Press Release of the Week: Bad taste is universal

Every couple years, I see an advertisement claiming that either Busch or Pabst is "America's favorite beer" based on some sort of large-scale taste test. Which has always led me to believe that either a) these contests are rigged or fictional, or b) people (when taken together as a large group) have really lousy taste. In other words, many individuals have okay taste -- I'd probably vote for Anchor Steam; I know Dave would vote for Brooklyn Brown -- but when you average out everyone's taste to reach a common denominator ... well, you realize the common denominator pretty much always sucks ass.

This hypothesis was bolstered this week when Sony announced the Top One Hundred Songs worldwide, as voted on by more than 700,000 people in a poll linked up to the company's introduction of its Walkman phone (a product that's pretty much what you would imagine: a phone with a built in ipod-like device).

Here are the top ten:

1. Queen, We Are the Champions
2. Britney Spears, Toxic
3. Michael Jackson, Billy Jean
4. The Eagles, Hotel California
5. Shakira, La Tortura
6. Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit
7. The Beatles, Yesterday
8. U2, One
9. John Lennon, Imagine
10. Dire Straits, Sultans of Swing

I had the same reaction to seeing these results that I have whenever I see one of those beer commercials. Not only are some of the picks kind of crappy, many of them just don't make any logical sense. "Busch? People picked Busch?" (a sentiment I feel like I've uttered on numerous occasions, incidentally).

I mean, Queen: fine. I actually like Queen, but is "We Are the Champions" really the band's best song (I'd vote for "Under Pressure" or "Somebody to Love")? Although at least I can make some sort of twisted sense of the WATC pick, given its omnipresence in sports arenas worldwide. But then how to explain Dire Straits' "Sultans of Swing," which is not only clearly NOT the band's best song (I'd reserve that spot for "Romeo and Juliet"), but which would also seemingly lose out in a popularity contest to "Money for Nothing," that staple of 1980s MTV?

And do I even need to mention my sense of shock at the selection of Britney Spears? Or Shakira? I don't even know what "La Tortura" sounds like. I wouldn't expect to necessarily LIKE the 5th Most Popular Song of All Time, but I would at least expect to be able to hum a few bars.

Now, I know what you're thinking: But these are crazy Europeans, Mike. These are the same people who periodically throw random early eighties dance numbers up to the top of the Worldwide Pop Charts for seemingly no reason. These are the same people who like techno and David Hasselhoff. Well, kiddies, I thought that too. Until I read a little further down in the press release and found out that in the U.S. version of the poll, Shakira held the Number One and Number Two spots, with "La Tortura" and "No," respectively.

Let me just repeat that little bit of weirdness: The two most popular songs of all time, as voted on by America, are both by Shakira. As Shakespeare once famously said, something stinks like poo-filled diapers in Denmark (or, in this case, Detroit and Duluth).

So how to explain this little bit of irregularity? First of all, whenever I see a poll like this, my first question is: What were the choices? Unfortunately, the voting is now closed, and Sony doesn't say. But the fact that Shakira won is, in some ways, less dubious than the fact that Shakira was even included to begin with. And if you scroll beyond the Top Ten (which you can do on the web site), there's even more Shakira, and even more Britney!

Now, what do these two "artists" have in common, aside from midriff and questionable vocal talents? If you guessed "They're both signed to Sony or one of its subsidiaries," then pat yourself on the back, you justifiably cynical bastard. Also a Sony artist? Michael Jackson (who has lots of songs in the top 100). Queen was not signed to Sony (should I use the present tense, or can we all pretend like Queen isn't still touring minus Freddie Mercury?). But Sony did recently release "Killer Queen," a tribute album, and the first track on that album is ... you guessed it ... "We Are the Champions," as sung by Gavin DeGraw.

So, kids, let's review what we've learned:

1. Some individuals have good taste, but people as a whole have very bad -- or at least very weird -- taste.
2. Shakira is the greatest recording artist of all time.
3. Sony owns 43.2% of the entire world.

1 comment:

TMC said...

I'm not sure how Private Stock malt liquor hasn't been named America's Favorite Beer yet.