Thursday, October 27, 2011

NME's Top 150 Tracks of the last 15 years (1996-2011)

NME has posted their top 150 tracks of the past 15 years.  It's an interesting list, in part, because of how badly the last two decades are underrepresented in Rolling Stones top 500 song list, even in the 2010 update.  As one might expect, it's overly dominated by British guitar bands, especially ones that were edgy enough to stay off the US pop charts, but not edgy enough to stay off the UK pop charts.

Among the top 10, we find the Libertines (not in the Rolling Stones top 500), the Verve (#392 RS greatest songs of all time), Amy Winehouse (RS #194), Hot Chip (not on RS list), The White Stripes (#286 RS with a different song), The Killers (not on the RS list), The Strokes (RS #478), Outkast (RS #182), Arcade Fire (not on the RS list), and Radiohead (#257 on the RS list).  I was surprised the Arctic Monkeys didn't make the top 10 for NME, but they're right there at #11.  They don't make the RS list.  They should.

Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" the only song on the RS top 500 from the last 15 years (coming in at #100 no less) is at #32 on the NME list.  So the fair comparison here is that RS puts Crazy at #1 for the last 15 years vs. NME putting it at #32.  It was at #27 on my own list of the top 300 of the 2000s, but most of the songs and artists ahead of it aren't on either the NME or RS lists.  If we restrict to the sorts of artists that RS and NME care about, I think RS came closer to getting that one right ('cuz you know there's a right and wrong here, right?).

The NME webpage is nice if you want links to youtube videos and you want to view it as a countdown ten songs at a time.  If you want to skim the list with fewer clicks, it's available in more of a list format at Vinyl Surrender.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One Hit Classic Rock Wonders

For all the interest in one-hit-wonders, the topic is always narrowly defined as artists who had one big top 40 hit.  I've always wondered about those bands who were mostly album rock bands, who toured a lot, and had a following, and weren't generally flash in the pans, who have just one song regularly played on classic rock radio.

Towards this end, I've gone through the bonus section on Classic Rock Tracks (1964-1980) from Joel Whitburn's "Rock Tracks" book.  The book is mostly a compilation of the chart histories for the Billboard "Mainstream Rock" and "Modern Rock" charts.  It's not actually clear how the Classic Rock Tracks list was compiled, but I think it's a nice list.  Here is every artist that is listed once and only once on that list with a classic rock track from the 60s or 70s (in alphabetical order).

Ace - How Long (75)
Gregg Allman - Midnight Rider (73)
Amboy Dukes - Journey to the Center of Your Mind (68)
Argent - Hold Your Head Up (72)
Average White Band - Pick Up The Pieces (74)
Elvin Bishop - Fooled Around and Fell In Love (76)
Black Oak Arkansas - Jim Dandy (73)
Blind Faith - Can't Find My Way Home (69)
Blue Cheer - Summertime Blues (68)
Blues Image - Ride Captain Ride (70)
Blues Magoos - (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet (67)
Brownsville Station - Smokin' int he Boys Room (73)
Bubble Puppy - Hot Smoke & Sassafrass (69)
Climax Blues Band - Couldn't Get It Right (77)
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen - Hot Rod Lincoln (72)
Crow - Evil Woman Don't Play Your Games With Me (69)
Rick Derringer - Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo (74)
Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing (79)
Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show - The Cover of Rolling Stone (73)
Dr. John - Right Place, Wrong Time (73)
The Easybeats - Friday on My Mind (67)
Dave Edmunds - I Hear You Knockin' (71)
The Electric Prunes - I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night (67)
David Essex - Rock On (74)
Fever Tree - San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native) (68)
Five Man Electrical Band - Signs (71)
Focus - Hocus Pocus (73)
Dan Fogelberg - Part of the Plan (75)
Free - All Right Now (70)
Ace Frehley - New York Groove (78)
Frijid Pink - House of the Rising Sun (70)
Gary Glitter - Rock and Roll Part 2 (72)
Golden Earring - Radar Love (74)
Norman Greenbaum - Spirit in the Sky (70)
The Hollies - Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress) (72)
The Ides of March - Vehicle (70)
Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (68)
It's a Beautiful Day - White Bird (69)
Joe Jackson - Is She Really Going Out With Him? (79)
Tom Johnston - Savannah Nights (79)
Rickie Lee Jones - Chuck E.'s in Love (79)
King Crimson - Court of the Crimson King (69)
Lighthouse - One Fine Morning (71)
Nick Lowe - Cruel to Be Kind (79)
MC5 - Kick Out the Jams (69)
McGuinn, Clark, & Hillman - Don't You Write Her Off (79)
Don McLean - American Pie (72)
Lee Michaels - Do You Know What I Mean (71)
Molly Hatchet - Flirtin' With Disaster (79)
Mott the Hoople - All The Young Dudes (72)
Mountain - Mississippi Queen (70)
Graham Nash - Chicago (71)
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Mr. Bojangles (71)
Orleans - Dance With Me (75)
Pure Prarie League - Amie (75)
Question Mark and the Mysterians - 96 Tears (66)
Quicksilver Messenger Service - Fresh Air (70)
Rainbow - Since You Been Gone (79)
Ram Jam - Black Betty (77)
Rockets - Oh Well (79)
Roxy Music - Love is the Drug (76)
Leon Russell - Tight Rope (72)
Sanford/Townsend Band - Smoke From a Distant Fire (77)
The Seeds - Pushin' Too Hard (67)
The Shadows of Knight - Gloria (66)
Carly Simon - You're So Vain (73)
Small Faces - Itchycoo Park (68)
Patti Smith Group - Because the Night (78)
Sniff 'N' The Tears - Driver's Seat (79)
The Status Quo - Pictures of Matchstick Men (68)
Stealer's Wheel - Stuck in the Middle With You (73)
Al Stewart - Year of the Cat (77)
Strawberry Alarm Clock - Incense and Peppermints (67)
Sugarloaf - Green-Eyed Lady (70)
Ten Years After - I'd Love to Change the World (71)
Thin Lizzy - The Boys Are Back in Town (76)
Thunderclap Newman - Something in the Air (69)
Pat Travers Band - Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights) (79)
T. Rex - Bang a Gong (72)
The Troggs - Wild Thing (66)
Vanilla Fudge - You Keep Me Hangin' On (67)
Wet Willie - Keep On Smilin' (74)
The Youngbloods - Get Together (67)

