How would you tackle this?

My next personal challenge is to memorize all of the Billboard “Hot 100” #1 songs from 1960-2010. But after playing around with just the first two songs, I’d appreciate hearing how others here might go about it.

Here are all the elements I’m wanting to memorize:

  • The date a song first appeared at #1 on the “Hot 100” list (Month/day)
  • The date of its last week at #1 (sometimes this is the same as the first week)
  • The total number of weeks spent at #1, even if they are not consecutive (and maybe an indication about that)
  • The song title
  • The artist

I use Major for dates and I already have images I use regularly for months. Those aren’t the issues.

I think what’s perplexing me at this point is having to come up with associations not only for song titles but also for artists that I don’t know anything about (so any image would be based on their names rather than appearance, etc.)—and then combining up to maybe a dozen different but connected images within each of my locations for each song. (Some songs won’t need much. But if I don’t know them, and they have a long title, I may need several images just for the title. And for unfamiliar artists, I may need multiple images for first/last names.)

Example: The very first song is “El Paso” by Marty Robbins. In 1960, it appeared on the Hot 100 list on January 4 and stayed through the week of January 11, spending two weeks at the top.

My Aunt Jan is January for me. She is swinging an oar (rhyming for 4) like a baseball bat and hits a tater tot (my 11) through the air, splashing into a jar of El Paso Taco Sauce.

Then I get a little stuck. I’ve heard of Marty Robbins, but have no other connection to him. I’ve tried Marty McFly (my usual “Marty” association) eating an ice-cream cone (for Baskin-Robbins). I’ve tried a Wal-Mart getting robbed. But nothing seems particularly memorable. And neither of those images is connected in any way to my dates/song images. And I still haven’t incorporated a “2” (for its weeks at the top)—at least not without just doing the math!

So: If you had to memorize the example above, I’m curious how, exactly, you’d store it.


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Perhaps you could listen to the song?

I have a harder time recalling the release year of movies and songs I haven’t seen or heard. Even movies I did watch but can’t remember anything about it are difficult, I just have to watch them again. After I have seen them, the release years pop back up.


Absolutely. I’ve already started building playlists.


Assuming you are trying to learn this information based on hearing the song, there is really a need to memorise the song unless you don’t have a lot of time. Memorising the song while looking at the data each time you play it implies, by the time you learn the song you will completely have recall over the data.

If you are really picky over time, I would store the data with mnemonics and pay attention to the difference between the songs. Should be around as fast as actually listening to the songs each only once if speed was a priority. I would also do this at night, I tend to find that if I listen to a song before I sleep I pretty much fully remember it the next day, should at-least add a bonus to recall.

Thanks, but I’m not actually wanting to learn the song, just the title, artist, and time on the chart.

Mnemonics would do well for this then, I would just chain them. E.g Title linked to artist and so artist linked to time on chart, etc.

If I wanted to learn many of them in a go I would place these links in a memory palace.

I’m not sure how closely you read my first post, but, yes, I’ll definitely be using a memory palace! There are 50 years of songs, with anywhere from about 15-20 songs per year.

I’m not new to using memory techniques. There were just some specific challenges I was running into, for which I was seeking advice. But maybe I didn’t spell those out well enough…


Perhaps look up Marty Robbins on Wikipedia and take away some tidbits about his life?

Also, Mighty Robbins, Muddy Ribbons, Meter bins.

When I said I would just chain them I meant that the title which is linked to the artist and the artist which is linked to the time, would help with making the ‘artist’ stick.

Marty Robbins example:
“El Paso” as you said el paso taco sauce
little marth -> marty playing with the taco sauce (I feel that little implies changing the name to end in y removing the h) Is being watched by a robin holding a b->bee or anything otherwise between its beaks, so inside of it. Also there seems to be 2 such robins, which carry a stone plate of the 1960’s(any image you have). Somehow aunt jan is stuck to the 1960’s stone plate, carrying a fork and small elf in both hands. =>4 to 11.

el paso, marty robbins,1960,January,4 to 11, 2 hands implies 2 weeks. Placing these in a memory palace then means I won’t forget them when I start the next iteration.

