Music site serves up blasts from the past

Last updated 05:00 02/08/2014
CREATOR: Eliot Slevin has started the website The Nostalgia Machine.

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If Lorde, Pharrell, Iggy Azalea and Ed Sheeran aren't your musical cup of tea - or names you've ever heard before - then a Victoria University student has just the thing for you.

Design innovation student Eliot Slevin has created The Nostalgia Machine, a website that generates music playlists from any year you choose, all the way back to 1960.

Users simply select a year and the website loads up videos of the 100 most popular songs from that moment in time, as listed on the American Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Since the website went live on July 19, it has received 1.3 million page views and mentions on technology news websites Engadget and Gizmodo, as well as social networking site Reddit.

Slevin, 19, said he and his mate Jake Doran, a web development and design student in Christchurch, built the website as a holiday project to improve their programming skills. They originally planned to feature old TV shows, toys, books and cartoons as well, but decided none of those were as universally popular as pop music.

"The reason music works so well as a nostalgia tool is because a song will be really popular for a while then disappear, whereas movies and TV shows hang around through reruns," he said.

"Pop music is also very hard to avoid."

Playlists from the late 1990s had been the most popular thus far, with 2000 being the single most popular year.

Slevin's theory is that most people start noticing music around the age of 10, and the majority of visitors to his website would be in their mid-20s.

However, when it came to individual songs that held people's attention the longest, early 1960s hits by Elvis Presley, Chubby Checker and The Brothers Four were top of the pops.

"I've had quite a bit of feedback from elderly people who are really excited about the site."

Top 10 most played songs

Breathe – Faith Hill (1999)
Smooth – Santana feat. Rob Thomas (1999)
Gangsta's Paradise – Coolio (1995)
Thong Song – Sisqo (1999)
Too Close – Next (1997)
The Sign – Ace of Base (1992)
No Scrubs – TLC (1999)
Say My Name – Destiny's Child (1999)
In Da Club – 50 Cent (2003)
Kiss Me – Sixpence None The Richer (1997)

Songs that hold people's attention the longest

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Green Fields – The Brothers Four (1960)
The Twist – Chubby Checker (1960)
Sugar, Sugar – The Archies (1969)
It's Now or Never – Elvis Presley (1960)
I Want It That Way – Backstreet Boys (1999)
He'll Have To Go – Jim Reeves (1959)
Take On Me – A-ha (1985)
Gangsta's Paradise – Coolio (1995)
Theme From A Summer Place – Percy Faith (1959)
No Scrubs – TLC (1999)
All Star – Smash Mouth (1999)

- The Dominion Post

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