The New York Times has put together this great timeline visualization, which shows how Michael Jackson’s songs have performed on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. What’s interesting is the visual story the chart creates of the pop star’s career broken down by year and album. You can drill down and see the rise and fall of the popularity of each song on each album. You’ll notice that there are additional timelines which compares Michael Jackson’s career with other artists. These smaller timelines, despite their reduced scale, are able to show artists’ general trends and how their singles performed on the Billboard Hot 100 as well. For example, we can see that most of the Beatles’ singles are popular on the charts for a 5 year period. In contrast, Michael Jackson has spurts of popularity from the mid 1970’s to the mid 1990’s. In the period 1990 to 2000 Boyz II men and Michael Jackson perform on the charts similarly.
In what other applications could you use this visualization in? Think about examples of where you would compare entities and the frequency of particular behaviors over time. See the original interactive graphic.