If you’re an act that’s looking to make a new single and deciding on a title for it, please reflect on this post for a moment, because it will spare you the embarrassment of years to come. Now, I know it’s trendy to trend yourself on Twitter using a hashtag and get some attention by finding your tag listed on the worldwide topics list according to the social media service. It’s fun and great if it works, but please, please spare yourself and don’t put a hashtag in your soon-to-be-hit’s title. When we look back on this era in song titles, it’ll rank up there with those awful ideas like the double r in “Dirrty” or “Hot In Herre” and songs with no vowels like “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs”. It’s just all shades of wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
I get the feeling you’ve probably seen that several songs lately on the charts that have hashtags in them. A hashtag, for those of you still confused, is the use of a “#” symbol followed by a short word of phrase, like #whyamiwritingaboutthis or #thisissodumbguys. For example, “#Beautiful” by Mariah Carey and Miguel just debuted on the radio last week and “#thatPOWER” by will.i.am and Justin Bieber is doing well at both radio and retail. Pretty soon, Miley Cyrus will be collaborating with Pharrell Williams on a track from her new album, “#GetItRight”, and who knows what else will come after that. Point is, if this doesn’t stop now, the top 40 will be full of songs with hashtags, and do you really want to see a chart filled with songs titles and phrases that aren’t actually trending anywhere on Twitter? Plus, what was the problem with not calling them “Beautiful” or “Get It Right” or “That Power” in the first place?
Something is inevitably going to replace Twitter someday, and when that service doesn’t use hashtags as a way of promotion, you know that people will stop referencing to these songs without the “#” sign in them. Sure, you could argue that a song with a hashtag is “trending” up the charts when it rises; why can’t all of them be that way? The national charts, the genre charts, the digital charts, etc. do not equal Twitter. A hashtag is free to tweet out; buying a song isn’t, and while there are several hundred million accounts active on Twitter worldwide, not all of them use hashtags. Plus, the United States population far surpasses that. It looks odd on the charts when the majority of songs use a normal title. It looks odd on a compact disc case because it’s not like you can trend a song title up or down a tracklisting. However, I would think it would be most awkward for the disc jockey on the duty to properly front-sell or back-sell a song as “Hashtag Beautiful” or “Hashtag That Power”. That just screams unnecessary. Plus, like a Twitter trend, what happens when the number of times the DJ says the title goes up? Do they raise their voice an octave? (Please don’t do this, I beg of you.)
Before this Twitter phenomenon, the “#” was rarely used in a top 40 hit, and it was meant to signify a number, of course. Take a look at this list of those credits with the symbol as opposed to a “Number One” or a “No. 1”:
“Hashtags” in top 40 hits prior to 2013:
“Fool #1”, Brenda Lee (#3, 1961)
“Love Potion #9”, The Searchers (#3, 1964)
“Engine Engine #9”, Roger Miller (#7, 1965)
“Rainy Day Women #12 & #35”, Bob Dylan (#2, 1966)
“Westbound #9”, The Flaming Ember (#24, 1970)
“#9 Dream”, John Lennon (#9, 1975)
“#1 Crush”, Garbage (#29 Airplay, 1997)
“#1”, Nelly (#22, 2002)
So to you cowboys and crooners, divas and disc jockeys and all you bands out there, stop the madness. Yes, you have the artistic license to do whatever you want, but this isn’t art. It’s a shameless plug. If hashtags keep being integrated into song titles, you know acts will start creating songs with 140 characters total, then Billboard will start adding hashtags into their formulas for compiling their charts, and then the RIAA will take them into account for certifications. OK, some of this may not actually happen, but I’m keeping my eye for them. Let’s be honest, though, nobody wants to see #StairwayToHeaven to show up on the charts or a media player in that form. Why do that to yourself and make yourself instantly dated? It’s not worth it.
#HashtagsInSongTitles. They’re not stopping anytime soon, but they may be gone just around the trend.
Let me know what you think about this in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.