Comparing the US and UK Music Charts of the 1960s

It’s been a while since I posted anything, but I wanted to quickly share some information that I’ve gathered that compares how successful artists were in the US and the UK during the 1960s (the plan is to do more decades in the future).

To judge success, I assigned points based upon the Top 40 charts for both countries. The artist with the #1 song for each week got 40 points, the artist with the #2 song for each week got 39. I made sure that, in the case of a duet, both artists received credit; summed it up and did some quick math.

The first chart shows how many times both the US and UK charts shared artists in the Top 10, Top 25 and Top 50 per year. What I was surprised to find was just how different the US and UK charts were. Among the Top 50 artists in each country during the 60s, during the peak of Beatlemania and the English Invasion, there was only an average of 33% overlap between the charts. For the Top 25 and Top 10 artist, the average was even lower, only about 26%.

The next chart shows the artists that had the most success, per year, on both the US and the UK charts. The bar chart shows how successful the artist was in the US that year while the circle shows how successful that same artist was on the UK charts that year.

Next, I wanted to take a look at the artist who had the greatest discrepancy in success for the year between the US and UK charts. Here’s the artists who were more successful on the US charts than the UK charts. I was surprised to see that The Beatles “won” for 1964. It’s not that the Beatles weren’t successful in the UK, it’s just that they were so much more successful in the US than they were in the UK. As you can see, nobody else even came close to being as successful in any year as the Beatles were in 1964 in the US.

The next chart is a reverse of the one above, showing which bands dominated in the UK but were largely absent from the US. Some of these artist I had heard of (Cliff Richard in the early 60s, British Beatlemania of 1963, Englebert Humperdink (???) in 1967 and Tom Jones in 1968). I was also kind of amazed to see Fleetwood Mac here for 1969. That being said, I have absolutely no idea who Jim Reeves and Sandie Shaw were, let alone “Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky Mick and Tich” – what kind of a name is that?

Well, that’s it for now. Stay tuned for the next entry in this series when I take a look at the music charts of the 1970s

Written by Dave Curewitz

Analyzing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Selection Process for 2019

Some people consider the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a bit of an oxymoron, but I’m not one of them. I love rock music and it’s always good to see the musicians who created the soundtrack of your life get their just rewards decades after their initial success. Equally fun is lamenting the bands that got in who you believe are mediocre at best (sorry, but while Journey and Donovan had some good songs, they don’t belong in the same sentence, let alone Hall, as the Beatles or the Beastie Boys).

Whatever your view is on the need for/membership of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, next week marks the official induction ceremonies for the 2019 class. I thought that I’d take a quick look at the artists who were nominated and who got in and see if I can figure out why those who were honored got the call while their fellow nominees did not.

Why were these artist picked?

First, I’d like to look at the following scatter chart that shows:

1) The chart success of the artist (the value on the X-axis). Points were determined by the position of every song by the artist for every week on the Billboard charts given the formula of (101-Position), so having the #1 song for a week gave the artist 100 points while having the #100 song for the week gave you one point. Add all of these points up and you have the value.

2) The “quality” of the artist’s studio albums (the value on the Y-Axis). I pulled the reviews for every studio album for each select artist on allmusic.com and then determined the mean (average) value for each artist.

3) The productivity of the artist (the size of each circle). The bigger the circle, the more studio albums the artist has released.

4) Whether or not the nominee was chosen for induction (the color of the circle). Selected artists have been colored yellow while those who were not are in blue.

Looking at the diagram above, you can see that, roughly speaking, the more an artist is towards the top-right corner, the greater the likelihood that they got in. So, four of the top six artists on the Chart Success metric got in: Janet Jackson (#1), Def Leppard (#2), Stevie Nicks (#4), and the Cure (#6) got in, although LL Cool J (#3) and Rufus & Chaka Kan (#5) did not.

The quality of the artist’s studio albums also seemed to play a smaller role in the band’s induction. Five of the top eight artists got in – Roxy Music (#2), Radiohead (#6), The Zombies (#7), Def Leppard (#8), and Stevie Nicks (#9) all got in, but bands with equal/better quality didn’t get in – MC5 (#1), Rage Against the Machine (#4), and Kraftwerk (#5).

Comparing the two sets of artist, the big differentiation between those who got in and those who didn’t were the chart success of those artists. Ranking the Top Eight quality artists by Chart Success, we get the following list:

There’s a clear correlation with these eight “high-quality” bands. Every artist with more than 1,000 Total Points got in, while those with less than that value did not. Clearly, the Hall of Fame voters were trying to balance the artist’s quality with their marketability.

