Not everybody can keep up a personal chart every week, but somehow, I’ve managed to for over thirteen years. Though most of the archives of the early years are lost (when I would write it down on paper and then throw it out when I did a new survey,) I still keep doing a weekly top 40 to this day, and here’s a little history of how I got there.
It was back in 1998 that an eight-year-old me eagerly found myself watching the Fox Family Countdown, a half-hour weekly top ten video countdown, hosted by Chris Leary. (The channel is now ABC Family and the countdown is long gone.) It highlighted the best in bubblegum music at the time, from boy bands like the Backstreet Boys, 5ive and *NSYNC, and teen singers like Britney Spears and Brandy. A few months later, it was onto Total Request Live, which was a daily top ten, so I knew about even more music. Then, in the spring of 1999, everything came to a head when I heard my first broadcast of American Top 40, hosted by legendary disc jokey Casey Kasem. Again, this was another step forward because it was forty songs a week, most of them new to me because it wasn’t just a teen-pop oriented chart.
So, several months after and several dozen Sunday mornings worth of shows behind me, I basically decided that I could make my own chart which only featured the songs that I liked. In September 1999, Adam’s Top 40 was born. My first #1 was “Genie In A Bottle” by Christina Aguilera, followed by “I Do (Cherish You) by 98 Degrees in the runner-up slot and “All Star” by Smash Mouth in the #3 slot. Over the year, the countdown has fluctuated in positions (I’ve tested both a top 50 and a top 100) but I always come back to a top 40 because of American Top 40; they were both AT40’s to me. My interest in the show began to drop by 2002, mainly because I found the online source that the chart used, and my musical boundaries were widening beyond just pop music. By 2003, I was creating the chart on a computer and began posting it on music message boards. In the years following that, I started discovering chart sources from other countries and where to find release schedules, etc. that ensured that my top 40 would remain a singles chart and not just a random hodgepodge of albums tracks and one-off releases that went nowhere.
Musical fads have come and gone; the chart has sped up quickly and then slowly crawled at a snail’s pace; names change, bands change members, etc. Yet, the countdown goes on because music goes on, and I’m happy to keep on doing it.
You can take a look at highlights from my weekly chart every weekend on the blog.