Hit parade
A hit parade is a ranked list of the most popular recordings at a given point in time, usually determined by sales and/or airplay
* Airplay is the amount of time a song is played on the radio.It may also refer to:* AirPlay, an audio & video streaming technology from Apple Inc.* Airplay , Foster & Graydon music project from 1980* Citroën C1, Citroën C1 Airplay...

. The term originated in the 1930s; Billboard magazine
Billboard (magazine)
Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry, and is one of the oldest trade magazines in the world. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs and albums in various categories on a weekly basis...

 published its first music hit parade on January 4, 1936. It has also been used by broadcast programs which featured hit (sheet music and record) tunes such as Your Hit Parade
Your Hit Parade
Your Hit Parade, is an American radio and television music program that was broadcast from 1935 to 1955 on radio, and seen from 1950 to 1959 on television. It was sponsored by American Tobacco's Lucky Strike cigarettes. During this 24-year run, the show had 19 orchestra leaders and 52 singers or...

, a show which aired on radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 and television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 from 1935 through the 1950s.

Early history

Hit tunes were originally published in sheet music format, so many artists were encouraged to introduce or promote the tune in different styles, formats or areas of popularity. Up through the late 1940s, the term hit parade referred to a list of compositions, not a list of records. In those times, when a tune became a hit, it was typically recorded by several different artists. Each record company often promoted its own product through the airtime it purchased on commercial stations, as in Europe's Radio Luxembourg
Radio Luxembourg (English)
Radio Luxembourg is a commercial broadcaster in many languages from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is nowadays known in most non-English languages as RTL ....

. Most non-commercial stations, like the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, were required by national regulations to promote local talent, and were also limited in the amount of needle time
Needle time
Needle time was created in the United Kingdom by the Musicians' Union and Phonographic Performance Limited, in order to restrict the amount of recorded music that could be transmitted by British Broadcasting Corporation during the course of any 24-hour period. Until 1967 the BBC was allowed to...

given to recorded popular music.

In later years, a re-recording of a tune originally introduced or popularised by a certain artist was called covering
Cover version
In popular music, a cover version or cover song, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording of a contemporary or previously recorded, commercially released song or popular song...

a song. In the US, regardless of copyright, covers were an automatic option – since the Copyright Act of 1909
Copyright Act of 1909
The Copyright Act of 1909 was a landmark statute in United States statutory copyright law. It became Public Law number 60-349 on March 4, 1909 by the 60th United States Congress, and it went into effect on July 1, 1909...

 – enabled by compulsory mechanical licenses
Compulsory license
A compulsory license, also known as statutory license or mandatory collective management, provides that the owner of a patent or copyright licenses the use of their rights against payment either set by law or determined through some form of arbitration.- Copyright law :In a number of countries...

. Covers were often rejected by fans of the particular artists because it produced unfair competition to their favourite version. Covering a tune, was therefore, not offering an alternative rendition, but of producing a copy as a direct alternative to compete for airtime, sales and placement on the hit parade charts.

Rock and roll period

As rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

 became popular, it was more difficult for generic singers to cover the tunes. It is said that Your Hit Parade was nearly cancelled after many weeks of unsuccessful attempts by big band
Big band
A big band is a type of musical ensemble associated with jazz and the Swing Era typically consisting of rhythm, brass, and woodwind instruments totaling approximately twelve to twenty-five musicians...

 singer Snooky Lanson
Snooky Lanson
Roy Landman , better known as Snooky Lanson, was an American singer known for co-starring on the NBC television series Your Hit Parade....

 to perform Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

's "Hound Dog
Hound Dog (song)
"Hound Dog" is a twelve-bar blues written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and originally recorded by Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton in 1952. Other early versions illustrate the differences among blues, country, and rock and roll in the mid-1950s. The 1956 remake by Elvis Presley is the best-known...

" in 1956. The program finally ended in 1959.

The term is still used, as in the title of the popular magazine, Hit Parader
Hit Parader
Hit Parader is an American music magazine focusing on the genres of hard rock, pop, and heavy metal.The magazine was originally started as a pop song lyric magazine by Charlton Publications in 1942. Charlton sold off the magazine before the company went under in 1991...

and the Canadian record label Hit Parade Records. The British indie band The Hit Parade
The Hit Parade
The Hit Parade is a British pop music group, based in London, England. Named after the NBC US television programme, Your Hit Parade, which was broadcast across America in the 1950s as a showcase of the best of chart music, The Hit Parade was formed in 1984, by three schoolfriends Raymond Watts,...

 has taken its name from the US TV show.

The title Hit Parade also became familiar during the late 1960s and early 1970s through a popular automated music format produced by the Drake-Chenault Co.
Drake-Chenault Enterprises was a radio syndication company that specialized in automation on FM radio stations. The company was founded in the late-1960s by radio programmer and deejay Bill Drake , and his business partner, Lester Eugene Chenault...

and featured on hundreds of radio stations. Originally called Hit Parade '68, then Hit Parade '69 and Hit Parade '70, the format title was eventually modified to simply Hit Parade.

Further reading

  • Durkee, Rob (1999) American Top 40: the Countdown of the Century New York: Schriner Books
  • Battistini, Pete (2005) American Top 40 with Casey Kasem -- The 1970s Authorhouse.com, January 31, 2005 ISBN 1-4184-1070-5
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