opinion

The Curious Case of Redmond, Washington

What's going on in the Pacific Northwest?

  You can find the whole map here...  You can find the whole map here…

A couple weeks ago, a friend showed me a website that was basically a google maps of the most popular songs across different parts of the world. The site calculates the most popular song by using geographic statistics on the songs’ YouTube videos. Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” covers the middle of the nation from Miami to Minneapolis, while (shockingly) “Gummo” dominates the Northeast. The west is a little gentler, enjoying Camila Cabello and Post Malone and from Mexico to Argentina is crazy for the Latin hit “Criminal.” On top of how interesting it is to see each city’s favorite jam, you can zoom in on the map to see the most popular song in suburbs and small towns with populations of less than 50,000. This is where it got interesting.

I found one town where “Beat It,” the rock/pop MJ hit from the 80s was the most popular track. The song is terrific, and I’d argue it deserves to be more popular than some of the songs today, but it had its time 36 years ago. Somehow, there is this timeless pocket outside of Seattle that is still blasting the classic non-stop. Redmond, Washington has a population of just over 60,000 people, yet according to this site, the people of Redmond have streamed “Beat It” over 140,000 times in the month of December. That translates to each person in Redmond streaming “Beat It” on YouTube every other week, or a handful of people listening to it literally thousands of times over and over again. Considering most classics radio stations switch over to Christmas music in December, this is even wilder. For reference, Kirkland, a town bordering Redmond, has a population of almost 90,000 (30,000 more people than Redmond), yet their most popular song, “Havana,” has less than 20,000 views. This is a significant difference to say the least, so I dove a little deeper into the strange case of Redmond, Washington.

As it turns out, Redmond has a fundraiser every year for Halloween, where people get together to do a massive “Thriller” dance for charity. So maybe if it were October, and MJ’s other massive hit had a disproportionate number of views, we could justify it. Maybe this town just has a thing for Michael Jackson? I couldn’t find anything on some upcoming “Beat It” event so I continued to search.

If the town Redmond, Washington sounds familiar at all, it’s probably because it’s the home to Microsoft’s Headquarters, essentially another small town within the small town. After several more obscure Google searches, I couldn’t seem to find any reason for this anomaly, so I made some phone calls to the HQ. As it turns out, the visitor center is the only place at Microsoft Headquarters that plays music, and they just play top 40, which contributes 0 plays to “Beat It.” It could just be that those geniuses run on Michael Jackson on top of Apple-hate propaganda. I had no way of confirming this theory because obviously if it were true, every other tech company would be doing it and Microsoft would lose their edge. So it can’t be confirmed, but it also can’t be denied…something to consider.

After a failed inquisition into Microsoft HQ, I tried the City Hall, but to no avail, as they knew nothing related to this anomaly, or at least that’s what they said. There had to be some reason for this wild outlier. If the song was some Bruno Mars or Katy Perry cut, then I would have an easier time accepting it, but there’s just no way nothing is behind this. I had to come up with my own explanation just to sleep at night.

1 Surprise 80s flash mob.

2 City-wide boycott of Christmas music, replacing every song on the radio with “Beat It.”

3 Somehow everybody in the town just found out about the song, and it’s 1982 all over again.

4 Somebody mistook MJ for Jesus and celebrated Christmas by hacking YouTube to give the Beat It video 140,000 more views.

5 The town changed Christmas to Michael Jackson Day in an effort to be more PC.

One comment

  1. AT&T has a Mobility Test Center in Redmond WA. Maybe MJ was being using in some test suite. Common AT&T IP addresses start with 12…., 135…., and 166….

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