Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12 Extremely Erroneous Comparisons About Popular Music


I’m writing today in response to a blog post that was forwarded to me by my best friend: 12 Extremely Disappointing Facts About Popular Music. The blog, posted about a month ago on Buzz Feed, draws comparisons between Ke$ha and The Beatles, Katy Perry and Michael Jackson, and Billy Ray Cyrus and Bob Marley, among others, and implies that due to sales or chart positions, the former artists of the comparisons are greater than the latter. The author chides the readers for “letting this happen.” But many of his facts are outright false or can qualify as an “apples and cats” comparison.

Creed has sold more records in the US than Jimi Hendrix

Let’s start with the most obvious, and we’ll revisit these two reasons often. First, the population of the US in 1970 was just under 203.4 million. The population of the US in 2000 was just over 281.4 million, a growth of over 78 million people. More people equals more people buying records. Second, music is increasingly easier to come by now, given that a click of a mouse in the comfort of your own home can almost instantaneously deliver a single for about a dollar. These two reasons alone could nullify many of the 12 disappointing facts, or at least provide a logical explanation for why these things have happened.

But what about the actual numbers? According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Creed has certified 25 million record sales and Jimi Hendrix has certified 22.5 million. However, the RIAA tracks certifications of shipped units, not actual sales. Additionally, the RIAA does not track collaborations or performances with other artists, which comprised the first half of Hendrix’s short-lived music career, and they obviously cannot track the tremendous number of re-sales and bootlegged Hendrix recordings that are in existence. Therefore, finding an accurate number of Jimi Hendrix records sold in the US is nearly impossible. Apples and cats.

Led Zeppelin, REM and Depeche Mode have never had a number one single. Rihanna has 10

Rihanna is mainstream pop music. Zep, REM and Depeche Mode were never mainstream pop. Apples and cats. Besides that, the claim as worded by the author is completely erroneous. Depeche Mode had 4 number ones on the US Modern Rock charts and 9 number ones on the US Dance Charts, not to mention the number ones in Italy, Sweden, Germany and other countries. REM has had number ones on the US Mainstream Rock charts and the US Alternative charts. Zeppelin didn’t release many singles in the first place (only 16, compared to Rihanna’s 42) but “Whole Lotta Love” did reach number one in other countries.

If you really want to make a valid comparison, Rihanna has never had a number one album in the US. Zeppelin? Has had SIX. REM has had two. Even Depeche Mode has had one. So even though their singles might not have done all that great in the US, their albums as whole works have charted higher than hers.

Ke$ha’s “Tik-Tok” sold more copies than ANY Beatles single

Pardon me for my tackiness, but who gives a crap about Beatles’ SINGLES? The Beatles were an album band. Fans couldn’t get enough of the Fab Four and went directly for the entire collection rather than a single song. So given the Two Main Reasons, a Ke$ha single has sold more than a Beatles single? Apples and cats, my friend. Consider this: The Beatles’ self-titled album released in 1968 certified over 19 million copies in the US alone, and that’s just ONE of their twelve studio albums. Let’s see Ke$ha pull that one off.

Flo Rida’s “Low” has sold 8 million copies – the same as The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”

See previous paragraph. The only thing this factoid “proves” is that Flo Rida sucks even harder than Ke$ha, and from what I’ve heard, that’s quite an accomplishment.

The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” is more popular than any Elvis or Simon & Garfunkel song

More popular according to what standards and criteria? Popularity can be completely subjective. Without any factual information to compare the two, this statement is completely invalid.

Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You” sold more copies than any Queen, Nirvana, or Bruce Springsteen record

Celine Dion is a world-renowned vocalist with a career spanning over 30 years. Most of her music isn’t really my cup of tea, but I hardly think her album sales should make any fan of Springsteen, Nirvana, or Queen feel the need to jump off a bridge. They aren’t even remotely the same genre. The Real World has been on TV for more seasons than ER. You ER fans should be ashamed of yourselves for comparing apples and cats!

Same with Shania Twain’s “Come On Over”

Same argument as the previous paragraph, but minus about thirteen years in the business.

Katy Perry holds the same record as Michael Jackson for most number one singles from an album

Katy Perry had five number one singles from her 2010 album, “Teenage Dream.” Michael Jackson had five number one singles from his 1987 album, “Bad.” On the other hand, “Bad” sold over 8 million copies in the US alone and “Teenage Dream” sold under 2 million. I doubt that Katy will be taking the King of Pop’s place anytime soon. But having said that, Katy does seem to be shooting toward Pop Princess status, so kudos to her.

Barbra Streisand has sold more records (140 million) than Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash, and Tom Petty combined

See also: Celine Dion, but add about 23 years to her career.

People actually bought Billy Ray Cyrus' album “Some Gave All…” 20 million people. More than any Bob Marley album

False. Bob Marley’s “Legend” sold 25 million copies worldwide.

The cast of “Glee” has had more songs chart than the Beatles

This is the most blatant case of apples and cats in the entire article. The cast of “Glee,” while an undoubtedly talented bunch, release several songs available by digital download (see the Two Main Reasons) for every episode aired. However, the vast majority of those songs only chart for one week, all but five are cover songs, and only one ever reached number one; “Gives You Hell” was number one on the Irish Singles Chart. That hardly makes the cast of Glee greater than The Beatles.

This guy exists

(Followed by a picture of Justin Bieber.)
As far as teen idols go, I’d rather my child be a Bieber fan than a fan of Jamie Lynn Spears (pregnant at sixteen) Lindsay Lohan (substance abuse) Paris Hilton (substance abuse, sex tape, no discernible talent) or Britney Spears (just generally bonkers.) At least Bieber is still a good influence, for the time being anyway. Save the Bieber hate for when the scandals hit.

Author’s note: the paternity suit has not been proven and I reserve my judgment until then. Also, my daughter hates Bieber so I’m not simply saying this for her sake. Remember, your generation had embarrassing teen sensations too.

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