If you’re an audiophile, you are going to love this. With its various services, Google is amassing a vast amount of data right now. And sometimes, it puts this data to cool uses, like the newly launched Music Timeline, a project by Google Research. In their words, this is “a visualization to show which music has stood the test of time, and how genres and artists have risen and fallen in popularity.”
The Music Timeline is an interactive chart with the X axis measuring popularity and the Y axis denoting the time. Google uses data from the Play Music app, defining popularity as how many users have that artist or album in their music library. The data has been normalized by total number of albums from that year (since there is more music published now than there was in previous years).
The first chart shows different genres and when they were popular. Scroll over any and the row of album cover art under it will update with the most popular albums from this genre, each with a line tracing which year it was released in. You can click any of these albums to be taken to the Play Store to buy it.
Click the genre and it will open sub-genres. For example, Rock will show you Classic Rock, Progressive/Art, 70’s, etc. Click once more and you’ll see the most popular bands from that sub-genre.
You can also directly search for an artist or band in the search box to get their popularity chart over the years. “Search for a particular artist to see the trajectory of their career — contrast U2’s long-running reinvention and re-emergence from the ‘80s up to today, versus a one hit wonder like Los del Río’s 1995 Macarena,” Google says. Incidentally, U2 has one of the coolest band websites around.
So that’s the new Google Music Timeline. It’s a fun way to check out the history of music across genres (except classical music or anything else that’s before 1950). But it’s only meant to be a historical tool. You need to go elsewhere if you want to track the current top 40 music hits.