Friday, July 13, 2012

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.


  1. Music taste should probably be added to the pantheon of forbidden topics for polite dinner parties, along with sex, religion and politics, because it fulfils the requirements of being entirely subjective while appearing to have a veneer of objectively assessable quality, and having a high emotional value attached to personal identity.

    My immediate reaction to the first list was "Bullshit!", but then remembered that the list isn't "Top Ten Artists of All Time", but just the artists with the most albums in Rolling Stone's list of top albums. That immediately eliminates any artist, no matter how good, who has released fewer than five good albums.

    The second list mollifies my outrage greatly, because at least Floyd made it. I am a little surprised that Miles Davis is in there at number 1, as although I love his music I didn't realise he'd released 9 albums that would rate so highly.
    And no Michael Jackson? I'm not a huge fan, personally, but I recognise both his musicality and his enormous popularity. And what about those obscure (to me) C&W artists that apparently outsell everybody else on the planet seven times over? Perhaps their fans are just not the sort of people to Rate Their Music.

    1. You're right about country artists. Garth Brooks, who has sold zillions of albums, barely gets a couple of hundred ratings for each album on RYM. Compared with, say Radiohead, who have had over 10,000 ratings for most of their albums.

  2. For me Miles, Floyd and Neil Young are crucial additions to the People's list. Sabbath are a welcome addition for me too.

    Michael Jackson has three entries in the Rolling Stone list and only one on the RYM list.

    Selling lots doesn't appear to be a sufficient condition for getting onto either list - luckily.