The Biggest of 2015: In Jukeboxes (Yes, Jukeboxes)

In the 40's and 50's, Billboard published a separate chart tracking the popularity of records in the nation's jukeboxes.

The chart was one of three that separately looked at a segment of the music market along with the actual sales of records and the number of plays by disc jockeys on the radio. The three charts were combined in 1958 into the Hot 100.

Of course, jukeboxes were huge during those decades. They were actually first invented in the 1890's as a rudimentary coin operated machine with a choice of one record and four "listening tubes". In 1928, a new machine gave people the choice of eight records played on eight different turntables.

But it was in 1940 that the first modern jukeboxes were introduced. Counters were included for each record so the operators could find out which records were the most popular. Seeburg introduced the remote wallbox that allowed people sitting in restaurant booths to select records without going up to the actual machine. Jukeboxes were not only seen in bars but in restaurants, laundromats and other popular spots.

Today, things have moved back to where the jukebox is mainly found in the nation's bars and the music is delivered electronically, making it much easier to swap unpopular music out and keep the repertoire up-to-date.

The fact that the jukebox is mainly used in adult establishments means that the music being played today is much different than what you would find on the top of the Hot 100. Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and The Weeknd are nowhere to be found, replaced by a long list of country artists and classic rockers.

TouchTunes, who supplies many of the nation's bars with jukeboxes, has issued their annual report on the most popular songs in their machines. While Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud was the nation's most popular jukebox song of 2015 (and, let's face it, that one was all about the couples), the rest of the top ten is dominated by country and Americana artists and it isn't all new music. Garth Brooks' Friends in Low Places was the second most played track of the year and Steve Earle's 1988 track Copperhead Road came in fourth.

The top ten for 2015:
  1. Thinking Out Loud - Ed Sheeran
  2. Friends in Low Places - Garth Brooks
  3. Girl Crush - Little Big Town
  4. Copperhead Road - Steve Earle
  5. Like a Wrecking Ball - Eric Church
  6. Burnin' It Down - Jason Aldean
  7. Bottoms Up - Brantley Gilbert
  8. Smoke a Little Smoke - Eric Church
  9. Fat Bottom Girls - Queen
  10. Sugar - Maroon 5
As the only artist with two songs in the top ten, country's Eric Church was also the top jukebox artist for the year while AC/DC was number 2 and Jason Aldean was 3. Other veteran artists in the top ten included Kid Rock (#5), Lynyrd Skynyrd (#6), The Rolling Stones (#7), Johnny Cash (#8), George Strait (#9) and Garth Brooks (#10).

Of particular interest is the most popular artist in various major American cities Luke Bryan took the crown in Chicago and Boston while George Strait was at number 1 in Dallas and Houston. Philadelphia favored The Rolling Stones and Atlanta like Michael Jackson while Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington all went with Vincente Fernandez. Finally, New York's favorite was Romeo Santos. 

For genres, Rock accounted for 48% of plays followed by country (24%), pop (15%), R&B/Hip Hop (8%), Latin (4%) and electronic (1%). 

Finally, the top songs by genre:

  1. Fat Bottom Girls - Queen
  2. Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
  3. Crazy B**ch - Buckcherry
  4. Take Me to Church - Hozier
  5. Hotel California - Eagles
  6. The Joker - Steve Miller
  7. Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
  8. All Summer Long - Kid Rock
  9. You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC
  10. Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses
  1. Friends in Low Places - Garth Brooks
  2. Girl Crush - Little Big Town
  3. Copperhead Road - Steve Earle
  4. Like a Wrecking Ball - Eric Church
  5. Burnin' It Down - Jason Aldean
  6. Bottoms Up - Brantley Gilbert
  7. Smoke a Little Smoke - Eric Church
  8. Take Your Time - Sam Hunt
  9. Family Tradition - Hank Williams, Jr.
  10. Ain't Worth the Whiskey - Cole Swindell
  1. Thinking Out Loud - Ed Sheeran
  2. Sugar - Maroon 5
  3. All About the Bass - Meghan Trainor
  4. Shake it Off - Taylor Swift
  5. Blank Space - Taylor Swift
  6. Fourfiveseconds - Rihanna & Kanye West & Paul McCartney
  7. Stay With Me - Sam Smith
  8. Honey, I'm Good - Andy Grammer
  9. Animals - Maroon 5
  10. Jealous - Nick Jonas
R&B/Hip Hop
  1. I Don't F*** With You - Big Sean
  2. Trap Queen - Fetty Wap
  3. Can't Feel My Face - The Weeknd
  4. (Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
  5. Don't Tell 'Em - Jeremiah
  6. 0 to 100/The Catch Up - Drake
  7. Papa Was a Rolling Stone - Temptations
  8. Turn Down For What - DJ Snake & Lil' John
  9. Play That Funky Music - Wild Cherry
  10. The Hills - The Weeknd

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