Charting Music’s Big Revolutions

14:13 minutes

Evolution of musical styles in the Billboard Hot 100.

To learn how and when species evolved, evolutionary biologists turn to the fossil record. To learn how popular music evolved, evolutionary biologist Armand Leroi and his team peered into pop’s own “fossil record”: the last 50 years of Billboard Hot 100 charts. From a starting point of 50 years’ worth of audio data, the team crunched the numbers to yield some surprising insights. Among them: Hip-hop was by far the biggest musical revolution of the last half-century.

Segment Guests

Armand Leroi

Armand Leroi is a professor of evolutionary biology at Imperial College London in London, England.

Meet the Producer

About Annie Minoff

Annie Minoff is a producer for The Journal from Gimlet Media and the Wall Street Journal, and a former co-host and producer of Undiscovered. She also plays the banjo.