Monday, August 31, 2009

Powerchord Rankings

Alright, time for everyone's favorite feature on Blogometrics: "Smack" talk. This time, Smack and I try to apply a little crossover technique to fuse the world of sports and the worlds of music. Well, to be more precise, the world of over-analyzing sports and the world of over-analyzing music - but hey, this is Blogometrics at its best.

As always, feel free to weigh in by posting a comment, and enjoy.

Blogometrics: Let's see if we can formulate Power Rankings for American rock bands. We'll hash out the criteria as we go along, but basically they have to be an active recording group, from the U.S., with enough clout to gain mainstream exposure/radio play (does that exist?) etc.

Smack: Power rankings... I think this has to be mathematical. Some kind of formula that weighs longevity, how many charting songs, how high they charted, record sales, ticket sales. What else?

B: Alright. I see the need for statistical relevance in coming up with these rankings, but I also think there's a need for categories like "artistic integrity" "originality of sound" "image" etc. Not sure how we'd quantify those "intangibles."

I also think there might be some holes in some of the categories you propose, because Daughtry would be smoking groups like Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, My Morning Jacket, etc. in every category but longevity.

S: I know what you mean, but I feel like we would need to avoid subjectivity in order for this to be legit. Maybe factor in consistency with longevity. Bonus points for the Rock and Roll HOF? Or figure out a way to quantify integrity, originality, and influence.

B: Let me back up - I was thinking this list could mirror NFL or MLB power rankings - and be current. So where you wouldn't put "1986 Mets" on the Top Ten teams in MLB right now, you wouldn't put Toto on this list.

So, let's say that recording was a sport - and the recording season started today. Who are the power players - taking into account only bands that could realistically produce major releases (not simply those with recent records, or those coming out soon)? So, Metallica would be in play, for instance. Still recording, still impactful. Green Day, Kings of Leon, etc.

Essentially, I'd like to try to come up with American Rock's version of NFL Power Rankings as of 8/31/2009.

S: I assume you mean that for instance The Allman Bros Band may not top the list. How strict are you being with the Rock genre? Do crossover acts like Outkast get considered? Given your model, you may have to deal with Daughtry and The Fray near the top.

B: Okay, getting warmer. I would say "no" to Outkast, Lil' Wayne, or any hip-hop acts that are not called the Beastie Boys (who I don't think crack this list anyway).

I think basically it's the point of origin rule: Did this group start out as rock? So Fray - "yes" - regardless of how "hard" they rock." This is really all rock - even rock that has gone in the other direction, like Green Day (moving towards straight 'pop').

I think these are the main players - let me know who I'm leaving out, in your opinion: Kings of Leon, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Daughtry, The Fray, Fall Out Boy, My Morning Jacket, MGMT, Springsteen, Wilco.

There are others...but let's start to flesh this out.

S: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The White Stripes, The Strokes, Third Eye Blind, [ugh] Nickelback, Dave Matthews Band...

B: Good calls all, save for Nickelback - they're Canadian.

I think if we're going Top Ten, we can weed out Third Eye Blind and The Strokes - maybe even The White Stripes. Chili Peppers and Dave Matthews Band are definitely up there. I'm going to throw out what I think are the Top Ten, but not in any order:

Kings of Leon, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Daughtry, Fall Out Boy, Pearl Jam, Wilco, Dave Matthews Band, My Morning Jacket.

The next tier is crowded, and there could be a few in this group that force out some of the "Top Ten" I just named. Here are the next few: Weezer, Linkin Park, Creed (who's "back" I guess)...any others?

S: Tool, The Killers, and Ben Harper are at least in the second tier. I don’t know about Fall Out Boy being top 10. Also recently reunited is Phish. They’re way up there in terms of ticket sales. And they’ve got a new album coming out next week.

B: Hmmm. I shoot down Ben Harper, but good call on The Killers. Phish is a fringe group as far as Top Ten, and I definitely think Fall Out Boy is in the conversation.

Do you have a prelim Top Ten (ordered or not)?

S: Equally weighing success in radio play, record sales, and concert ticket demand…Green Day, Foo Fighters, DMB, Kings of Leon, Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Killers, Wilco, Phish, The Fray.

B: Is that in order? Either way...

I don't think The Fray beats out Daughtry (I can't believe where this has gone, yet why am I surprised?), and they might not beat out Weezer or Fall Out Boy. As far as Phish, do you think that their record sales will match that of the new Creed album being released in the coming weeks? Because I think the ticket sales will be closer than you think, historically that is, regardless of Phish's reputation as a tour-de-force, so to speak. Creed draws huge quasi-Christian crowds over great swaths of this country - the same places where Phish might not be so hot a draw.

Other than that, it's a solid list. Let's try 1-3:

Green Day, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon?

S: My list was somewhat in order, give or take 2-3 slots for each band.

Green Day is top 3 for sure. I think Foo Fighters outperform Pearl Jam on the radio; not sure how they compare for ticket sales. Pretty sure Pearl Jam have them beat there. Kings of Leon are really hot right now but they still play relatively small gigs. The were at the Paradise within the past year. Good luck trying to get Pearl Jam or Foo Fighters in there without people dying.

B: Good point on the crowd size, but I do think if we're counting the intangibles, Kings of Leon have way more "buzz" right now - and their tunes are crossover hits - "Use Somebody" is (or was recently) Top 40, where I don't think Pearl Jam of the Foos have been there for quite some time. I also think that the Chili Peppers might trump the Foos and PJ on both counts right now - if you're looking at it from a "if a new record and tour launched tomorrow" perspective...

All right, here goes:

1. Green Day 2. Foo Fighters 3. Kings of Leon 4. Pearl Jam 5. Red Hot Chili Peppers 6. Dave Matthews Band 7. Daughtry 8. The Killers 9. Wilco 10. Fall Out Boy

S: I’m ok with losing Phish and allowing Daughtry, but The Fray beats Fall Out Boy. I mean, I admittedly may not have an accurate pulse on the “tween beat” but that’s my opinion regardless.

B: The Fray has had how many "hits" (I know several but Fall Out Boy has had their share)? The Fray plays to what size crowds? The Fray have been on the cover of what magazine how many times? I don't there another band we could slide in at 10? Could we make the case that Weezer is still bigger than either? Metallica? Springsteen?

S: Maybe Springsteen. Probably Springsteen, actually. They (Springsteen and the E Street Band) headlined at Bonnarroo this year, which is a legitimizer. Weezer has tanked so hard that I can’t give them the nod.

B: So, are we good with that as the final Power Rankings (with The Boss at 10)?

If so, has any top ranked group ever had a worse song than '21 Guns'?

S: How about “Hump de Bump” from Stadium Arcadium? Sometimes I think Anthony Kiedis just runs out of lyrics. There was a time when REM was top 10 and I would nominate “Shiny Happy People.”

B: Excellent work, Smack. Not sure "Hump de Bump" was ever holding the "biggest current hit by the biggest current band" title (band, yes - song no), but 'Shiny Happy People' is right there. Actually, 'Nightswimming' and 'Everybody Hurts' might contend as well.

Let's open this up to commenters to get some feedback, and see who and what we might have missed.

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