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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

11 Disappointing Things About Popular Music

Many things are unfair in life. The 99% work harder than the 1%, but get compensated far less for that work. Financial engineering pays far more than real engineering. And then we have music, which isn't fair in the least.

Here's a list that comes from Buzzfeed that just about says it all.

1. Creed has sold more records in the US than Jimi Hendrix.

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

3. Ke$ha'sTik-Tok” sold more copies than ANY Beatles single.

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

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

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

7. Same with Shania Twain's “Come On Over."

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

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

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

11. The cast of “Glee” has had more songs chart than The Beatles.
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falldowngoboone said...

I think it was Erykah Badu that said in Before the Music Dies that there are the innovators, the ones that truly make something original. They are unafraid. They are also poor because they never make any money. Then there are the people that copy the innovators. Those are the people that make the real money. Then there's the models, the people that are not talented at all, but because of their looks, marketing, etc., they make money super-quick, but burn out just as quick.

No one would deny that the Beatles, Michael Jackson and countless other celebrated musicians were heavily influenced by other obscure, far-less compensated musicians that never saw a dime for the groundwork they laid. Is that unfair? It depends on what you personally find valuable. Most innovators make art for art's sake. Their legacy is undeniable.

And Bobby, today's musicians still have to work hard to be heard, regardless of genre, correct? I don't think Katy Perry just showed up out of nowhere. Lady Gaga struggled for years before finding a way to bridge her passion to the right audience. These artists are innovators too, in their own right. They're not necessarily innovators in music, but innovators none-the-less. Am I wrong?

Francis Buckley said...

And McDonalds sells lots of burgers but that dont make it good food!!!!

Rand Bliss said...

Depressing to say the least. This article enunciated what I've already felt for years.

Francis, you hit the nail on the head amigo.

"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"

These modern 'artists' mentioned are about as deep as a birdbath in comparison to the legends they've outsold. Proof that the more crap shoved down the collective public's throats, the clueless succumb, relent and buy what is 'told' is popular. No curiosity; can't think or make the effort to go beyond the status quo. Laziness of the ears...

The title of 'legend' must be earned like any other. Doubtful in later years these modern 'artists' will still be respected and remembered as fondly as the greats who came before them.

Kensai said...

Don't you think digital distribution and the population boom has a bit to do with these inflated numbers?

here's a fun fact.. since 1983.. more people have been BORN than have EVER existed prior to that.

Food for thought.

VIOZ said...

I believe mainstream music will eventually become the background noise you hear while you're on the web, so what we're seeing now is it being dismantled.

Björgvin said...

What's Real Engineering?

Unknown said...

It's not the artists of today that are the problem...they are only giving people what they want. It's also not the labels. It's the clamoring of the masses for more easily digestible bubble gum crap that is the real issue. The innovative artists are still out there, but labels don't sign them because their records don't sell as well, and due to the digital revolution eroding their profit margins, they have less capital to risk on artists that are likely to bring only limited returns. That's just business. The only way you will find a major label that will push what's good rather that what's profitable is if some gazillonaire with a passion for music and a complete disregard for profitability starts one. I don't see that happening any time soon.

Anonymous said...

I love how this "list" pretty much hates on female artists and calls it an injustice that there are ladies who have sold more than men. Talk about small minded.

Anonymous said...


Financial engineering pays far **more** than real engineering.

Anonymous said...

From my point of view you're hitting a couple of foul balls with this post Bobby. As was mentioned by Kensai the statistics being compared are far afield (i.e. apples and oranges). The implied derisive comparisons of pop stars like Streisand, Perry, Twain & Dion to "rock" stars may reflect your own taste in music but that only says that your taste differs from the music buying masses. So what?

Your posts are almost always very informative (and for me) thought provoking but this one really hits rock bottom as just bitter and opinionated.

Bobby Owsinski said...


I didn't write this list, I just reposted it because I thought it was interesting.

If you take notice, it says it's from Buzzfeed.

Anonymous said...

It seemed to me that your opening paragraph about "fairness" implied your agreement with the re-posted content. If not then I apologize for interpreting/assuming incorrectly.

Bobby Owsinski said...


I think part of the reason for the numbers is the concentration of marketing more than anything. Modern music marketing was still more or less experimental in the 60s and 70s.

yow said...

What's disappointing about a fantastic singer like Céline Dion selling more than a crappy band like Nirvana?

Jac said...

I think Kensai has a really good point. There are far more people now than there were in the 60's 70's 80's etc.

Also music has become comparitively cheaper to buy and more people have access to equipment that can play music.

The type of equipment that plays music now allows people to do other things whilst listening to music. so there is more oportunity to listen in different enviroments.

I would supsect that the beatles had a far higher % of the potential market than the modern artists mentioned.


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