Mapmakers pioneered the idea of “copyright traps”—inserting fake cities or landmarks and then seeing if they show up in rivals’ work to see if they’ve been ripped off. The idea exists throughout the world of “intellectual property,” even music.
Joel Whitburn is the music world’s top chart historian. Using the charts published by Billboard Magazine, he’s compiled dozens of music history and music chart reference books. Even though these are meant to be reference books, Whitburn doesn’t like it when other people use his hard-researched work without crediting him, so over the years he’s slipped in a few completely fictional songs in the history of the pop music charts as a way of tracking those thieves. Good luck finding these records…because they don’t exist and never did.
“Ready N’ Steady”
Whitburn doesn’t just report on pop music, he collects it: He claims to own a copy of every album and single to ever hit any Billboard chart. But is there an exception? In a 1995 interview, he claimed that the only single he didn’t own at that time was the a minor 1979 hit called “Ready N’ Steady” by a band called The D.A. The reason he doesn’t own it is because it doesn’t exist. (The D.A. isn’t a real group either.)
“The Song of Love”
Whitburn’s books note a minor 1955 tune called “The Song of Love” by bandleader Ralph Marterie, which according to Whitburn debuted and peaked at #84 in December 1955. Except that Billboard didn’t put out a chart that week, and Marterie, who is a real person, never recorded a song called “The Song of Love.”
“Drag You Down”
There were a lot of forgettable hair metal songs in the 1980s, so Whitburn could easily slip in one he made up. According to his books, in 1986 a band called Cyzterz (pronounced “sisters”) eked onto the Mainstream Rock Chart at #47 with “Drag You Down.” They didn’t. The band, the song, and the chart placement were all made up.