The Most (And Least) Obscure Hit Songs Of The Last 114 Years, Graphed

It's not often that you get the chance to say, "You probably won't know this song, it's pretty obscure" about a hit song. Now, thanks to this graph, you can.

Image and list credit: Very Small Array

Very Small Array put together this graph of the hit songs that either went on to become cultural touchstones or to simply disappear from public consciousness without nary a trace. To get the obscurity data, VSA gave each song a score based on the number of Google and Wikipedia hits and plays on last.fm. Because the data was heavily influenced by whether a song was a hit 10 years ago or 100 years ago, VSA also adjusted the data for time of the release.

Even corrected for time, though, the most obscure songs are still tilted pretty heavily towards the early 1900s, with one recent memory anomaly: Clay Aiken's 2003 single This is the Night. The least obscure song, as becomes painfully clear the closer we edge to December, is Bing Crosby's White Christmas.

Here are VSA's lists of the most and the least obscure hit songs of the last century or so, both corrected for time (above) and not (below):

Adjusted For Time

Least Obscure Hit Songs, Adjusted for Time

1 Bing Crosby: White Christmas, 1942

2 Elvis Presley: Jailhouse Rock, 1957

3 Glenn Miller Orch: In the Mood, 1940

4 The Animals: The House Of The Rising Sun, 1964

5 The Rolling Stones: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, 1965

6 The Beatles: Help!, 1965

7 The Beatles: Yesterday, 1965

8 Elvis Presley: Love Me Tender, 1956

9 Elvis Presley: Heartbreak Hotel, 1956

10 Elvis Presley: Hound Dog, 1956

Most Obscure Hit Songs, Adjusted for Time

1 Roy Ingraham Orch: Chant of the Jungle, 1930

2 Hilo Hawaiian Orch: When It's Springtime in the Rockies, 1930

3 Horace Wright: My Own Iona, 1917

4 Marguerite Farrell: If I Knock the 'L' Out of Kelly (It Would Still be Kelly to Me), 1916

5 Olive Kline: Hello, Frisco!, 1915

6 Orpheus Quartet: Turn Back the Universe and Give Me Yester Day, 1916

7 Horace Heidt Orch: Ti-Pi-Tin, 1938

8 Clay Aiken: This Is The Night, 2003

9 Mina Hickman: Come Down, Ma Evening Star, 1903

10 Don Bestor Orch: Forty-Second Street, 1933

Not Adjusted For Time

Least Obscure Hit Songs

1 Adele: Rolling in the Deep, 2011

2 Eminem: Love the Way You Lie, 2010

3 LMFAO: Party Rock Anthem, 2011

4 Gotye: Somebody That I Used to Know, 2012

5 Carly Rae Jepsen: Call Me Maybe, 2012

6 The Beatles: Help!, 1965

7 One Direction: What Makes You Beautiful, 2012

8 fun.: We Are Young, 2012

9 Macklemore: Can't Hold Us, 2013

10 Maroon 5: Moves Like Jagger, 2011

Most Obscure Hit Songs

1 Mina Hickman: Come Down, Ma Evening Star, 1903

2 Big Four Quartet: Good-Bye, Dolly Gray, 1901

3 Olive Kline: Hello, Frisco!, 1915

4 Marguerite Farrell: If I Knock the 'L' Out of Kelly (It Would Still be Kelly to Me), 1916

5 Horace Wright: My Own Iona, 1917

6 J. W. Myers: On a Sunday Afternoon, 1902

7 Orpheus Quartet: Turn Back the Universe and Give Me Yester Day, 1916

8 J. W. Myers: Way Down in Old Indiana, 1902

9 Alan Turner: Till the Sands of the Desert Grow Cold, 1913

10 Roy Ingraham Orch: Chant of the Jungle, 1930