Why It’s Finally Time to Get Rid of Music Charts

I discovered record charts in junior high school. Trying, yet again, to be cool, I started listening to Z-100, the local New York City Top 40 station. I was shocked to learn that all of pop music could be reduced to 40 songs. It seemed way too small. At the time, it felt like Madonna must have had 50 top-10 hits all by herself. I eventually found my way off of Top 40 into the heavy metal parking lot that was suburban Queens in 1988, but I remained fascinated by the idea of record charts and how something as personal and as expansive as music could be distilled to a chart position. It’s why I read with interest about Rolling Stone delaying the launch of their own music chart, which was supposed to use an algorithm to figure out and weight what people are actually listening to nowadays. Music charts used to be simple things. (And they sure as hell didn’t get sued by pissed-off DJs.) People either bought a single/album, or they listened to it on the radio. Now, as Rolling Stone has learned, it’s gotten more complicated. There’s streaming. There are online radio stations. There are podcasts. And […]

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles: When the Fab Four Met Ed Sullivan

The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, Courtesy of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery “Struck by lightning.” That’s how my father describes the sensation of watching The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. “I had never been so excited by any musical group or performance like that.” It’s a definitive event from his childhood — as it was for millions of other Americans — as monumental as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy or the Apollo 11 Moon landing. The next day at school, it was all he and his classmates (and their teachers) wanted to talk about; in the days that followed, he remembers spinning his copy of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” while he and his sisters pretended to be The Beatles, playing along on broomsticks as if they were guitars. [embedded content] Listening to him talk about his memories of that performance 55 years ago, I realize that it can never happen again. The world’s gotten smaller, but the culture’s gotten larger; TVs have more than three channels, and “rock music” is no longer synonymous with “pop music.” It’s impossible now for any musical act, let alone a rock […]

Artists Reflect on 25 Years of Green Day’s Dookie

This week marks the 25th anniversary of Dookie, the record from East Bay punk trio Green Day that brought punk back into the mainstream, inspired a decade of mall-punk imitators, and gave zealous teens everywhere one more chance to debate the meaning of the word “sellout.” To mark the occasion, we’ve asked a few of our favorite older and new artists from across the last quarter-century to reflect on Green Day’s major-label breakthrough and to help us find a little new perspective on a record that, whether we realize it or not, many of us still know by heart. As it turns out, it was anything but pulling teeth to get them to come clean… __________________________________________________________ First Impressions of Green Day and Dookie Green Day at 924 Gilman by Murray Bowles Jon Ginoli (Pansy Division): I first encountered Green Day when their first album came out, because I was a sales rep for Rough Trade Distribution. I was in their San Francisco office, and we distributed a lot of smaller labels, and people were asking for two records: Green Day and Operation Ivy. They seemed to have gotten to be popular sellers without any kind of advertising or promotions. For […]