Lots of ink has been spilled about the Loudness war and how modern recordings keep getting louder as a cheap method of grabbing a listener’s attention. We know that, in general, music is getting louder. But what are the loudest songs? We can use The Echo Nest API to answer this question. Since the Echo Nest has analyzed millions and millions of songs, we can make a simple API query that will return the set of loudest songs known to man. (For the hardcore geeks, here’s the API query that I used). Note that I’ve restricted the results to those in the 7Digital-US catalog in order to guarantee that I’ll have a 30 second preview for each song.
So without further adieu, here are the loudest songs
The song Topping and Core by Grmalking555 has a whopping loudness of 4.428 dB.
The song Modifications by Micron has a loudness of 4.318 dB.
The song Hey You Fuxxx! by Kylie Minoise with a loudness of 4.231 dB
Here’s a little taste of Kylie Minoise live (you may want to turn down your volume)
The song War Memorial Exit by Noma with a loudness of 4.166 dB
The song Hello Dirty 10 by Massimo with a loudness of 4.121 dB.
These songs are pretty niche. So I thought it might be interesting to look the loudest songs culled from the most popular songs. Here’s the query to do that. The loudest popular song is:
The loudest popular song is Welcome to the Jungle by Guns ‘N Roses with a loudness of -1.931 dB.
You may be wondering how a loudness value can be greater than 0dB. Loudness is a complex measurement that is both a function of time and frequency. Unlike traditional loudness measures, The Echo Nest analysis models loudness via a human model of listening, instead of directly mapping loudness from the recorded signal. For instance, with a traditional dB model a simple sinusoidal function would be measured as having the same exact “amplitude” (in dB) whether at 3KHz or 12KHz. But with The Echo Nest model, the loudness is lower at 12KHz than it is at 3KHz because you actually perceive those signals differently.
Thanks to the always awesome 7Digital for providing album art and 30 second previews in this post.
#1 by Ian Shepherd (@ianshepherd) on August 17, 2011 - 8:18 am
Good stuff !
It would be great if the Echo Nest method of judging loudness correlated with more well-known techniques of measuring loudness though, for example the TT Dynamic Range Meter ( http://productionadvice.co.uk/how-to-avoid-over-compressing-your-mix/ ) or even better the new EBU R128 standard ( http://tech.ebu.ch/loudness ).
#2 by Marni on August 17, 2011 - 8:18 am
Great post – interesting even for the non-music technician. Thankful for all you developer geeks out there – that API looked intense.
#3 by Ian Shepherd (@ianshepherd) on August 17, 2011 - 8:21 am
I’d also like to see what the rest of the “popular” list looks like :-)
#4 by James Bisset (@JB1t) on August 17, 2011 - 8:54 am
Interesting, certainly niche in this neck of the woods. I wonder, is the loudness reading skewed by inter-sample overshoots or does the API dismiss these?
Like Ian i too would be keen to see expanded data-sets (genre, popular, etc.)
#5 by svantana on August 18, 2011 - 6:38 am
Yeah these tracks are really niche, perhaps it’s time to create a new genre, “superloud music”, or perhaps “super-undynamic music” is more suitable, since the actual loudness depends on the playback sound level.
I’m a bit skeptical though that “Welcome to the jungle” would be the loudest of popular tracks – it is to my ears quite dynamic compared to the superovercompressed stuff of late (Metallica etc).