Friday, August 24, 2007

Spamming the Charts

Responding to my thoughts on Elvis, Michael Neumann argues persuasively in an e-mail that the whole subject of Elvis and race is far more complex than either Peter Guralnik's op-ed or my response to it would suggest.

Most interestingly, he observes that Presley's embrace of blues took place at a time when black audiences had already begun turning away from 'old-fashioned' music, toward crooners, jazz, vocal group music and other less 'country' material.

By way of illustration, Michael notes that 'Ricky Nelson had three times as many entries into the R&B charts between 1949 and 1971 as Howlin' Wolf.'

That little bit of jaw-dropping trivia provoked me to take a peek at Amazon's best-selling CDs in the Blues category. As of this morning, here are the artists with the Top Ten 'Blues' CDs:
  1. Amy Winehouse
  2. Joe Bonamassa
  3. Norah Jones
  4. Robben Ford
  5. Norah Jones
  6. Chrisette Michele
  7. O Brother, Where art Thou? (soundtrack)
  8. Mavis Staples
  9. Chris Duarte
  10. Robin Thicke
Coming in at No. 11 is that mighty bluesman, John Legend. Nothing against any of these artists, and I don't want to call the genre police, but some of these names just look ridiculous on a blues chart.

If they removed all the albums that have little or nothing to do with blues from the Top 100, Koko Taylor would probably jump all the way from No. 86 into the top tier, where she belongs.

1 comment:

reader said...

Norah Jones is number 3 AND 5.

Nice trick. (Getting on the chart twice, that is. Not Ms. Jones.)