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What's the formula for determining it?
I'm using a logarithmic function of the AM positions for the 6 most acclaimed albums and songs by each artist. Albums are weighted twice as much as songs (as there are roughly twice as many album critics lists).
Henrik. I greatly admire the work you have done in compiling and creating your web site. It is fascinating. However, I do feel that the end product of Artists lists is fatally flawed in a number of ways. From a personal point of view I find it incredible that artists such as Oasis, Sex Pistols, The Police ( for god's sake ), Beck and others can be ranked higher than my own personal favourite artist of all time, Steely Dan. To me and I am sure many others,this simply cannot be the case. Steely Dan are rightfully regarded as legends in terms of songwriting and musicianship and are surely worth a higher position than number 61 in your list. Whilst I am sure The Beatles, Stones,Floyd, Zep, Dylan and others will always claim the top spots in all time lists because of their popularity rather than songwriting pedigree, in my opinion in certain cases ( Dylan and The Beatles excepted ), surely a higher placing for Steely Dan is merited ??
The reasons seem fairly clear. Firstly,looking at the critics lists you apear to be drwaing from, they are all based on album choices rather than books or lists that ask critics the simple question name your favourite artists of all time, e.g. favourite 10 or 20. Thus you end up with the Bloody awful Sex Pistols with their one 'shock, horror' album, which nobody I know ever listens to any more, getting a totally undeserved placing way above their overall merits as an artist. Surely critics need to be asked who are the best artists of all time, rather than what are the best singles and albums ( singles by the way should simply not be included in any way in terms of an all time artist ranking as they are complete one offs. Every critic or artist worth his salt knows that Steely Dan released five or six absolute classic or 5 star albums and that does not include the votes for The Nightfly by Donald Fagen solo ! Yet the Pistols are regarde by your list as better than Steely Dan ! You cannot be serious.
Secondly, you do not seem to have asked many, or any, musicians to rate their favourites or choose them. Surely any list that would be taken seriously should include the views of the artists themselves or the producers, engineers, arrangers, etc,etc. If you ask a pro footballer he wil tell you the awards he covets more than any are the ones chosen by his fellow footballers, the players player of the year, etc.
Finally, I wonder if you have got a genuine cross section of music styles in your critics lists ? It appears they are mainly rock and roll style pubications, rather than jazzier based ones, which means certain artists are always regarded more highly than others, i.e. those that are based around bluesy or jingly jangly guitars rather than bands with horn sections !! Know what I mean ?!!
This is in response to peterevans' post.
Your suggestion that critics' "Best Artist" lists might be used to compile a list similar to Henrik's top albums and top songs lists is interesting, and in theory probably do-able (though I would hesitate to pile more work on Henrik).
I also think it would be interesting to compile lists of musicians' favorite albums/songs/artists, although I personally do not believe that musicians' opinions are any more valid than those of music critics--and on a practical level, they're probably harder to find. And, for that matter, there's not really a clear line to be drawn between the two; witness Elvis Costello's list, included here...is he writing as a musician or a critic?
On another issue, I think it's a mistake to complain that one's own favorites (artists, songs, or albums) have been "snubbed" in the lists compiled here. To begin with, there's no snubbing going on here as such; Henrik's nifty algorithms use the data he compiles to generate results; if critics, on balance, prefer Fleetwood Mac to Run-D.M.C., that's just how it is.
In another thread recently, somebody (sorry I can't find it to give credit) pointed out that no one person is going to be completely happy with a consensus list like the ones here. You, I, and everyone else on this site can and does spot what we think are sins of omission and comission. For you, these are the Dan and the Pistols, respectively. For me, I'm flabbergasted that X is #254 but Madonna #48. But I don't take it as a personal affront.
Full disclosure: I probably wouldn't be writing this if you had not demeaned several artists I like a lot (all of them except Oasis).
The whole point of these lists is that the opinions of individuals (or groups or editorial boards or whatever) are placed side-by-side and compared. For me, that's the glory of this site--that these lists include everyone from Jimmie Rodgers to Miles Davis to the Monkees to Bauhaus to Nelly Furtado.
Of course I consult these lists to see where my favorites stack up, but what's really fun is discovering (or rediscovering) music which has been obscure to me--music that I've never heard, or never given much attention to. Acclaimed Music is a triumph of breadth over fanaticism.
As for the predominance of rock over jazz, well, them's the breaks--the boundaries have to be drawn somewhere, or things will get unwieldy...should Henrik include lists of show tunes? polkas? opera? I myself can't see that jazz (and jazz-influenced rock) gets particularly short shrift--the giants (Davis, Coltrane, Monk) are well-represented, and the scope runs from the Original Dixieland Jazz Band to TV on the Radio.
Of course, individual opinions are just as valid as a consensus (and ultimately more revealing), but that's why:
a. Henrik provides links and references to the lists he uses, and
b. we have this forum, so we can, in our own lists, celebrate the music which particularly moves each of us.
I understand that this site is based on critics, but since mostly rock critics do lists & rankings, it is easy for a well known artist that is mainly known for rock to collect points on this site. Since Steely Dan blend too many styles, it's like the saying, "please all & you please no one".