We can also tell by looking at the data that while productivity did play some factor (One reason why high-quality bands such as MC5 and Rage Against the Machine didn’t get enough Total Points was the small number of studio albums for each band – MC5 only had 3, while Rage only had 4), it wasn’t enough to qualify an artist. The two artists with the most number of albums, John Prine and Todd Rundgren, failed to make the cut. It would appear that while each of these artists had a period of high-quality albums, some of their other work bogged down their score.

The two artists who fell in the middle ground, Rufus & Chaka Khan and LL Cool J, did not achieve enough success or enough quality to earn induction. LL Cool J ranked 3rd for success and his quality score of 3.23 was the same as Janet Jackson’s but she had almost twice the success as the rapper, so that might explain why she got the nod and he did not. Likewise, Rufus & Chaka Khan were in the middle of both the quality and success metric which would explain why they did not get in. Finally, Devo ranked at the bottom of the quality metric (being experimental is great, but sometimes experiments fail) and were rather low on the success metric.

The next thing I’d like to take a look at is the output for each nominated artist. The below timeline shows when an artist released an album. I’ve also color-coded the chart so that artists who were nominated, but not selected, are in blue; while those who were nominated and selected are in yellow:

This is one case, where being too prolific or not prolific enough could hurt you. Four out of the top six most prolific artists and three out of the four least prolific were ultimately not selected. There appears to be a Goldilocks zone of 8-10 albums that would help you get enshrined. This factors more than the years when you released your albums.

The last thing I want to show is which eras were represented by this class. The Zombies were clearly an early/mid 1960s band, and Roxy Music made the mid/late 1970s. The rest of the artists were clearly dominant from roughly 1982 to 1996, with most of them falling off the charts by then (although Ms. Jackson had a reappearance in 2004 when Damita Jo came out and Radiohead a smaller one in 2008 with In Rainbows).

So, that’s a quick analysis of the Class of 2019. As I’m writing this, it seems that there is a lot more that can be done with who is in (and out) of the Hall. Let me think of which avenues I’ll want to investigate, and then I’ll share that data with you.

Written by Dave Curewitz

90s Music: Not What You Remember

When I say “Music of the 90s”, who pops into your head? If you’re a Rock guy like me, bands like Nirvana, The Beastie Boys, Pearl Jam and The Red Hot Chili Peppers may pop into your head. If you’re a fan of Rap, your choices might be N.W.A., Eminem or OutKast. Country fans may think of Garth Brooks, The Judds or The Dixie Chicks.

What would you say then, if I told you while all of these artists were successful and influential; when it comes down to popularity (as measured by how they placed on the Record Charts), none of them were all that meaningful?

I know this sounds counterintuitive, but the attitude people have to “classic” artists today are much different from our attitudes of these artists at that time. Trust me, when I was of music-buying age in the heyday of Grunge, I was listening to geek-rockers like They Might Be Giants and going deep catalog on Steele Dan. It wasn’t until much later that I started enjoying the music of the now-iconic 90s artists.

To show you what artists were actually popular during the 90s, I downloaded the entire Billboard Hot 100 list for each week of the 90s. I then coded it so that the #1 song of the week got 100 points, the #2 song received 99 points all the way down to #100 getting only 1 point. I then did some cross-referencing so that artists got credit for their solo careers, their bands and any collaborations they had. First I grabbed the totals for each artist for each year of the 90s, and when that didn’t show any chart dominance by my preconceived artists of the 90s, I then looked at the Top 100 artists of the decade, figuring that even if none of them were in the Top 10 artists for a year, surely their body of work would land them in the Top 100 of the decade.

That’s when I realized that the real artists of the 1990s were nothing like I assumed.

So what I’ll lay out for you for the rest of this article is the best-charting artists for each year and then I’ll give you the Top 100 for the decade.

1990

Whether you had on your Parachute Pants while singing “U Can’t Touch This” along with MC Hammer, “Vogue”-ing along with Madonna, ripping off Queen and David Bowie with “Ice Ice Baby” or ripping up pictures of the Pope with Sinead O’Conner; 1990 was a transitional year for music. Hair Metal and Synth Pop were dying genres, Nirvana was still a regional band in the Pacific Northwest and The Weeknd, Logic and Iggy Azalea’s greatest accomplishments were coming out of the womb.

