One easy way to measure “greatness,” a rather ambiguous noun, would be to actually measure things. Say, most albums sold. According to this list (which could have been completely fabricated, but for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s accurate) the greatest album ever is Thriller, by Michael Jackson. There is no argument – it is a fact. We stated up front “Greatest = Most Sales” and then we figured out which album sold the most. Done.
Such a list may be accurate to accountants and entertainment executives, but for music fans it is just bollocks. The list just doesn’t jibe with what our ears tell us. Sure, there may be some people who truly believe that music-wise (as opposed to sales-wise), Thriller is the greatest album ever, and – since it was a critical and commercial hit, with many hits and cross-market appeal – a rock/pop music fan like me would at least listen and consider such an argument. But is there a music fan out there who really thinks an argument can be made that The Backstreet Boys’ Millennium is the 36th greatest album ever? (Ahead of any albums by the Rolling Stones, by the way, but coming after two different Celine Dion offerings …) I doubt it. (Although, maybe. As I stated previously, it’s all just peoples’ tastes …)
So Van and I discuss this a bit, and at some point he sends me a link to this story. A Wall Street Journal writer complains of “bias” at Rolling Stone. I’m going to ignore, for the purposes of this post, the inherent humor in an accusation of perceived “bias” coming from a publication like the WSJ. The fact is that one should assume that Rolling Stone will be pretty biased, music-wise. I mean, it was started by a hippie almost 50 years ago, to cover rock music – so it shouldn’t be surprising that the albums selected are geared towards 70 year-old hippies today.
But as I read the writer condemning RS for not liking a Bjork record …
as much as The Beatles …
I thought – “This guy’s full of shit, too! He’s just as biased toward his era’s music (apparently the 90s) as RS is toward the 60s and 70s!” (And I wonder if this douchebag* also complains of bias at Metal Hammer magazine, or Vibe??)
The upshot of all this is that it seems really challenging to put together a “Greatest Ever” list. But I figured I’d give it a try.
- He’s probably a really nice guy, and not a douchebag at all. By I get a little agitated sometimes…