Because of the criteria I chose, there are definitely some artists that don't make sense on this list.  This would include individuals or groups that made it big previously or later as part of a group or as a solo act.  It also includes artists that had other hits that just weren't rock hits and a number of artists that avoided one-hit-wonder status by having more hits in the 80s.  Nonetheless, I think this is an interesting collection of songs and artists, many of whom have interesting stories, stories that won't be told on VH1 due to the lack of video evidence.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Best New Wave Albums: US vs. UK Voters

Rate Your Music has a feature that allows users to see the average ratings for albums ranked not just by genre, but also by the country of the voters.  Because ratings are always being added by RYM users, this is not a static list, so you may see slightly different results than I'm talking about here when you click the links, depending on when you're reading this.

I was curious about the best new wave albums as voted by US versus UK voters.  If you look at the US voting, there are 3 Talking Heads records and 3 Elvis Costello records in the top 6.  The Cars come in at #7 and The Pretenders at #8.  The highest The Jam charts is #23.

If you look at the UK voting, I was amazed that Talking Heads still manage 3 of the top 6 albums with Ian Dury, Blondie, and New Order rounding out the top 6.  Elvis is 7th in the UK.  The Jam are there at #8 followed by XTC and The Stranglers.  The Cars show up at #52 in the UK while New Order shows up at #41 in the US.  Ian Dury just barely manages to creep into the top 100 (at #100) in the US.

Talking Heads are also #1 among German voters, and The Feelies (!?) are #2 in Germany with the B-52s at #4.  Japan also gives Talking Heads the top spot and 4 of the top 7 spots.  Japan comes in at #24 in Japan.  Talking Heads are way on top in Australia as well and Split Enz surprisingly couldn't manage any better than #24 there.  In New Zealand, Split Enz come in at #2.

I don't really understand how RYM makes its charts.  Even in Ukraine, Talking Heads are #1, but there's a band with a name I can't spell with the english alphabet that has 4 albums in the top 10 with higher ratings.  I guess their algorithm must involve both average rating and number of ratings.  Anyway, the Talking Heads global dominance in this category is simply astounding.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

1977: List and Music

The narration in the audio for this list isn't in English, so I'm not sure if it's a countdown or a best-of list or if it's just a thematic internet radio show, but I do like it.  It's quite a good mix of some of the very best songs from 1977.  There are too few lists out there that have the likes of Bill Withers, Johnny Paycheck, Suicide, and Peter Gabriel all together, but that's what you need to do if you're going to capture a year.  You can find other years on the same site.