Making Time Stand Still: how to “fix” the transient Top 40
It's hard to keep up with the Top 40. Popular songs quickly lose their contemporaneity, become 'past hits', and are replaced by the next thing 堡nd them by the next. With its high-velocity temporality and multi-mediation, Top 40 culture is hard to 'fix': its content is always changing, and thus is difficult to capture for critique. Top 40 culture 'disappears' easily, with only selected elements being retained in cultural memory, or preserved in academic analytic discourse. Much of Top 40's content is forgotten. This article argues that the constant supersession of the texts of Top 40 poses a challenge to academic inquiry, when such writing about them threatens to become obsolete (just like singles themselves) once the songs are no longer popular. It introduces the activities of some collectors of Top 40 data who collate and publish chart information in book form. Their practices seem to succeed in 'fixing' the Top 40's transience by finding ways of keeping pace with the ever-changing charts. Their success in apprehending the momentum of Top 40 provides one way of thinking beyond the anxiety of disappearance, and suggests new possibilities for research methodology in this area of popular cultural studies.
International Journal of Cultural Studies
Consumption and Everyday Life
Cultural Studies not elsewhere classified
Screen and Media Culture