Radio Charts Poll Results

Many Southern Gospel fans believe that radio was much better in the “Good old Days.” So, about two weeks ago, I started a survey comparing the top 40 songs for August 1983 and for August 2003, respectively 25 and 5 years ago.

Are the songs from 1983 as recognizable, or even more recognizable, than the songs from 2003?

Well, 241 people have helped us try to work toward an answer. Let’s go straight to the data:

August 1983 Singing News Chart
241 Responses

Know
It
Have
It
Love
It
Response
Count
#1 Two Winning Hands (Hinsons) 95 39.4% 66 27.4% 73 30.3% 129 53.5%
#2 It’s Out Of This World (Payne Family) 90 37.3% 29 12.0% 27 11.2% 107 44.4%
#3 In My Robe of White (Gold City) 155 64.3% 128 53.1% 130 53.9% 225 93.4%
#4 Step Into the Water (Cathedrals) 162 67.2% 152 63.1% 144 59.8% 236 97.9%
#5 I Know My God Can Do It (Heaven Bound) 109 45.2% 61 25.3% 51 21.2% 144 59.8%
#6 The Cloud He’s Coming Back On (Goodmans) 119 49.4% 55 22.8% 60 24.9% 150 62.2%
#7 You Can Walk On the Water (Cathedrals) 127 52.7% 112 46.5% 102 42.3% 181 75.1%
#8 They’re Holding Up the Ladder (Inspirations) 121 50.2% 34 14.1% 38 15.8% 146 60.6%
#9 Look For Me (Happy Goodmans) 164 68.0% 85 35.3% 108 44.8% 209 86.7%
#10 The Broken Rose (Squire Parsons) 77 32.0% 28 11.6% 26 10.8% 96 39.8%
#11 I’ll Meet You on the Other Side (Jerry Goff) 69 28.6% 13 5.4% 16 6.6% 84 34.9%
#12 Jesus is Your Ticket to Heaven (Rex Nelon) 112 46.5% 63 26.1% 42 17.4% 137 56.8%
#13 Whiter than Snow (Singing Americans) 99 41.1% 52 21.6% 42 17.4% 128 53.1%
#14 We’ve Got the Power (LaVerne Tripp) 80 33.2% 12 5.0% 14 5.8% 90 37.3%
#15 I’ll Be Home Before Dark (Inspirations) 62 25.7% 14 5.8% 10 4.1% 72 29.9%
#16 Wedding Day (Rex Nelon Singers) 74 30.7% 27 11.2% 29 12.0% 93 38.6%
#17 Dig A Well (Dixie Echoes) 38 15.8% 9 3.7% 11 4.6% 48 19.9%
#18 He’s On the Throne (Speer Family) 53 22.0% 25 10.4% 16 6.6% 70 29.0%
#19 I’m Not Perfect, Just Forgiven (Hemphills) 115 47.7% 62 25.7% 37 15.4% 144 59.8%
#20 Look For Me (Singing Echoes) 92 38.2% 13 5.4% 17 7.1% 102 42.3%
#21 Ain’t God Good (Gold City) 114 47.3% 82 34.0% 62 25.7% 161 66.8%
#22 Hallelujah He’s Coming Again (Speer Family) 62 25.7% 20 8.3% 16 6.6% 78 32.4%
#23 Because He Loved Me (Primitive Quartet) 59 24.5% 16 6.6% 29 12.0% 73 30.3%
#24 Antioch Church Choir (Dixie Melody Boys) 154 63.9% 80 33.2% 55 22.8% 189 78.4%
#25 The Message of His Coming (Happy Goodmans) 38 15.8% 22 9.1% 20 8.3% 54 22.4%
#26 In My Robe of White (Spencer Family) 115 47.7% 24 10.0% 21 8.7% 130 53.9%
#27 Come to the Wedding (Hoppers) 45 18.7% 15 6.2% 10 4.1% 55 22.8%
#28 In a Different Light (Candy Hemphill) 38 15.8% 7 2.9% 8 3.3% 44 18.3%
#29 I’ve Never Been This Homesick (Jimmy Swaggart) 161 66.8% 37 15.4% 34 14.1% 185 76.8%
#30 Mail Order From Heaven (Singing Cookes) 34 14.1% 5 2.1% 4 1.7% 38 15.8%
#31 I’ve Got the Will (Wendy Bagwell) 43 17.8% 13 5.4% 12 5.0% 51 21.2%
#32 Passin’ the Faith Along (New Gaither Vocal Band) 136 56.4% 102 42.3% 73 30.3% 178 73.9%
#33 Enter In (Singing Echoes) 27 11.2% 8 3.3% 3 1.2% 32 13.3%
#34 Burning the Midnight Oil (McKameys) 40 16.6% 10 4.1% 8 3.3% 51 21.2%
#35 Movin’ On Up (Lesters) 38 15.8% 12 5.0% 7 2.9% 46 19.1%
#36 I’m Going There (Kingsmen) 73 30.3% 35 14.5% 25 10.4% 95 39.4%
#37 Then Came the Morning (Cathedrals) 158 65.6% 118 49.0% 129 53.5% 212 88.0%
#38 Your Ride is on the Way (Kingsmen) 49 20.3% 40 16.6% 18 7.5% 71 29.5%
#39 Headed Home (Clifton Tomes) 21 8.7% 1 0.4% 2 0.8% 22 9.1%
#40 Somebody Prayed for Me (The Goodmans) 93 38.6% 42 17.4% 43 17.8% 119 49.4%
36.42% 17.94% 16.31% 46.42%

