Say you want a three-minute sum-up of the current zeitgeist, a way to figure out where our collective heads are at right now. Where do you go? Why, the Billboard Hot 100, of course.
The Hot 100 serves many needs. Just as a Billboard-populated Top 40 is the easiest way to DJ a party with a variety of guests, a cheap jab at the moment's #1 is the best way to criticize the entire United States at once. But how did the Hot 100, which turned 57 years last Tuesday, become America's go-to weekly popularity contest?