The Best Songs Of All Times & The Short-Form Content Lessons We Can Learn From Them

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The Best Songs Of All Times & The Short-Form Content Lessons We Can Learn From Them

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From eight-tracks and cassette tapes to CDs and auxiliary cables, the way that we listen to music has never changed the passion, presence and prevalence of music around the world. As you strive to create high-quality, short-form content to build your online presence, it would be in your best interest to explore some of the best short-form content that helped build the multibillion dollar empire of music.

Below is an overview of the songs that Billboard magazine claims are some of the greatest hits of all time and the valuable lessons in short-form content that we can learn from them:

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Photograph by Kuna via Bigstock

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“The Twist” by Chubby Checker

Young listeners may be confused as to why “The Twist” has the top spot on the list of the greatest songs of all time. However, longtime music fans and critics may remember that it is the only song to reach the #1 slot on the Hot 100 chart twice during 2 different runs. How did a popular song about a twisty dance move manage to pull that off?

It was first released in June 1960 – which is when it first topped the charts thanks to the older generation of fans that fell in love with it. New life was breathed into the song more than a year later when Chubby was invited to perform the hit song on The Ed Sullivan Show in October of 1961. A full-page ad was published in Billboard to complement a re-release of the single – offering the proclamation, “’The Twist’ dance rage explodes into the adult world!” Enough copies of the song were purchased to allow the song to twist its way back to the #1 slot in 1962.


Lessons Learned:

  1. New Audience, New Traffic: The beauty of short-form content is that it is easy to recycle and reuse whenever the need arises. A simple and short song that effectively makes people dance and have a great time today can easily be reused to generate the same reaction 10, 20 or 40 years from now. Your past short-form content can achieve the same goal. Have you considered turning old blogs into new blogs, fact sheets or infographics? You could even re-release the same content with a rejuvenated marketing strategy as “The Twist” did in 1961.

  2. You Can Refresh Existing Content: When people hear the phrase “The Twist,” they may automatically think about Chubby Checker. However, did you know that it was not his original song? “The Twist” was originally recorded and released by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters one year prior – peaking at # 28. Chubby breathed new life into it with his own version of the song – a version that essentially made people (and time) forget that it was not his original content. You can put an original spin on topics and content that has already been created. If you offer credit where credit is due, you would be surprised by what can happen!

“Smooth” by Santana featuring Rob Thomas

If you were listening to music in 1999, then chances are you remember the melody and music of the chart-topping hit “Smooth” by Santana. Whether it was the silky and sultry tone of Rob Thomas’ vocals or the memorable and magical riffs from Santana’s guitar, the creative combination led to the creation of an addictive hit song that maintained the #1 spot for 12 weeks.


Lessons Learned:

  1. There’s Nothing Wrong with a Backseat Collaboration: The desire to be the face and shining star of your content is somewhat natural. However, you should never allow that sense of pride and egoism to get in the way of what could become a “smooth” hit. Even if you must trust in the expertise of someone else to take the lead (like Rob Thomas took the lead on a Santana song) it may still pay off in a big way for you in the long run. You will also be able to expand your reach and benefit from the overall learning experience.

  2. Crossing Over to a New Genre Can Pay Off: Carlos Santana made a name for himself in the musical worlds of Latin rock, jazz fusion and the blues. Rob Thomas made a name for himself with his band (Matchbox 20) in the worlds of pop rock, alternative rock and post-grunge. Santana could have easily collaborated with another Latin rock artist and may have even created a successful hit song. However, by crossing over into a different genre, he unlocked the opportunity to expand his reach by introducing his name and music to a new audience. When exploring guest post opportunities and other ways to expand your reach through collaborations, do not hesitate to look beyond the boundaries of your own niche or market. Find a common ground that links your content with a different market and see what happens.

“Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin

It takes a lot for a song to reach the #1 spot on the Hot 100 list. It takes even more for the same song to keep the #1 spot for longer than 1-2 months. Bobby Darin achieved this milestone in 1959 with his nine-week run in the #1 spot thanks to the hit song “Mack the Knife.” An interesting point is that Bobby did not even want this song to be released as a single from his album. Atco Records apparently felt differently about it and decided to release the song as a single against the artist’s wishes. As a result, “Mack the Knife” became the signature song that defined Bobby Darin’s singing career.


Lessons Learned:

  1. Your Trash May Be a Treasure: When creating short-form content for your website, it may seem as if you are just throwing noodles at a wall as you wait for one to stick. One of the blogs or articles that you may think no one would ever read may very well become the one that defines your online presence. Just because you think it may be trash does not mean your audience won’t view it as a treasure. Make sure you get quality feedback from the outside world (outside of your own head) to distinguish between the two.

  2. Inspiration is Not the Same as Duplication: Plagiarism is a plague of short-form content – especially those who are unable to develop quality content on their own. Being inspired by someone else’s content is much different than copying it. The key is to embrace and appreciate the core of the content, finding a way to use it for breathing life into your own original Bobby Darin achieved this beautifully as “Mack the Knife” was inspired by a different version of the song performed by Louis Armstrong for “The Threepenny Opera.” Bobby was inspired and built a solid foundation of his own content through the influence of someone else’s. You can, too.

“How Do I Live” by LeAnn Rimes

If you go back to 1997, you may remember the hit song “How Do I Live” from the hit Nicolas Cage movie, Con Air. Diane Warren composed the song for LeAnn Rimes. However, the producers of Con Air decided to go with Trisha Yearwood instead to perform the song on the soundtrack. LeAnn may have felt as if this would force her version to slip through the cracks into oblivion. On the contrary, the exact opposite occurred. Both songs made it to the Billboard charts, but Leann’s version remained listed within the Hot 100 list for 69 weeks.


Lessons Learned:

  1. Competition Doesn’t Mean You Will Lose: Leann Rimes may have easily been discouraged by the star power of Trisha Yearwood coming to the table with the same song. However, at the end of the day, the “star power” of the content creator has very little to do with his or her impact on the audience reaction. A content developer with a bigger and better track record may focus on the same topic or even the same reference material. Your objective should be to move the audience the way Leann moved her listeners and turned “How Do I Live” into a classic. She may not have been the first choice of the movie producers more than 20 years ago. However, when you think of the song “How Do I Live” today, chances are that Leann’s name is the first to come to mind.

  1. Follow-Up is Essential: Another vital lesson to learn is that follow-up content is essential. Just because your audience reacted well to one post does not mean you can just walk away without connecting to them again. Many music fans may know the words to “How Do I Live’ or at least remember the melody when hearing it come on the radio. However, what song did she release after that?

You have the talent and potential of creating an ongoing stream of quality content that continuously connects with your audience. Do so.

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Annie has over 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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