It was a strange year all around musically, as the biggest song of the year was actually released in 1965 – The Righeteous Brother’s version of Unchained Melody which hit the charts again thanks to the Patrick Swayze/Demi Moore film Ghost which featured the song prominently. The really weird thing about this song/year; was that both the reissue and a newly-released version hit the chars the same year (the original peaking at #13 and the newer one at #19). Meanwhile, songs that I assumed were more popular, weren’t. Vanilla Ice’s hit was only the 32nd best charting song for the year (after Go West’s “King of Wishful Thinking”) Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” was only at #53, ranking 13 spots behind his other hit song “Have You Seen Her”.

Taking a look at the highest-ranking artists, you’ll see that the biggest artist was 1980s holdover Janet Jackson, who dominated the year with 5 top ten hits with a 6th that would peak at #11. She was followed by… Phil Collins? The sometime Genesis singer/drummer had 4 top ten solo hits to his credit that year. Rounding out the top 5 were Wilson Phillips (with three Top 5 songs, including Hold On and Release me which both topped the Charts), Taylor Dane (also with three) and the aforementioned Madonna who actually had 4 Top 10 songs to her credit. Below those acts were Bell Biv DeVoe, Michael Bolton (seriously, Michael Bolton. Oh 1990, what were you thinking), M.C. Hammer, Depeche Mode and Johnny Gil (the first artist to make me say “Who?” but far from the last).

1991

The idea that the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind instantly changed the musical landscape in 1991 is a fallacy. While the album was released in September of that year, their landmark song didn’t even appear on the Hot 100 charts until December 7th. Now before you give me the “But Smells Like Tear Spirit was released so late” schtik, bear in mind that Bryan Adam’s “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” was released at approximately the same time and still managed to finish 39th for the year, while other songs released in September charted at #45 (Naughty by Nature’s “O.P.P.”), 62 (Prince’s “Cream”), #72 (Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday”), #77 (Guns N’ Roses’ “Don’t Cry”), #82 (Roberta Flack With Maxi Priest’s “Set The Night To Music”), #87 (Amy Grant’s “That’s What Love Is For”), #89 (Curtis Stigers’ “I Wonder Why”). Hell, even Michael-Freaking-Bolton’s “When A Man Loves A Woman” came in at #90 and it came out a full month AFTER Teen Spirit. Sorry Gen-Xers, but the fact is that the record-buying public was much more interested in Boyz II Men’s “Motownphilly”, Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” and Extreme’s “More Than Words” that year. But that’s all going to change in 1992, right (Hint: It doesn’t).

So, now that we determined that not a lot of people were actually buying Nirvana’s music in 1991; who were they listening to? Mariah Carey tops the list with 5,436 points, scoring three Number 1 hits that year (Someday, I Don’t Wanna Cry and Emotions) with a fourth in the Top 10. Far behind her, were C+C Music Factory, Amy Grant (really?), Whitney Houston and Color Me Badd who each had three Top Ten hits. The rest of the Top 10 list is a bit frustrating for me, with future American Idol judge at #6, somebody called Cathy Dennis at #7, (shudder) Michael Bolton at #8, Roxette at #9 and Hair Metal’s Extreme rounding out the list.

1992

For the first time, we see a Gen-X rock band land a song in the Top 10 for the year, but it wasn’t Nirvana. Heralded as it was, Smells Like Teen Spirit only occupied the #58 song for the year (although, to it’s credit, it did reach #6 on the Hot 100 charts – Still, they got beaten out by Genesis’ cringeworthy “I Can’t Dance” which was #41 for the year). Nope, the honor goes to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge” which was #8 for the year. Nine places behind them at #17 was Guns N’ Roses with “November Rain”. Hell, even Toad the Wet Sprocket hit #20 with “All I Want”.So, Rock songs by new bands were hitting the charts, it just wasn’t the ones we immediately think about.

What were the best charting songs of the year, you ask? Glad you ask. Jon Secada’s “Just Another Day” witns the honor, spending 37 weeks on the charts; bollowed by a couply of Baby songs: TLC’s “Baby-Baby-Baby” and Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”. Meanwhile, just how big did House of Pain feel in 1992 only to fade way and Billy Ray Cyrus gave us both “Achy Breaky Heart” and Miley that year.

