The 2016 Grammy Award nominations were released Monday, with multiple nods going to top stars like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Drake, and Nicki Minaj.
The radio platform iHeartRadio, run by iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel Communications), provided CNBC.com with detailed data spreadsheets purporting to show the most popular tracks around the country throughout 2015. The data came from iHeartRadio's digital streaming platforms, which reached an impressive 70 million registered users as of June.
The Grammys are the perfect time to roll such data out to learn something about regional variation in musical preferences. There's a valuable lesson about the quality of data, and making sure to ask basic logical questions about what you're getting.
In a blog post based on the original (aka wrong) data, iHeartRadio said Ed Sheeran took home the honor of "most-thumbed up" track of 2015 with "Thinking Out Loud." Taylor Swift's three big songs relegated her to second, third, and eighth place. (Update: the original iHeartRadio blog post was taken down. The link above is a cached version.)
More impressive in the original data was that Drake's "Hotline Bling" was the most-thumbed up track in 26 states in 2015. That would be amazing because the song only came out in July and didn't really catch on until the colorful video was released in October. Here is exactly what the blog post said about Drake:
Although the track didn't premiere until mid-2015, with the unforgettable music video coming out just weeks ago, the last-minute addition of Drake's "Hotline Bling" surprised and delighted the ears of listeners across the country, leading it to become the No. 1 most thumbed song of 2015 across more than 20 states!