Social Stats: How Tracy Chapman helped swing the presidential election

November 3rd was an exciting day for me, it was the day when my vocation (Social Media) and my favourite musician (Tracy Chapman) collided in impressive fashion. So, I felt the need to take a deep dive into the social media data and look at just what went on.

November 2nd was the night before the American presidential election voting day and this year the stakes couldn’t have been higher. Stakes so high in fact that an unlikely figure emerged from obscurity to do her bit to help turn the tide on the eve of voting day: Tracy Chapman.

Skyrocketing into the public eye in 1988 with her debut album (which sold 20 million copies), Chapman enjoyed a successful career up until the release of the ‘Our Bright Future’ album in 2008. Since, she’s been pretty much on hiatus (though she reassures us that she hasn’t retired, yet). The last time she graced our TV screens was in 2015 with a rare performance of Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’ on the final episode of Letterman.

This time around, on the evening of November 2nd Chapman decided to step out once again for the first time in five years. Appearing on Late Night with Seth Myers, Chapman delivered a characteristically competent rendition of her track ‘Talkin’ Bout A Revolution’ adapting the final lines of the song to include: “Go Vote”.

What happened next is nothing short of astonishing. In 2020, 32 years after she rose to fame, a reclusive Tracy Chapman who “doesn’t do social media” and doesn’t own a smartphone, broke the internet. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Late Night show averages 1.5 million viewers but the performance would go on to be seen by a lot more than that. Let’s take a look at some of the stats.

The performance whipped up a storm primarily on social, with over 93,700 posts being published across Twitter and Tumblr on the topic alone, racking up a sizable 770 million impressions! Data from Facebook and Instagram isn’t publically available, but from this data we can assume spikes on both. 

(Source: Netbase) 

This led to “Tracy Chapman” trending both globally as well as making significant dents in country-specific Twitter trending charts. Here’s a full breakdown:

Country Peak Trending Position
Canada 🇨🇦 #4
USA 🇺🇸 #6
Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 #6
Australia 🇦🇺 #8
South Africa 🇿🇦 #12
United Kingdom 🇬🇧 #12
Worldwide 🌍 #19

(Source: GetDayTrends) 

The sentiment of these posts was hugely positive with words such as “wonderful” and “beautiful gift” summing up people’s feelings around the matter. Some even divulged that they had not planned to vote until watching the performance.

(Source: Netbase)

Elsewhere on social media, the performance video was uploaded by Late Night with Seth Myers on Youtube as well as Tracy Chapman Online on Facebook. This combined with a number of unofficial uploads going viral elsewhere, saw the video rack up over 5 million views to date. Here’s the breakdown:

(Source: Native platforms) 

Naturally, as people were reminded of the artist and her enduring talent, they headed to music services to get reacquainted. As a result, Chapman’s music began showing on iTunes charts globally.

Release Canada 🇨🇦 USA 🇺🇸 Germany 🇩🇪 France 🇫🇷 Australia 🇦🇺 UK 🇬🇧
Albums Greatest Hits 22 23 94 92
Tracy Chapman 16 11 71 96 66 96
New Beginning 184
Where You Live 1
Singles Fast Car 65 67
Talkin’ Bout a Revolution 46 23
Give Me One Reason 66


So there you have it, I’m sure this performance went some way in pushing the vote in the direction of common sense and democracy. For an artist who doesn’t “do” social media, turns out she can certainly cause quite the stir on there. I bet her feature phone has been non-stop!

Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another five years until she graces our screens again.

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Tracy Chapman performing “Talkin’Bout A Revolution” at Late Night with Seth Meyers on November 3rd 2020

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