As for the “Artist of the Year” title, Nirvana ranked a surprisingly low #33 (one slot behind the Chili Peppers and four behind Michael Bolton). That’s not to say that there weren’t successful Rock Acts in 1992, but they were from established acts such as Genesis (#4) and U2 (#10). Meanwhile, the real musical genre winner was R&B. En Vogue topped the list followed closely behind by TLC and Boyz II Men and Color Me Badd. More established R&B artists Michael Jackson adn Mariah Carey grabbed the 6th and 7th slots, Dance Popper Ce Ce Penniston took the 8th spot and Soft Rocker Richard Mark grabbed number 9.

1993

Surely, this is going to be the year that Grunge finally took over the music charts? Um…. No!

Gen-X Rockers continued to chart a few songs on the Top 20 year, but I think my former Record Store Manager wife will start gagging once she hears that it was the Spin Doctors who had the best-charting Rock song that year (#9) and that Nirvana nor Pearl Jam barely charted the Top 100 despite releasing new albums while BritPop stars such as Suede and Blur were totally missing. I’m sure her feelings about the year will be slightly assuaged with Soul Asylum’s Runaway Train hitting the #19 spot. Instead of Grunge Rock, we see the Singles chart topped by Rappers such as Tag Team, Duice and Dr. Dre or R&Bers like Jade, SWV and Silk.

I honestly have absolutely no recollection of SWV, the band that earned the “Artist of the Year” title for 1993. Their songs are a complete enigma to me. I can see that they had three top 10 hits and I even streamed them, but for the life of me, I swear that I never heard a note of their music before; yet somehow they managed to narrowly eke out a victory over Whiteny Houston for that year’s honors, even though Houston was having that monster year that coincided with her Bodyguard soundtrack. Once again, the rest of the charts are dominated by R&B acts (Shai, Janet Jackson, Jade, Brian McKnight, Jon Secada and Michael Jackson all hit the top 10). Dr. Dre is the year’s sole Rapper to chart (#5 for the year). Meanwhile, in the “Year of Grunge”, the only rockers to reach the Top 10, were 80s legends Duran Duran, who had a bit of a resurgance with their Wedding Album.

1994

As I compiled this list, I kept thinking that “Surely, this will be the year for Grunge”; but 1994 was another Lucy-yanking-the-Football moment. It’s not that young rockers didn’t appear at all on the Singles Chart; you have Lisa Loeb’s “Stay (I Missed You)” as the #6 song for the year and Collective Soul’s “Shine” both wound up on the Top 20 for the year; but they were outpaced by aging rockers: John Mellencamp, Prince and Elton John each charted. I suppose that you’d have to call Melissa Etheridge among the new generation of Rockers, but she could hardly be classified as Grunge.

Instead the year belonged to Pop-Rockers such as Ace of Base (with the #1 AND #2 song for the year), with a collection of R&B (All-4-One and Toni Braxton among others) and Soft Rockers (Celine Dion and Richard Mark) dominating the singles chart.

Looking at the artist summaries, the Swedish pop act Ace of Base dominated the charts. Not only were they the first artist to top 7,000 points for a year; they topped 8,000 as well. I kind of feel bad for Mariah Carey, whose 6,929 points would have won any other year; but then I remember that she has fame and millions upon millions of dollars more than me and that sympathy goes out the window. The next three slots were also occupied by African-American women (R&B stars Janet Jackson and Toni Braxton taking spots 2-4 while rappers Salt-N-Pepa taking #5). Meanwhile the bottom half of the Top 10 featured R&B men (Babyface, All-4-One, R. Kelly and Tevin Campbell), with Melissa Etheridge being the only rocker to make the list.

1995

We finally have a year where Rock acts top both the Singles and the “Artist of the Years” charts. Granted, they’re not the critically adored bands – as a matter of fact, one of them is widely reviled by Rock purists; but at least we finally see my favorite musical genre topping the list.

Looking first at the Signles chart, Blues Traveler’s “Run-Around” claims the top spot even though it never even hit the Top 5. There is also a smattering of other rockers (Hootie & the Blowfish, Collective Soul), pop singers (Seal and Madonna), a rapper (Shaggy) and even an electronica artist (The Real McCoy); but the rest of the chart is dominated by R&B acts.

In the closest contest to date, Hootie and the Blowfish narrowly edged out TLC for the “Artist of the Year” crown. Hootie had the massively huge “Cracked Rear View” album which placed 4 songs in the top 10 list; sold over 10 million albums that year alone and even earning a Grammy. Despite this success, or perhaps because of it; they are hated by the Rock establishment who viewed their music as derivative at best and nauseous at worst. Honestly, I never got the hatred of Hootie; I owned the album myself; but then again, I was never one of the cool kids so what the hell do I know?
Meanwhile TLC was having a monster year of their own; topped by “Waterfalls” and “Creep”. All together they had 4 songs land in the Top 5 (which by the way, is four more than what Hootie did). Still, the Blowfish managed to have their songs linger longer on the charts and thus claim victory.

