Pop music can sometimes seem like a monolithic thing, a trillion-dollar monolith of glossy, finely produced 4/4 thuds that you can run from but never hide. And yet The New York Times’ latest project, which pulls from YouTube data for the top 50 pop artists in the country, suggests that pop music is a much more varied thing, experienced different ways in different regions.
Some of the deductions are pretty obvious. Atlanta rap icon Future is popular in and around Atlanta, as well as throughout the deep south. Other popular rap acts, like Migos, have similar maps; Baton Rouge’s Kevin Gates has perhaps the most regionally defined map on the entire list, with Louisiana a big swath of popularity that gradually recedes as it moves to the coast. Others make sense if you think about them. Bieber’s most popular in Vegas and Florida. If you’d like to avoid the Chainsmokers, avoid “Northeastern college towns.” Easy enough!
And yet other hot zones of popularity are a little more curious. Eminem remains massively popular in the Ozarks, and Calvin Harris is tolerated with the same tepid enthusiasm throughout the country. Rap/country abomination Florida Georgia Line is appreciated in Appalachia, but not, as the Times notes, along the actual Florida Georgia Line (swish). Justin Timberlake’s heat map follows that of Hillary Clinton’s popularity, primarily resonant in urban centers, and, in perhaps the most intriguing detail, the K-Pop boy band BTS is popular in Hawaii, central California, and one smoking-hot section in northern Wisconsin. Here is BTS’ most popular song on YouTube:
This is what they listen to in Wisconsin. It’ll go over well at a Packers game, presumably.
Check out the full article for detailed maps as well as customized playlists for every region in the country.