Monday, September 15, 2008

A Disturbing Trend

Thumbed through Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits, 4th Edition by Fred Bronson, meaning I perused every list, but only the top 30 or so.

My collection of classic rock and pop is pretty complete these days, but I have never had the opportunity to view old BB lists, so wanted to see if there was any cool classic tunes I'd forgotten. Seems I haven't missed a trick.

Besides the year by year listing, it also listed top songs by artists, producers, labels, and a few genres. What an interesting way to slice things up. It pointed out something I found kinda disturbing. The years I thought were pretty much the worst on record for popular music - those being the years rap dominated the charts - which is roughly the middle 90s to the early 00s - are the years when sales were amazingly high, so they dominate the "top 5000 hits of the rock era" chart ("The Macarena" is No. 3, for crying out loud). Yes, that means that P-Diddy and JLo pretty much have high higher sales on singles than the Beatles or the Stones or Bruce (or anyone you care to name), save for perhaps Elvis. That just made me sad.

Oh, and probably the best producers of modern rock, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, weren't included in the producers section.

The other trend is that for most of the big deal artists listed, like Billy Joel, the Beatles, and so on, many of their latter hits had much better sales than the hits that made them stars in the first place. Often these late songs aren't nearly on par with the early stuff.

Thus, I conclude the Billboard charts are not really great guides to the best music has to offer because the sales do not equate to the quality of the song (see "The Macarena" above).

Another proof of this: two hits that showed up on chart after chart were Debbie Boone's "You Light Up My Life" and Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons." The top one-hit wonder of all time was "In the Year 2525."

The book is searchable on Amazon, so if you wanna see how faves of yours stack up on the charts, have a go.

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