First, let’s just get this out of the way.
We Are Young – Fun featuring Janelle Monae
Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
Glad You Came – The Wanted
Part Of Me – Katy Perry
Starships – Nicki Minaj
Young, Wild & Free – Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa Featuring Bruno Mars
Turn Me On – David Guetta Featuring Nicki Minaj
Somebody That I Used To Know – Gotye Featuring Kimbra
We Found Love – Rihanna Featuring Calvin Harris
A lot of questions were raised in last week’s column and rather than try to answer them all one by one in comments, I’ve set to focusing on them here. The most important points were why Popdose is doing this at all, and why don’t we combat the stagnation by focusing on different charts as we go along. Excellent suggestions and thoughts ensued. So long as I haven’t lost my mind entirely, I will continue putting up the top ten songs of the week. The reason why is because it is instructive. As pop culture and pop music fans, we should have some understanding of what is the news of the moment, even if we don’t like it, and even if that news remains the same from week to week.
You will no doubt see it has come to pass yet again this week, with Rihanna still stalking the top ten with the same song that has been here for more than two months. Adele continues to rule, and even as a part of me is thrilled that she is gaining such a massive audience, my exasperation in putting out that same info time and again clearly shows. Well don’t do it then, you say, and that is fine if you’re not writing for a pop culture website. A harder button to press if you are, however, and I don’t make the news, I only report it of my own accord. Again, I feel we have a responsibility to keep the readership apprised of these things, and anything that keeps me from descending into tirades of why the ’70s and ’80s were so much better is probably good for the species overall.
Another suggestion was that we focus on other charts, like the Heatseekers or, perhaps, the rock charts. That’s fine, only they suffer from the same momentum malaise as the top 100. The rock charts finds the unexpected resurrection of Bush (with “The Sound of Winter”) lingering and garage-rockers The Black Keys still clinging to number one with “Lonely Boy.” The Heatseekers is no more dynamic as The Head and The Heart persists in the ranks as they have for most of February and now March. How can you be a heatseeker yet never actually hit the bloody target? To summarize, it would seem each of these charts are as gummed up as the one preceding it, from genre to genre.
The reason for this, aside from my snotty assertion that modern music purchasers are afraid of change, lies in the dichotomy of digital distribution. Given so many options and ease of locating and purchasing the entire grocery store of music, it seems that those who buy hunker down to a single aisle and stay there until the designated leader signals it is okay to move to another aisle. Given something that has almost no limits, they have chosen to limit themselves.
This has a dizzying effect on the industry. Editor In Chief Jeff Giles’ essay regarding Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball echoes what a lot of critics and fans alike have said, and extols the enduring relationship The Boss has with his audience. It has not overwhelmingly translated to digital sales. It has, however, ignited the physical medium markets just as Tony Bennett’s Duets II album did a few months back. Presumed dead mediums are suddenly showing life again because the audiences for these artists are comfortable with vinyl LPs and CDs. Those that are comfortable with Amazon Digital and iTunes appear not. Essentially, we are witnessing the creation of two separate music industries, one that appeals to an older market musically on older formats, and one that is perhaps more youth-driven that dominates the MP3 players, and the twain seldom meet. Both can be equally vibrant provided the content and medium converge properly – otherwise it appears as failure. That music companies still view it all in some unified fashion seems to fail the evidence before them.
I’m not sure how I approach that divide as it is very new territory, that Marshall McLuhan was partially right. The medium is the message, but that precludes the truth there are many mediums, so which one is the most important one? Is there a most important one at all? So, Top of the Charts goes on even as I complain about the lack of freshness that wafts from these mouldering aisles of the top ten, if but to keep an eye on when or if seismic change takes place that unites these two disparate markets, or causes such a rift that to consider one being part of the other no longer seems logical.