Rutgers students Shaun Ellis and Thomas Engelhardt tried to discover the secrets sauce behind a “hit” song by analyzing 4,200+ songs that made it to the top ten of Billboard’s Hot-100 chart. Using the echonest api, they took a look at tempo, duration, time signature, key, and abstracts like “energy” and “danceability”. The main results are laid out here.
The fun part is, they made the whole data set available in Tableau for us to play with (download Tableau reader (free) and the dataset). Using the filters, you can answer bizarre questions such as how many hits in 1979 were on the charts more than 20 weeks that were recorded in the key of C (answer: 7). Or you can look at the data over time to discover all kinds of interesting long-term trends:
A scatter of all of the songs illustrates that the average tempo is 120 BPM.
Finally proven mathematically, songs of the 1980s consistently had the highest “danceability” (suck it, 90s!):
Hits are getting longer in length:
You can document the much maligned increase in loudness after the introduction of the CD, though it is also part of a longer-term trend.
If you have the full version of Tableau, you can design your own charts (but you probably don’t, because Tableau is too damn expensive).
Update: There are a few additional Tableau visualizations of this data available (that don’t require you to install anything) that are also quite interesting.
Daniel Rathbone created this tool to aggregate used car prices from Craigslist. Besides being a useful way to shop for cars, it’s also interesting to see how different brands and models hold up in value over time. For example, check out the Accord vs Corvette below.
In a strange juxtaposition of imagery, this photo uses fake blood and kitchen containers to visualize 38 million deaths from various conflicts. Overall, I really like the concept, but from the way the objects are arranged and the angle of the photograph (with the blood taking up only the lower 20% of the photo), they visually seem small to me. Also, I don’t quite get the “World Cuisine” title, despite the food/cooking metaphor.
The Man in Blue decided to visualize his own Daft Punk mashup using concentric colored waveforms, rendered in real time using html5 and CSS3. Very nice!
Recipes illustrated by artists. Some of them are just prettied up, but others are gorgeous diagrams. You can filter by meal type, ingredient, or illustration style.
Gorgeous city maps constructed only using words. Prints are available for Washington DC, NYC, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago. I love these. In fact, I just ordered one.
Visualization of several United Nations indices on education, income, and health. I’m not quite sure what the point of using a “tree” is, but they obviously put some thought into it: The height of the tree trunk is proportional to the total value of the HDI. The size of the three branches are proportional to each sub-indicator. The branches are ordered in increasing order from left to right. The color of the trunk is the average of the color of the components.
Here’s a tree “legend”:
and a comparison of the United States and China:
There have been a number of beautiful attempts to diagram geologic time.
Interactive timeline from the Smithsonian:
I receive a lot of emails asking what tools can be used to move past excel and create cool charts. Well, here’s one: ezViz is a very affordable ($79) desktop data visualization analysis tool that has many of the same cool features as much more expensive products such as Tableau and Spotfire. Starting with an excel spreadsheet you can easily assign variables to chart attributes, filter, and drill down through your data. Chart types include heatmaps, scatter bubbles, maps, and surface plots, among others. Watch the video and read the manual to see some of the nifty features included. Tableau and Spotfire are awesome and more powerful products, obviously, but they have priced themselves so far out of the reach of researchers and analysts that it’s nice to see a product like this fill in the gap a little.
Karl Hartig was creating beautiful complex data visualizations back when most of us “graphics experts” were still trying to figure out how to change colors in excel. Here is a selection of his work on population, electronics, energy, stocks, immigration, politics, and music. Soak it up!
$480 million of revenue. Each box is a Groupon deal. The colors identify the city. Width (price) times height (number sold) equals area (revenue). Roll over any deal to see what it was for — lots of weird stuff in there.
An addictive collection of beautiful charts, graphs, maps, and interactive data visualization toys -- on topics from around the world.