In the world of recorded music, the 1960s was a time of dramatic change, as for the first time, the music industry came to equate success with the concept of the “hit”.
The ideas of “hits” and “singles” gained prominence in the 1960s through bands and artists such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye, and Elvis Presley. The term “singles” comes from 45-rpm records sold at the time, which featured a single song on each side.
Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Artists generally only recorded their best songs and radio stations played only the most popular songs of the day. These “pop” songs included one of the The Rolling Stones’s greatest hits, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” which was recorded in the summer of 1965 This hit has even been re-recorded by another artist defined by her greatest hits – Britney Spears.
Britney Spears – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
A current analogous musical movement is centered on the relatively new downloads music industry. With programs such as iTunes, fast and easy downloads – most commonly of single songs – are possible. Generally speaking, as illustrated by the “Top Songs” column prominently displaying the most popular single downloads in the iTunes store, songs are downloaded individually, not necessarily in album compilations. These hits are often what people hear on the radio or see publicized on TV; but it is through their cyber popularity that they truly become “hits”.
As in the music industry’s shift during the 1960s, today’s notion of a hit determines the popularity of an artist or band and most often greatly influences the popularity of the artists’ future songs. The link between an artist and his or her hit song has, since the “all hit era” in the 1960s, become inextricable and undeniable.