What do Led Zeppelin, Chuck Berry,
Queen, the Beach Boys, Diana
Ross, the Grateful Dead, The Who, The
Kinks, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Janis Joplin, Buddy
Holly, The Doors, Bob Marley, and Neil
Young all have in common?
None of these acts have won a Grammy.
Here are some more thought-provoking
music-biz facts for you:
1. Ke$ha’s “TiK ToK” sold more copies
than any Beatles single.
2. Rihanna has 10 No. 1 singles and
six Grammy Awards. Led Zeppelin
has 0 and 0.
3. Lil Wayne has charted the most
Billboard Hot 100 hits (109) of
any solo artist. Before Wayne, Elvis
Presley held the record with 108
Hot 100 hits. But let’s remember the
King’s chart successes transpired over
the course of 54 years, starting in
1958 when Billboard introduced
the Hot 100.
4. Flo Rida’s “Low” has sold 8 million
copies in five years. The Beatles’ “Hey
Jude” has sold 8 million copies as well,
but it took 44 years.
Has the world gone mad?
I’ve had my suspicions for a while that
the world is, if not completely mental, not
too far off. When police covered unarmed
peaceful protesters with pepper spray at UC
Davis, that felt pretty loco. It seemed clearly
insane when a nut job in Albany, Georgia,
firebombed a Taco Bell for not including
enough meat in his chalupa. But those are
just a few isolated lunatics.
Lil Wayne nabbed four Grammy Awards for
his multi-platinum album, Tha Carter III.
I’m more concerned when the total
communal semi-unconsciousness makes
gaga decisions like embracing such unfunny
comedians as Louie Anderson or Dane
Cook, and celebrating unhealthy, malnourished
supermodels. When the populace
embraces mediocrity over brilliance, I
sense a collective crazy.
Unlike other art mediums, great music
does not cost any more than not-so-great
music. It’s like you could have an original
da Vinci in your home for the same price
as a Dale Earnhardt Commemorative
NASCAR dinner plate. Sales figures indicate
that people tend to ignore the work of
the masters in favor of the less masterful.
Why are people filling their lives with uninspired
music when there’s so much great
stuff out there? There should be room in
your iPod for the sublime in addition
to whatever is currently trendy.
Personally it bothers me that Grammy-winning
Creed has sold more CDs in
the U.S. than my non-Grammy-winning
hero, Jimi Hendrix. There’s nothing wrong
with Creed—they’ve done some good
music and have enjoyed a ton of success,
but most would agree that Creed’s
sound is derivative, while Hendrix’s artistry
was fueled by an incredibly creative
mind. I’ll bet if you asked Creed guitarist
Mark Tremonti—a great player in his
own right—he’d probably agree that his
fans should pick up a copy of Are You
Experienced or Axis: Bold As Love for their
collections to play between “With Arms
In America, our music is a bit like our
food. McDonalds earns $21 billion in
annual profits and while no one over age 6
would argue this is the best food you can
buy, a whole lot of us gravitate toward this
not-too-fair fare. We see an advertisement
with people apparently enjoying a Big Mac
and the next thing you know, we’re zombies
placing our McOrder in the drive-in.
At a session in London, I heard a term
that perhaps defines this phenomenon:
As defined by urbandictionary.com,
shitegeist is: “That which is popular but
ultimately worthless, often based upon
media-based images and embodying a
crippling shallowness. By its nature, transitory,
so today’s shitegeist is tomorrow’s
chip wrappings. Derived from Zeitgeist,
but embodying the meaningless of postmodern
Like low-rise, pre-ripped $300 jeans and
blinged-out iPhone cases, our music drives
our economy while driving us to a more
superficial life experience.
But then again, who am I to criticize
music taste? The media spills over with
bitter bastards tearing down what others
create. While doing research for this
column, I found Blender magazine’s “Top
50 Worst Songs of All Time.” Blender’s
list contains plenty of refuse I’d rather not
hear again, but it also held many songs I
like—and some I love. What’s wrong with
“The End” by The Doors
“What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes
“Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart
“We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel
“From a Distance” by Bette Midler
“Your Body Is a Wonderland”
by John Mayer
“Kokomo” by The Beach Boys
Hell, I’m sappy enough to even like
“The Greatest Love of All” and “Ebony
and Ivory,” (both on Blender’s list). They
seem kind of beautiful and poetic. I’ve had
a few publishing deals and earned decent
money writing songs that are not nearly
this good. In fact, I’ve written plenty of
terrible songs and got paid to do it. This
makes me worse than the worst. And yet,
as bad as much of my work may be, I’ve
never had great success. I’ll just keep aiming
for the stars, hitting the gutter, and
hoping for the best.
is a Nashville multi-instrumentalist
best know for his work in television, having lead the band for all six
season of NBC's hit program Nashville Star
, the 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 CMT Music Awards, as well as many specials for GAC, PBS, CMT, USA and HDTV.
John's music compositions and playing can be heard in several major label albums, motion pictures, over a hundred television spots and Muzak... (yes, Muzak does play some cool stuff.) Visit him at youtube.com/user/johnbohlinger