How Kansas City and San Francisco Really Listen To Lorde ‘Royals’

KC_SF_WSIn response to social media demands from San Francisco Giants fans, San Francisco radio station KFOG announced on the evening of October 16th that it would cease all play of Lorde’s hit song “Royals,” which shares a name with San Francisco’s World Series opponents, the Kansas City Royals. San Francisco’s KOIT followed suit on October 17th.

Kansas City retaliated on October 19; at least one of its channels, 99.7 The Point pledged to play the song “on the hour, every hour, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.”

Since then, the role of “Royals” in this World Series contest as a signifier of fandom for one team or the other has resounded across social and traditional media, gathering steam even among those who don’t tune into radio. Despite its beginnings as a radio show stunt, this is now a large and ongoing internet phenomenon.

These two mighty titans of baseball face each other tonight, in Kansas City, Missouri, for Game 1 of World Series 2014. Given all of the hullabaloo about each city playing or not playing “Royals” on the radio, we were wondering, how are people in these cities listening to Lorde’s “Royals” on Spotify? Is all of the media frenzy around “Royals” in a baseball context having an effect on actual listening?

By looking at how much each city listened to the song on Spotify in these two cities, we see that before this whole brouhaha began, San Francisco was listening to the song generally more relative to its population than Kansas City was relative to its population.

Once word started traveling, San Francisco’s listening to the song declines from its October 16 highpoint, while Kansas City’s increases to its highest point on October 17th, the day after this whole thing began:


Kansas City actually stops listening to the song as much on the 18th, but then reverses that trend starting when its own station made its own “Royals” announcement, so fans there appear to be getting more into the song as tonight’s game approaches.

The song listening continued to decline in San Francisco over most of that period, then shot back upwards, suggesting that people who returned to work weren’t too concerned about this thing — or that all this attention over “Royals” is simply increasing listening to the track generally, among people who might not necessarily be baseball fans, but keep seeing mentions of the song on social media.

The World Series kicks off tonight at 8pm ET. It’s unclear what songs they might play during the game, but we can certainly think of one strong contender