1996

Dear Critically Loved Rock Bands from the 90s,
I’ve given up any hope of any of you reaching the top spot on either the singles or Artist-of-the-Year charts. I’m not saying you weren’t worthy; it’s just that the record buying public of the 1990s wasn’t nearly as much into you as you led me to believe.

Sincerely,

  • Dave

P.S. – You’ll always be #1 in my book.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s take a look at the top song for the year. Surprisingly, it’s not the Macarena. Hold on, I think I’m contractually obligated to write the following:
Dale a tu cuerpo alegría Macarena
Que tu cuerpo es pa’ darle alegría cosa buena
Dale a tu cuerpo alegría, Macarena
Hey Macarena

Surprisingly, the Tony Rich project managed to nab the #1 single away from Los Del Rio with “Nobody Knows”. Actually, as years go, this one was incredibly diverse. You’ve got old rockers (Clapton), new rockers (Gin Blossoms, Alanis and Dishwalla) and in-the-middle rockers (Natalie Merchant and Tracy Chapman). You’ve got Pop stars (Madonna), Electronica artists (Everything but the Girl and La Bouche), rappers (Quad City DJs) and a large number of R&B stars (Toni Braxton and Mariah Carey). Through in Jewel and Celine Dion and you’ve got yourself a pretty diverse playlist.

I told you not to feel sorry for Mariah Carey for narrowly loosing the 1994 “Artist of the Year” title; because she managed to gain it this year, although her margin of victory over LL Cool J (56) was even less than Hootie’s over TLC (66). In addition to LL, rapper Coolie makes his presense known at #9 thanks to his “Gangsta’s Paradise” which I will forever remember as the inspiration for Weird Al’s “Amish Paradise”. Much like the Singles chart, the Album of the Year is diverse with Celine Dion, La Bouche and Alanis Morissette taking the 3-5 slots. Finally, let’s send a retroactive congratulatory note to Hootie,

1997

It may not be immediately obvious, but 1997 marked a huge transition in the American music charts. For the first time in more than 30 years; not a single Baby Boomer is represented on either the top of the end-of-year Singles chart or my “Artist of the Year” charts. Gen-X was clearly in command of the music charts for the first time, but when you start looking a bit deeper, you’ll see that Millennials are starting to make their presense felt, even if their generation had yet to have their own artists on the chart. Now, you may be saying “Whaaa?????” but give me a moment.

First, look at the Singles chart. Yes, former Chicago frontman Peter Cetera is listed as an artist on the #5 song; but he’s only a featured artist in a song that his band originally covered; so I’m saying that it doesn’t count. The chart is topped by Jewel’s “Foolish Games/You Were Meant For Me” which managed to remain on the chart EVERY SINGLE WEEK for the year; and it’s closest competition was Duncan Sheik’s “Barely Breathing” which managed to spend 50 weeks on the chart itself. Continue down the list and you’ll see some artists born in the mid-60s but nobody before that. Baby Boomers wouldn’t entirely disappear (Elton John would appear with the #20 song in 1998 and Cher would appear in 1999), but still, you can see an era coming to an end.

Now, if you take a look at the “Artist of the Year” charts, you’ll see a new era begin. For the first time, we have a Rap Artist Sean Combs a.k.a. Puff Daddy a.k.a. Puffy a.k.a. P. Diddy a.k.a. Diddy a.k.a. Just Pick a Name Already and Stick With it; tops the charts. Combs had a massive year, especially once you consider that #2 Mase, #7 The Notorious B.I.G. and #8 112 were all recording on his Bad Boy record label. At the #3 spot, you had the Spice Girls, who had already dominated the U.K. take their position on the American charts. R&B remained strong with Toni Braxton (#4) , Dru Hill (#6) and the years-away-from-being-indicted R. Kelly (#9). Finally, pop singer/yodeler Jewel had the #5 spot and the “whatever happened to them” pop-rockers Savage Garden took the #10 spot.

1998

1998 looks a lot more like 1997 than any other year looked like it’s predecessor. The songs may change, but there was a higher degree of “rollover” than we’ve seen in past years.

