Which songs have stood the test of time? by Christian Tate

Originally we created this piece for our book, An Answer for Everything, as a ‘best song of all time’ infographic. We started looking through critics’ lists of best-ever singles to create a meta list – but critics’ tastes aren’t necessarily in sync with the public’s listening habits.

This, to us, was more interesting – it’s not necessarily the best songs, but it’s the ones that people keep returning to over the years and decades, ones with a timeless appeal for a lot of people. We worked with Spotify to collect the data and they were fantastic. They looked at the number of global plays songs had in 2020 to identify which song from each year since 1950 is still most popular with listeners.

When it came to the design, we spoke a lot about creating non-written cues – what could we do visually to create a sense of this being about music? We made the innermost section look like the bars on a graphic equaliser – you don’t need to read the headline to sense that it’s about music.

The answer to creating a perennially popular hit? Make it a Christmas song. There are six on the list, which is almost ten percent – we’ve illustrated these with snowflakes.