We All Want Love

Thursday, 9 February 2012
by graham
filed under Trends and Data and Design
Comments: 3

“We don’t have the time for psychological romance –” Larry Blackmon, Cameo

As my missus will testify, I’m not very romantic and greetings cards make me nauseous. So I wasn’t looking forward to designing a feature for Valentine’s Day.

Then I realised it might be interesting to use music data to see if anyone else felt like me or if the world was full of hopeless romantics playing Somebody To Love by Jefferson Airplane back-to-back like saps. So I went to see Omar

Omar the Oracle

I don’t pretend to understand what Omar does.

I like to think his job involves “running things through the computer”. Actually, he works for the Data team at Last.fm. He is always very patient with me, even when I ask stupid questions like: “Do you think David Hasselhoff‘s audience was affected by the drunken cheeseburger vs floor-as-plate incident?” (The Hoff gained an extra 400 scrobbles that week).

Omar was more than happy to dig into the Valentine’s Day stats, especially when I said I wanted to compare “romance” with “sex” (he’s always running the word “sex” through the computer – it never takes long).

To get a clean set of Valentine’s data to analyse, Omar compared the listening behaviour on 14 Feb over a number of years to the behaviour on any other day of the year, thereby sifting out the tracks unique to Valentine’s Day. Then we went to work with the location and genre tags. In his own words:

I had a little look at our tags pages and selected two sets of tags to investigate:

‘Romantic’ Tags: love, love songs, love song, romance, romantic
‘Sexy’ Tags: sexy, sex, erotic

Each city was then given a score based on how many people listened to sexy or romantic tracks on Valentine’s Day, and how many people have tagged these tracks with sexy or romantic tags. This gave us a ‘sexy’ and ‘romantic’ score for every city. Balancing these scores (there was a global bias toward romance) allows us to compare them, and find out which way a city leans: is it more sexy, or more romantic?

Infographic show which cities play the most

Male vs Female Valentine’s Tracks

Usually, if you run a chart for a given day of the year, the same answers keep emerging; Adele, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, or Radiohead. This time Omar tried to find something a little different: how do listening behaviours change on Valentine’s Day? I’ll let him explain again…

To do this I found out how females and males usually listen to tracks, on an average day. This involves counting daily listeners for every track listened to since the start of 2006.

Then I ask exactly the same question, but for Valentine’s days only.

So, our Valentine’s charts show you the tracks which see the largest, most consistent increases in listeners on Valentine’s days. These are the tracks that ladies and gentlemen turn to on Valentine’s Day.

You can see who topped those charts yourself!
If anyone needs me, I’ll be in Fresno.


  1. Jef
    10 February, 02:24

    It’s funny to see a Brazilian city (Maceió) in the list, because here in Brazil we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. We celebrate the “Dia dos Namorados” (Lovers’ Day) on June 12.

    Jef – 10 February, 02:24
  2. Michael Di Carlo
    1 March, 19:29

    Great post on Valentine, I still don’t like it as a “festivity” (is it really a festivity?), but I like the insight on the behaviour of people on Valetine’s day, thank you

    Michael Di Carlo – 1 March, 19:29
  3. iskur
    4 March, 21:04

    Fantastic article on Valentine’s, I still don’tenjoy it like a “party”however Isuch as the perception around the actions of individuals on Valetine’s evening, Good Ye..
    işkur istanbul bahçelievler.

    iskur – 4 March, 21:04

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