Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rolling Stone vs The People 3: By Decade

Today we look at the number of entries in each top 500 by decade of release - as shown in the following chart.

The Rolling Stone list peaks in the 1970s and then declines each decade thereafter. The People's chart also peaks in the 70s - but has another, lesser peak in the 90s.

Does this mean the Rate Your Music crowd is younger than the Rolling Stone cognoscenti - or just hipper? For my money the 90s were better musically than the 80s - so The People's chart rings truer to me. And also the stronger showing of jazz and art rock that we've observed so far in The People's chart suggest they may be more musically sophisticated than the Rolling Stone panel.

Both groups agree that the 2000s were no great shakes - and the 2010s aren't shaping up too well either. Interestingly Rolling Stone have both the oldest and newest albums, with Robert Johnson - The Complete Recordings (c. 1928) and Bob Dylan - Love and Theft (2011). Both also include Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010).  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rolling Stone vs The People 2: Best Albums

Last post we looked at favourite artists, determined by number of entries in the top 500. This time we'll look at the top 10 albums.

First up is Rolling Stone...

Rolling Stone - Top 10 Albums

1  The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
2  The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds 
3  The Beatles - Revolver 
4  Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited 
5  The Beatles - Rubber Soul 
6  Marvin Gaye - What's Going On 
7  The Rolling Stones - Exile On Main Street 
8  The Clash - London Calling 
9  Bob Dylan - Blonde On Blonde 
10   The Beatles - The Beatles (White Album)

Really? All worthy albums, but a bit of a yawn - four Beatles, two Dylans, Stones, and Beach Boys. In fifty years have The Beatles really dominated to that extent? The only slightly raised eyebrow here is London Calling - the only album in the top 10 that isn't from the golden era of the mid 60s to early 70s. This is an old list - the median year of issue is 1966.5.

Rate Your Music's charts weight scores according to the number of ratings received. So an album rated by 20,000 users with an average score of 4.2 will rank higher than an album with an average of 4.3 that has only been rated by a handful of users. I thought it might be interesting to compare the weighted and unweighted charts.

The People - Top 10 Albums (Weighted)

1   Radiohead - OK Computer  
2   Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon  
3   The Beatles - Revolver  
4   The Beatles - Abbey Road  
5   The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico  
6   Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here  
7   The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band  
8   Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited  
9   Miles Davis - Kind of Blue  
10 King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King 

Out go Pet Sounds, Rubber Soul, What's Going On, Exile on Main Street, London Calling, Blonde on Blonde and The White Album.

In come OK Computer, DSOTM, Abbey Road, Velvet Underground, WYWH, Kind of Blue and In the Court...

Overall that's not a bad swap for my taste. It seems The People have a more arty bias than the critics, with two Floyds, Radiohead, Crimson and Miles coming into the list. Though not as old as the Rolling Stone list, this is still a surprisingly old list with median date of 1968.

The People - Top 10 Albums (Unweighted)

1   Charles Mingus - The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady  
2   The Beatles - Abbey Road  
3   John Coltrane - A Love Supreme  
4   The Beatles - Revolver  
5   The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico  
6   Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited  
7   Miles Davis - Kind of Blue  
8   David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars  
9   Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here  
10 Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home

Whoa! Two more jazz artists make it into the top 10 when number of ratings isn't a factor. Notwithstanding, Mingus still received 4,878 ratings - that's more than a handful of enthusiasts. But that's an even older list - nothing newer than WYWH in 1975 - with a median release date of 1965.5.

If I was looking for a desert island selection, I'd be happiest with The People's weighted list - but The People's unweighted list is pretty interesting too. Love Supreme and Ziggy Stardust are tempting.  For my money both People's lists are better than the Rolling Stone list.

Rolling Stone vs The People 1: Favourite Artists

A couple of years ago there was a book published called "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die". I blogged a bunch of stories comparing that list with the top 1001 albums as voted by the music loving public at Rate Your Music.

Just recently Rolling Stone's "500 Best Albums of All Time" appeared on news stands, so I thought it would be interesting to compare the tastes of music industry cognoscenti (as chosen by Rolling Stone) to those of "The People" (as represented by Rate Your Music as at 12 July 2012). The next few posts will compare the lists in various ways.

Today we'll look at favourite artists. Here are the top ten artists from each list, along with the number of entries in the list.

Rolling Stone - Top Ten Artists
1= Bob Dylan (10)
1= The Beatles (10)
1= The Rolling Stones (10)
4. Bruce Springsteen (8)
5. The Who (7)
6. Various Artists (6)
7= Bob Marley & The Wailers (5)
7= David Bowie (5)
7= Elton John (5)
7= Led Zeppelin (5)
7= Radiohead (5)
7= U2 (5)

Ok, so there's 11 artists (excluding Various) because 6 artists tied for 7th place. That's a pretty good list - but its very white, very English and very classic rock.

Here's how the people voted:

The People  - Top Ten Artists

1= John Coltrane (9)
1= Miles Davis (9)
3. The Beatles (8)
4= Black Sabbath (6)
4= Bob Dylan (6)
4= David Bowie (6)
4= Led Zeppelin (6)
4= Neil Young (6)
4= Pink Floyd (6)
10. Radiohead (5)

Its a lot more jazzy, still very white, English and classic rock (although slightly less so).

We lose The Rolling Stones, Springsteen, The Who, Bob Marley, Elton and U2 - and pick up John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sabbath, Neil Young and Pink Floyd. For my personal taste that's a good swap - and I'd be happier with The People's list on a desert island.