I think the main difference of me doing this and what you were doing is that I am not going back to the taco sauce from aunt jan. Also that I guess , I would stick to spaced repetition doing this. So I would progressively review briefly. How memorable it is does come from the interactions. If I said that the robins were holding a bee between their pecs rather than beaks I don’t think you would forget this.

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It might be helpful to use a consistent structure at each location to keep track of the different elements there. For example, date 1 at the top left, date 2 at the top middle, the number of weeks at the top right, with the title and artist centred below.

Also, you’ll be memorizing a lot of dates. Can you do that more efficiently than using one image for the month and another for the day? Perhaps you could combine the month and day into a single 3 or 4 digit number, and use the Major system to come up with a single image for it. That gives you more unique images instead of seeing Aunt Jan hundreds of times.

For your example, Jan 4 could be 104 - a Taser, Jan 11 could be 111 - dotted. The number of weeks could be a swan (using a number-shape system - you could use the Major system if you prefer, or if the number of weeks gets into 2 digits). I would have a Taser at the top left, zapping a dotted cloth at the top middle, pushing it towards a swan at the top right. Below this is Marty McFly with robins (the little birds) on his shoulders, drinking the El Paso sauce. Maybe the Taser also zaps Marty, and the robins are looking jealousy at the swan, just to get some more interconnections in there.

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Okay, you’re kind of blowing my mind with that suggestion! That’s an incredibly inventive approach that I’d never have considered. I was looking for a good way to compact/consolidate some of the information without losing any of the details.

Fantastic ideas throughout, though. Thank you!



I’m checking back in after memorizing all of the Top 100 #1 songs from 1960. I’m starting on 1961 now and plan to continue my same approach through that year. After that, though…

I’m using a former employer for my memory palace. The company was located in what had been an old, two-story car dealership in downtown Downers Grove, IL, and I absolutely loved that place. Since I started out in the mail room there, I got to know it very well. There’s no guarantee I’ll be able to find/create enough locations in it, though; if I do end up memorizing all of the #1 Top 100 songs from 1960-2010, that could require around 1,000 locations… which would be the largest palace I’ve ever attempted.

My current strategy, which I explained earlier, is proving workable but a bit clunky. There are a lot of images per song, especially if the title/artist are unfamiliar enough to need a lot of triggering associations. (Fortunately, I grew up in the 60s, so I’ve heard almost all of these before.) And, unfortunately, I seem to have a knack for focusing more on a scene or a story within a location than I am on maintaining consistency from palace to palace.

Here’s an example from my 1960 list (and I’ll work to keep this as brief as possible). For me, “25” can be either a Christmas tree (personal association) or a nail (Major system). The month of April is always represented by rain. The month of May has always been represented by the Mayflower ship.


For Elvis Presley’s “Stuck on You,” which first charted at #1 on April 25 and stayed until the week of May 16, I pictured going to enter the front door of my palace/workplace, trying to get out of the rain, and getting my shirt “stuck on” a protruding nail (25). Then I hear singing from behind me and look around: Elvis is driving (my 16, since that’s when you can legally drive in the US) the Mayflower down the middle of the street, singing.

If I were being critical, I’d say this is far more “linking” or “story” than a good use of loci. But I can’t help myself, apparently. Most other entries are very much limited to single locations within the palace—on a shelf, a wall, a desk, etc. This one got away from me. But it seems to work. Every time I’ve reviewed it, I’ve recalled all of the dates as well as the song and artist. So I’m keeping it.

But my approach means I have to generate a lot of images per song in order to tie together months and days and titles and artists. In light of that, I’m going to try Simon’s suggestion for 1962—seeing if I can consolidate my images more—and see how it goes. I’ve only rarely used a 3-digit Major system and never a 4-digit one, which is what I’ll need here. So…that should be interesting.