If we take a look at the individual songs, there’s (expectedly) an entirely new list from 1997. We had a little bit more R&B (7 songs as opposed to 6 the previous year) and a little less Pop/Rock (6 instead of 8). This time, the top song goes to Savage Garden’s “Truly Madly Deeply” which actually hit the charts in late December 1997 and had already hit the #9 spot, before spending the first 48 weeks on the Singles chart including some time at #1. Next, comes Next’s “Too Close” followed by songs by Shania Twait, Third Eye Blind and Janet (no longer Jackson). We even get legacy rocker Elton John at the #20 spot, thanks to his re-release of Candle in the Wind, following the death of Princess Diana.

As for the Artist of the Year charts, once again the #1 spot belongs to Sean Combs and the #2 spot to his protege Mase. The other returnee is Savage Garden who moved up from their #10 placing in 1997 to #6 this year. Rounding out the list are R&B acts Usher and Next; rapper Silkk the Shocker, Pop Country aritsts Leann Rhimes (#7 and Shania Twaint #9), Gen-X rockers Third Eye Blind (#8) and Janet Jackson, who makes her fourth appearance on the Top 10 artist chart, tying her with Mariah Carey for the most times in the Top 10.

1999

The decade wraps up with R&B women once again dominating the year, taking the Top Single and Top Artist titles. Meanwhile, we have the first artist born in the 1980s turn up on the Artist of the Year charts, heralding the arrival of the Millenial Generation’s influence on the music charts.

Taking a look at the top singles of the year, we see R&B trio 702 at the #1 slot with their “Where My Girls At?”. Then we get a tie for the #2 song of the year, between Pop Rockers Goo-Goo Dolls’ “Slide” and Sixpence None the Richer’s “Kiss Me” (which seemed to be in every movie soundtrack for the next few years). The Millenial generation is also making their growing presence known, with Boy Band Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” at #4 and actual millenials Monica, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears occupying spots 9-11. As for the rest of the list, there’s a little more Rock than in past years (Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lenny Kravitz all appearing in the Top 20) and even a diva from the 60s and 70s making a return appearance atop the charts (Cher’s “Believe”).

As for Artist of the Year, once again the title goes to an R&B woman, this time Whitney Houston, who made her first appearnace on th list since 1993. Fellow R&B acts Faith Evans (#2), R. Kelly (#3) and TLC (#7) also made the list. Rap maintains it’s presense with Jay-Z making his first appearance on the Top 10 Artist charts. Then, we have a couple of artists that appealed to Millenial girls (Backstreet Boys at #4 and Millenial Britney Spears at #10). The final three spots go to Pop-Rockers (Goo-Goo Dolls at #6 and Sugar Ray at #8) and Pop Country artist Shania Twait at #9.


Overview of the 1990s:

If we then aggregate the charts for the entire decade, you’ll find that; instead of flannel-clad rockers or gangsta-rappers, the charts were dominated by R&B artists, specifically R&B women. Mariah Carey, with a total of 36,987 easily tops the chart over her next closest competitor Janet Jackson and the rest of the top five artists of the decade are either Women or R&B Artists: Madonna (Female), Whitney Houston (R&B AND Female) and Boyz II Men (R&B).
While it’s true that we do see Pop/Rock on the list, a lot of the artists are either far on the Pop side of the spectrum or are legacy acts. Going through the list in order, we see Madonna, Celine Dion, Elton John, Bryan Adams, Michael Bolton and Rod Stewart on the list, all of which were established artists as the 1980s started. The first true new “Rock” act we have is the critically vilified Hootie and the Blowfish at #30; followed by Melissa Etheridge at #58. You really don’t find a critically-aclaimed “Rock” act until way down at position #71 with R.E.M. and even then you could easily consider them an 80s band that didn’t find chart success until the 1990s. As for the beloved 90s Rock Acts are concerned, they all rank far lower than I would have thought: Smashing Pumpkins are at #134, Red Chili Pappers are at #141, Pearn Jam is at #163 and Nirvana, the band that we think of as ushering in the Grunge movement, is way down the list at #306.
Meanwhile, we can see the growth of Rap on the chart, with 14 different acts on the list; but all of them representing a younger generation than we see for Rock. Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs was #6 on the list, with Notrious B.I.G. and Combs protege Mase also reaching the Top 20. Slightly older rappers LL Cool J and Salt-N-Pepa are in the Top 40, while 2Pac, Jay-Z , Coolio and Ice Cube (among others), making their presence known.

So, there you have it; the Real Music of the 90s featured a whole lot less grunge and a whole lot more R&B ladies than I first thought.

Written by David Curewitz