Interactive Music Map Showcases the Most Sung-About Places in the World

Express Newspapers/Getty Images
Express Newspapers/Getty Images

New York City has inspired many a musician, from Frank Sinatra to Stevie Wonder to Alicia Keys. So it probably won’t come as a surprise that the “city that never sleeps” is the most sung-about place on the planet, with more than 160 songs mentioning it by name, according to an analysis of 200,000 popular songs from Celebrity Cruises.

This only accounts for songs that have landed in one of the top 40 spots on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 or UK Official Singles chart since 1960. Celebrity Cruises took the lyrics of those songs and conducted a linguistics analysis and data visualization to pinpoint the cities, neighborhoods, and states that feature most prominently in music. They ended up with 2000 songs by 896 artists who sang about 420 different places around the world.

An interactive tool called Music Mapped lets you explore these inspiring destinations. After New York, London is the second most-sung-about place with 101 songs, followed by Los Angeles (87 songs), the state of California (67 songs), and Hollywood (66 songs). You can also browse by genre and decade, so in case you’ve been dying to know how many ‘80s country/folk songs have been written about Nova Scotia, the answer is one ("Letter From America" by The Proclaimers).

You can also search by place, artist, or country. Of all the artists included in this analysis, Drake is the one who has name-dropped the most places in his lyrics. So far, he’s rapped about 29 places, including his hometown of Toronto and farther-flung destinations like Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Jay-Z has rapped about 27 places, followed by Elvis (who sang about 23 places), Tinie Tempah (22 places), and The Beach Boys (22 places).

Check out the Celebrity Cruises website to try out the interactive map for yourself.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: New Book Highlights the Poetry of Mister Rogers's Music

If you can’t wait for the new Mister Rogers movie with Tom Hanks to come out later this year, here’s a little something to tide you over until then. As Paste magazine reports, a new book highlights 75 songs that Fred Rogers wrote and performed on his show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

The forthcoming biopic and book are unrelated, but they both carry the same title: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The subtitle of the book reads The Poetry of Mister Rogers and, in written format, the songs do resemble children’s poems. Published by Quirk Books, each song/poem is accompanied by illustrations from Luke Flowers.

Many of the songs will be familiar to those who grew up watching the show. One of the best-known examples is “It’s You I Like”—an uplifting song that Rogers sang to Jeff Erlanger, a 10-year-old boy in a wheelchair who grew up to be an advocate for disability rights. (Just watch this video of Erlanger surprising Rogers by showing up at his induction into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999 and try not to cry.)

Rogers often wrote songs to address scenarios that might be scary or confusing to children. One song, for instance, was titled “You Can Never Go Down the Drain." In one of the show’s most heartfelt moments, the puppet Daniel Striped Tiger sings the opening lines of “Sometimes I Wonder If I’m a Mistake.” Performing the second part of the song, Lady Aberlin reassures him, “You’re not a fake. You’re no mistake. You're my friend.”

If you’re ready to walk down memory lane and relive some of your favorite moments from the show, you can get a copy of the book from Amazon for $13.51. It’s also available as an Audible audiobook, narrated by actors John Lithgow and Kate Mulgrew.

[h/t Paste]

Google Creates First AI Doodle for Bach’s Birthday

Google
Google

Although there’s some debate about Johann Sebastian Bach’s exact birth date, today is roughly the 334th anniversary of the famous composer’s birth. In celebration of Bach’s contributions to a genre that would later be called classical music, Google created a Doodle that lets users create a song in Bach’s signature style.

Google has created musical Doodles before, but what sets this one apart is that it’s the first-ever Doodle powered by artificial intelligence, according to Newsweek. In this case, users create a simple melody by choosing their preferred notes on a musical staff, then increasing or decreasing the pace (measured in beats per minute, or BPM) or changing the key, if desired. Once satisfied, all they have to do is hit the “harmonize” button and let AI create a more sophisticated tune.

Fortunately for Google, there was a lot of material to draw from. Bach was a busy man, creating more than 1100 compositions in his lifetime (while also finding time to father 20 children). However, for this Doodle, a machine-learning model called Coconet was fed a portion of his oeuvre—306 harmonies in total. In addition to being trained to recognize the musical patterns in Bach's work, the model is also capable of creating harmonies, smooth transitions, and compositions from scratch.

“So when you create a melody of your own on the model in the Doodle, it harmonizes that melody in Bach's specific style,” Google explained in a statement. And just for fun, there’s a feature that lets you hear what the harmony would sound like in a modern rock style.

For a behind-the-scenes look of how the Bach Doodle was made, from both an artistic and technical perspective, check out Google’s video below.

[h/t Newsweek]

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