Every once in a while, it’s important to get in touch with modern music.  You can’t be an out of touch curmudgeon all the time1.  One way to do this as a guitarist, is to try and get an idea of what songs the younger players are learning.

All the major tab sites have a “most popular” section on their home page.  The majority of the top hits are the same songs that have been on there since I used to use my 20 hour/month AOL connection to surf OLGA.  Songs like Hotel California, Sweet Child O Mine, etc.  But if you look past those old favorites, there are a lot of songs from the past couple months or years on the lists.

I looked through Songsterr, Ultimate-Guitar and Chordie.  681 songs in all.  Songsterr lets you filter by difficulty, so I favored the beginner tabs.  Here’s some random tidbits I found.

Green Day is still huge.  They appear 18 times on the lists, most of any artist, new or old.  The songs are mostly new ones as well.  Good Riddance appears to be the oldest tune, and that was what, their 5th or 6th album?

Girlie singer types, also huge.  Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Pink… All popular names.  I realize they are big names in radio land, but I really didn’t expect this to translate into the world of online guitar tabs.  I really don’t remember seeing Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on the tab sites 10 or so years ago, but maybe I just ignored it?  Or maybe this is a recent trend?  Either way, pretty surprising.

Linkin Park = Holding on to old fans? No idea what to make of this one.  I don’t know who listens to Linkin Park anymore.  I don’t mean this as an insult, but instead as pure curiosity.  I figured they were a band that attract a specific demographic, and when that crowd gets a little older, they move on to other things, but are replaced with the newest crop of people to hit that age group.  The same principle applies to the Pepsi Generation or Matthew McConaughey’s dates in Dazed and Confused.  Either way, the newer Linkin Park songs are pretty popular and I’d love to know who is learning these tunes.

Lady Gaga, no big deal.  I realize her main instrument is piano/keyboard, but it’s not like Rihanna is known for guitar parts either and yet she outranks Gaga on these charts.  I thought Lady Gaga was supposed to be an enduring talent?  Maybe she’s shown it in ringtone downloads, but seemingly not in the eyes of other musicians.  Only two songs represented.

Sungha Jung.  I have seen his videos, at least a few of them.  However, I had no idea how big of a trend this was.  People want to know how this kid plays songs like Unbreak My Heart2 and When the Children Cry.  Songs that probably never would’ve been popular on these sites if they hadn’t been redone.  Pretty cool.

Can you get anything useful out of this?  Who knows, but it’s entertaining to at least some degree.  I noticed there’s a lot of Japanese bands showing up (ie – Gazette).  I have no idea if this is driven by people in the US or elsewhere, but it makes me think I need to give Japanese rock a chance.

  1. I tell myself this in front of the mirror every morning.
  2. I’d rather have Toni Braxton’s version any day