In Search of the Click Track

artist track

Man or Machine?

clickplots of two songs
The Man: The plot on the left shows the tempo deviations in the song So Lonely by the Police. With the plot you can clearly sees the points where drummer Steward Copeland speeds up and where he slows down. Over the course of the song there's a general increase in tempo that builds tension and excitement. The tempo for So Lonely is maintained by a thinking, feeling, human. The Machine: The plot on the right shows the tempo deviations for I love Rock'n'Roll by Britney Spears. The line is virtually flat - there are no deviations from the average tempo. The beat is as steady as a clock, with no variation at the chorus, and no speed up as we build to the climax. For the song I love Rock'n'Roll Britney is using a cold-hearted, sterile, unfeeling machine to set the tempo.
Instructions: Use this application to look at tempo plots for any song to see which bands have a machine controlling the heartbeat of the band. Type in the name of an artist and/or track and get a click plot of the track. If a machine is setting the beat for the song, the click plot will show only small deviations from the average tempo. A flat line means a machine is setting the beat. A machine score of above 90% probably means a machine is setting the beat. Likewise, long runs of machine-like drumming are indicative of the use of a click track or a machine to set the beat. For more info see this post in Music Machinery: In search of the click track (revisited)