Remix of the Century

Earlier this week I posted about the project exploring the impact of Superstorm Sandy. One of the enduring features of this work was the integration of imagery with the core data visualisation interface, expanding the scope of the users’ connection with the event.

I came across another great example, this week, of how the utilisation of additional channels of media can really enhance the depth and enjoyment experiencing a visualisation work. This project is called  Remix of the Century and was developed by a group of developers from the Thud Group (Henrik Pettersson, Thomas Hannen and David Vella) at the London Music Hackday back in November.


This D3 project is a combined visualization and remix of the top charted tracks on Billboard from 1890 up until 2011. Henrik describes the background to the work:

The idea was to take historic chart data from the Whitburn project, fetch a 30 second preview for each song from 7Digital and then feed it into the Echo Nest Remix API to create one long seamless remix. This worked better than we had imagined and created a nice aural representation of around 100 years’ worth of Billboard number ones. Once we had the remix done we wanted to represent the data visually as well, and for this D3.js came in handy. We fetched some data for each song, again using the Echo Nest API, acoustic properties such as “Danceability” and metadata such as duration, and then visualized the whole dataset using D3 scatterplots.

The visualisation actually goes beyond a scatter plot and offers a customisable bubble plot, enabling you to modify the combination of three variables for the y-axis, the size of the circle and its colour, then along the x-axis you have a timeline of the year in which the song charted at number one. For each song you have a breakdown of the main attributes of the sung such as key, tempo, time signature, as well as the wonderfully subjective meta-data of things like ‘liveness’ and ‘speechiness’.


Once you’ve done playing and exploring, press play and sit back to listen to a remix of all the songs back-to-back! A really great concept that had me exploring for longer than I could justify!

You can read more about the design work in this blog post and you can listen to the finished remix on Soundcloud if you just want the music.