August 2003 Singing News Chart
234 Responses

Know
It
Have
It
Love
It
Response
Count
#1 I
Take Him Back (Mike Bowling)
89 36.9% 56 23.2% 38 15.8% 107 45.7%
#2 When
Nothing But a Miracle Will Do (McRaes)
86 35.7% 26 10.8% 22 9.1% 100 42.7%
#3 I
Can, I Have, I Will (Perrys)
104 43.2% 88 36.5% 64 26.6% 137 58.5%
#4 I
Found Grace (Legacy Five)
125 51.9% 98 40.7% 83 34.4% 171 73.1%
#5 The
Walk (Crabb Family)
112 46.5% 72 29.9% 48 19.9% 142 60.7%
#6 I
Love the Lord (Talley Trio)
116 48.1% 70 29.0% 64 26.6% 149 63.7%
#7 I
Choose the Lord (Nelons)
69 28.6% 26 10.8% 29 12.0% 84 35.9%
#8 The
Old Time Way (Signature Sound)
115 47.7% 70 29.0% 38 15.8% 141 60.3%
#9 God
Handled It All (Gold City)
130 53.9% 96 39.8% 107 44.4% 170 72.6%
#10 Put
Your New White Robe On (Freemans)
70 29.0% 22 9.1% 14 5.8% 78 33.3%
#11 It’s
True (Ivan Parker)
95 39.4% 28 11.6% 22 9.1% 105 44.9%
#12
Beyond the Grace (Galloways)
37 15.4% 13 5.4% 9 3.7% 43 18.4%
#13
Knowing You’ll Be There (Gaither Vocal Band)
131 54.4% 98 40.7% 52 21.6% 165 70.5%
#14 In
the Morning Light (Greenes)
72 29.9% 28 11.6% 32 13.3% 86 36.8%
#15 What
You Took From Me (Whisnants)
84 34.9% 39 16.2% 38 15.8% 101 43.2%
#16 From
Heaven’s Point of View (McGruders)
60 24.9% 15 6.2% 14 5.8% 70 29.9%
#17 It
is Well (Isaacs) (not the hymn)
82 34.0% 46 19.1% 45 18.7% 101 43.2%
#18
Cloud Nine Headed for Ten (Mark Bishop)
97 40.2% 29 12.0% 14 5.8% 106 45.3%
#19 She
Touched His Heart (Ruppes)
44 18.3% 17 7.1% 12 5.0% 51 21.8%
#20
Mighty Deep Well (Kingdom Heirs)
133 55.2% 63 26.1% 68 28.2% 156 66.7%
#21
Behind the Veil (Haire Family)
19 7.9% 3 1.2% 0 0.0% 20 8.5%
#22
That’s ‘A How I Know (Old Time Gospel Hour Qt)
62 25.7% 36 14.9% 18 7.5% 78 33.3%
#23 I
Will (Tony Gore)
37 15.4% 10 4.1% 3 1.2% 43 18.4%
#24
Justified (Carolina Boys)
75 31.1% 35 14.5% 33 13.7% 89 38.0%
#25 New
Day (Jeff & Sheri Easter)
82 34.0% 33 13.7% 21 8.7% 97 41.5%
#26
God’s Still Faithful (Arnolds)
37 15.4% 12 5.0% 9 3.7% 41 17.5%
#27 The
Cross (Crabb Family)
85 35.3% 63 26.1% 54 22.4% 111 47.4%
#28
Rejoice in the Lord (Karen Peck & New River)
60 24.9% 30 12.4% 23 9.5% 76 32.5%
#29 Only
Gonna Never Die (Ricky Atkinson & Compassion)
68 28.2% 23 9.5% 20 8.3% 79 33.8%
#30
Thank God For My Christian Home (Janet Paschal)
78 32.4% 28 11.6% 25 10.4% 90 38.5%
#31 Just
Another Hill (Dove Brothers Quartet)
81 33.6% 49 20.3% 30 12.4% 98 41.9%
#32 He
Is To Me (Greater Vision)
134 55.6% 99 41.1% 90 37.3% 171 73.1%
#33
Written in Heaven (Hoskins Family)
46 19.1% 28 11.6% 12 5.0% 57 24.4%
#34 A
Trophy of Grace (McKameys)
75 31.1% 21 8.7% 23 9.5% 88 37.6%
#35
Surely Goodness and the Mercies of the Lord (McKameys)
79 32.8% 17 7.1% 12 5.0% 89 38.0%
#36
Under the Ocean Floor (Kirk Talley)
62 25.7% 18 7.5% 10 4.1% 70 29.9%
#37 Come
Out of the Wilderness (Three Bridges)
78 32.4% 22 9.1% 15 6.2% 86 36.8%
#38 We
Need a Helping Hand (Perry Sisters)
25 10.4% 6 2.5% 3 1.2% 28 12.0%
#39 Only
Gone From Our Sight (Primitive Quartet)
35 14.5% 13 5.4% 6 2.5% 41 17.5%
#40 I’ll
Be in the Rapture (Paid in Full)
41 17.0% 17 7.1% 20 8.3% 54 23.1%
32.26% 16.21% 12.86% 40.27%

