12 Uplifting Facts About Popular Music

Yes, I’ve not posted in ages. Let’s just not talk about it again, shall we?

In response to this, I submit the following:

1. Elvis was, at first, promoted as a singing hillbilly. And old farts complained that he sold more records than Bing Crosby. Time has seen them both deservedly in the pantheon.
2. “Yesterday” has had more covers and more airplay than anything by anyone else ever.
3. In 1966, people bought more singles than they do today; in fact, more than they have in any year since. That’s total, not per capita. If you had a Number One in 1966, it was a bigger achievement than any Number One since. Also, today there are more charts, and different ways of calculating sales. Additionally, charts favour quick, recent sellers (like Rihanna) over steady, older sellers (like Hendrix, Marley, Cash). Oh, and record companies routinely lie. All of which means that worrying over “recent X has had more Number Ones than classic Y” is meaningless.
4. This is Stacey Q. She had two major hits in 1986, which were both rubbish, and 25 years later they are almost never heard.
5. The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” is damn catchy, and may have sold more copies than any Elvis or Simon & Garfunkel song, but that’s not the same as being more popular. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” lives in a special place inside me, where The Black Eyed Peas have never been.
6.For the first half of the last century, no women became multi-millionaires through their efforts as music performers or writers. The music business is still laughably sexist, but there are now dozens of successful, rich and powerful female artists.
7. Same with black men.
8. This is Bros. See the earlier bit about Stacey Q.
9. I happen to think Barbra Streisand, at her best, was better than Pearl Jam. Maybe better than Tom Petty too.
10. I first heard Joanna Newsom on a free podcast, and bought her triple album in minutes online. Very little of that previous sentence made sense 10 years ago.
11. My kids like ELO, Bob Marley, Split Enz, Katy Perry, Mel Torme, Lady Gaga, Avril Lavigne, AC/DC and Adele. They like them all in the same way, blissfully unconcerned with genre or decade.
12. This young woman exists. She sings well, plays instruments, writes her own songs, is very popular, and doesn’t dress like a child prostitute.

2 thoughts on “12 Uplifting Facts About Popular Music

  1. I feel compelled, given time’s subsequent re-appraisal of Ms Swift, to point out that everything I said here is still true. Her songwriting palette has not, shall we say, dazzled us with its varied hues, but she still writes, plays, and presents her ladyparts more or less tastefully. These are qualities to be lauded.

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