It seems to me that Steely Dan get hated by more critics than deserved, because those critics that are critics because they couldn't become musicians themselves prefer punk for its simplicity, therefore they relate to it more in their own little world.
I feel that there should be way way more soul/jazz/funk on this site, but I understand that Henrik won't find lists & sources, since this music is known for being kept rare & used by hip-hop dj's instead of getting the attention of rock critics who make lists. Great points have been made by the last two posts, but if the sex pistols/oasis are higher than Steely Dan, then that's clear evidence of what I just tried to point out in this post.
I enjoy music from the Sex Pistols and Oasis more than any Steely Dan stuff, so I guess that too is a matter of opinion. As far as the 'over representation' of rock goes, most of the revolutionary stuff was done in or in relation to the catagory rock, so it doesn't strike me as very odd.
I for one, am (mostly) in agreement with the list. I don't like rap or metal much, and as such I don't understand why 50 Cent is ranked higher than for example The Monkees or Meat Loaf.. but hey, the list features a lot of different music styles so there's bound to be something in there one doesn't like.
That being said, just because you like Steely Dan, doesn't mean everyone does.
I think that Henrik’s method of determining an artist’s ranking based on the positions of their albums and singles is superior to one that would determine the list based on ‘greatest/favorite artists of all time’ lists. I think the latter lists are based more on subjective opinions than objective ones, leading to situations where one might place Tom Petty above Nirvana just because he’s been around longer, or maybe putting Nirvana in the top three just because they released albums in the critics lifetime. Also, those lists seem to favor highly successful acts over lesser known ones (where would bands like Kraftwerk, Neutral Milk Hotel and Guided By Voices rank on those lists?).
Since Henrik’s method is completely removed from all of that, I think it makes the top artist list more credible and, generally, harder to dispute than if it were based only on ‘greatest artists ever lists. For example, R.E.M. outrank U2 because R.E.M.’s albums are more acclaimed, not because they have sold more of them (they haven’t, U2 have sold about 50 million more worldwide I believe). I’m not saying that the AM artist list can’t be disputed, or that I agree with it completely (I don’t, otherwise Fela Kuti would be in the top 100, or at lest have a couple of songs in the top 3000), but it’s the best method available for its purpose.
That's my take on the matter anyway.
Also, I just noticed that 50 Cent does in fact outrank the Monkees. I don't agree with that, but I can see why with the click of a mouse. I can't be the only person that thinks "Last Train to Clarksville" is a top 500 song though, right? I mean if "In Da Club" can be #268. . .
I rarely disagree with the list. I can see that the artists on AM that i dislike are talented musicians. it's just that they don't play music that appeals to me. Their music is good, but it's not "my thing" i guess. 50 cent is actually a good example. I'm impressed by his music. Very impressed. However, i own zero albums, and zero songs, and i only mildly wish to aquire some. I guess what i listen to most and what i think is "good" music are only connected to some degree.
As for artist rankings. I think it's fair to estimate that the vast majority of bands/artists play rock music. So with that in mind, it's not surprising that rock dominates AM. I have faith that bias towards any genre has been accounted for to the best of henrik's ability. Which, i might add, deserves much praise. The amount of work that must have gone into this site is crazy. And i, for one, am very impressed with the result. Yes, AM is my most trusted resource when it comes to music.
Another point worth noting is that in the Q&A section, AM doesn't even claim to be the "final word" on the best albums/artists of all time. In fact, who said the word "best" anyway? Isn't AM trying to represent the most "critically acclaimed" rather than the "best". I'm aware that music critics try to pick the best, however, i'm just highlighting the possibility that the critics might be wrong. My point is that if you think steely dan are better than the sex pistols, them maybe you're right! But even if you are, don't complain here because AM doesn't show what artist is better than another. It just shows which artists are the most critically acclaimed.
P.S. Sorry for speaking for you, henrik. Especially sorry if i got some facts wrong. I just can't help being offended when people pay out your website.
Jeff and Moeboid.You both make some good points, but surely Jeff The Sex Pistols do nto desrve to be higher than the likes of Steely Dan on the strength of one album ? You said their albums are more 'acclaimed'. Acclaimeb by who ? A lot of these critics lists are done by young, British 20 or 30 somethings who listen to 'rock n roll' with guitars or acoustic guitars. They aren't intersted in listening to something with a bit more going on. They are simply fans of guitar thrash or jingly jangly stuff, e.g. the Smiths. This has been the NME and many British 'music' mags for the last 10 or 15 years. Also, how can The Sex Pistols be more acclaimed because of their albums than Steely Dan? The Sex Pistols made ONE album. Steely Dan made six or seven absolutely maginificent 5 star albums !! Surely it would be fairer to ask critics who have been the most consitently great songwriters ( not image makers ) of the last 50 years and then we might get a truly genuine list. The Ps=istols are in the top 50 because of one album. That is total nonsense.
Hey peterevans. Maybe you can do your own site and have Steely Dan as number one if you love them that much, or maybe you should just marry them?