The Single Not The Song
One more effect of streaming’s advent to the top of the music distribution food change has been a difference in what constitutes singles and what constitutes songs. In the early 1960s, singles were so different from songs that the biggest single of that decade, “She Loves You” never even appeared on and album, and Moptown would build an album around a hit album with borderline filler.
In 2017, singles are never released as a CD, there is no hard copy. There are different kind of singles nowadays…
1 – The remix: “Despacito” is the obvious example. a remix of a single that missed in the US outside the Latin American charts added Justin Bieber and blew up.
2 – The eagerly anticipated album is previewed with a (potentially) big single and video. Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” is a fine example.
3 – The song in anticipation of an album – Jason Isbell’s “If We were Vampires,” a great song, had no video, never had a chance on the Hot 100 -it was more of hang cool guys, an album is coming move. Now, if it hit big maybe that would change something, but, hey, Robert Plant sure didn’t…
4 – The single aka single – A standalone move on the charts, Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” wasn’t tied to anything at all.
The problem with all this is, how to review em? If they consider themselves singles than they are singles for me. Till this year, I ignored the distinction completely and considered all songs, whether hot album tracks or the real deal, the same list. But this has proven too unwieldy. This year, I cut back my favorite singles to 20, and later to the 25, best releases for the year. This doesn’t really save the problem that “How Did I Find Myself Here” shouldn’t necessarily be on the same chart as “Shape Of You”. But there is nothing I can do.
Next year I plan to have three charts: Singles, Album Tracks, Albums. It won’t solve the problem of course. Meanwhile, let’s all agree that the Sheeran Beyonce remix of “Perfect” is, if nothing else, a single.