-inch, video) and musical style (rock, dance, country, 'CanCon' - Canadian content - etc).

Canadian trade journals published in English with chart information have included RPM, Record Week (Toronto, 1975-7), The Steede Report (published by Derek H. Steede 1975-9 in Montreal), and The Record. In 1991 RPM published six charts weekly, including the top 100 'hit tracks,' albums, and 'country tracks'. The Record published nine weekly, among them a top 40 chart known as 'The Hits'. Charts also have appeared in special-interest music magazines - eg, Country Music News and The Jazz Report

Trade publications in French with chart content have included Radio '49, founded by Robert L'Herbier and Fernand Robidoux, Dis-q-ton in the 1960s, and Radio activité, established in 1981 in Montreal by Luc Martel and Daniel Morrison, with Martel as editor. Radio Activité has paralleled in Quebec the survey function served by RPM and The Record in English Canada but offers less extensive news and editorial content. In 1991 it published 10 charts weekly, including a top 50 for records in French and in English. Other charts to document the Quebec market at various times include those published in Échos-Vedettes and Jeunesse d'aujourd'hui and others sponsored 1968-81 by Radio Mutuel and 1974-6 by La Québécoise, a cigarette brand.

Several studies or compilations devoted to Canadian charts have been published, including Brendan J. Lyttle's A Chartology of Canadian Popular Music: January 1965 to December 1976 (Toronto 1977, based on RPM ), Ron Hall's The CHUM Chart Book (Toronto 1984), and Ted Kennedy's four volumes, (Oh) Canada Cuts, Canada Top 40, Charts Canada, and Country Canada (Kelowna, BC 1989, based on RPM and The Record ). Both the Lyttle and Kennedy books also make reference to chart positions reached in the US publication Billboard. A distantly related principle underscores André Gibeault's Canadian Records: A discography and price guide of Canadian 45's and LP's from 1955 to 1975 (Montreal 1987), which assesses the collector's value of some 4000 recordings.

Canadians on the Billboard top 100

Of the many US publications to monitor the recording industry, Billboard (established 1894 in New York) is generally considered the most authoritive. To reach the no. 1 position on its Top (latterly, Hot) 100 is the ultimate achievement in the English-speaking, North American recording industry.

The following are recordings 1955-90 by Canadians or Canadian-based artists to reach no. 1 on the Billboard top 100:

'Diana,' Paul Anka, 9 Sep 1957

'Lonely Boy,' Paul Anka, 13 Jul 1959

'Theme from "A Summer Place,' Percy Faith, 22 Feb 1960

'Ringo,' Lorne Greene, 5 Dec 1964

'American Woman,' Guess Who, 9 May 1969

'Heart of Gold,' Neil Young, 18 Mar 1972

'Seasons in the Sun,' Terry Jacks, 2 Mar 1974

'Sundown,' Gordon Lightfoot, 29 Jun 1974

'Rock Me Gently,' Andy Kim, 28 Sep 1974

'You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet,' Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO), 16 Nov 1974

'Hot Child in the City,' Nick Gilder, 28 Oct 1978

'You Needed Me,' Anne Murray, 4 Nov 1978

'Heaven,' Bryan Adams, 22 Jun 1985

'When I'm With You,' Sheriff, 30 Jan 1989

'Black Velvet,' Alannah Myles, 17 Mar 1990

'(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,' Bryan Adams, 27 Jul 1991

The actor Lorne Greene (b Ottawa 1915, d Santa Monica, Cal, 1987), was enjoying a long run as Ben Cartwright on NBC-TV's 'Bonanza' when his old-west narrative 'Ringo' was released in 1964. Andy Kim (b Andrew Yoachim, Montreal 1952), moved in his teens to New York; his song 'Sugar, Sugar,' recorded by the Archies, also reached no. 1 in 1969. Gilder (b London 1951) lived 1971-6 in Vancouver, where he was the singer for the rock band Sweeney Todd, before moving to Los Angeles. The success of 'Hot Child in the City,' brought him Juno Awards in 1979 as most-promising male singer and for best-selling single. Sheriff was a Toronto band, fl 1980-5; 'When I'm With You,' popular in Canada in 1983, was an international hit unexpectedly in 1989.

Excluding those listed above, singles by the following Canadians, or Canadian-based musicians, reached the top 10 of the Billboard top 100, 1955-91: Alias ('More Than Words Can Say,' 1990), The Bells ('Stay Awhile, 1971), Jane Child ('Don't Want to Fall in Love,' 1990), Crew Cuts, Burton Cummings, the DeFranco Family ('Heartbeat, It's a Heartbeat,' 1973), Céline Dion, The Diamonds, Edward Bear, Five Man Electrical Band, Four Lads, Glass Tiger, Corey Hart, Dan Hill, Irish Rovers, Loverboy, Gisèle MacKenzie, Men Without Hats, Frank Mills, Joni Mitchell, Ocean ('Put Your Hand in the Hand,' 1971), Poppy Family ('Which Way You Goin' Billy?' 1970) Mike Reno and Ann Wilson ('Almost Paradise,' 1984), Jack Scott (My True Love,' 1958; 'Goodbye Baby,' 1959), Skylark ('Wildflower,' 1973), Stampeders, Steppenwolf, R. Dean Taylor ('Indiana Wants Me,' 1970) and Gino Vannelli.

Excluding those above, the following artists had singles reach the top 20 of the Billboard top 100, 1955-91: Dorothy Collins ('My Boy - Flat Top,' 1956; 'Seven Days,' 1956), David Foster, Robert Goulet, France Joli ('Come to Me,' 1979), Kon Kan ('I Beg Your Pardon,' 1989), Bob and Doug MacKenzie ('Take Off,' 1982), Motherlode ('When I Die,' 1969), Nylons, the Rover Boys ('Graduation Day,' 1956), and Priscilla Wright.

Excluding those above, the following artists had singles reach the top 40 of the Billboard top 100, 1955-1991: April Wine, The Band, Cheri ('Murphy's Law,' 1982), Chilliwack, Bruce Cockburn, Maynard Ferguson, Ronnie Hawkins, Honeymoon Suite, Ironhorse ('Sweet Lui-Louise,' 1979), Moe Koffman, Lighthouse, Mashmakhan, Nancy Martinez ('For Tonight,' 1987), Aldo Nova ('Fantasy,' 1982), Original Caste ('One Tin Soldier,' 1970), Partland Brothers ('Soul City,' 1986), Prism, Rush, Saga, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Eddie Schwartz, Stonebolt ('I Will Still Love You,' 1978), Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers ('Does Your Mama Know About Me?' 1968), Ian Thomas, Triumph, Wednesday ('Last Kiss,' 1974), and Jesse Winchester.

Canadians have also placed records on other Billboard charts. Hank Snow, for example, reached the no. 1 position on its country chart seven times 1950-74, and Anne Murray, nine times 1974-86.


Further Reading

  • Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (New York 1987)

    Charpentier, Alain. 'Du hit-parade au décompte: mouvement perpétuel,' Chansons d'aujourd'hui, vol 14, Jun 1991

    - 'Les palmarès sont-ils fiables?' Chansons d'aujourd'hui, vol 14, Jul 1991