Analysis

Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, the 1983 chart comes out ahead.

  • On average, 36% know a given 1983 hit, compared to 32% for 2003 (4.16% difference).
  • On average, 18% have a given 1983 hit, compared to 16% for 2003 (1.73% difference).
  • On average, 16% love a given 1983 hit, compared to 13% for 2003 (3.45% difference).
  • On average, 46% responded to one of the three questions, compared to 40% for 2003 (6.15% difference).
  • On the 1983 chart, 17 songs got over 50% response to at least one of the three questions. On the 2003 chart, 9 songs registered that level of response.

Keep in mind that this is despite 1983 coming in at a disadvantage, since many of the readers (something I should have tracked) were not listening to Southern Gospel radio 25 years ago (and a few of us, myself included, weren’t even alive then!)

So are the songs written and released today generally weaker than the songs 25 years ago?

Not necessarily. Most or all of the nine songs from the 2003 chart that registered over 50% will probably be well recognized twenty years down the line. I think that “God Handled it All,” “He is to Me,” and “Mighty Deep Well” are on the same level as “The Cloud He’s Coming Back On,” “Ain’t God Good,” and “I’m Not Perfect (Just Forgiven).”

A large part of the difference—and the reason we remember the songs from yesteryear so well—is that songs are cycled off the top of the chart much more quickly today than 25 years ago. If a song like “God Handled it All” hits #1, it is unlikely to spend more than a month (maximum two) before quickly falling off the charts. Few songs spend more than three months in today’s top 10, while it wasn’t uncommon for songs to spend 9 months or a year in the top 10 25 years ago.

Does today’s system mean that more groups get a chance to be in the top 40, top 20, and top 10? Yes.

Is that a good thing? Perhaps.

But cycling the megahits out of the top 10 as quickly as we do these days plays a large role in why, five years later, we can’t remember as many songs as we can from 25 years ago.

Is this the only factor? Possibly not. Quite possibly, there are fewer songs of mega-hit quality being written and recorded. And there could be other factors.

But here, at least, is some statistical data. Make of it what you will.


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4 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. There’s only really a handful of songs from 2003 that I even remember, and most of those aren’t even sung by the groups that made them famous anymore. MABYE “God Handled It All” and MAYBE “Mighty Deep Well” will endure, along with one or two of the Crabb Family songs, since they were so hugely popular, but I have my doubts with most of them unfortunately.

    1983 turned out more memorable songs than I had figured.

  2. If a song makes a strong impression on our mind and spirit, then even if it drops off the chart in a month because of another great hit We keep both of them in our mind and spirit. We own and play both, not just for a month.
    I think your poll proves without a doubt 1983 wins hands down.

  3. Yes, 1983 does come in ahead. Fortunately, there were also songs in 2003 that changed hearts, too—at least it wasn’t something like 36% to 3%. 🙂

  4. I did something a little different. I pitted the #1 songs from each year against each other and went on down the line…#2 from ’83 vs. #2 from ’03, etc.

    The final totals:

    1983=17
    2003=10
    Liked the songs from each year equally=13

    There were four cases where the ’03 song won by default since I wasn’t familiar with the ’83 song. There was one ’83 song that won by default because I wasn’t familiar with the ’03 song.

    There was one tie where I wasn’t familiar with either song.

    There was one tie where I wasn’t familiar with the ’83 song, but disliked the ’03 song to the point where I figured the song I hadn’t heard had to be at least equal to it!

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